A Fact More Indigestible than Evolution

There is a new article written by R. Scott Bakker on Tor.com to promote the US release of his psycho-thriller Neuropath (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's an excerpt:

Ever wonder how people can believe Elvis and Hitler are still alive?

Sad fact is, we are bunglers when it comes to believing things we can’t immediately see. We are prone to over-simplify. We are prone to feel certain about dubious things. We are prone to cherry-pick what confirms our views, and to selectively overlook what challenges them. We are prone to understand complex phenomena in psychological terms.

The list goes on and on.

Science can be seen as a kind of compensatory mechanism, a family of principles and practices that allow us to overcome enough of our cognitive shortcomings to waddle toward an ever more comprehensive understanding of the world. Unlike ‘theory’ in the conspiracy or detective novel sense, scientific theory is the result of processes developed over centuries to correct for our biases. If the technological transformation of the world over the past few centuries provides us with a stunning demonstration of science’s theoretical power, then the thousands of years of muddling that precede that transformation provide an equally impressive demonstration of our theoretical incompetence absent science.


What if science, the greatest institutional instrument of discovery in history, starts telling us there’s no such thing as choices, or stranger still, selves? What if the portrait of humanity that science ultimately paints strikes us as immediately and obviously inhuman?

For more on the topic, you can also check out the interview that Larry and I did with Bakker last year. . .

Neuropath was one of my top reads of 2008, and I encourage anyone who has yet to give it go to read it.=)

4 commentaires:

Tristan said...

I hope to finally read a copy in the next two days, I can't wait, Bakker is one of my favorite authors. Unfortunately he seems to be one of those people that comes upon an idea and seems determined to beat everyone over the head with it until they are as blown away with it as he is. Richard Morgan seems to be the same way. But their zealotry has yet to affect their writing, which is top tier each time out. Neuropath and the white luck warrior are two books I plan on stopping everything to read.

Isis said...

I usually agree with your opinions Pat, but this is one book I just cannot share your views of. For me it was one of the most overrated titles of last year. And that pretentious afterword finished me off completely. No more Bakker for me, ever, after that.

You are not what you think you are, indeed! Not unless you think you're a pretentious, MOR, old idea-recycling sock-puppet, that is.

Patrick said...

Ah Isis. . .

And I thought we were a match made in heaven!:p

Stephen J. said...

I'm afraid I couldn't get through *Neuropath* (despite having loved the Prince of Nothing series) for the same reason I can't read *Pet Sematary* now, as a father: Simply too fundamentally unpleasant a mindworld to enter.

One review I read hit on a more fundamental problem with the story, which was essentially the same problem John C. Wright spotted when reviewing Peter Watts' *Blindsight*: If the fundamental thesis of your story is discovering that your protagonist -- and by implication, the reader -- has no free will and never did, then you have essentially destroyed all possibility of meaningful drama, as we understand it, at a stroke. If no choice your character makes is really a choice, then you're not listening to a story, you're watching an auto accident.