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Caitlin R. Kiernan

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Art is not science. Even when art is about science, it is still art. There cannot be consensus, in the sense that science strives for meaningful consensus. And unlike science, art is not progressive. Personally, I have my doubts that science can be said to be genuinely progressive, but I'm pretty dammed certain that art is not. Which is not to say that it is not accumulative or accretionary. But the belief that sf writers are out there forecasting the future, that they have some social responsibility to do so, that's malarky, if you ask me. Writers of sf can only, at best, make educated guesses, and usually those guesses are wrong, and clumping together to form a consensus does not in any way insure against history unfolding in one of those other, unpredicted directions. People love to pick out the occasional instances where Jules Verne and William Gibson got it right; they rarely ever point fingers at their miscalls.
(15 June 2007)

Caitlin R. Kiernan

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Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

Michael Crichton

Science, as the positivist understands it, is susceptible of infinite progress. That you learn in every elementary school today, I believe. Every result of science is provisional and subject to future revision, and this will never change. In other words, fifty thousand years from now there will still be results entirely different from those now, but still subject to revision. Science is susceptible of infinite progress. But how can science be susceptible of infinite progress if its object does not have an inner infinity? The belief admitted by all believers in science today that science is by its nature essentially progressive, and eternally progressive  implies, without saying it, that being is mysterious. And here is the point where the two lines I have tried to trace do not meet exactly, but where they come within hailing distance. And, I believe, to expect more in a general way, of people in general, would be unreasonable.

Leo Strauss

I think the new science fiction, which other people apart from myself are now beginning to write, is introverted, possibly pessimistic rather than optimistic, much less certain of its own territory. There's a tremendous confidence that radiates through all modern American science fiction of the period 1930 to 1960; the certainty that science and technology can solve all problems. This is not the dominant form of science fiction now. I think science fiction is becoming something much more speculative, much less convinced about the magic of science and the moral authority of science. There's far more caution on the part of the new writers than there was.

J. G. Ballard

Science fiction writers thought it would be possible. H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and other authors found ways to get people to the moon. But none of those writers foresaw any possibility of the lunar explorers being able to communicate with Earth, transmit data, position information, or transmit moving pictures of what they saw back to Earth.

Neil Armstrong

Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation ... Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

Richard Feynman
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