A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary series deals with conspiracy theories, presenting evidence from all sides of a given subject and using experiments to help support or undermine it. When the subject matter calls for it -- as in an episode about the crash of TWA Flight 800 -- computer graphics re-create explosions and fires, and video footage of mangled wreckage is shown. Discussions of government cover-ups and conspiracies are at the heart of the series, and kids may need some help deciphering fact from theory. Because the series covers such a wide range of topics, parents may want to scan episode listings before giving tweens the go-ahead.
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What's the story?
The documentary series BEST EVIDENCE presents both facts and conjecture from all sides of long-standing conspiracy theories (the existence of Bigfoot, what really happened in Roswell, etc.). Using expert testimony, eye-witness accounts, and detailed computer graphics, the series explains each theory before subjecting a key piece of evidence to scientific experiment to test its reliability. In one episode, for example, FBI investigators described how they arrived at their official ruling that a spark in a fuel tank caused the explosion that led to the crash of TWA Flight 800 in July 1996. Witnesses shared their own versions of what they saw before the plane plummeted into the ocean, and experts on the other side of the fence explained whey they believe an outside source -- like a missile -- was the reason for the disaster. Scientists then duplicated the conditions of the fuel tank in question (fuel volume, temperature, etc.) and set off a series of electrical sparks to test whether the government's claim of an explosion was possible.
Is it any good?
Although Best Evidence offers an intriguing look at how scientific advances bring us closer to answering established mysteries, there are no definitive conclusions to be found here, which is both frustrating and thought-provoking. Parents may want to check out the subject matter of each episode before giving tweens the go-ahead, as certain topics (like plane crashes) may be upsetting to some kids. And you may want to tune in with them so you can help differentiate between fact and theory -- and so you can explain the many references to possible government conspiracies and cover-ups.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about experiments. What kinds of experiments have kids done in school? Kids: How do you identify the hypothesis you want to test? What supplies and tools do you need to record your data? What do you do if your experiment fails? What theories would you like to test? What do you expect to find? How did scientists plan the experiments they did in this episode? Were you surprised by the results? Why?