Science can be a wonderful thing. And if we open our hearts to it, it can be a magical wonder seeing how the universe works. The Netflix docuseries Connected takes a look at different topics and dives into all the spectacular ways each subject is coincidentally connected across the world.
The six-part series gets into various subjects that viewers might find surprising such as privacy, the world of dust, a fascinating glance into something called Benford’s Law, nukes, and of course, poop. Yes, the wonderful connections of poop.
But is the docuseries about random connections worth watching? Will it make our list of best documentaries on Netflix? Here is our Connected review and if it’s worth streaming on Netflix.
Connected review: Should you watch the Netflix docuseries about universal connections?
The series Connected is hosted by Latif Nasser– and if that name sounds familiar it’s because he is the director of research for the popular podcast known as Radiolab.
Much like the docuseries Home Game, the series contains a globe-trotting examination of a subject. Each episode has Nasser submerging himself into how each one has a broad connection universally.
And as stated in the intro some of these topics get rather crazy as Nasser dips into the world of poop.
Nasser is a presence that might seem unconventional as a host for some viewers. Let’s just say he is not a Mike Rowe.
He approaches every single subject with unapologetic nerdiness and wonder– similar to a child getting his first scientific playset for Christmas. Those who say The Big Bang Theory characters are unrealistic have not met this guy. Because of this, it makes the experience endearing as we watch Nasser get so excited about these discoveries.
Some episodes are stronger than others and have more well-defined connections. With episodes such as “Surveillance,” it’s more of a theme than how one subject connects to the next. With others like “Dust,” it starts in one location–the Sahara– and shows how one event stretches across the entire globe.
But even with the weaker episodes–and “Surveillance” is the weakest– the show covers some fascinating areas within them. For example, Nasser discovers an amazing connection to birds and how they make decisions based on hurricanes. The discovery might make most weather experts quit their jobs.
Not to mention, he finds a connection with technology being used to read the emotions of pigs and government use of facial recognition technology. And the ramifications are a tad unsettling.
“Clouds” is also more of a themed episode where some things directly connect and others are more loosely linked. It does, however, have a fascinating history lesson about the first person that tried to use methods for predicting the weather. It also discusses how some weather predictors can be used to fight disease.
Other episodes might be tedious for some viewers because the theme can possibly fly over one’s head with the scientific language and discussion. And at times, it may feel like a college lecture. These moments are few and far between but it can be information overload when bingeing as it jumps from topic-to-topic.
However, the stronger episodes are extremely worth getting through the heavy jargon.
For example, “Poop” might be a gross subject but Nasser shows the way it is disposed of can have some major effects on nature. For example, most of our fecal matter contains the medicine we ingest. And it describes how that same medicine travels all the way to rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
Without spoiling it, the side effects do something unexpected to fish behavior.
Another surprising episode puts a microscope on nuclear bombs and the interesting unexpected positives that resulted in their use. Some of these positives included healthcare that assisted medical experts with understanding radiation.
The strongest of all the episodes are “Digits” and “Dust” because of how fluid the connections are that Nasser makes on the subjects. “Dust” is fascinating because it begins in the Sahara Desert and shows how the smallest thing travels from that location and performs a function for survival miles away in other locations.
And watching Nasser globe hop along with the journey of how the dust travels is extremely fun viewing.
The best episode by far is “Digits” as he breaks down a Math and Science subject known as Benford’s Law. The exploration of this mathematical law will make most viewers believe The Matrix is real as it explains how the entire world works and can be used to audit anything fraudulent in our universe.
As Neo says in The Matrix…”Whoa.”
Connected as a whole is fun light-hearted programming for viewers who enjoy learning about the world around them, such as nature, the universe, and how the smallest and largest of things connect and impact each other.
While some episodes are weaker than others, the stronger episodes make Connected extremely fascinating to watch.
Latif Nasser’s joyful sense of wonder as he journeys through each subject makes Connected feel like we are having fun with a kid playing with his new toys and it’s a blast watching him do so.
And while some of the info might be perplexing, Connected has some mind-blowing elements that make it worth checking out, especially for those who love science.
Connected is now streaming on Netflix.
Digits inaccurately presents Benford’s Law as a controlling force determining everything in the universe and our lives before we choose, but it’s a pattern precisely because life and nature repeat predictably. It’s like, the sky is blue because we have an atmosphere, but we don’t have an atmosphere BECAUSE we see a blue sky. I think he stresses the “Matrix” implications or these false causality conclusions more than is helpful for the average viewer, especially in our conspiracy theory riddled media.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, and this law is taught as commonly in Forensic Accounting or Auditing classes as geometry equations are taught in elementary math classes. It is NOT some huge government secret – sure, the IRS probably doesn’t release the exact methodology used to scan individual tax returns, but auditors’ computer programs frequently use this law, along with several other numeric pattern recognition techniques to identify irregularities, because naturally occurring …everything… follows patterns. Fraud can’t follow patterns, because it specifically creates or modifies something to be different than whatever the natural occurrence was, and therefore the pattern is disrupted.
I think the easiest way to explain/ understand benford’s law: you have to have 1 before you can have 2, you have to have 2 before you can have 3, etc. By the time you have 10 (thus starting your “1” in the next column) all the numbers in the previous column have been digits 1-9, and since they have occurred an equal amount, they have neutralized their “weighting” or effect on the curve. You cannot count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,20,21,22… so, there can never be more numbers starting with a “2” than there are numbers that start with “1,” and so on.
I mean, it’s interesting, especially for the practical uses in social media and government, especially if this was a new concept to you, I just felt people would be worried that his presentation kind of implies the is no free will, when it would be more accurate to say numeric data occurs in predictable ways… which is way less “Matrix-y.” When we predict the weather accurately, we didn’t “make” it rain simply because we recognized the pattern that told us it would rain. So, Benford’s Law isn’t determining or making any other number be what it is.