Fiction Is Stranger Than Truth

Of course it is. It is logically impossible for truth to be stranger. The view that truth is stranger depends on the fact that the bizarrely true is more surprising. Consider any possibly true story. Let it be that alligators are coming out of the Florida waters to rape women. But now tack this on: they take the women prisoners, marry and interbreed with them. Well, that is strange. You can always tack something on to any piece of truth and make it stranger; fiction is like that, you know. But because fiction’s possibilities are endless, we find it less surprising.

Today I read about the miracle molecule, oxytocin. Paul Zak, a man with Ph.D. degrees in mathematics and economics has figured out that everything good and bad in life is the result of oxytocin levels in the blood. Via generous inhalations of the stuff you can be the nicest person in the world. If you are deprived of a normal quantity then you make Pol Pot seem like Mr. Nice Guy. A lack of oxytocin makes you cheat on exams. A good sniff of the stuff during a wedding ceremony and the world turns happy. Give all the wedding guests a plentiful injection of the goo and happiness is theirs forever. In fact, there is nothing in life you can think of that is not mainly, if not entirely, due to oxytocin. All political wrangling is the result of a shortage of oxytocin.

I find this depressing. I want to think that the reason a certain man is unhappy is because his wife just got killed in an auto accident. Now I have learned that that kind of thinking takes me down the wrong path. Actually, I think a man should be unhappy when his wife gets killed in an accident and that being deprived of unhappiness by a good whiff of oxytocin is the worst imaginable fate he could suffer. But my ideas about right and wrong are all due to oxytocin. That, too, depresses me.

Strange truth is more surprising than strange fiction. Strange fiction fills us with ennui. Have you ever wandered into a science fiction movie? If you have, you know what I mean. I have heard strange but true tales of adults going to the James Cameron movie AVATAR. That challenges my view that fiction is stranger than truth, and I plan to work hard on finding an example of fiction that will top that.

Now for something entirely the same. A famous philosophical problem concerns whether indiscernibles are identical. For me, a modern application of the problem concerns whether all Muslims are alike. According to the politically correct view, my puzzlement over this proves I am a low grade moron and a hopeless bigot. I am inspired to review my thinking (if that is what it is) by the fact that Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic relations with Egypt. This is a splendid example of truth being stranger than fiction. I don’t care what the quarrel is about because I know it is an instance of madness. Still, we can top this story by tacking on this fiction: Muslims are resolved to grant women all the rights and perks that men have. Would that be crazy or what?

Also in the news is this puzzler. Prospect Park in Brooklyn has become the preferred habitat of lasioglossum gotham. That is entomologist bombast meaning “sweat licking New Yorkers.” Only in this case, the sweat lickers are a species of bees. They don’t sting; they just lick. They lick people who live in Brooklyn. Now, we all know that nothing tastes as good as the arm of a Brooklynite but, still, who gave them the right? The Schmidt Sting Index (I am not making that up) says you have plenty to worry about if you get stung by a tarantula hawk wasp (I am not making that up either) but lasioglossum gotham is a harmless guy. However, try tacking on this piece of fiction: I will never ever again visit Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Suffer, you bastards!

The Muslim Fight Song

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  1. You should read Eggers’ book, Zeitoun. It provides a solid counterexample to your claim that you’ve tacked a fiction onto your Muslim narrative. Maybe it’s time for you to grow up.

  2. Sid, Your second sentence (“It is logically impossible for truth to be stranger [than fiction]” is false. Only what is asserted in contradictions is logically impossible. The statement “Truth is stranger than fiction” is no logical contradiction. And your supporting argument fails because it is logically possible that every fictional addition to a truth makes it less strange.

  3. Howard, it is always logically possible to add something to a true statement that will make it stranger. Therefore, whatever is true can never be the maximal point of strangeness.

    As for the claim that only contradictions are logically impossible, I say this: FALSE.

  4. Howard is right, Sid, no matter what you “say.” As for strangeness, it, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder–given that the eye is a discerning one.

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