Here is a question I had in mind (that was closed).

Criteria for a good screenplay

It began by asking how the quality of a screenplay is judged by the Oscar panel. That's certainly an expert, authoritative source. It then rambled a bit before I brought it back to the main point (with an edit.): "Are there any authoritative sources that spell out how to evaluate screen plays?"

Now, I'm not particularly interested in "layman" opinions about how to evaluate screen plays. But selections made by an Oscar panel are "factual," and the underlying reasons, although technically "opinions," are "expert." And there is a group of professional writers (some of them future Oscar panel members) who are paid to teach people how to write to maximize chances of Oscar selection.

On the history site (where I am a high rep member), I opined that the views of a recognized historian such as Stephen Ambrose could be treated as a "fact" (about Stephen Ambrose. https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/8615/why-did-stephen-ambrose-believe-that-the-election-of-aaron-burr-would-have-led-t) Would it make sense to do the same on this site by treating pronouncements by "authoritative" sources on this site as fact?

If so, can we reopen the question?

1 Answer 1


I am certainly no expert, but it seems to me that the Oscar nominations are not guided by the quality of a screenplay alone, but also by political reasoning. What sells a screenplay, and what makes it eligible for an Oscar, are not the same factors.

The Oscars are a fact only insofar as they are awarded, and that they are awarded after the success of a movie has been shown. In science, this is called a post-hoc evaluation, and not considered too siginificant by most scholars. Or in other words: if someone tells you a bestselling movie has a great screenplay, then that is something you might have deduced by yourself; if on the other hand someone tells you some unfilmed screenplay is great, and then it is a box office hit, then that person is an expert.

In screenwriting, an expert is someone who can make predictions about which scripts sell, both to producers and to viewers. Who those people are, I don't know, but I am sure there are screenplay reviewers whose predictive power has been shown, and there are certainly those that know as much about screenwriting as you about history and who could cite those sources and quote their status as experts.

Still, the professional opinion of an expert is still an opinion, not a fact. Even Warren Buffett has been known to make false investments. And that is why the opinions of Stephen Ambrose are called "theories", and not "facts", by the scholarly community of historians. If you told Ambrose you consider his opinions fact, he would probably laugh at you.

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