Literature Blindsight Discussion

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09:28:57 PM Sep 12th 2014
I started to list some tropes from the Sidequel novel on the main page, unless someone thinks we should give Echopraxia its own page
12:33:37 AM Jun 29th 2012
Blindsight has around ten characters I can think off, around six of them are of great relevance to the story, seven if you count the AI captain. Do you think that's enough for a character section? If so, then I'd appreciate it if someone could create one. I'll help fill it out.

Another question that's been in my head for a while is whether Sarasti would count as an Ensemble Dark Horse. I found him to be the most interesting character, and I think he's got more fanart than Siri or any other character does, but I'd like to have some more opinions on him before we add him. Unless he's already mentioned as an Ensemble Dark Horse, but I couldn't find it.
03:13:38 PM Jun 21st 2012
edited by LarkspurPlagueheart
This is probably a "YMMV" or possibly even a review, but I found a lot of the science, well, hopelessly...dumb.

Yeah, sure, Dr. Watts cites his sources for a lot of stuff. But not only does he actually misspell the name of a phenomenon in those sources ("saccadal" is not the adjective having to do with rapid eye-movements; it's "saccadic," and the phenomenon he's referring to isn't a "saccad(al/ic) glitch" but saccadic masking), he gets some stuff flat-out *wrong*—like mentioning "autism" and "sociopathy" in the same breath when referring to the vampires.

Some of this stuff is Science Marches On, to be sure. But when going back and referring to what was available about many of the phenomena he builds his work on, one finds that the research to disprove his "neat ideas(!!!)" was in fact available when he was writing the books. For example, the idea that something can "hide" in plain sight by minutely and accurately tracking human eye saccades is partially refuted by the phenomenon of trans-saccadic perception, where people are (much like in the blindsight phenomenon!) able to react physically to things they can't otherwise see during a saccade. (There's a lot more to saccadic masking and saccadic suppression of image displacement than this and it's possible to deconstruct this for a while, but what it boils down to is "saccade-exploitation invisibility" is an extremely popular meme that doesn't seem to have a whole lot of basis in the actual science of eye-brain communication.)

Similarly This Troper found the whole "there's almost no right angles in nature" a bit of a Wallbanger, given there are in fact rather a lot of things that aren't just sodium chloride crystals that form adjacent (Watts uses "intersecting," which, uh, what?) right angles. Theoretically, walking into a redwood forest, viewing a pyrite or bismuth crystal in any detail, or seeing certain patterns of mud cracks and sediment deposition should send a vampire into seizures.

The idea that hemispherectomy causes a form of autism (and Watts' further complaint on his website, "I'm still not entirely sure why they remove the hemisphere; why not just split the corpus callosum, if all you're trying to do is prevent a feedback loop between halves?") is, uh, well. It kind of completely overlooks the very high tolerance of hemispherectomies (i.e., "doesn't cause learning or social disorders") in those young enough to show considerable neural plasticity—which Siri was. (And the complaint about hemispherectomy vs. corpus callosotomy is absolutely ridiculous when one reviews stuff available on The Other Wiki about the procedures and their implementation in Rassmussen's encephalitis—a potentially viral epilepsy and most likely what Dr. Watts was thinking about for Siri's affliction—and finds that hemispherectomy is the surgery of LAST RESORT after partial and total callosotomies fail to suppress seizures. So they DO in fact sever the corpus callosum first...) In fact, he seems to be taking most of his information on personality changes following major brain damage from the story of Phineas Gage, and while he *even cites the book* that shows most of those stories (like Gage's turn to pedophilia) to be false or greatly exaggerated, he *still gets it wrong*.

There's a great deal more. Maybe I'll sit down one day with all of his references and read through them more exhaustively, but this is already annoying me to the point of distraction so I'll end this here.
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