|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Monday, April 30, 2012
At lunch-time I found a handful of people from the disciplines of media studies and science studies in a huddle, aghast at the naivety of the ideas the rest of us had about science and fiction. As mere practitioners of one or the other (or both) we were treating each in their different ways as quite unproblematic representations of reality, and the problem as matching them up. I saw their point, but it was somewhat blunted by an earlier coffee-break conversation I'd had with a science studies guy who assured me that all scientific knowledge was confirmed by social processes, not by further experiment (or words to that effect). When I protested that a lot of scientific discoveries had become established fact, literally solidly proven by (e.g.) the very floor we stood on, he assured me that that sort of thing (what goes into making trains, planes, and automobiles, etc) was 'engineering knowledge' and not science at all. Nevertheless I tossed a plea for some attention to critical media and science studies into the afternoon's discussion, where it sank without a ripple.
My own preferred model (sketched out in late-night conversations with Iain Banks, long ago) for how scientists and SF writers should interact with movies and television is the approval-stamp from the American Humane Society that you see in the credits. A little line saying 'No elementary scientific truth or serious science-fictional speculation was harmed, distorted, or mangled beyond all recognition in the making of this motion picture' would not be much, but it would be a start.