How accurate is the science in Divergent?


Discovery has put together a spectacular piece on the scientific possibilities presented in the Divergent book and film. Not only is it educational — it’s fascinating!

Among the topics they consider? Truth serums, aptitude tests, tattoos, skyscrapers, and arcologies. All of this stuff is deeply thought-provoking, and it’s wonderful to see Discovery produce such quality work geared at the YA dystopian fan.

Here’s a sample:

Speaking of serums, “Divergent” features several pivotal scenes in which subjects are injected with mind-altering drugs to achieve particular effects. In the aptitude test, the serum induces a dream state that is somehow scripted by the administrators. In later scenes, serums are used to make subjects passive and/or highly suggestible, or even controllable by broadcast transmissions. The details are a little vague.

The “truth serum” scenario is an old chestnut in Hollywood and in fiction, but it has a basis in science. Several different kinds of sedative, hypnotic and psychedelic drugs have been used as truth serums, and there are still applications today. Sodium thiopental — marketed as Sodium Pentathol — is a barbiturate that inhibits certain higher brain functions, which is thought to prevent lying. That drug, and many others, have been used in interrogations by the United States and other countries, though legal issues are in constant dispute.

We highly recommend that you check out the whole article here. Well done, Discovery!