A defining thread of modern scientific thought is skepticism, the tendency to question accepted ideas until evidence is found to confirm or reject them. But what do skeptics do in worlds of magic, aliens, and other matters fantastic?
Science fiction authors often face a difficult task in incorporating skepticism into their works. After all, they’re usually science fiction authors for a reason, and they want to incorporate a key part of the scientific mindset into their works. But what are you supposed to do when that mindset would just make any character who possesses it spend the entire story repeatedly pointing out that the entire story is impossible?
There are two options – either you modify the boundaries of the character’s skepticism to incorporate whatever impossible science works in this universe…or you just sort of drop a rational skeptic from our world into this science fiction landscape more or less unaltered. And that’s where things tend to get a bit weird.
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Agents Mulder and Scully from X-Files are the perfect examples of the sci-fi skeptic. Scully always kept Mulder partially grounded. Without her and her skeptic character, X-Files would not have been the same.
What are your thoughts about skepticism in science fiction?