Monday, April 22, 2013

Quoting myself in comments elsewhere.
Hard determinism: Conservative societies desperate to modernize produce techno-fantasists, utopians and engineers of terror, fed by the dreck-poetry of modernism. Rational action is a myth. People aren't rational; they're predictable.
"But both Paul Krugman and Newt Gingrich grew up dreaming of being Hari Seldon, the intellectual hero of Isaac Asimov's 1950's intellectual trash fiction Foundation novels. Celebrations of academic rationalism, dreams of technocratic utopia…"

A fixation on reason leads to a perverse fascination with its opposite.
And as always, there's Shalizi.

Farrell continues his too slow drift away from political fantasy.  If you want to understand his interest in libertarianism all you have to know where he was born, and that his sister still prays daily for the health of the Pope. He wants to think he's free of the past. He isn't.


The Guardian:
Bill for compulsory science fiction in West Virginia schools 
"Republican state delegate Ray Canterbury says move would inspire pupils to use practical knowledge and imagination in the real world"
"I'm not interested in fantasy novels about dragons," Canterbury told Blastr in a recent interview. "I'm primarily interested in things where advanced technology is a key component of the storyline, both in terms of the problems that it presents and the solutions that it offers."

A fan of Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne, Canterbury believes that "one of the things about science fiction is that it gives you this perspective that as long as you have an imagination and it's grounded in some sort of practical knowledge, you can do anything you wanted to".

"In Southern West Virginia, there's a bit of a Calvinistic attitude toward life – this is how things are and they'll never be any different," he said. "[Science fiction] serves as a kind of antidote to that fatalistic kind of thinking."

Scientist and award-winning science fiction author David Brin, who has long fought for the educational value of the genre to be recognised, said it was "wonderful to live in a country where politicians can raise this possibility".

James Gunn, author, critic and a "grand master" of science fiction, agreed that "classrooms should expose more students to science fiction", and said that Canterbury's plan "sounds like an enlightened idea".

"As long ago as Future Shock, Alvin Toffler was calling for exposing young people to science fiction as 'a sovereign prophylactic' against 'the premature arrival of the future'. Today in an even more rapidly changing world, it is even more important for Toffler's purpose but also for making the kinds of informed decisions about present issues that will lead to better futures," said Gunn, who is founder of the Centre for the Study of Science Fiction at Kansas University.

"Because science fiction incorporates the one thing that is undeniably true in today's fiction – that the world is changing – it has the capability of shaping that change as well as adjusting to it. As I say in my signature motto, 'Let's save the world through science fiction.'

"Science fiction has the capability, at its best, of exercising the rational portions of the brain. You have to think to read it. And what the world needs now is people who can think better and more clearly and make good choices."
People aren't rational; they're predictable.

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