Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

First Committee Member

Natalie Pennington

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Rice

Third Committee Member

Michael Bruner

Fourth Committee Member

Jacob Thompson

Fifth Committee Member

Benjamin Burroughs

Number of Pages



This project focuses on the relationship between religion and technology as it is portrayed in Science Fiction (SF). This thesis explores the SF genre rhetorically by examining the 2002 movie Minority Report (MR), which signaled the importance of surveillance and the need to predict future crimes following 9/11. The events of 9/11 played a significant role in post 9/11 SF films, which reflect and critique our communal and cultural values. 9/11 created a new relationship between the U.S justice system, predictive technologies (PTs), and data gathering. Through the Bush Doctrine of “preemptive action,” the U.S government attempted to use Dataism, the assumption that “data is a transparent and reliable lens that allows us to filter out emotionalism and ideology; that data will help us do remarkable things - like foretell the future” (Brooks, 2013, para. 1). Dataism uses predictive technologies to regulate future behaviors by interpreting past behaviors (Siegal, 2013). My project highlights how SF critiques the new “worship” of Dataism by demonstrating that all PTs are fallible. I use MR as the rhetorical artifact because of the historical timing of its release and corresponding U.S policies. The project’s theoretical foundation draws on two of Kenneth Burke’s texts: Rhetoric of Religion and Grammar of Motives. These texts introduce Burke’s concept of the guilt-redemption cycle. Burke views guilt as a motivating factor driving human drama, resulting in the need to purge such guilt via the guilt-redemption cycle. MR also enacts Burke’s concept of “technological psychosis,” as the character’s guilt relates to their belief in technological perfection. The thesis analyzes MR to better understand how technological changes manifest as a desire for perfection and a need for Order. MR illustrates how humans are “rotten with perfection” in terms of technology and surveillance while also showing the unintended consequences of both (Burke, 1963, p. 507). The thesis shows how SF critiques predictive technological devices as falling short of creating a pure and perfect social order.


Dataism; Guilt-Redemption Cycle; Post 9/11; Religion; Science Fiction; Surveillance


Artificial Intelligence and Robotics | Computer Engineering | Religion | Rhetoric

File Format


File Size

1010 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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