For my birthday last year I received Brave New World A gift, a miserable classic by Aldous Huxley. Because you are not every year Evening Gerrard Reeve can read over the Christmas holidays, so I started here. Twenty percent of the publication consists of introductions, articles, and critical reflections on how predictions could or may not have been fulfilled in business at the time (First Edition 1932) at present. The book begins with a tour of the central London hatchery and conditioning center, capitalized on the first page, just as Big Brother watches you in the first page capitals of Orwell. 1984 status. As if the writers already knew their business would end in the upper cabinets of history.
Literally translating “hatchery” is “hatching,” which is a place where eggs, for example, chickens can be hatched. But in Brave New World, it is people who bear fruit: embryos in bottles. With IVF treatments, we are now closer to predicting at the time than the reality of 1932. But during the tour, the director of the breeding plant proudly tells when they arrive at the management department: “88 cubic meters of map indexes! Updated every day! It’s great that Huxley thinks we will raise babies in bottles, but no computer can store those 88 cubic meters in a box of one cubic decimeter. The development of science is unpredictable.
Despite these anachronisms, it is sometimes a chilling book. It brought me to the idea that art – in this case literature – could do something that disgraces scientists: letting go of bits of truth. Huxley did not have to worry about the laws of nature with his vision of the future; The only relevant fact is the truth of the story. The most important condition for a story is credibility. The interesting thing is that since there are so many unexpected details in the story, what is real comes very difficult. Or even more true: in a land of superstitions one truth is king.
Fake news times
You’ve also met such a feeling in A man in good shoesA collection of short stories by Rob Van Essen. His stories chose a different path of the absurd: they begin with all plausibility, then leave the realistic streak. In the story JOS days Van Essen describes how a figure I hides while walking down a balcony, spoken of by a woman who gets to know her brother, who died young. He goes with her home with her, and it turns out that it fits seamlessly into her memories, and also knows just like that on the ground where they grew up together. Reality slowly gets derailed, but not the truth of the story. The reader is left with questions about who you are and how your life relates to all other life forms in the world. Questions about which I wouldn’t readily read an article or book that is not fiction, but are nice remnants of a book that walks with the truth, or in the case of this story: A Walk with the Truth.
Could there be any harm if the ship of science, with the sometimes difficult-to-steer course, where all hands are often on deck to arrange funds to stay aboard, agrees on that approach as well? Take on a topic like climate change. There is broad consensus in science about the urgency of the problem, but society does not yet have a climate for change. How do you overcome skepticism, when you already have a scientific fact by your side? A question that appears frequently in times of fake news. The answer may be that you must dare to give up the truth – radically or surreptitiously – and then let it rise like a phoenix from the ashes of futility.
Jan Beoving is a mathematician and comedian. In his column he plays with natural sciences and language.