Biblical literalists are widely recognized as not the sharpest knives in the drawer. But do you know what group is even dumber? Written science fiction is dying demographically anyway. But sometimes, I want to give it that extra push into the rendering truck. Leave the most stupid ideas people have gleaned from science fiction novels in the comments. (Or stories, either.) I'll start it off: "Think of it as evolution in action." (New stuff below the fold.)
Mike R., you've been quiet. What do you think? Noel brings up a classic Heinlein quote from Starship Troopers:
This is how you differ.
[Addendum: anti-troll links added in comments]
Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.The anthropologist Gregory Bateson came up with the concept of the cognitive "double bind" in his 1956 paper, "Towards a theory of schizophrenia". The double bind, as Bateson presented it, had three components:
1. When the individual is involved in an intense relationship; that is, a relationship in which he feels it is vitally important that he discriminate accurately what sort of message is being communicated so that he may respond appropriately. 2. And, the individual is caught in a situation in which the other person in the relationship is expressing two orders of message and one of these denies the other. [A pair of Bateson's examples would be, "If you do not do so and so, I will punish you," and "Do not see me as the punishing agent".] 3. And, the individual is unable to comment on the messages being expressed to correct his discrimination of what order of message to respond to, i.e., he cannot make a metacommunicative statement.Now look how Heinlein's argument is constructed. It's in an extremely didactic setting: a monologue given by the charismatic instructor in the narrator's History and Moral Philosophy class, which in the novel's scenario is an exact science, as rigorous as physics. The reader is intended to be engaged in an intense relationship with DuBois's message. Point 1. It's a statement that denies most people's experience of the real world. And yet, the reader is not only told that their perception is wrong, "wishful thinking at its worst," implying it will be punished -- Bateson's primary negative injunction; but that any punishment would not be punishment at all, but the natural, predictable outcome of history -- Bateson's secondary negative injunction. Point 2. Moreover, in the context of the book, Dubois's statement is actually correct. The book is rigged, and no argument, no metacommunicative statement is possible. Point 3. Dubois's statement is crucial to Heinlein's book. But Bateson's point 2 can be extended to much of the science fiction genre. If a counter-intuitive authorial premise is not understood, then the character will be punished; but it won't be punishment per se, but the workings out of the cold equations of the Universe. Now, Bateson thought that "when a person is caught in a double bind situation, he will respond defensively in the manner similar to the schizophrenic". Here I should note that Bateson's paradigm, while evocative, is not yet amenable to hypothesis testing, and it's not in the mainstream of schizophrenia research. With that in mind, let me extend the evocation a little further. Many science fiction readers have tried to express what makes the genre different from all other genres. An often-used term is the "sense of wonder". Sometimes this correlates with the numinous, the cosmic. But much, if not most, science fiction does not deal with numinous or cosmic subjects. Might the readers be describing a "sense of double bind" instead? I'm going to leave my next extension unsaid. Y'all know what I'm thinking anyway.