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  1. ArcadiaE

    ArcadiaE New Member

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    Is it okay to have science that doesn't make sense?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by ArcadiaE, Jul 8, 2016.

    I'm writing a futuristic book in which the characters can find out if you have an anxiety disorder through testing your blood. Scientifically speaking this isn't possible, but it's a fictional book in a futuristic world so can I still include it?
     
  2. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can get away with almost anything if you present it in a way people can accept.

    In your example, I would explain it away with the blood being used to analyze a person's DNA and checking for markers they know are associated with blah blah (any genetic condition you want.)
     
  3. Miller0700

    Miller0700 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's the basis of sci-fi
     
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  4. ManOrAstroMan

    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    You could hand-wave it by saying something like, persistent emotional states affect a recently discovered chemical in blood cells. Or something.
    We do know that depression and anxiety do affect hormones, etc, so it isn't TOO much of a stretch.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Sci-fi still has to make sense, at least internally, but that's pretty easy to do. I don't think people would have a problem with this.
     
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  6. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Custom Title. Contributor

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    Any sentence that doesn't make sense is okay as long is the next sentence is, "But that doesn't make any sense?"
     
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a diagnostic blood test for an anxiety disorder. It's likely they will exist in the not too distant future.

    Biomarkers search
     
  8. Terrie000

    Terrie000 Member

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    Fiction, you can say anything. But if you have an explanation that potentially could be a solution to make that diagnose, then that would make your book a quality book - prove that you do put thoughts into the book and do your research.

    Like I can say my character can fly over trees. However, if I can include an explanation, it would be better - fly over tree with a jet pack equipped. In addition, more info would make it logical such as jet pack that is powered by a very hazardous special gas call (whatever you want to make up that isn't already existed... Defygravy). People aren't going to care what this Defygravy is really all about and how to get it to work on the jet pack... but an explanation like this would improve the quality of your story. Someone mentioned DNA above for your story, so you can go with that track. You can probably say the SuperX Machine can detect epigenetic changes in DNA blood that helps detect disorders.... etc.
     
  9. izzybot

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Generally speaking I'd say that's the difference between hard and soft sci-fi - in hard sf it would definitely be frowned upon, but if you're not going for hard sf it's fine.

    More specifically, I'd just question why you need to take a blood test when anxiety disorders aren't typically that hard to diagnose normally. It's not so much "can this be done this way?" but more "why would it be easier/better to do it this way?" - are there no psychologists in your setting?
     
  10. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    Because the result could let you know the exact cause of the disorder and just which pill to prescribe, with no more messing about trying to guess doses or go through seven different antidepressants and an unmerry-go-round of side effects? Just a thought.
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    150 years ago, people were scientifically proven to be criminals based on the shapes of their heads. Up until approximately 30 years ago, no one could prove scientifically that a particular person was at a crime scene based on a cheek swab.

    Given that some theoretical physicists are currently trying to figure out time travel, whether or not we have a soul and such other esoterica, I wouldn't be in the least surprised if your scenario will be possible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016
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  12. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is perfectly plausible. Your blood contains your DNA, anxiety disorders are usually caused by DNA. Blood also carry chemical markers of your current mood. It won't be very good for things like PTSD, but it'll work for some types.
     
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  13. Michael Fairbanks

    Michael Fairbanks New Member

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    I love the irony: anxious when writing about anxiety. Love it.
     
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  14. Vagrant Tale

    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    Most of the science in sci-fi doesn't make sense, the trick is to not call attention to that. Most people aren't going to realize that's impossible, and the majority of people who do know its not possible are probably going to assume there's some kind of futuristic mumbo-jumbo off screen that makes it work. Only a small minority will actually call you out on it.

    Don't make it into a big deal and no one else will make it into a big deal.
     
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  15. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It wouldn't surprise me if researchers are trying to create this exact test now actually. It's certainly not scientifically impossible.

    There would be two types of blood test I would see as being valuable. The first is a rapid test for ER docs. One of the common scenarios they have to face is people coming in with suspected heart attacks and actually suffering from panic attacks. A rapid blood test that showed levels of the neuro-transmitters GABA and seratonin, the stress hormone cortisol and of course adrenaline/ nor adrenaline, could be a valuable tool in helping them make this differential diagnosis.

    The other time a test might be useful is in diagnosis / treatment of conditions and assessment of risks. In this case a test which showed certain genetic markers (and yes I know the jury is still out on whether panic disorder is genetic) could help psychologists make sense of a grab bag of often vague and confusing symptoms patients present with. Remember not everyone who has a panic disorder recognises it as such and many people go through their entire lives not knowing what's wrong with them. To add to that if the test was given to babies it might be able to predict likelihood of the condition arising.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  16. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay - so the big question here is how far in the future you're operating.

    If you're in the near future, your science has to more or less make sense - you can break one thing or posit one discovery, or advance to robots or whatever, but there's a bit of a limit. If you're far future, then all bets are off - I read a far-future sci-fi recently where the entire thing was premised on the discovery of particles of consciousness that form our memories...which likely don't exist, but if they did we'd have no way to detect them.

    It sounds a little bit more like you're operating in a near future - in which case outright breaking the laws of science needs to be done carefully. My thought is that while a simple blood test might not be able to pull this off, a GENETIC test might be able to in theory - and all sorts of sci-fi has been predicated on genetic testing and manipulation.
     
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  17. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's fine, and an interesting idea, too.
     
  18. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Medical science, like computer science is advancing at a very rapid pace. It might surprise you just how fast both molecular and genetic science are moving.
     
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's well within what people would be willing to tolerate. An example of what they wouldn't be willing to tolerate would be, say, a test by which your blood is fed into a computer and the computer predicts your future.
     
  20. Bruce James

    Bruce James Member

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    I'm not sure readers read to the point of scientific proof. (that's called studying--bleh!) They just want something to be stated in a believable way based on the premise of the story. And with sci-fi, anything is possible. Kirk and Spock both died and came back to life. So we all know it's possible!!! Go for it, just don't try to over-explain by getting too deep into the weeds.
     
  21. Sparrow Kuhn

    Sparrow Kuhn Member

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    I think the most important thing is to make sure that whatever new scientific rules you impose on your sci-fi universe are consistent with themselves. So, if in your story a blood test (or a DNA test, however you choose to go about it) can indicate anxiety for one person, it's important that it can also indicate anxiety consistently for other people (because otherwise it wouldn't be accepted by the medical community), and if it doesn't work, you ought to have a reason why it doesn't work, and consider sharing that reason with the reader. Furthermore, that advance in medical science implies that other advances in medical science have also been made, so if someone were to shortly thereafter die of a cold, that could be a problem for your readers' comprehension of your in-universe laws.
     
  22. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dark, is it not? Contributor

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    Well that is true of anything that doesn't make sense. :supergrin:

    @ArcadiaE You could have some high tech gizmo to scan the brain, would be faster and just as effective. But a little bloodletting never killed anybody (use a tiny 30g needle, they won't noticed they got poked.) So if you are going to use DNA and avoid the "Hard Sci-Fi" technicalities, just make it seem like your technician performing the test sound like they know what they are talking about. True that there are genetic markers in DNA for predisposed mental disorders like anxiety, but not in all cases. Sometimes it is a learned response to a type of stimuli as a self preservation mechanism, which could make the DNA testing approach a tad difficult to work on some people. Example of this is an ordinary stable minded person who goes through a traumatic exp., and then the anxiety is a result of that event. So in an effect a subject with PTSD would be much harder to test, unless they are triggered to have an anxiety attack. This would not be telling in the DNA itself, but in the excess adrenaline and other chemicals released into the blood stream. I hope this helps you with what your working with in your fiction, and good luck. :supersmile:
     
  23. Sal Boxford

    Sal Boxford Contributing Member

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    For me the 'science' in science fiction can be absolutely as daft as you want it to be. What's important is the situtation it lands you in and how the characters deal with that.

    The science you're using (as several others have said above) sounds not particularly far fetched at all. Doctors sometimes do blood tests in relation to anxiety already - to see if you actually have an over-active thyroid or something else that might make you a little high-strung.

    I think @izzybot made a good point here:
    I'd say you don't even really need psychologists. What is it about diagnosis that is so important to the story? Psychologists are quick to explain to their patients that DSM-type categories don't mean a huge amount. If a patient feels really anxious a lot of the time to the extent that it gets in the way of doing day-to-day things, they have an anxiety disorder. A psychologist stamping them with the phrase 'anxiety disorder' doesn't make much difference.

    Or is that the point of the story? That people aren't trusted to report on their own mental state in the future and you only get treated if there is 'hard' scientific evidence - i.e. if your blood is 'right'? I could go for that...

    (Sorry - that included quite a lot of thinking out loud.)
     
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  24. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hear, hear! :)
     
  25. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does this mean my mood ring is taking blood samples?

    Wow, I am surprised at some calling this test a stretch for current science much less even near future stuff. As a reader I wouldn't doubt this part of the story for a moment. And by the way Bruce James the "Star Trek" stories are considered fantasy within this group, FTL pushes it into fantasy but transporters, etc. really edge it over as well.
     
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