Valleys of Fear
2010, 24 minutes, color, sound 16mm, Super 8, and HD video
The logician Charles S. Peirce, the author Edgar Allen Poe, the doctor-turned-writer Arthur Conan Doyle, and the falsely accused Cameron Todd Willingham, all make an appearance, in a scrutiny of our reliance upon faulty means of deduction and a blind trust in perceived facts.
Valleys of Fear weaves together disparate histories, stories, pathologies, in order to find commonalities with current realities and to explore the pull between the rational and irrational: the human impulse to make “scientific and objective” judgments about the world around us, in opposition to our inability to prevent the personal from intervening—be that political, romantic, or physical.
We are often inundated with information, with facts, with results, and sometimes we must turn away from that onslaught and rely upon, for better or worse, our emotional judgments.
The real subject of Valleys of Fear is not Willingham, Doyle, Poe or Peirce, but deductive reasoning itself, and how philosophers, literary figures, and criminal justice systems have understood its value as a scientific and aesthetic method of classifying information.