Quiz examples - reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda, fact from fiction
December 12, 2003 7:05 AM   Subscribe

"The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda." (See link from here.) What are some examples of leading-edge science and/or technology that might illustrate the truth of this statement? [More inside]

I want to begin a presentation by providing several examples of leading-edge science and/or technology intermingled with some science fiction fantasies. Hopefully, asking the audience to distinguish legitimate ideas from fantasy will illustrate how increasingly difficult it is to discern fact from fiction, especially without a solid foundation in the sciences. The presentation will focus on electronic discovery and will be presented to lawyers and judges. Verifiable sources of information (obviously, only for the real science/technology) would be greatly appreciated.
posted by ajr to Grab Bag (3 answers total)
I'm still a little fuzzy on what you're looking for, but you may be interested in some of the "science fiction fantasies" on this thread, as the question of how to go about "distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda" is the main point of almost every page.
posted by soyjoy at 7:51 AM on December 12, 2003

"Today's science fiction is often tomorrow's science fact."
- Stephen Hawking, from his foreward in a book by Lawrence Krauss

"Reality" is subjective.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:41 AM on December 12, 2003

You might want to look into the "Crichton on environmentalism" thread of a day or two ago - especially for the C.P. Snow essay (as one touchstone).

I believe it was Arthur C. Clark who made the observation that, at a certain level, science becomes indistinguishable from magic. I think he was correct. Truth vs. Propaganda can be very hard, also - and that depends on the size of the propagandist's budget.

There is another aspect to this you may be missing - the possibility that our cognitive maps are neither true nor false, just more or less useful for our purposes. This is not about technology, per se.

Ideology, some would assert, can become tantamount to delusional fantasy. And entire cultures can become wrapped in such "fantasy" to the extent of bringing ruin upon themselves, through wars and conflict which bring, eventually, a corrective which is a sort of "negotiation" with other, perhaps more adaptive, cultural realities.
posted by troutfishing at 10:08 AM on December 12, 2003

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