Enjoy scifi maestro Judith Merril's Doctor Who science lessons

In the late 70s and early 80s, scifi author Judith Merril did a series of educational spots for Canadian TV, which aired right after Doctor Who. Dubbed the UnDoctor, Merril dissected the science in each episode, offering loopy humor along the way.


Merril is best-known for editing over a dozen "year's best" science fiction anthologies in the 1950s and 60s, as well as her short stories. I love how she goes all Betty White in this segment, above, where she says that the journey into space "just turns me on."

Here, Merril talks about scientific errors in a show where the Doctor mentions "noetics" and the "mind-brain interface."

"I can't straighten out all the Doctor's mistakes," she admits. But she tries! "Noetic is a word that's become trendy lately. It refers to the mind, not the brain," she admonishes. After showing a clip where the Doctor identifies the exact location of the "brain-mind interface" Merril goes into complete debunkery mode. Sure, you can see the brain. But as for the mind? "Nobody knows its address," she concludes in a particularly poignant moment.

And in this segment, Merril goofs around as she talks about the meaning of masks — and tries some on.


Patrick Farley

Judith Merril is my hero!

Second place: the guy in the beige velour shirt.