Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fact and Fiction

A number of people had nice tributes this past week to the author Michael Crichton. This one by Jennifer Marohasy stands out because it identifies the heart of Crichton's best writing: that he challenged our understanding of what is fiction from what is fact. Crichton wrote:
  • The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance. We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we're told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.
Crichton famously identified much of contemporary environmentalism as being more akin to religion than science, resplendent with dogma rather than evidence and solid methodology.

West underscores the power of narrative in embedding an event or activity within current consciousness. History often is interpreted and explained through contempary lenses, not the context within which it occurs. Fiction becomes fact, accepted and popularized by narratives within the dominant dogma of contemporary media.

In this manner, multi-causative, dynamic and complex climate change becomes the AGW of climate orthodoxy and carbon hysteria. Fiction as fact.

Crichton will be missed by all who appreciate free thought, self-determination and books that entertain while they provoke reflection and consideration.