Sci-fi why?

  • In Dune, a Truthsayer learns to tell truth from lies by speaking only truth so much that they detect its absence. While not realistic, it's a beautiful idea.
  • Reading 2001 (the book aged better than the film) was a magical experience. Part of learning Joy In the Merely Real.
  • Hard sci-fi in particular helps against the Fallacy of generalizing from fictional evidence.
    • Greg Egan writes totally possible worlds. Part of Binding yourself to reality, one of those hidden-core-of-rationality things. We should not have to hear about impossible worlds to feel wonder. The fact it seems so many people have a habit of only turning on their wonder-emotion when hearing impossible fiction seems tied to the fact almost no-one "looks at the world as if they've never seen it before". Someone said: "When people praise me for that, it's a nice compliment, but wait – actually, I haven't seen it before. What, did everybody else get a preview?"
  • Move past "savannah poets". The ability to write hard sci-fi (let alone rationalfic) makes for a litmus test on authors: the main reason authors don't write hard sci-fi, is that they can't: they are savannah poets, retelling the same old Great Stories that find a form or another in every culture that has ever existed: stories on love, loss, vengeance, jealousy et cetera. Savannah poets can anthropomorphize Jupiter just fine, but fall silent if forced to regard Jupiter a spinning ball of gas, knowing not what to do with that. It takes a developed and scientifically up-to-date mind to begin to have a chance of describing a possible world rather than yet another impossible world—the latter is easy. You're liable to draw moral lessons from the fiction you read (even just subconsciously, see availability heuristic), so if you're gonna read fiction anyway, why not minimize exposure to authors with the same old systematic misunderstandings of reality that's been all too common over the past thousand generations?

What links here

  • Rationalist fiction
Created (17 months ago)