A friend recently posted about Michael Crichton and how he’s great. He’s pretty great: he wrote a bunch of super cool books, all pretty smart, thoroughly researched, and real easy to read. (Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, among others.)
But! He also got like kinda deep into climate change denial. Everyone’s got their own beliefs, etc, and he’s allowed to be wrong. But his novel State of Fear, in particular, may have done some real damage. A lot of news is more opinion than fact these days, and a super-popular writer is likely to influence people more than a hundred academic studies. In particular, it shifts the Overton window (the window of beliefs you can have without being considered “extreme” or “radical”). By writing a major novel in which climate change denial is in fact the correct position, and then sticking with that belief, he’s made it politically reasonable to believe “humans are not causing climate change.”
(of course, numerous particularly right wing pundits and politicians are constantly working to shift the Overton window to constantly crazier beliefs, and yes the current batch of Republicans (including these) lie more than liberals currently do (here’s a couple more) (plus popular pundits) (yes I’m cherrypicking once we get outside the pres/vp and congress but I don’t know how to pick so I just used this list for liberals and this list/reference) for conservatives)
Back to Crichton! Ok, so dude’s dangerously wrong about one thing. And yeah, gotta fight that incorrectness hard. But he’s still a great writer, so we can appreciate him for that. Maybe he’s not Jesus #2, but he can still be an 85% hero.
(hell, my heroes are 85% too. David Byrne was a bit of a jerk to his bandmates, Bowie spent years coked out of his mind (which I’m more likely to give him a pass on b/c he wasn’t hurting anyone else but w/e), Kurt Vonnegut didn’t seem to think women were worth writing, and even the Dalai Lama’s just the latest in a series of supreme dictators.*)
So, I guess, let’s not throw out Crichton and let’s not throw out my heroes. In the age of the Internet, it’s harder to find anyone who’s 100% perfect. The sooner we stop trying, the sooner we can stop excommunicating anyone who’s only 85%, the sooner we can accept and listen and grow together as a country and even a world.
* speaking of Vonnegut not writing women, look at me: my heroes are nearly all white men. ok, throw in Tom Robbins, Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, and Karin Dreijer Andersson, and we’re down to 87% men. I mention this not to self-flagellate, but to ask, as always, for recommendations of women or POC artists or personalities that I might like if I like these folks.
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