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Old 11-23-2017, 06:37 PM   #1
astrangerhere
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Science fiction triggers 'poorer reading', study finds

From The Guardian:

Quote:
In a paper published in the journal Scientific Study of Literature, Washington and Lee University professors Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson set out to measure how identifying a text as science fiction makes readers automatically assume it is less worthwhile, in a literary sense, and thus devote less effort to reading it. They were prompted to do their experiment by a 2013 study which found that literary fiction made readers more empathetic than genre fiction.
...
Readers of the science fiction story “appear to have expected an overall simpler story to comprehend, an expectation that overrode the actual qualities of the story itself”, so “the science fiction setting triggered poorer overall reading”.

The science fiction setting “appears to predispose readers to a less effortful and comprehending mode of reading – or what we might term non-literary reading – regardless of the actual intrinsic difficulty of the text”, they write.
This just seems sad to me. There are fantastic works of science fiction that DO bear careful reading. The authors did not get into causes, but they do want to investigate further:

Quote:
Gavaler said that in the future, he would like to test readers’ responses to longer texts and to other genres, exploring whether “genre markers” such as a cowboy hat or a sorcerer’s wand would have similar effects on readers.
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Old 11-23-2017, 06:55 PM   #2
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Perhaps that's true for people who are not generally fans of genre fiction, but only sample it from time to time. As for me, I avoid literary fiction like a plague and read only genre fiction for the last 25 years (except for non-fiction books). I don't think it's for the reason I find it less worthwile.

No hardcore fan of genre fiction would agree with that study.
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Old 11-23-2017, 06:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirtel View Post
No hardcore fan of genre fiction would agree with that study.
I don't think the author's expected that result (or liked it) either. But this is what you get with a random sampling, I assume.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:09 PM   #4
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Would like to know where they found these random people.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
I don't think the author's expected that result (or liked it) either. But this is what you get with a random sampling, I assume.
Well, yes, if they didn't take into account different tastes and reading preferences, then that's about what one can expect. My personal experience is that either a person likes and enjoys science fiction (in which case they never find it less worthwile) or they don't and only read it when they feel they have to, for one reason or another (peer pressure, nothing else at hand at the moment, a significant other recommended etc.) In the latter case they almost always find it not to their taste and often take a disdainful stance 'oh, it's not true literature, after all'. I don't personally know anyone who reads science fiction because they like it and at the same time finds it less worthwile.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:29 PM   #6
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And I think it is perhaps more a reflection on society itself than on the genre. If a society a
a whole values something then people are more likely to see a given thing as having value. Travis S. Taylor made an observation in a video interview. He noted that a good deal of 'sci. fi' was more magical than science based. To me science fiction has an element of actual science in it. The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, 20,000 leagues under the sea, Journey to the center of the Earth and more modern books that have science as part of the story. Travis S.Taylor's own writings are science based. I've read two of them "Warp Speed" and "The Quantum Connection" from Baen books. He uses real modern physics to show how such tech. might be possible. And the stories are anything but dull reading.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
And I think it is perhaps more a reflection on society itself than on the genre. If a society a
a whole values something then people are more likely to see a given thing as having value. Travis S. Taylor made an observation in a video interview. He noted that a good deal of 'sci. fi' was more magical than science based. To me science fiction has an element of actual science in it. The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, 20,000 leagues under the sea, Journey to the center of the Earth and more modern books that have science as part of the story. Travis S.Taylor's own writings are science based. I've read two of them "Warp Speed" and "The Quantum Connection" from Baen books. He uses real modern physics to show how such tech. might be possible. And the stories are anything but dull reading.
Possibly you're right, but I personally love fantasy just as much as science-based SF and don't think one is more worthwile than another. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:48 PM   #8
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the author wrote more on his blog:
https://thepatronsaintofsuperheroes....es-you-stupid/

and
https://thepatronsaintofsuperheroes....stupid-part-2/
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for the links to the blogs; that was interesting.
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
From The Guardian:

Quote:
In a paper published in the journal Scientific Study of Literature, Washington and Lee University professors Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson set out to measure how identifying a text as science fiction makes readers automatically assume it is less worthwhile, in a literary sense, and thus devote less effort to reading it. They were prompted to do their experiment by a 2013 study which found that literary fiction made readers more empathetic than genre fiction.
...
Readers of the science fiction story “appear to have expected an overall simpler story to comprehend, an expectation that overrode the actual qualities of the story itself”, so “the science fiction setting triggered poorer overall reading”.

The science fiction setting “appears to predispose readers to a less effortful and comprehending mode of reading – or what we might term non-literary reading – regardless of the actual intrinsic difficulty of the text”, they write.
This just seems sad to me. There are fantastic works of science fiction that DO bear careful reading. The authors did not get into causes, but they do want to investigate further:
Quote:
Gavaler said that in the future, he would like to test readers’ responses to longer texts and to other genres, exploring whether “genre markers” such as a cowboy hat or a sorcerer’s wand would have similar effects on readers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
I would say the author needs to get into a new line of work. He can not see the trees, or the forest for all of the weeds.

bernie
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:44 PM   #11
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Believing anything written by Chris Gavaler makes you stupid.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:31 PM   #12
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Thanks for the article; that was interesting.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
From The Guardian:

This just seems sad to me. There are fantastic works of science fiction that DO bear careful reading. The authors did not get into causes, but they do want to investigate further:

This just seems sad to me. There are fantastic works of science fiction that DO bear careful reading. The aIn a paper published in the journal Scientific Study of Literature, Washington and Lee University professors Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson set out to measure how identifying a text as science fiction makes readers automatically assume it is less worthwhile, in a literary sense, and thus devote less effort to reading it. They were prompted to do their experiment by a 2013 study which found that literary fiction made readers more empathetic than genre fiction.
...
Readers of the science fiction story “appear to have expected an overall simpler story to comprehend, an expectation that overrode the actual qualities of the story itself”, so “the science fiction setting triggered poorer overall reading”.

The science fiction setting “appears to predispose readers to a less effortful and comprehending mode of reading – or what we might term non-literary reading – regardless of the actual intrinsic difficulty of the text”, they write.uthors did not get into causes, but they do want to investigate further:
What the heck does "predispose readers to a less effortful and comprehending mode of reading" mean? Does it mean that you can lay on your back on the bed and read without any sweating because of "less effortful" activity? Frankly that comment is worse than just silly.

Now a book may be written at a 5th grade level or lower, but that doesn't need to apply to any particular genre. Presidential biographies may be in the special section of the elementary school library or on a graduate study reading list and the writing level will be adjusted for the expected expertise of the reader.

By the way when I was in elementary school I disdained the stupid bios of famous people and searched far and wide in the giant room for better fare. They gave me special permission (yes, a strange requirement, but necessary) to go into the area behind the Library Desk (with a real librarian those days) to find these books. At first I only got to do it when the librarian was busy or out of the room, but later they granted me access all the time.

It was only at the public library that I could find exhilarating and thrilling Science Fiction. Still I never had to expend any effort or sweat to get through those glorious tomes.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:55 PM   #14
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Possibly you're right, but I personally love fantasy just as much as science-based SF and don't think one is more worthwile than another. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
I don't think fantasy is any less valid a genre either. I've read the Narnia books, Harry Potter, LOTR and others. Sometimes genre's do blend to well together though. And the author of the article misses something. Science Fiction often leads to Science Fact. Robert Goddard for example read War of the Worlds as a kid. Later he pioneered liquid rocket technology which was then picked up by men like Werner Von Braun and which led to us going to the moon. For that matter stories like A logic named Joe predated the creation of the internet. First people dream on paper and then others start to wonder if there might just be a way to do what the author envisioned. And Science Fiction contributes to that more than any other genre.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:09 PM   #15
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What the heck does "predispose readers to a less effortful and comprehending mode of reading" mean?
Hmmm I think I have an idea. I've spent precious little effort and will to comprehend on many a book, because I just fell asleep instantly trying to read them. They were not science fiction though...
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