Last week’s New Scientist reports that Russia Today – the Kremlin’s propaganda channel subsidised to broadcast lies in support of the Russian Federation’s hostility to any country in Russia’s “near abroad” that dares to travel down the path of democracy and the rule of law – went one further when it started churning out stories about how the Zika outbreak was a result of a failed science experiment.
The basis of their report was “the British dystopian TV series Utopia“. Yes, they broadcast fiction as news and for once it was not a question of interpretation.
Here’s the product description from Amazon:
The Utopia Experiments is a legendary graphic novel shrouded in mystery. But when a small group of previously unconnected people find themselves in possession of an original manuscript, their lives suddenly and brutally implode.
Targeted swiftly and relentlessly by a murderous organisation known as The Network, the terrified gang are left with only one option if they want to survive: they have to run. But just as they think their ordeal is over, their fragile normality comes crashing down once again.
The Network, far from being finished, are setting their destructive plans into motion. The gang now face a race against time, to prevent global annihilation.
In the few minutes since I completed the previous blog I have now read the Wikipedia entry on A. K. Dewdney and it would appear he is a “9/11 truther” (ie denier of the obvious and believer in bonkers conspiracy theories) – to the extent he is listed as a sponsor of a site called “Physics 911” which claims the events of that day were a “Black Op”.
Oh dear. Well, maybe that explains why his book has such a low profile.
There is no substantive science in William Boyd’sOrdinary Thunderstorms, though the principal character, Adam Kindred (presumably so-named as an everyman and brother), is a scientist who sees his life turned inside-out when he witnesses the murder of another scientist.
But the book – which is a real page turner if ultimately unsatisfying on many levels – offers a window on to how many do see science: in the grip of amoral big business, and corrupted by commercial pressure.
Of course, there is no smoke without fire, and there is no doubt that many of the practices of the pharmaceutical industry – on which the book concentrates – are against the interests of patients and broader science.
But the conspiracy theory of science – as presented here – is the dominant narrative. That is why works such as Contagion are such a blast of fresh air.