From Mainstream Science To Hackneyed Science-Fiction

Science-fiction writers have an enormous advantage over scientists, but unfortunately most of us don’t realize it, and the rest don’t exploit it to its full extent.

It’s something most scientists lack, it’s the cause of their limitations, compromises and inflexibility, and the main reason today’s mainstream scientific theory about the workings and origin of the universe is a synthetic construction made of speculations and compromises, instead of verifiable knowledge and genuine understanding. It’s something all science-fiction writers, on the other hand, possess, something that opens the door to possibilities otherwise out of reach and allows the boundaries of past knowledge to be exceeded.

That extraordinary advantage is independence.

Our modern culture places scientists on a sort of pedestal, as if their brilliance is not to be matched or comprehended, as if anything they say is automatically true. But scientists are fallible just like everyone else, except that their mistakes gather momentum with the passing of time, like snowballs rolling downhill and flattening villages when they finally reach the bottom. Their dependence on funding, peer approval, political trends that may or may not favor scientific inquiries and exploration, makes them inflexible and prone to compromise their ideas.

In the scientific world, if you find something that is not in accordance to the mainstream beliefs, it does not matter if you can prove it or not, it will most likely not see the light of day and never reach the wider public. Because if you successfully refute mainstream science, all scientists who contributed to it and all who are currently making a living off it will be invalidated, the politicians who granted them funds to pursue those ideas will feel cheated, the university professors who sanctioned their papers will be ridiculed, Nobel prizes will have to be revoked, careers destroyed and science stars and starlets will be knocked off form their pedestals. Even if what you discovered is undoubtedly true, withstands all validity tests and can even be consistently reproduced and demonstrated for all to see, you stand no chance against the establishment of mainstream science—not because it’s true, but because it’s everywhere.

This is the difficulty that the Electric Universe Theory, for example, faces when going against the Big Bang Theory. It’s precisely this dependence on academic bureaucracy, economy and politics, that prevents an open-minded exploration of reality, and the flexibility to admit mistakes and change the way we explain what we observe to be happening out there. Instead, dependence on this established, rigid system has our scientists twist and bend an inherently faulty theoretical construction until the universe it depicts defies all common sense and reality, yielding as many practical results as beating a long dead horse into pulling a carriage uphill.

But science-fiction writers are independent. We are not bound by government funding, century-old rigid academic systems, the looming shadows of famous personalities we’d risk our careers if we ever defied, and the widely advertised—practically omnipresent—mainstream theory made entirely of “mystical”, “dark”, “puzzling” and “pluri-dimensional” chimeras that have nothing to do with observational sciences and the spirit of unbiased discovery, and everything to do with captivating computer simulations of theoretical models that tickle the human imagination (and the public’s awe) just like every other work of fiction. Mainstream science with its gravitational model of the universe, it’s black holes, dark matter, dark energy, singularities, a space-time continuum that is conveniently reduced to two dimensions and can be folded and crumpled — that’s just like saying because you can crumple a map, you can do the same to the continent; or saying that if reality works in ways we can’t understand with our best theory and our brightest minds, then reality is inherently incomprehensible, instead of admitting our “best” theory may be hogwash and our brightest minds may be patting the system’s back for a place in a lab and food on their table.

It’s about time we moved on, and we writers can do that with far less opposition than scientists.

Science-fiction writers are free to create worlds governed by laws and principles that defy mainstream science, and not only still be respected, but hailed for their ingenuity. We can afford to create worlds based on the scientific theories that fight in the gutters for their right to speak, and we can show the audience there are different ways to see the universe, better ways, ways that allow us to reproduce and understand all phenomenons we observe in space, ways that bring science back into the realm of practicality and exploration, not fantasy and speculation, ways that enable us to invent new technologies and conquer the stars, instead of surrounding ourselves with models upon models of mathematical beauty and physical impossibility in a neo-Ptolemaic fashion.

We are not constrained by the limitations scientists face, and we have an even straighter and more personal line into the hearts and minds of the wider audience than they have. It’s our distinguished prerogative to expose the public to alternate scientific theories, to stimulate their sense of discovery and inquiry into the reality of our current beliefs, and to open their minds to possibilities they would otherwise never know. Not only does this freedom lift us out of the quagmire of today’s hackneyed and nonsensical theoretical cosmology, but it allows us to be original in a way that eludes many of our peers and colleagues. Who wouldn’t want to be able to introduce readers to a valid theory of reality that is also new to them and full of potential?

Science-fiction writers don’t have the “duty” to do anything but entertain and open people’s minds to possibilities, but what more could we ask of our lives than for such entertainment to be closer to reality than mainstream science itself? What better way to exemplify the ability of the human thirst for knowledge to overcome difficulties, than by leading by example? What better way to show that no letter is law, and that it’s our spirit and curiosity, and our sense for practicality that make us such wonderful creatures?

 

18 Replies to “From Mainstream Science To Hackneyed Science-Fiction”

  1. Interesting link, Vero, and your point as a whole is just another illustration of the tyranny of concensus. It manifests itself via an omnipresent media in politics and culture, not only science.

    Like

    1. It’s not so much tyranny and conspiracy, I believe, but a resistance to change and admitting potholes in one’s proud beliefs. It’s nothing unusual, it’s happened time and again throughout our history, and it will happen in the future too. In the meantime, the flexibility of ideas and openness to alternatives remains an important trait of [science-fiction] writers.

      Like

  2. Well said, Vero, and I think it’s something that a lot of science fiction writers forget from time to time as the “science club” mentality bleeds over from real procedural science into the realm of fiction, particularly since the nineties, when Hard-with-a-capital-H sci-fi started to become the de rigueur approach to the genre (something that has arguably hurt the genre in the eyes of the mainstream–go figure). We writers really do have unlimited budgets and freedom to explore ideas with our fiction.

    And as the window of true originality in the genre becomes more and more difficult to slide through if we’re all exploring the same ideas and theories, the question becomes “Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to play on a new playground from time to time, even if it’s not the playground that all of your friends are at?” If science fiction is ever going to reclaim the mainstream penetration that it enjoyed during the days of pulp paradise, I think it would serve us well to start asking those questions, preferably on the page.

    Like

    1. Exactly, James. It used to be the main trait of the science-fiction writer: the merciless exploration of alternatives and extrapolations, the spirit of adventure outside of worn out notions and ideas.

      We’re certainly not rewriting the sciences, but we’re keeping people’s minds open and their critical thinking and sense of wonder alive. I feel it’s such a tremendous pity for us to limit ourselves to what’s momentarily considered letter of law. Without wild imagination, many of our scientists themselves wouldn’t have dared look beyond the confines of old knowledge, and we’d still live in ignorance.

      Besides, how can we expect to be original writing (yet again) about wormholes and time travel? We ought to be looking for new ways to look at fictional futures. 😉

      Thank you very much for the comment, and the spirit of adventure!

      Like

  3. I grew up reading HG Wells and Jules Verne…there’s a long list of their “fanciful” stretches of their scientific imagination that have actually come to fruition! That’s where innovation and ingenuity come from.

    Like

  4. You give science too little credit.

    Science DEPENDS on constant testing of not only new ideas but well established theory. It’s true that logistics like money and bureaucracy can slow down the search for fact or even divert it for a time. But science can’t be stopped. There are too many people that want to know the truth. There are too many checkpoints that pseudoscience can’t pass. If the Electric Universe hypothesis (not theory, there’s a difference) holds water, it will only be a matter of time before it’s excepted.

    Sci-fi writers are free from the constraints of fact. Our genre demands that we build our worlds based upon scientific understanding (lest we wander into Fantasy) but holds no standard of scientific accuracy. I think that’s one of the reasons so many scientists are drawn to sci-fi writing. It let’s us spread our wings a little.

    Like

    1. I hold all rigorous science in high esteem, I just don’t believe in the infallibility of the current dogma and in the necessity to stick to it when it comes to writing fiction.

      I’m a natural skeptic, however enthusiastic I am about this or that topic, and my attitude of mistrusting the absolute validity of theories that have not been proven, only consented to, has me consider alternatives as well. The Electric Universe Theory (or Plasma Cosmology) are such alternatives, and being a science-fiction writer—not a scientist—I am free to explore these alternatives as worthy competitors to the Big Bang Theory. It might even be grounds for a fresh breeze in the fictional realm.

      That’s the only point I’m trying to make. 🙂

      Like

      1. I’m all for branching out from “current dogma” in science fiction. That’s one of the best things about sci-fi! Your point there is well made.

        One point that I’m trying to make is that in the scientific community, there is no such thing as a proven infallible theory. Ok, there are a few laws here and there but they’re so rare that they’re hardly worth talking about. Scientists are constantly trying to poke new holes in established theory. Do you know how many papers come out every year challenging aspects of the theory of gravity? Tons!

        Now, that says nothing about how those outside science perceive or accept scientific understanding. That’s a whole different subject (one I think Liana is alluding to below).

        Like

    2. Well, you’re certainly optimistic, but since most people even without a bureaucracy backing them won’t believe a truth that displaces their carefully cherished lie when it’s proved directly in front of their eyes… I do not share your optimism.

      Like

  5. I think you’re right, the potential and breadth available is immense, although there’s a lot of reliance on familiar tropes. I hope people push the envelope a bit more. Obviously readers like stuff they’re used to (in all genres) but sci-fi in particular has more open minded readers, I think, and writers should take advantage of that.

    mood
    Moody Writing

    Like

    1. Science-fiction lends itself particularly well to informed speculation and the proposition of daring new ways to look at the world and ourselves, you’re absolutely right. Who better to step out of the box and risk something?

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Mood! 🙂

      Like

  6. All good and valid. Take the fat-causes-heart-disease theory, it’s well respected, but utterly invalid and ridiculous the moment you start questioning it. Then it turns into plain bad science. However, it led many people to rediscover good science. So, good or bad, science gives us facts. Without it, however free we are in our imagination, we won’t travel far.

    Although I agree, the fact that most of science in the states survives off grants, and is therefore directed, is a sad fact.

    Like

    1. Science in general is quicker to adapt and evolve the closer it is to experiment. Cosmology on the other hand has drifted into abstraction over the past decades, to such a degree that it has lost contact with the other sciences and is following an own course of self-correction based on mathematics (not physics, which is the basic science beneath cosmology), like art for the sake of art, and has entangled itself too much in media and economy to be impartial and truly exploratory anymore. That’s the main problem with it. Not everything in popular cosmology is wrong, but most of it, and the way it’s conducted — definitely.

      Thank you very much for stopping by to comment, Ana! 🙂

      Like

  7. “…lift us out of the quagmire of today’s hackneyed and nonsensical theoretical cosmology.”

    Preach it, sister!
    I love your blog. You enable, inspire, and push me. Please keep it up!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Courtney! 😀
      I’ll always be juggling things regardless of their weight, because it’s what I do, and what pushes me to outgrow myself as well.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s