Monday, December 31, 2012

Fiction, Fact and Anthropology

I like Hard Science Fiction and Mystery.  Both are puzzle solving genres of writing so they keep my mind working on how the main character solves the basic conflict in the story.

Anthropology is the study of how people solve the problems related to their general story.

Archeology studies relics of the past and makes guesses about how those relics were used, another application of problem solving skills.

The problem with all problem solving that concerns how people will react is that in stories people react logically and in real life people don't.

People, in general, like to believe that their ideology and their reactions are logical and reasonable.  They aren't.  But writing fiction as if people are reasonable makes sense.

Take the current hoopla about gun control in the United States.  Obviously alcohol control, drug control and prostitution control have not worked out.  All have resulted in violent black markets.  Why would people think gun control will differently?  Do the same thing and get the same results.  Doing something and expecting different results is crazy.

People don't behave rationally though.

Biologists have know for a long time that the odds are against homosexuality being genetic.  If homosexuality were genetic the species would have bread it out.  Darwin suggested that homosexuality was a generic response to a genetic flaw.  Homosexuality prevented the genetic flaw from being bred into the species.  That didn't quite work for biologists either.  Genetic flaws, or mutations, are what evolution is based on.  How would a member of a species instinctively know if a genetic mutation were "bad"?

As time goes on biologists have discovered that quite a lot of human behavior is caused by chemical changes within a persons biology and have created psychotropic drugs to address some of those behaviors.  Are those chemical imbalances genetic?  If so, why didn't the species breed them out?  If not why do they appear to be hereditary?

This kind of kicked me for a loop, but, hereditary does not necessarily mean genetic.

What does all that have to do with fiction and anthropology and problem solving?

People solve problems as a group, The bigger the group the worse the solution.  For example people decided that alcohol in the United States was a problem.  People made alcohol illegal and that created a violent black market that was worse than the problems alcohol caused.  Then they did the same thing with gambling, recreational drugs, prostitution, etc, all creating violent black markets.

You would think that if stupidity is genetic we would have bred it out of the gene pool by now, but, obviously we haven't.  People still make dumb decisions, trying to get different results by doing the same thing.  Gun control will obviously result in the same kind of black market as alcohol, drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.  Yet people still want to do the same thing expecting different results.

The hereditary of some things, intelligence, predisposition for behaviors like addictive, sexual, violent, etc, are probably environmental.  Personally I think some hereditary issues are related to exposure to environmental waste accumulation as population increases.

If I am correct, then as population increases people become wackier and less reasonable and we should be able to track the intelligence of a culture or population using popular fiction.


Are the fictional problems in books easier or harder for the reader to solve?  Are the imaginative problems created by popular writers like Edgar Allen Poe, H. Rider Haggard or Edgar Rice Burroughs more imaginative or more difficult to solve than the problems Stephen King, Dean Koontz or James Patterson have developed?

If a clinical psychologist skilled in intelligence evaluation were to review fiction published over the last few hundred years what would the result be?

Now that is interesting,

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