Saturday, 25 February 2017

Adding science to the stories

Most of my changes are to make stories more scientific. But you might think this is pseudo-science. So let me explain.

Science or pseudo-science?

Science is a method: observe in a repeatable way, and think logically. Science is not a collection of facts. A collection of facts is an appeal to authority: "it's true because the sacred fact book says so!" Of course, the fact book could be right. Authorities are often right, that is how they become authorities. But it is still an appeal to authority.

"But wait, the fact book can be tested, so that makes it science!" Not true. Religious texts can also be tested: do you get a spiritual experience? Can you dig up the walls of Jerusalem? Being testable does not make thing scientific. The test itself is the science.

Good science is science because it is easy to test. Bad religion is bad because it is not easy to test: "what exactly do you mean by a 'spiritual experience'?" But you can also get bad science (claims that are poorly defined) and good religion (e.g. "accept these metaphors, and a nation will have greater economic growth and better indicators of happiness" - OK, fine, I can test that.)

Good science is easy to test. My stories are easy to test. That is why I call them scientific.

Example 1: the underground sea

Journey to the Center of the Earth has a big underground sea, It is usually imagined as a vast cavern, several miles high and many miles wide, and mostly empty. As Jules Verne wrote, we cannot say it its not there until we go and test it. That's science.

In Verne's day, scientists could not be sure how giant caves would behave. Jules Verne took advantage of that fact. Today scientists have a better idea. So in my story the caverns are relatively near the surface and have multiple supports. I have tested scientists and found them to be generally reliable, but also open to new possibilities.. And I present a story that can be tested: go underground and see!

Science and scientists

If science is a method, what use is peer reviewed data? The clue is in the name: the science is the peers, not the data. You can test these scientists. You might not have your own large hadron collider, but you do have direct experience of people who claim to be scientific,. You, the reader, can judge their reputation. These people then become your tools. They look at the data and say the data is good. You, the reader, are not judging the data (though you can judge ts logical presentation). You are judging the judges.

Example 2: the race of gods

In my version of Gilgamesh I suggest that "the gods" are a distinct tribe of elites. Now probably the reality was messier than this: just as today there would be a tangled mess of priests and traditions and land usage rights. Bt my repeatable, direct experience of life - my scientific observation - tells me that all humans societies create elites based on land ownership. And my direct, repeatable experience tells me that data has to be greatly simplified in order to communicate useful information.

So, I state boldly that my idea of gods is scientific. I have tested it directly. I also acknowledge that as I test more things my views will no doubt evolve. That is also a fact that I and others have tested. So that is also science.


Scientific means tested, or testable. These stories are both tested and testable.

Caves really do exist. I hypothesise that really big caves can exist, if close enough to the surface and with enough internal supports. And you can climb down caves and test that claim. That's science.

Elites really do exist. I hypothesise that ancient elites existed in a certain way. And you can dig up sites like Gobekli Tepe and test that claim. That's science.

In future stories I will explore travel to parallel realities. I will try to interpret the ideas in ways that are both tested, and testable. So it will be science, dude!

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