Ordered list of credible fictions

I love Bruce Sterling's "Design Fiction Slider-Bar of Disbelief," a list of fictions in ascending order of credibility:

9.4 New age crystals, lucky charms, protective pendants, mojo hands, voodoo dolls, magic wands

9.3 Quack devices, medical hoaxes

9.3 Fantasy “objects” in fantasy cinema and computer-games

9.2 Physically impossible sci-fi literary devices: time machines, humanoid robots

9.2 Perpetual motion machines; free-energy gizmos, other physically impossible engineering fantasies

9.0 State libels, black propaganda, military ruses; missile gaps, vengeance weapons, Star Wars SDI

8.9 “Realplay” services, “experiential futurism” encounters, military and emergency training drills, props and immersive set-design, scripted personas

8.8 Online roleplaying scenario games

8.7 Net.art interventions, diegetic performance art, provocative device-art scandals

8.6 Guerrilla street-theater; costumes, puppets, banners, songs, lynchings-in-effigy, mock trials, mass set-designed Nuremberg rallies, propaganda trains

8.5 Fake products, product forgeries, theft-of-services, con-schemes, 419 frauds

Spoiler alert: the list ends with these:

1.0 Engineering specifications, software code

0.5 Historical tech assessment of extinct technologies, the “judgement of history’

0.0 The ideal and unobtainable “objective truth” about objects and services

Design Fiction: The Design Fiction Slider-Bar of Disbelief


    1. Yeah, ‘humanoid’ doesn’t seem like such a high bar to reach… Boston Dynamics’ latest seems to fit the bill.

      I guess the author must’ve meant full-on androids that can pass the Turing test face to face or something.

  1. I’m not quite sure what the axis is supposed to represent.

    As in “on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is the most (adjective) and 0 is the least (adjective)…” – what is the adjective?

  2. “8.8 Online roleplaying scenario games”?  I was always under the assumption those weren’t meant to ever be taken as fact unless you really believe in magic casting ogres.

    1.  When I see “specifications” near “software” I reflexively want to categorize it somewhere around “socially-generated rumor and tech speculation”.

    2. “Specifications” refer to what the code is supposed to do; it is not necessarily related in any what to what the code actually does.

      1. But in reality, it’s not even what the code is supposed to do.  It’s an approximation, poorly communicated, of what someone thinks the code is supposed to do until they’ve actually used it and realize they wanted it to do something else.

    3. I think his point is that the code itself is entirely truthful: the code will do exactly what it “claims” to do. A description of that code, however, could be inaccurate.

  3.  “0.0 The ideal and unobtainable “objective truth” about objects and services”

    Isn’t this where it comes full circle? If it is ideal and unobtainable isn’t it then also incredible? Thus 0.0 on the scale is also 10.0?

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