We have a small group that gets together on a somewhat irregular basis (theoretically weekly but I don’t think we’ve ever gone more than two weeks in a row).  We’re reading the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  It is a remarkably different way of looking at religion.  I’m finding that it stretches my thinking and I recommend it highly.

As part of this book club, we discuss the chapter we’ve just read and usually whatever other books we’re reading, things we hear on the radio or see on TV or just ideas we’ve had.  One of our group members (who is far, far smarter than I, though he is younger) is very interested in Philosophy, Psychology, Ethics and relatively abstract things of this nature.  I am totally not.  I can’t imagine sitting down to an evening of Kant.  Freud leaves me froid.  I’d rather Play-doh than Plato.  I think you get where I’m going with this and I will spare you any further puns.

I think I’ve figured out why I can sit for hours reading a history of the HBC (Newman’s three volume set is highly recommended) or why The Science of Superheroes riveted me for a week.  It’s the same reason that I’d rather watch hockey than gymnastics, or soccer over figure skating:  I like objectivity!

Hockey, soccer, science and history have this in common:  There is an objective standard involved.  You can count the number of goals scored.  You can see empirically whether your theories work or not (I am leaving out a lot of theoretical physics here, obviously).  You measure history against recordings of events that happened at the time ( I know there is subjectivity galore in history but by considering a bunch of sources you can eliminate a lot of it).

With the others, it basically comes down to one person’s word against another’s.  Even the best expert at judging figure skating is pretty much grading on whether or not they thought it was a good performance or not.  Philosophy is the same thing.  It tends to be people who just sort of sit around thinking up ideas.  Some of these ideas may be brilliant, no doubt, but they are ultimately opinions and can’t exactly be measured.

Now, as for why I prefer Sci-fi to Fantasy for my fictional reading time, that much is obvious.  No spaceships in Fantasy novels.

let me just hold one of you