Archive for May 7th, 2013

May 7, 2013

Libertarian Science Fiction

Libertarian science fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that focuses on the politics and social order implied by libertarian philosophies with an emphasis on individualism and a limited state—and in some cases, no state whatsoever.

As a category, libertarian fiction is unusual because the vast majority of its authors are self-identified as science fiction authors. This contrasts with the authors of much other social criticism who are largely academic or mainstream novelists who tend to dismiss any genre classification.

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May 7, 2013

Social Science Fiction

Social science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction concerned less with technology and space opera and more with sociological speculation about human society. In other words, it ‘absorbs and discusses anthropology,’ and speculates about human behavior and interactions. 

Exploration of fictional societies is a significant aspect of science fiction, allowing it to perform predictive (H. G. Wells, ‘The Final Circle of Paradise’) and precautionary (Ray Bradbury, ‘Fahrenheit 451’) functions, to criticize the contemporary world (Russian author Alexander Gromov’s ‘Antarctica-online’ ) and to present solutions (B.F. Skinner’s ‘Walden Two’), to portray alternative societies (World of the Noon, a fictional future setting for a number of hard science fiction novels written by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky) and to examine the implications of ethical principles (the works of Russian science fiction author Sergei Lukyanenko).

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May 7, 2013

Walden Two

Walden Two is a utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, first published in 1948. In its time, it could have been considered to be science fiction, since science-based methods for altering people’s behavior did not yet exist. (Such methods exist now and are known as applied behavior analysis, formerly behavior modification).

‘Walden Two’ is controversial because it includes a rejection of free will, the proposition that human behavior is controlled by a non-corporeal entity, such as a spirit or a soul. The book embraces the proposition that the behavior of organisms, including humans, is determined by genetic and environmental variables, and that systematically altering environmental variables can generate a sociocultural system that very closely approximates utopia.

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May 7, 2013

Dumbing Down

idiocracy

The term Dumbing down describes the deliberate diminishment of the intellectual level of the content of schooling and education, of literature and cinema, and of news and culture. The idea of and the term dumbing down originated in 1933 as slang, used by motion picture screenplay writers, to mean: ‘revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence.’ Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu noted cultural capital as a means of social mobility, which is diminished by the processes of dumbing down.

The occurrences of dumbing down vary in nature, according to the subject matter under discussion and the purpose of the simplifier, but the dumbing-down usually involves the over-simplification of critical thought to the degree of conceptually undermining the intellectual standards of language and of learning of a society; by such simplistic means the writer and the speaker justifies the trivialization of cultural, artistic, and academic standards, as in the case of popular culture.

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May 7, 2013

Damsel in Distress

The subject of the damsel in distress, or persecuted maiden, is a classic theme in world literature, art, film and video games. She is usually a beautiful young woman placed in a dire predicament by a villain or monster and who requires a hero to achieve her rescue. She has become a stock character of fiction, particularly of melodrama.

Though she is usually human, she can also be of any other species, including fictional or folkloric species; and even divine figures such as an angel or deity. The word ‘damsel’ derives from the French ‘demoiselle,’ meaning ‘young lady,’ and the term ‘damsel in distress’ in turn is a translation of the French ‘demoiselle en détresse.’

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May 7, 2013

Flow

challenge vs skill

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

Proposed by Hungarian psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields including sports, arts, and science. Popular terms for this or similar mental states include: ‘to be in the moment,’ ‘present,’ ‘in the zone,’ ‘on a roll,’ ‘wired in,’ ‘in the groove,’ ‘on fire,’ ‘in tune,’ ‘centered,’ or ‘singularly focused.’

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