The problem is that he chooses his "facts" for more interesting plots. He gaves interesting theories, facts and detailed descriptions, but you don't really know what is accepted knowledge or not. It is like getting your news from Fox, you spent so much time filtering it that it isn't worth.
BTW, I've just read Da Vinci Code for the first time after it was one of the few available books in a island after drowning my Kindle. I was impressed how a so successful book had such a poor narrative. His characters building were primary, and did some narrative tricks to deceive the reader. The conspiracy theory thing was the only interesting thing. No more Dan Brown for me. Better to stay with Humberto Eco.
This is his primary problem. When he presents his "facts" he is often not presenting obscure but well established facts, but wide-eyed conspiracy theories that have been soundly refuted and are not taken seriously by legitimate historians or scientists.
If he bothered to do even a little research, and look for original historical sources, such as contemporary accounts or archaeological evidence to confirm what he has read in his fringe conspiracy books (in other words if he bothered reading well-researched and vetted books from credentialed historians), most of his "facts" would evaporate and he would lose his plot devices.
I don't really care that he uses this stuff to create a narrative. It's fiction, after all. But I have a real problem when he presents this crap as fact to an audience that lacks the discernment to know better. He is, in my opinion, intentionally misleading people, and making them more ignorant, to line his own pockets.
Yes. The book had an introductory page headlined "FACT:" that said "all descriptions of secret societies in this book are accurate", or words to that effect.
I think most pop fiction books these days are written more as a script than a book, optimized more for being picked up by a TV a movie studio than for the reading experience. For that you need a good story, especially a conspiratorial one with a twist ending, but not great writing since the screenwriters will rewrite it again anyway. Melville, Hemingway, and Eco they are not.
Junk food is not engineered to leave you feeling satisfied--in fact, it's quite the opposite. Junk food is designed to give you a brief and fleeting pleasure only for as long as it is in your mouth, and then leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied afterward--that's why "you can't eat just one," and people will eat through an entire bag of potato chips and still want another bag. It is momentary, fleeting pleasure--and the fact that it leaves you feeling unsatisfied is exactly the thing that makes it addictive.
I'd compare Dan Brown's books to addictive junk food: the act of consuming it is unsatisfying, and that's a feature, not a bug. The page you're reading isn't satisfying, but he does a great job of creating this sense of anticipation that, on the next page, some amazing mystery is about to be unraveled. They're "page-turners:" you don't really get a ton of satisfaction from the page you're currently reading, but you want so badly to see what is on the next page that you speed through the page, usually reading quickly enough that you don't really notice how unsatisfying it is.
If you ask people why they find it impossible to put Dan Brown's books down, you'll always get some answer indicating this, like "I just had to see what would happen next!" This is also why many people read "page-turners" like Dan Brown's in a single sitting: each chapter ends on a cliffhanger. There's no logical stopping points, because the "effectiveness" of each page is predicated on the anticipation of the page that follows.
That being said, I do know intelligent people who enjoy his work, and his books and movies have been successes, so I don't take my own bad impressions of his work too seriously - I'm clearly in the minority. So if other people enjoy his work, I'm not going to come down on him or them because of it all. To each their own.
From "The Role of Deliberate Practice" https://www.gwern.net/docs/1993-ericsson-deliberatepractice....), Ericsson 1993:
> The best data on sustained intellectual activity comes from financially independent authors. While completing a novel famous authors tend to write only for 4 hr during the morning, leaving the rest of the day for rest and recuperation (Cowley, M. (Ed.). (1959). _Writers at work: The Paris review interviews_.]; [Plimpton, G. (Ed.). (1977). _Writers at work: The Paris review. Interviews, second series_.]. Hence successful authors, who can control their work habits and are motivated to optimize their productivity, limit their most important intellectual activity to a fixed daily amount when working on projects requiring long periods of time to complete...Biographies report that famous scientists such as Charles Darwin, (Erasmus Darwin, 1888), Pavlov (Babkin, 1949), Hans Selye (Selye, 1964), and B.F. Skinner (Skinner, 1983) adhered to a rigid daily schedule where the first major activity of each morning involved writing for a couple of hours. In a large questionnaire study of science and engineering faculty, Kellogg (1986) found that writing on articles occurred most frequently before lunch and that limiting writing sessions to a duration of 1-2 hr was related to higher reported productivity...In this regard, it is particularly interesting to examine the way in which famous authors allocate their time. These authors often retreat when they are ready to write a book and make writing their sole purpose. Almost without exception, they tend to schedule 3-4 hr of writing every morning and to spend the rest of the day on walking, correspondence, napping, and other less demanding activities (Cowley, 1959; Plimpton, 1977).
Sometimes I am at my desk and I can tell that I'm not going to get anything done for the next two hours, not because I'm in meetings, but because my brain is kaput. There's no reason for me to pretend to work. If it's 2:30, and I'm out of coding capacity, I could probably recharge with 1-2 hours of relaxation and rest, but that kind of thing isn't encouraged in an office. I'm supposed to work when I'm there. It's idiotic.
> So Lorna and I came up with a plan. I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash”. During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone. No one would come to the house. Lorna, despite her own busy schedule, would for this period do my share of the cooking and housework. In this way, so we hoped, I’d not only complete more work quantitively, but reach a mental state in which my fictional world was more real to me than the actual one.
> Every day from roughly 10 until 1, Pullman sits at his desk in a monkish study at the top of the house and produces three pages, longhand. He has written three pages a day ever since he started writing. Habit, he is fond of saying, has written far more books than talent. The ritual is sacred. As is the space. “Nobody’s photographed this, and nobody will ever photograph this,” he told me, both fierce and faintly amused by the severity of his own rule. “I’m superstitious about that, very superstitious about that.”
He made the mistake of naming the companies involved in the conspiracy. These were companies that, in the book, were powerful enough to buy off Senators, pay massive bribes, and leverage incredibly advanced technologies. He named three, and they weren't who you might expect (Boeing, LockMart, Northrop-Grumman) - they were from the original generation of “new space” companies.
When I read the novel, I had worked with two of the three companies. One had gone bankrupt five years after the novel was published. The other had, as I recall, three employees.
No more Dan Brown for me.
Well that explains a lot.
What a lovely show.
Also, to be fair to Dan Brown, I read the entirety of The DaVinci Code and actually enjoyed myself quite a lot.
Here's something the British author Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials) said in a 2013 TV interview that I've always remembered:
"Yes, there is a difference [between a storyteller and a writer]...For a storyteller, it's the events that are more important than anything else, the events in the story, how they fit together, how they unfold...plot is a very important thing for me.
But for a writer, I suppose words and sentences are the important things and plot is of less importance. Really, of course, they should be of the same importance." 
Is Dan Brown a storyteller rather than a writer? (If one goes with Pullman's distinction)?
Researched his books are not... At least that one wasn't, because if he'd consulted even a first year CS student they could've told him it's all wrong.
That whole experience turned me off of Dan Brown books (even though I had previously read Angels and Demons and enjoyed it, knowing his research was so shit in areas I'm knowledgeable in makes it harder to read books about things I'm not because I know I will be coming away with wrong ideas stuck in my head)
Never read the book so not sure how integral the technical details are to the plot. But this sounds like it could be excused as a mere plot device or by appealing to the Suspension of Disbelief.
I agree it would probably be wiser narratively and aesthetically to let our hero, the Cryptographical Expert, gloss over the technical details and just say to the pushy Head Bureacrat at some point early in the novel something like, "I could try to explain this to you but I don't fully understand it myself."
The less pardonable offense where Dan Brown's writing is concerned, both in my limited experience and as others in this thread have pointed out, is the lousy writing.
"Recherche" which is what journalists and authors do, to find information for Articles and Stories.
"Forschung" which is what scientists do with experiments.
I often have the feeling English speaking people like to play with the fact that these things are called the same in English.
> Now Susan was even more doubtful. Encryption algorithms were just mathematical formulas, recipes for scrambling text into code. Mathematicians and programmers created new algorithms every day. There were hundreds of them on the market-PGP, Diffie-Hellman, ZIP, IDEA, El Gamal. TRANSLTR broke all of their codes every day, no problem. To TRANSLTR all codes looked identical, regardless of which algorithm wrote them.
However, I couldn't help but read a bit further, where the Achilles Heel of TRANSLTR is identified - 'rotating clear text':
> The notion of a rotating cleartext function was first put forth in an obscure, 1987 paper by a Hungarian mathematician, Josef Harne. Because brute-force computers broke codes by examining cleartext for identifiable word patterns, Harne proposed an encryption algorithm that, in addition to encrypting, shifted decrypted cleartext over a time variant. In theory, the perpetual mutation would ensure that the attacking computer would never locate recognizable word patterns and thus never know when it had found the proper key. The concept was somewhat like the idea of colonizing Mars-fathomable on an intellectual level, but, at present, well beyond human ability.
Of course, neither Harne nor the notion of 'rotating clear text' actually exist!
Brown's work is full of ass pulls like this. Much of the plot of the book hinges on the "Bergofsky principle", which is, roughly, that "any crypto can be cracked". It's one of those nonce names thrown in to add scientific gravitas -- like "Tannhauser gate". But of course not only was there no Bergofsky and no such principle, but the opposite is the case in our current understanding of cryptographic math: there are some ciphers such as the one time pad which are, in principle, totally uncrackable. (They are also extremely cumbersome to use, and their cumbersomeness makes them prone to attack in other ways, so we make do with "uncrackable for all intents and purposes given current-era hardware").
Of course, when I first read about Satoshi Nakamoto I giggled a bit and thought of Ensei Tankado...
It's everything else that makes no sense whatsoever.
* A single lone researcher getting beam time on the LHC, without anybody knowing what the experiment was doing. I don't care how brilliant a person is, you're not doing experiments at that scale without having it be approved ahead of time.
* Perfect antimatter containment in large quantities. There's going to be some leakage, resulting in detectable gamma rays.
* Portable antimatter containment. Penning traps require large magnetic and electric fields, not exactly conducive to transportation.
* Countdown on a storage device with no safety margin. I can understand having a countdown to the engineered safe period. I cannot understand having the storage device shut off at exactly that time, rather than continuing to use whatever power it has.
* Inability to track wireless cameras. There is a camera pointed at the hidden antimatter containment device, and no attempt is ever made to track the signal from that camera.
* Failure to use binary search. (This is the only one that doesn't occur within the plot's setup, so avoiding giving spoilers.)
Sorry but this only proves sloppiness.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Família
On one hand, I do agree with your major point; calling it something other than a cathedral would be needlessly distracting. On the other, your comment amounts to "it’s only not a cathedral because it’s not a cathedral." Being the seat of a bishop is what a cathedral is.
It's what cathedral's etymology is.
Words are defined by how they're used, not their etymology. Most people just use the word to mean any large church.
In fact, from dictionary.com:
(2) (in nonepiscopal denominations) any of various important churches.
Also: Following the Protestant Reformation, the Christian church in several parts of Western Europe, such as Scotland, the Netherlands, certain Swiss Cantons and parts of Germany, adopted a Presbyterian polity that did away with bishops altogether. Where ancient cathedral buildings in these lands are still in use for congregational worship, they generally retain the title and dignity of "cathedral", maintaining and developing distinct cathedral functions, but void of hierarchical supremacy.
The term "cathedral" actually carries no implication as to the size or ornateness of the building. Nevertheless, most cathedrals are particularly impressive edifices. Thus, the term "cathedral" is often applied colloquially to any large and impressive church, regardless of whether it functions as a cathedral, such as the Crystal Cathedral in California or the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, Norway.
Sure, but we're talking a Catholic church here, and for Catholics, it's not just the etymology—it's the currently used definition as well.