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AuthorI am Dr Jamie Samson, author of A Brief Guide to Thinking Like a Scientist. Ask me anything!

Feb 28th 2017 by jamie_samson • 20 Questions • 1203 Points

Hi everyone, Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates) and Kerry Ehrin (co-executive producer and creator) from Bates Motel here! Everyone has questions or needs advice from Mother, so we’re here to give it. Check into the final season of Bates Motel Mondays at 10/9c on A&E!

Proof: https://twitter.com/InsideBates/status/834484102753562624

Q:

How do we ask the appropriate questions while guarding against our own biases which may influence which questions we actually ask?

A:

Thanks for doing this today!! Bates Motel has some really great wacky humour (which I love). For Freddie, do you feel that this has shaped your writing style in any way?


Q:

That's a skill that you have to learn over time. Depending on the context your questions should be falsifiable so that you do not experience phenomenon such as the confirmation bias. So for example if you want to buy a new phone, do you ask 'Why are Iphones good' or 'What are the pros and cons of a Iphone'. With the first question you set out to confirm your statement rather than trying and reject it.

A:

I don't think I would be able to have started to write without Kerry's support. I feel that doing Bates Motel and being a part of a long running tv show, showed me that writing and directing was something I really wanted to do. I always had a slightly unfocused sense of wanting to write one day in the future, but Bates Motel honed me in the sort of thing I wanted to write. --FH

Freddie has an inherent idiosyncratic and wacky sense of humor, so it would have crept into anything he would have written...including dark things. It would always infuse in his writing, the way he looked at the character of Norman...little things in scenes that are so subtle. Little touches that made the character very endearing...that's pure Freddie.-- KE


Q:

If you had all the money in the world to advance your particular field of science, what would yoU choose to do?

A:

Freddie,

How does it feel going from playing more lighthearted fantasy stuff (Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory) to someone really dark like Norman Bates?

Also, happy belated birthday fellow Februarian!


Q:

Ooh that is another fantastic question. To give you a bit of background, my field is in animal behaviour, more precisely, animal cognition and learning. What is missing in our field (we are slowly getting there) are batteries of tests (a number of tests) on cognitive capabilities (such as problem solving, responses to novel stimuli) for a whole range of species from apes to ants. Currently, due to our study biases towards groups of species such as primates and corvids (crows, ravens etc), we base our understanding of animal cognition on this. However, new studies such as those on bees (http://www.nature.com/news/bees-learn-football-from-their-buddies-1.21540), are showing us that 'clever' behaviours, that we previously assumed were confined to a handful of species are now more widespread than we first thought.

The endless pot of money you teased me with would fill as much of the unknown as possible so we can determine how widespread seemingly complex cognitive behaviours are in the animal kingdom.

A:

I don't think that Norman is really dark. Bates Motel has more humor than anything else I've done. It may be a dark humor but there's as much humor as anything else. That is what makes it something special. -F

I think Norman doesn't consider himself dark. He's very hopeful and optimistic, but the world around him is very dark. - K


Q:

Good response. Has anything in Science ever shocked you?

A:

It seems like I just got into the show only like a year ago, and I have been completely into it since season 1 was released on Netflix. What is your favorite season you have done? Least favorite?

EDIT: How did it feel for you when you got to direct an episode as well?


Q:

Bees pulling a string to solve a problem!

A:

Hmmmm.... I think season 4 and 5 have been perhaps the most challenging. Especially 5 because it's that sense of time running out and the countdown beginning. We wanted to make sure all the characters had a fitting conclusion. They were also the most fun to play for me. Norman changed and matured over these seasons and it was a lot of fun to play. - F

It's kind of like asking which child is your favorite. I love them all for different reasons. I'm closest to the last two right now, but I have to say I sort of love season 2 because it was a time when Norma was starting to hope that she could live the life she had dreamed. I thought that was really lovely and my favorite episode was the trying out for the musical. I remember questioning the decision to have that episode. There's just a lot of good storytelling in season 2. -K


Q:

He would buy more parentheses

A:

Did any of the cast and crew members keep any of the props? I think one of the room keys would've been a pretty cool souvenir! :)


Q:

Very 'good'

A:

Oh yeah. I kept the manager's badge! Norman is more of a manager than ever before in season 5 so I was keen to keep the badge.- F

I kept some things from the house but nothing of great significance (I just liked them!) I also have the bunny in Norman's room that belonged to Emma. I also have a Norma dress. - K


Q:

What has been the most fun and interesting animal to work with during your studies, and what sort of practical applications can we derive from our studies of animal behaviors?

A:

If you could've changed one thing in the Bates Motel storyline, what would it be?


Q:

Definitely the Cape ground squirrel. They are funny, cute and super inquisitive! There are so many applications of animal behaviour that we use in our everyday lives. I will give you two very different examples.

  1. Plane boarding: The collective movement of ants has been studied to airlines board passengers more efficiently on to planes.
  2. Conservation: The study of behaviour allows us to conserve species more efficiently. For example the study of ranging behaviour of an animal will have implications for the size of the reserves we need to build to conserve them.
A:

In my own heart, everyone would live happily ever after. -F


Q:

What was your greatest struggle throughout your scientific career?

A:

Hey Freddie! Love the show and everyone's acting, y'all are awesome :D

What are you planning on doing after Bates Motel is over? Were you perhaps already approached by someone for a new project (movie/show)? Thanks and have a nice day!


Q:

Impostor syndrome is common amongst young scientists, belief that you are not good enough despite your accomplishments

A:

I think I'm still in mourning.--FH

I'm doing development. Two projects. --KE


Q:

How do you make science your job?

A:

Freddie- What is it like going FULL mother.... like wig and everything?


Q:

There is no real easy answer to that. It depends entirely on what branch of science you want to go in to. If you let me know what branch of science interests you I can answer your question better

A:

It was funny when Vera and I would wonder around in the same dress and wig... -F


Q:

I dunno, I always loved chemistry in school.

A:

Hello Freddie, :)

Just wanted to say I'm a big fan of your work! My question is which dead Bates Motel character would you bring back to life?


Q:

With chemistry there are a number of routes you can go down. You do not need to do straight chemistry at University either, you can specialise in subjects such as forensic chemistry.

After university, chemistry graduates can find themselves working in the chemical, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries and in areas such as forensics, environmental protection and healthcare.

Doing more applied science such as chemistry will offer you more opportunities for permanent jobs compared to some other areas of science.

A:

I guess everyone always wanted Jiao to come back. I guess the question was if she ever really died. But I guess it's too late for that one. - F

Blair Watson. I really liked Blair. - K


Q:

What are the latest discoveries about about dog or cat cognition?

A:

Freddie, What's your favorite norman bates quote?


Q:

I have a friend who is a researcher on dog cognition. She directed me to the Facebook page of the institute she works at that regularly showcases work they have done and that of other institutes on dog (and cat) cognition: https://www.facebook.com/FamilyDogProject/

A:

Laughs Mother! The funeral scene when Norman is giving the eulogy, it perfectly encapsulates that dark humor...balanced with that heartbreaking insanity underneath it is. On the surface, it's all incredibly funny. --FH

That low guttural noise he makes. Whenever he gets close to a girl, he breathes and it comes out like a gurgle noise. That noise will always remind me of Norman Bates.--KE


Q:

Brexit, Trump, UK General Election...how did the pollsters get it so wrong? Is it sample size? Incorrect data analysis? In the past they have been pretty accurate indicators as to a result...what changed?

A:

Freddie,

What do you think it is that makes Norman often so irresistible to women throughout the seasons of Bates Motel?


Q:

This is a great question and something which I can attempt to tackle from a scientific perspective. First of all, I am not a polling expert or pretend to be, and so I can only hazard a guess on why the polls were so wrong. Below is only my opinion on the topic and should be treated so!

Results were probably pretty accurate in the past due to the comparative simplicity in defining demographics. As information in the past has been less freely available than we find now, you would expect there to be conformity in how groups of people think. So for example working class people in a rural northern town would have had similar ideals. However, now days, due to the huge abundances of information we are exposed to, these blocks of demographics are broken down, working class people in the same town might now have very different political ideologies, sculpted by the information they are exposed to. Polling agencies may have constructed these polls based on representative sample sizes from classical demographics without considering how these demographics have changed over the years.

To increase accuracy of further polls, polling agencies should run pilot studies to determine a good model for a robust representative sample (that is samples of people from a variety of socio-political demographics).

A:

A. He's really cute. B. He sees them. The women who have been drawn to him, they're all kind of emotionally damaged, and I think that he feels like this quiet, safe place for them. They feel emotionally safe with him, which is ironic, because he kills peoeple. - K


Q:

Do you think politicians should think more like scientists?

A:

Freddie - What was the hardest scene to shoot in season 4 ?


Q:

I think politicians should think more critically. A subset of critical thinking, scientific thinking would be an added bonus. I would also like to see more scientists making the leap in to politics as they would be of great worth on debates about the environment or stem cell research for examples

A:

The hardest scene in season 4 for me was when Norma died. It was so hard but I got violently ill and couldn't go to set- I'm CONVINCED its because I couldn't stand to go see it- K

I think some of the bigger moments with Dr. Edwards were challenging. For episode 10 Kerry and I chatted for a while about that one and tracked Norman through the entire episode to make sure everything lined up. It was an internal episode for Norman. - F


Q:

Will this be available as an audio book?

A:

Freddie, what was your experience working with Rihanna like? Love you, Freddie!


Q:

If you follow @forloveofsci I will update people on the book developments. I have no current plans to record an audio book, but I hope it will happen in the near future

A:

Oh she was wonderful. It's hard to say too much without giving away what she gets up to in Bates Motel...but she was incredibly engaged, professional and always gave absolutely everything. She threw herself into the role and made her Marion Crane unique and special with arcs back to the original performance in Psycho, but she made the character her own.


Q:

From what I have understood of those who think the Earth is flat, all their ideology centers on the unreliability of, not the scientific method itself, but on the veridity of most scientists, since their work (and so their salaries) are based upon results. How would you taclke this lack of trust?

A:

Kerry! How was you knew Freddie will be perfect to be Norman Bates!!?(:


Q:

This is an interesting one. I think it is very hard to build up trust with people who have very extremist beliefs. People such as this have a 'moving the goal posts' mentality, whereby what ever evidence is presented to them, their ideas of sufficient evidence shift. The way to build up trust is to help them understand the science rather than chastise their beliefs, which can ultimately lead to the furthering of their ideals.

A:

Carlton and I skyped with Freddie- he was the first person we talked to and met with. We loved him. But we thought we can;t just hire the first person we meet with! So we looked some more and read with some more people and it became increasingly clear at every point that he WAS Norman. he has very unique qualities that fit this role so well and we are so blessed and lucky to get him to do it. It would not be the same show without him. - K


Q:

Thank you all for doing this! Love the show and I can't wait to see what's next from you both!

Norma always makes Norman eggs, bacon, and biscuits for breakfast. What's your favorite breakfast food?

A:

Tequila--KE

I'm enjoying bacon rolls back in England. It's like a bacon/sausage roll. Circular roll, bread roll, with ketchup. I like pancakes, scrambled eggs. Marmite. --FH


Q:

Freddie, in your opinion, what is the best scene between Norma and Norman?

A:

I think there are so many. One of my favorites is when he talks about moving to hawaii and sing Pearly Shells, knowing in the back of his head htat he's going ot trun the gas on. It's creepy and heartbreaking at the same time. Writing that scene I was thinking about if you hjad a kid and you knew something terrible was happening the next dayand you had to fkill them for their own good how would you do that? He had to think about how to put her to sleep peacefully and was so well done by Freddie and Vera. - K

In the first episode of this season when Norman comes home and they're at the dining room table and you get this sense of where their relationship is at, I feel that all the stories we've had are written with such nuance and and are never long but are done so well and so fun to play with Vera. It's really sad (not to be down about it!) that we won't working in a scene like that again. - F


Q:

Freddie & Kerry: If you could use one song to describe the show, what song would it be? I would choose Bohemian rhapsody lol

A:

There have been so many great songs in the show. Mr Sandman. Dream Lover. You belong to me. --FH and KE


Q:

Freddie, Kerry & Mother: What was the best part about filming in Vancouver?

A:

I really love Vancouver. It's beautiful. The crew was amazing. Inspirational crew. People who came back year after year. Everybody came back every year. A collective belief in what we were doing. Really inspiring.


Q:

How closely do you feel you have to follow the movie Psycho ?

A:

Carlton and I have always felt like we had to honor the material but not be beholden to it. To honor the essence of it and certain sensibilities but we didn't want to be bound to it. We wanted to create our own universe.--KE


Q:

Kerry, in which scene did Romero really fall in love with Norma? Or was it love at first sight?

A:

Personally, I think he started to fall for her around episode 6 of the first season. When he went into his office later that season and tried to play ball with him on a criminal level and he slaps that down, at that point she already has a little pull on him. I think that's when they both allow themselves to see it. - K


Q:

Dear Freddie,

Would you say the interactions between Norman and Norma are emotionally taxing for you? Especially in season 5, now that all of his interactions with Norma have this undercurrent of sadness to it, since it's all in his mind.

A:

I think all bigger scenes (which there are lots in Bates Motel) are challenging. You put real emotions into them and in some ways acting should be seen as a form of therapy, it can be very cathartic. Like after a big cry, you feel better. I get to vent my anger in Bates Motel, and then in my real life I'm endlessly happy. I never stress about anything.