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What Part Of ‘Science Fiction’ Don’t You Understand? Oh, ‘Fiction.’ Right

This kinda slipped past everyone last week, but a study by Birmingham Science City in the U.K. found that a lot of people believe… well, they believe a lot of things.

Among the things the British public say they believe exist, if this survey is to be trusted (more on that later):

  • Light sabers. Over a fifth of respondents said they’re real.
  • Teleportation. 24% say that exists.
  • Time travel. 30% are under the apparent impression that you can hop a TARDIS to another era and that Back to the Future is a documentary. Speaking of which….
  • Hoverboards. 40% say they’re available.
  • Visible gravity. 18% think they can see gravity.  They didn’t ask whether the respondents could see squiggly little stink lines coming out of people who don’t frequently bathe, though.

The authors surmise that a lot of people watch a lot of Doctor Who and other TV shows and thus have blurred the line between science and fiction.

On the other hand, the respondents were skeptical about some things that are closer to reality, such as invisibility cloaks (78% say that’s fiction, yet we’ve recently seen indications that they may be possible), growing an extra pair of eyes (90% are skeptical, but researchers are experimenting with frogs and think that there’ll be a way to generate human eyes), and moving things with just your mind (70% apparently have not seen that video of the car being steered with mind commands).


The study also asked what people would like to see invented, and men are obviously Star Trek and Doctor Who fans, because teleportation and time travel were atop the list. The top choice for women, on the other hand, was a universal cure for all diseases. Yup, guys want the cool stuff and women go for the practical and humanitarian. Just like every hack comedian will tell you.

Now, they say that 3,000 people took the survey, which would be a representative sample, but it does not give any other information about the methodology, and I’m skeptical, because… well, come on, is it escaping 40% of the population that you don’t see anyone — ANYONE — riding a hoverboard above the high street? That you can’t hop the TARDIS to 1964? That Scotty isn’t beaming you up? That those light sabers you can buy are battery-powered plastic tubes that don’t actually slice anything? Maybe we WANT that stuff, but that many people can’t be unaware that, as of now, it’s all still fiction.

Or… IS it?

(sigh)

Yes, it is, and we as members of the nerd world know this because even the most committed MMORPGers have at least one foot in reality, right? This really isn’t supposed to be about what we want, it’s supposed to be… wait, what? No, the TARDIS is not… it’s not… stop weeping, I… oh, all right, if it’ll make you happy, Doctor Who is real. There, are you happy now? All right, then.

Then again, there IS this:

HOVERBOARD – NILS GUADAGNIN from nils guadagnin on Vimeo.

Just don’t try riding it anywhere.

You can take the quiz yourself at this link.

HT: AOL News

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12 comments

  • I have to question the methodology and validity of this research. As far as I can tell, it is an online survey, that is open to anyone. There goes randomization. Plus, people are far more likely to answer in a way that they find amusing, as opposed to truthfully, when there is no “authority figure” that they have to physically turn their forms into. Also, the operational definitions of “existence” are sketchy at best. some peopel could view the question as asking if the technology exists in some form or another in a distant research laboratory, where as others might read “existence” as being able to purchase it from a store. I’d say that these reuslts have absolutely no bearing on reality.

  • well everyone was duped about hoverboards because of comments Robert Zemeckis made after BTTF II came out. Also, doesn’t mag lev technology exist? that seems about as close to real hoverboards as does the invisibility cloaks becoming a reality

  • Once you’ve put a space in the word “lightsaber”, it’s just a sword that doesn’t weigh that much. So the people answered that they exist were correct, from a certain point of view.

  • I did want to give those who said you can “see” gravity a second chance. Perhaps they were thinking that they were seeing gravity when they meant they see the effects of gravity?