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“Torture is one of those things that is advertised as something that works, but doesn’t—like a Ford truck or those weird bottles of Horny Goat Weed available at your local bodega. But maybe the reason that so many of us innately believe that torture works is that it does—on TV, all the time. Look at 24. Jack Bauer repeatedly saved American lives while behaving like this.
"Look, torture works on 24 and in movies because it has to. It’s a dramatic device to move the plot along, but ask terror experts and they’ll tell you it’s one of those movie tropes that’s got no basis in real life. Like a wedding being interrupted, or someone this handsome [Brad Pitt] feeling sad, or this character [Emma Stone in Aloha] being part-Asian. It works because it just says it does and we’re supposed to take it.
"And yet, even supposedly smart people like Antonin Scalia, an ill-tempered bullfrog in a robe, cite 24 as evidence that torture could be justified. He said, ‘Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles He saved hundreds of thousands of lives Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.’"