JOHN L. CASTI
Sometime back, I attended a scientific meeting in New York City at which the scientists present tried to convince their peers of the virtues of their particular theories by creating what can only be described as stories. Of course, the tellers of these tales didn't see them as stories at all, but only as versions of "The Truth" in which various inconveniences of the real world had been simplified — or simply omitted — so as to make the story come out right in the end. Such idealizations of nature are a common enough practice in science, although most practicing scientists would probably balk at the labeling of their theories as "stories." But, in fact, in their distortion of real-world facts these stories are every bit as fanciful as the types of warpages of reality engaged in by novelists in creating their tales of human strife and struggle.
Having had enough of these scientific stories to last me for awhile, one afternoon I skipped the meeting to engage in my absolutely favorite pastime in New York — haunting the bookshops from uptown to downtown and most everywhere in between.