Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When Mediocre Science Fiction Authors Go Bad

Or just plain confuse their constructed realities with real reality.

And mediocre is being kind. "Bad" is a better descriptor, in that the generated prose is fucking awful, the characters two dimensional and wooden, the dialogue stilted and stiff, the plots melodramatic and infantile, the entire work generally boring, thus resulting in an extremely clumsy and painfully embarrassing to watch episode of public masturbation. Some culprits:

L Ron Hubbard
Jane Roberts
Ayn Rand
Richard Dawkins

The first name is fairly obvious. L Ron Hubbard, creator of Scientology, made a drunken bet that he could turn his fictional works into a cult. I'd say he won it. Nothing more need be said of this piece of shit.

Jane Roberts, probably one of the better examples of the TV Trope known as "Mary Sue". Her Seth character, supposedly a highly evolved fifth dimensional being, is quite possibly one of the most patronizing creations in literature. Jane never attained much of a cult status, certainly not any Jim Jones stature, but she did do a fair amount of harm by trivializing suffering by blaming the victim. The idea that "souls" consented to their life experiences is about as horrible an idea as justifying the mistreatment of the congenitally deformed because they are atoning for the sins of a past life.

I include Ayn Rand as an author of science fiction only because many of her dystopian works were set in the future, although she could just as easily be filed under fantasy. Her foolish bombastic pronouncements certainly managed to ignore the entirety of empirical evidence regarding the human condition. Anarchists and libertarians, working from similar faith-based and completely fucked-in-the-head premises, are continually able to, for lack of a better example,  imagine that their pet unicorns shit donuts (which explains the horns, you see, for collecting donuts when you have a unicorn train in single file parading in your fornt yard just for you!).  The less said about this awful old bitch, the better, save that she had no fucking clue whatsoever about altruism. Which leads me to the last name on  the list.

Richard Dawkins. Strange to call him a science fiction author, but I'll explain in a minute. Most people are not aware of him, but if they are, it is usually for his role as abrasive activist for atheism. I personally consider him an asshole, and think that, with his hectoring prose style and my-way-or-the-highway interpretation of genetics and natural selection, has probably done more harm than good in promoting evolution and atheism. With his imperious pronouncements about right and wrong thinking, he comes across more as a priest or a lawyer than a scientist. But that's not the worst he has done. Starting with The Selfish Gene (now woefully out-of-date), he has created the cult of memetics. Memetics is a (charitably) pseudoscientific discipline devoted the the study of memes.

And memes? Memes are a Dawkins Delusion.

They are pet unicorns that shit donuts. They are untestable hogwash. And have been for some thirty odd years.

This has not stopped people from theorizing about them, like poor old Susan Blackmore. In fact, Blackmore has created variants, such as temes, that, like different colored kinds of Kryptonite don't so much explain human culture very well as rationalize away any and all obvious contradictory complications.

Human history is littered with convenient fictions. The vital principle, the luminiferous aether, the phlogiston, epicycles and the Ptolemaic or geocentric model of the solar system, animal magnetism, memes.

The luminiferous aether was posited to explain how light waves could travel through space. They were disproven by Michaelson and Morley in an experiment measuring the speed of light.

Phlogiston, the element of fire, was proposed by Johann Becker, championed and then rejected by Joseph Priestley, and probably first disproven by Robert Hooke.

Epicycles, the idea that the planets circle around points of empty space along their orbits, were necessary to account for the deficiencies of the geocentric model of the solar system. Once Copernicus put the sun at the center, they were no longer needed. Space travel, to this day, disproves them constantly.

The vital principle, animal magnetism, memes? Unscientific. Hard to disprove the existence of something that does not exist, because, quite simply, an experiment will provide no empirical evidence pro or con. As such, for me, they occupy the realm of philosophy and metaphysics. Waste of time.

Just another cult. We've enough of them already.

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