Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Monday, May 23, 2011

Effects of SF Stories

I'm sure nearly everybody by now has heard of the rape accusation against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Ben Stein is a little skeptical:

In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes?
There are examples of economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes.

I've been wondering where Ben Stein got the idea that economists were peculiarly unlikely to be rapists. He might have gotten the idea from A Million Open Doors by John Barnes, in which Caledon (the economist's colony) has a much lower rape rate than Nou Occitan (the poet's colony).

There are other examples of people getting their ideas from SF instead of reality. The conventional wisdom on nuclear energy (that it won't save us from peak fossil fuel and that it can DESTROY THE PLANET) almost certainly comes from Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon (chapter 4, section 5 for the first and chapter 5, section 4 for the second).

I suspect the individual mandate part of Obamacare might have been inspired by the belief that capitalism is a matter of forcing people to buy things as found in “The Midas Plague” by Frederick Pohl and Hell's Pavement by Damon Knight. (There was a little bit of this in A Million Open Doors as well.)


Blogger TJIC said...

I loved that series, but I had forgotten that detail.

There was an ECONOMIST'S colony?!?!?

8:22 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

A quote from p. 188 of A Million Open Doors (it isn't in Google's book preview):

Historically we're in good company: Jesus, Peter, Paul ... Adam Smith was burned at the stake on Threadneedle Street, and Milton Friedman was eaten by cannibals in Zurich.

Context: Caledon was both an economist's colony and a fanatic Protestant colony and just had a coup by the 29th-century version of Creationists.

12:16 AM  

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