Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cory Doctorow Coincidentally Affirms Mundane SF Policy

Posted by Trent Walters at 7:06 AM
Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow writes:
In an article in the Public Library of Science Medicine, John P. A. Ioannidis, an epidemiologist, argues that more than 50 percent of the conclusions drawn in papers published in scientific journals are false. The money sentence is this one: "The replication process is more important than the first discovery." The popular culture version of science is about labcoats and discovery, the real world science is about publishing, review and replication.

I wrote this up in "Why Play These Tropes and Not Those Others." Much of SF is distilled from secondary sources (reading distillations of someone else's attempt at understanding what the scientists wrote). From here, perhaps taking off on another misunderstanding of the original experiment, the SF writer arrives at a further remove from scientific plausibility, and we arrive at what Stephen Hawking terms the "space western." If we leap off fifty-percent inaccuracies in journals (assuming the above number is true), we fall even further from the tree of science, closer to wish-fulfillment fantasies, which is fine if you're only interested in the entertainment or the thematic matter, but even the theme becomes somewhat problematic if our concern is dealing with what the future may bring.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Ian McDonald said...

Ho there, it's a bit quiet here! Found myself in Glasgow having to evangelise the mundane manifesto when Geoff Ryman was late for a panel... Hopefully that panel drove a few interested souls you-wards (there was quite a lot of interest at the panel)


yours, Irritatingly

Ian

9/06/2005 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Yes, I'm taking a few classes, keeping me occupied and working (in vain?) at recruiting a few more writers of import.

Bad Geoff!

Thanks for helping drive the interest!

9/15/2005 03:08:00 PM  
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