Pseudosciences and their use in SFF

Harpo

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We are all aware of some pseudosciences - things wrongly believed to be scientific (such as biorhythms, ancient astronauts, graphology, ley lines, Myers-Briggs type, ridiculous diets and of course conspiracy theories galore) and I can’t see that we have a Chrons thread for discussing them within the SFF wossname.

What’s that word I mean there? The SFF Thingy
 

CupofJoe

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I liked the inversion of phrenology by Sir Terry Pratchett.
If the bumps and dips on your skull can determine your personality. Then obviously Retrophrenology, having someone bash you around the head with a mallet to give you the cranial features for a desired trait, must be possible.
Retrophrenology:
It works like this. Phrenology, as everyone knows, is a way of reading someone's character, aptitude and abilities by examining the bumps and hollows on their head. Therefore - according to the kind of logical thinking that characterizes the Ankh-Morpork mind - it should be possible to mould someone's character by giving them carefully graded bumps in all the right places. You can go into a shop and order an artistic temperament with a tendency to introspection and a side order of hysteria. What you actually get is hit on the head with a selection of different size mallets, but it creates employment and keeps the money in circulation, and that's the main thing.
Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms
 

Toby Frost

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I find these things quite interesting, especially ideas that were believed at certain times but are now proven wrong, such as the humours in medicine. They can be useful to introduce in fantasy as alternatives to more obvious magic. However, some of them are linked to dangerous conspiracy theories that have become more active for recent years, for reasons that I can't go into. So approach with caution, I reckon.
 

Extollager

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I loved the way Lars Walker's near-future fantasy novel Wolf Time "assumed" that the Kensington Runestone, which (if authentic) shows the presence of Norse explorers in the American Midwest in the 1300s. I've seen the Runestone in a little museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. (It's physically impressive, and the "museum" was tasteful, not projecting a tourist-trap vibe.) On the other hand, if it were genuine, it would be one of the most important historical artefacts in the world, I suppose, and would need a much more high-security facility, like the Smithsonian. Walker spells out at the end of the novel that he doesn't think it's genuine, by the way. But it was fun to play with the idea that it was. (I realize that this posting is marginally related to the OP, but I hope that's OK.)

uydodobb.jpg
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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One could argue that Pseudo Science was a staple of Pre golden age science fiction and to fair extent Glds age science fiction.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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Telepathy used to be a popular trope in SF in the mid 20th century, when there was much-publicised research (or "research") into various kinds of ESP (Extra-Sensory Perception). It's a lot rarer nowadays. Writers now prefer to use implanted technology to do the same job.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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Telepathy used to be a popular trope in SF in the mid 20th century, when there was much-publicised research (or "research") into various kinds of ESP (Extra-Sensory Perception). It's a lot rarer nowadays. Writers now prefer to use implanted technology to do the same job.

In his novel The Metal Monsters. an expedition into the mountains of Asia uncover a civilization machines and what interesting is the machines have would be described as WiFi communication And thye have machines that ship shape which suggest some kind Liquid Metal and Nan technology . Pretty mazing when consider the fact t hat this novel was written in 1920 ! In terms of concepts and ideaMerrit was light years ahead of his contemporaries.
 

Guttersnipe

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If the story takes place in a world where spontaneous generation exists instead of biogenesis happening, is this sci-fi or fantasy?
 

Swank

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I have read fantasy books that adopt conceits taken from debunked pseudoscience. But I haven't seen it in SF.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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Would the bits in Dune about remembering your ancestors' memories count? I'm sure someone somewhere suggested that was actually possible once (although it might have been an obvious loon who suggested it).
Isn't that basically Carl Jung's idea of the Collective Unconscious? Even psychoanalysts tend to brush that one under the carpet these days....
 

Swank

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Dune suggests that memories are stored in a form that can be passed from person to person through direct contact. No one currently knows how memory is stored.
 
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