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Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton at Harvard University
(April 18, 2002)
Born John Michael Crichton
October 23, 1942(1942-10-23)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died November 4, 2008 (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Pen name John Lange,
Jeffery Hudson,
Michael Douglas
Occupation author, film producer, film director, screenwriter, television producer
Nationality American
Education Harvard College
Harvard Medical School
Genres Action, Science fiction,
Techno-thriller
Notable award(s) 1969 Edgar Award
Official website

John Michael Crichton (pronounced /ˈkraɪtən/;[2] October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was an American author, producer, director, screenwriter, and medical school graduate, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994, Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at #1 in television, film, and book sales (with ER, Jurassic Park, and Disclosure, respectively).[3]

His literary works were usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomised the techno-thriller genre of literature, often exploring technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes with biotechnology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. Among others, he was the author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Travels, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey, State of Fear, Next (the final book published before his death), Pirate Latitudes (published November 24, 2009), and a final unfinished techno-thriller to be released in the fall of 2010.[4]

Contents

Early life and education

John Michael Crichton was born in Chicago,[5] Illinois, to John Henderson Crichton, a journalist, and Zula Miller Crichton, on October 23, 1942. He was raised on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York,[2] and had three siblings: two sisters, Kimberly and Catherine, and a younger brother, Douglas. Crichton showed a keen interest in writing from a young age and at the age of just 14 had a column related to travel published in The New York Times. [3] Crichton had always planned on becoming a writer and commenced his studies at Harvard College in 1960.[3] During his undergraduate study in literature, Crichton conducted an experiment to catch off guard a professor who he believed was giving him abnormally low marks and criticising his literary style. Informing another professor of his suspicions, Crichton plagiarized a work by George Orwell and submitted it as his own. Unaware, the paper was returned by his professor with a mark of "B−".[6] His issues with the English Department led Crichton to switch his course to biological anthropology as an undergraduate, obtaining his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in 1964.[7] Crichton was also initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He went on to become the Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellow from 1964 to 1965 and Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965.

Crichton later enrolled at Harvard Medical School when he began publishing work. By this time Crichton had become unusually tall. According to his own words, he was approximately 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 meters) tall in 1997.[8][9] In reference to his height, while in medical school, he began writing novels under the pen names John Lange and Jeffery Hudson (Lange is a surname in Germany, meaning "long" and Sir Jeffrey Hudson was a famous 17th century dwarf in the court of Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of England). In Travels, he recalls overhearing unaware doctors discussing the flaws in The Andromeda Strain while he maintained anonymity in medical school. A Case of Need, written under the Hudson pseudonym, won him his first Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1969. He also co-authored Dealing with his younger brother Douglas under the shared pen name Michael Douglas. The back cover of that book contains a picture of Michael and Douglas at a very young age taken by their mother.

Crichton graduated from Harvard, obtaining an M.D. in 1969, and undertook a post-doctoral fellowship study at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970.

At Harvard he developed the belief that all diseases, including heart attacks, are direct effects of a patient's state of mind. He later wrote: "We cause our diseases. We are directly responsible for any illness that happens to us."[10] Eventually he came to believe in auras, spoon bending, and clairvoyance.[10]

In 1988, Crichton was a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Writing career

Fiction

Odds On was Michael Crichton's first published novel. It was released in 1966 under the pseudonym of John Lange. It is a short 215-page paperback novel which describes an attempt of robbery in an isolated hotel on Costa Brava. The robbery is planned scientifically with the help of a Critical Path Analysis computer program, but unforeseen events get in the way. The following year he published Scratch One. The novel relates the story of Roger Carr, a handsome, charming and privileged man who practices law, more as a means to support his playboy lifestyle than a career. Carr is sent to Nice, France where he has notable political connections, but is mistaken for an assassin and finds his life in jeopardy, implicated in the world of terrorism. In 1968 he published two novels, Easy Go and A Case of Need, the second of which was re-published in 1993 under his real name. Easy Go relates the story of Harold Barnaby, a brilliant Egyptologist who discovers a concealed message while translating hieroglyphics, informing him of an unnamed Pharaoh whose tomb is yet to be discovered. A Case of Need, on the other hand was a medical thriller in which a Boston pathologist, Dr. John Berry, investigates an apparent illegal abortion conducted by an obstretrician friend which caused the early demise of a young woman. The novel would prove a turning point in Crichton's future novels, in which technology is important in the subject matter, although this novel was as much about medical practice. The novel garnered him an Edgar Award in 1969.

In 1969 Crichton published three novels. The first, Zero Cool, dealt with an American radiologist on vacation in Spain who becomes caught in a murderous crossfire between rival gangs seeking a precious artifact. The second, The Andromeda Strain, would prove to be the important novel in his career that established him as a best selling author. The novel documented the efforts of a team of scientists investigating a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that fatally clots human blood, infecting the sufferer and causing death within two minutes. The microbe, code named "Andromeda", mutates with each growth cycle, changing its biologic properties. The novel became an instant success, and it was only two years before the novel was sought after by film producers and turned into the eponymous 1971 film under the direction of Robert Wise and featuring Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid as Leavitt, and David Wayne. In September 2004, the Sci Fi Channel would announce a production of a miniseries, executive-produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and Frank Darabont, premiering on May 26, 2008. Crichton's third novel of 1969, The Venom Business relates the story of a smuggler who uses his exceptional skill as a snake handler to his advantage by importing snakes to be used by drug companies and universities for medical research. The snakes are simply a ruse to hide the presence of rare Mexican artifacts. In 1969 Crichton also wrote a review for the New Republic (as J. Michael Crichton), critiquing Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

In 1970 Crichton again published three novels: Drug of Choice, Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues and Grave Descend. Grave Descend earned him an Edgar Award nomination the following year.[11]

In 1972 Crichton published two novels. The first, Binary, relates the story of a villainous middle-class businessman who attempts to assassinate the President of the United States by stealing an army shipment of the two precursor chemicals that form a deadly nerve agent. The second, The Terminal Man is about a psychomotor epileptic sufferer, Harry Benson, who in regularly suffering seizures followed by blackouts, conducts himself inappropriately during seizures, waking up hours later with no knowledge of what he has done. Believed to be psychotic, he is investigated, electrodes are implanted in his brain, continuing the trend in Crichton's novels with machine-human interaction and technology. The novel was adapted into a film directed by Mike Hodges and starring George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard A. Dysart and Donald Moffat, released in June 1974. However neither the novel nor the film were well received by critics.

In 1975, Crichton ventured into the nineteenth century with his historical novel The Great Train Robbery, which would become a bestseller. The novel is a recreation of the Great Gold Robbery of 1855, a massive gold heist, which takes place on a train traveling through Victorian era England. A considerable proportion of the book was set in London. The novel was later made into a 1979 film directed by Crichton himself, starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. The film would go on to be nominated for Best Cinematography Award by the British Society of Cinematographers, also garnering an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture by the Mystery Writers Association of America.

In 1976, Crichton published Eaters of the Dead, a novel about a 10th century Muslim who travels with a group of Vikings to their settlement. Eaters of the Dead is narrated as a scientific commentary on an old manuscript and was inspired by two sources. The first three chapters retelling Ahmad ibn Fadlan's personal account of his journey north and his experiences in encountering the Rus', the early Russian peoples, whilst the remainder is based upon the story of Beowulf, culminating in battles with the 'mist-monsters', or 'wendol', a relict group of Neanderthals. The novel was adapted into film as The 13th Warrior, initially directed by John McTiernan, who was later fired with Crichton himself taking over direction.

In 1980, Crichton published the novel Congo, which centers on an expedition searching for diamonds in the tropical rain forest of Congo. They discover the legendary lost city of Zinj and an unusual race of barbarous gorillas. The novel was loosely adapted into a 1995 film, starring Laura Linney, Tim Curry, and Ernie Hudson. Seven years later, Crichton published Sphere, a novel which relates the story of psychologist Norman Johnson, who is required by the U.S. Navy to join a team of scientists assembled by the U.S. Government to examine an enormous alien spacecraft discovered on the bed of the Pacific Ocean, believed to have been there for over 300 years. The novel begins as a science fiction story, but rapidly transforms into a psychological thriller, ultimately exploring the nature of the human imagination. The novel was adapted into the film Sphere in 1998, directed by Barry Levinson, with a cast including Dustin Hoffman as Norman Johnson, (renamed Norman Goodman), Samuel L. Jackson, Liev Schreiber and Sharon Stone.

Crichton's novel Jurassic Park and its sequels made into films would become a part of popular culture, with related parks established in places as far afield as Kletno, Poland.

In 1990, Crichton published the novel Jurassic Park. Crichton utilized the presentation of "fiction as fact", used in his previous novels, Eaters of the Dead and The Andromeda Strain. In addition, chaos theory and its philosophical implications are used to explain the collapse of an amusement park in a "biological preserve" on Isla Nublar, an island west of Costa Rica. Paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student, Ellie Sattler, are brought in by billionaire John Hammond to investigate. The park is revealed to contain genetically recreated dinosaur species, including Dilophosaurus, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex. They have been recreated using damaged dinosaur DNA, found in mosquitoes that sucked Saurian blood and were then trapped and preserved in amber.

Crichton had originally conceived a screenplay about a graduate student who recreates a dinosaur, but decided to explore his fascination with dinosaurs and cloning until he began writing the novel.[12] Spielberg learned of the novel in October 1989 while he and Crichton were discussing a screenplay that would become the television series ER. Before the book was published, Crichton demanded a non-negotiable fee of $1.5 million as well as a substantial percentage of the gross. Warner Bros. and Tim Burton, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Richard Donner, and 20th Century Fox and Joe Dante bid for the rights,[13] but Universal eventually acquired them in May 1990 for Spielberg.[14] Universal paid Crichton a further $500,000 to adapt his own novel,[15] which he had completed by the time Spielberg was filming Hook. Crichton noted that because the book was "fairly long", his script only had about 10–20 percent of the novel's content.[16] The film, directed by Spielberg, was eventually released in 1993, starring Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm (the chaos theorist) and Richard Attenborough as the billionaire CEO of InGen. The film would become extremely successful.

A mosquito preserved in amber. A specimen of this sort was the source of dinosaur DNA in Jurassic Park.

In 1992, Crichton published the novel Rising Sun, an international best-selling crime thriller about a murder in the Los Angeles headquarters of Nakamoto, a fictional Japanese corporation. The book was instantly adapted into a film, released the same year of the movie adaption of Jurassic Park in 1993 and starring Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Tia Carrere and Harvey Keitel. His next novel, Disclosure, published in 1994, addresses the theme of sexual harassment previously explored in his 1972 Binary. Unlike that novel however, Crichton centers on sexual politics in the workplace, emphasising an array of paradoxes in traditional gender functions, by featuring a male protagonist who is being sexually harassed by a female executive. As a result, the book has been harshly criticized by feminist commentators and accused of anti-feminism. Crichton, anticipating this response, offered a rebuttal at the close of the novel which states that a "role-reversal" story uncovers aspects of the subject that would not be as easily seen with a female protagonist. The novel was made into a film the same year under the helm of Barry Levinson, and starring Michael Douglas, Demi Moore and Donald Sutherland.

Crichton then published The Lost World in 1995 as the sequel to Jurassic Park. It was made into a film sequel two years later in 1997, again directed by Spielberg and starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn and Pete Postlethwaite. Then, in 1996, Crichton published Airframe, an aero-techno-thriller which relates the story of a quality assurance vice-president at the fictional aerospace manufacturer Norton Aircraft, as she investigates an in-flight accident aboard a Norton-manufactured airliner that leaves three passengers dead and fifty-six injured. Again, Crichton uses the false document literary device, presenting numerous technical documents to create a sense of authenticity. In the novel, Crichton draws from real life accidents to increase its sensation of realism, including American Airlines Flight 191 and Aeroflot Flight 593; the latter flew from Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) and crashed on its way to Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport in 1994. Crichton challenges the public perception of air safety and the consequences of exaggerated media reports to sell the story. The book also continues Crichton's overall theme of the failure of humans in human-machine interaction, given that the plane itself worked perfectly and the accident would not have occurred had the pilot reacted properly.

In 1999, Crichton published Timeline, a science fiction novel which tells the story of a team of historians and archaeologists studying a site in the Dordogne region of France where the medieval towns of Castelgard and La Roque stood. They time-travel back to 1357 to uncover some startling truths. The novel, which continues Crichton's long history of combining technical details and action in his books, addresses quantum physics and time travel directly. The novel quickly spawned Timeline Computer Entertainment, a computer game developer that created the Timeline PC game published by Eidos Interactive in 2000. A film based on the book was released in 2003 by Paramount Pictures, with a screen adaptation by Jeff Maguire and George Nolfi, under the direction of Richard Donner. The film stars Paul Walker, Gerard Butler and Frances O'Connor.

In 2002, Crichton published Prey, a cautionary tale about developments in science and technology; specifically nanotechnology. The novel explores relatively recent phenomena engendered by the work of the scientific community, such as artificial life, emergence (and by extension, complexity), genetic algorithms, and agent-based computing. Reiterating components in many of his other novels, Crichton once again devises fictional companies, this time Xymos, a nanorobotics company which is claimed to be on the verge of perfecting a revolutionary new medical imaging technology based on nanotechnology and a rival company, MediaTronics. Elements of the novel were utilized in the 2008 film The Day the Earth Stood Still[citation needed], in which a swarm of nanobots escape from a secure military facility.

In 2004, Crichton published State of Fear, a novel concerning eco-terrorists who attempt mass murder to support their views. Global warming and climate change serve as a central theme to the novel, and in Appendix I of the book, Crichton warns both sides of the global warming debate against the politicization of science.[17] He provides two examples of the disastrous combination of pseudo-science and politics, the early 20th-century idea of eugenics, which allowed for the Holocaust, and Lysenkoism. The novel had an initial print run of 1.5 million copies and reached the #1 bestseller position at Amazon.com and #2 on the New York Times Best Seller list for one week in January 2005.[18][19][20]

The last novel published while he was still living was Next, printed in 2006. The novel follows many characters, including transgenic animals, in the quest to survive in a world dominated by genetic research, corporate greed, and legal interventions where government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research.

His last novel, Pirate Latitudes, was originally scheduled for a release date of December 2, 2008.[21] However, it was postponed until November 24, 2009. Additionally, an unfinished untitled novel is tentatively scheduled for publication in late 2010.[22]

Non-fiction

Crichton's first published book of non-fiction, Five Patients recounts his experiences of practices in the late 1960s at Massachusetts General Hospital and the issues of costs and politics within the American Healthcare Service.

Aside from fiction, Crichton wrote several other books based on medical or scientific themes, often based upon his own observations in his field of expertise. In 1970 he published Five Patients, a book which recounts his experiences of hospital practices in the late 1960s at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The book follows each of five patients through their hospital experience and the context of their treatment, revealing inadequacies in the hospital institution at the time. The book relates the experiences of Ralph Orlando, a construction worker seriously injured in a scaffold collapse, John O'Connor, a middle aged dispatcher suffering from fever that has reduced him to a delirious wreck, Peter Luchesi, a young man who severs his hand in an accident, Sylvia Thompson, an airline passenger who suffers chest pains, and Edith Murphy, a mother of three who is diagnosed with a life threatening disease. In Five Patients, Crichton examines a brief history of medicine up to 1969 to help place hospital culture and practice into context, and addresses the costs and politics of the national healthcare service. As a personal friend to the artist Jasper Johns, Crichton compiled many of his works in a coffee table book, published as Jasper Johns. It was originally published in 1970 by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in association with the Whitney Museum of American Art and again in January 1977, with a second revised edition published in 1994.

In 1983, Crichton authored Electronic Life, a book that introduces BASIC programming to its readers. The book, written like a glossary, with entries such as "Afraid of Computers (everybody is)," "Buying a Computer," and "Computer Crime", was intended to introduce the idea of personal computers to a reader who might be faced with the hardship of using them at work or at home for the first time. It defined basic computer jargon and assured readers that they could master the machine when it inevitably arrived. In his words, being able to program a computer is liberation; "In my experience, you assert control over a computer—show it who's the boss—by making it do something unique. That means programming it....If you devote a couple of hours to programming a new machine, you'll feel better about it ever afterwards".[23] In the book, Crichton predicts a number of events in the history of computer development, that computer networks would increase in importance as a matter of convenience, including the sharing of information and pictures that we see online today which the telephone never could. He also makes predictions for computer games, dismissing them as "the hula hoops of the '80s", and saying "already there are indications that the mania for twitch games may be fading." In a section of the book called "Microprocessors, or how I flunked biostatistics at Harvard," Crichton again seeks his revenge on the medical school teacher who had given him abnormally low grades in college. Within the book, Crichton included many self-written demonstrative Applesoft (for Apple II) and BASICA (for IBM PC compatibles) programs. He once considered updating it, but the project was canceled.

Then, in 1988, he published Travels, which also contains autobiographical episodes covered in a similar fashion to his 1970 book Five Patients.

Literary techniques

Crichton's novels, including Jurassic Park, have been described by The Guardian as "harking back to the fantasy adventure fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Wallace, but with a contemporary spin, assisted by cutting-edge technology references made accessible for the general reader".[24] According to the Guardian, "Michael Crichton wasn't really interested in characters, but his innate talent for storytelling enabled him to breathe new life into the science fiction thriller".[24] Like The Guardian, the New York Times has also noted the boys adventure quality to his novels interfused with modern technology and science. According to the New York Times,

All the Crichton books depend to a certain extent on a little frisson of fear and suspense: that’s what kept you turning the pages. But a deeper source of their appeal was the author’s extravagant care in working out the clockwork mechanics of his experiments — the DNA replication in Jurassic Park, the time travel in Timeline, the submarine technology in Sphere. The novels have embedded in them little lectures or mini-seminars on, say, the Bernoulli principle, voice-recognition software or medieval jousting etiquette ...

The best of the Crichton novels have about them a boys’ adventure quality. They owe something to the Saturday-afternoon movie serials that Mr. Crichton watched as a boy and to the adventure novels of Arthur Conan Doyle (from whom Mr. Crichton borrowed the title The Lost World and whose example showed that a novel could never have too many dinosaurs). These books thrive on yarn spinning, but they also take immense delight in the inner workings of things (as opposed to people, women especially), and they make the world — or the made-up world, anyway — seem boundlessly interesting. Readers come away entertained and also with the belief, not entirely illusory, that they have actually learned something"

The New York Times on the works of Michael Crichton[25]

Crichton's works were frequently cautionary; his plots often portrayed scientific advancements going awry, commonly resulting in worst-case scenarios. A notable recurring theme in Crichton's plots is the pathological failure of complex systems and their safeguards, whether biological (Jurassic Park), military/organizational (The Andromeda Strain), technical (Airframe) or cybernetic (Westworld). This theme of the inevitable breakdown of "perfect" systems and the failure of "fail-safe measures" can be seen strongly in the poster for Westworld (slogan: "Where nothing can possibly go worng ..." (sic) ) and in the discussion of chaos theory in Jurassic Park.

The use of author surrogate was a feature of Crichton's writings from the beginning of his career. In A Case of Need, one of his pseudonymous whodunit stories, Crichton used first-person narrative to portray the hero, a Bostonian pathologist, who is running against the clock to clear a friend's name from medical malpractice in a girl's death from a hack-job abortion.

Some of Crichton's fiction used a literary technique called false document. For example, Eaters of the Dead is a fabricated recreation of the Old English epic Beowulf in the form of a scholarly translation of Ahmad ibn Fadlan's 10th century manuscript. Other novels, such as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, incorporated fictionalized scientific documents in the form of diagrams, computer output, DNA sequences, footnotes and bibliography. Some of his novels included authentic published scientific works to illustrate his point, such as in The Terminal Man and State of Fear.

At the prose level, one of Crichton's trademarks was the single word paragraph: a dramatic question answered by a single word on its own as a paragraph.

As a film director and screenwriter

Crichton wrote or directed several motion pictures and episodes of TV series. In the 1970s in particular he was intent on being a successful filmmaker. His first film, Pursuit (1972), was a TV movie both written and directed by Crichton that is based on his novel Binary.

Westworld was the first feature film that used 2D computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the first use of 3D CGI was in its sequel, Futureworld (1976), which featured a computer-generated hand and face created by then University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke.

Crichton directed the film Coma, adapted from a Robin Cook novel. There are other similarities in terms of genre and the fact that both Cook and Crichton were physicians, were of similar age, and wrote about similar subjects.

Other major releases directed by Crichton include The Great Train Robbery (1979), Looker (1981), Runaway (1985), and Physical Evidence (1989). The middle two films were science fiction, set in the very near future at the time, and included particularly flashy styles of filmmaking, for their time.

He wrote the screenplay for the movies Extreme Close Up (1973) and Twister (1996), the latter co-written with Anne-Marie Martin, his wife at the time. Although Jurassic Park and The Lost World were both based on Crichton's novels, Jurassic Park III was not.

Crichton was also the creator and executive producer of the television drama ER. ER was originally slated to be a movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. However, during the early stages of pre-production, Spielberg asked Michael Crichton what his current project was. Crichton said he was working on a novel about dinosaurs and DNA. Spielberg subsequently dropped what he was doing to film this project. Afterwards, he returned to ER and helped develop the show, serving as a producer on season one and offering advice (he insisted on Julianna Margulies becoming a regular, for example). It was also through Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment that John Wells was contacted to be the show's executive producer. In December 1994, he achieved the unique distinction of having the #1 movie (Jurassic Park), the #1 TV show (ER), and the #1 book (Disclosure, atop the paperback list). Crichton wrote only three episodes of ER:

  • Episode 1-1: "24 Hours"
  • Episode 1-2: "Day One"
  • Episode 1-3: "Going Home"

Computer games

Amazon is a graphical text adventure game created by Michael Crichton and produced by John Wells under Trillium Corp. Amazon was released in the United States in 1984 and it runs on Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and the DOS systems. It sold more than 100,000 copies, making it a significant commercial success at the time. It featured plot elements similar to those later used in Congo.[26]

In 1999, Crichton founded Timeline Computer Entertainment with David Smith. Despite signing a multi-title publishing deal with Eidos Interactive, only one game was ever published, Timeline. Released on December 8, 2000 for the PC, the game received poor reviews and sold poorly.

Speeches

Crichton delivered a number of notable speeches in his lifetime.

Genetic research and legislative needs

While writing Next, Crichton concluded that laws covering genetic research desperately needed to be revised, and spoke to Congressional staff members about problems ahead. A Talk to Legislative Staffers Washington, D.C. September 14, 2006

Complexity theory and environmental management

In previous speeches, Crichton criticized environmental groups for failing to incorporate complexity theory. Here he explains in detail why complexity theory is essential to environmental management, using the history of Yellowstone Park as an example of what not to do. Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy Washington, D.C. November 6, 2005

Testimony before the United States Senate

Crichton argued for independent verification of research used for public policy, and criticized the so-called "hockeystick" study, for reasons that were the subject of intense debate by U.S. Legislators[27] Committee on Environment and Public Works Washington, D.C.

The Case for Skepticism on Global Warming

Crichton's detailed explanation of why he criticizes global warming scenarios. Using published UN data, he reviews why claims for catastrophic warming arouse doubt; why reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than we are being told; and why we are morally unjustified to spend vast sums on this speculative issue when around the world people are dying of starvation and disease. National Press Club Washington, D.C January 25, 2005

Science Policy in the 21st Century

We need better mechanisms to determine science policy. Crichton outlined several issues before a joint meeting of liberal and conservative think tanks. Joint Session AEI-Brookings Institution Washington, D.C. January 25, 2005

Environmentalism as Religion

This was not the first discussion of environmentalism as a religion, but it caught on and was widely quoted. Crichton explains why religious approaches to the environment are inappropriate and cause damage to the natural world they intend to protect. Commonwealth Club San Francisco, California September 15, 2003

Aliens Cause Global Warming

A historical approach detailing how over the last thirty years scientists have begun to intermingle scientific and political claims. The Michelin Lecture California Institute of Technology Pasadena, California January 17, 2003. [28]

Why Speculate?

In recent years, media has increasingly turned away from reporting what has happened to focus on speculation about what may happen in the future. Paying attention to modern media is thus a waste of time. International Leadership Forum La Jolla, California April 26, 2002

Ritual Abuse, Hot Air, and Missed Opportunities: Science Views Media

The AAAS invited Crichton to address scientists' concerns about how they are portrayed in the media. American Association for the Advancement of Science Anaheim, California January 25, 1999

Mediasaurus: The Decline of Conventional Media

A 1993 speech which predicted the decline of mainstream media. National Press Club Washington, D.C. April 7, 1993

Reception

Criticism of Crichton's Environmental Views

Many of Crichton's publicly expressed views, particularly on subjects like the global warming controversy, have been rebuked by a number of scientists and commentators. An example is meteorologist Jeffrey Masters' review of State of Fear:

Flawed or misleading presentations of Global Warming science exist in the book, including those on Arctic sea ice thinning, correction of land-based temperature measurements for the urban heat island effect, and satellite vs. ground-based measurements of Earth's warming. I will spare the reader additional details. On the positive side, Crichton does emphasize the little-appreciated fact that while most of the world has been warming the past few decades, most of Antarctica has seen a cooling trend. The Antarctic ice sheet is actually expected to increase in mass over the next 100 years due to increased precipitation, according to the IPCC."[29]

Peter Doran, author of the paper in the January 2002 issue of Nature which reported the finding referred to above that some areas of Antarctica had cooled between 1986 and 2000, wrote an opinion piece in the July 27, 2006 New York Times in which he stated "Our results have been misused as 'evidence' against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel State of Fear."[30] Al Gore said on March 21, 2007 before a U.S. House committee: "The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor [...] if your doctor tells you you need to intervene here, you don't say 'Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem'." This has been recognized by several commentators as a reference to State of Fear.[31][32][33]

Michael Crowley

In his 2006 novel Next (released November 28 of that year), Crichton introduced a character named "Mick Crowley" who is a Yale graduate and a Washington D.C.-based political columnist. "Crowley" was portrayed by Crichton as a child molester with a small penis. The character is a minor one who does not appear elsewhere in the book.[34]

A real person named Michael Crowley is also a Yale graduate, and a senior editor of The New Republic, a liberal Washington D.C.-based political magazine. In March 2006, the real Crowley had written an article strongly critical of Crichton for his stance on global warming in State of Fear.[35] Crowley responded by saying that he was “strangely flattered” by his reference in Crichton’s novel. “To explain why, let me propose a corollary to the small penis rule,” he wrote. “Call it the small man rule: If someone offers substantive criticism of an author and the author responds by hitting below the belt, as it were, then he’s conceding that the critic has won.”

Awards

Associations

Personal life and death

As an adolescent Crichton felt isolated because of his height (at 6'9"). As an adult he was acutely aware of his intellect which often left him feeling alienated from the people around him. During the 1970s and 1980s he consulted psychics and enlightenment gurus to make him feel more socially acceptable and to improve his karma. As a result of these experiences, Crichton practiced meditation throughout much of his life. Crichton was a workaholic. When drafting a novel which would typically take him six or seven weeks, Crichton withdrew completely to follow what he called "a structured approach". As he neared writing the end of each book, he would rise increasingly earlier each day, meaning that he would sleep for less than 4 hours by going to bed at 10pm and waking at 2am.[3]

In 1992 Crichton was ranked among People magazine's 50 most beautiful people. Crichton married five times, four of the marriages ending in divorce. He was married to Suzanna Childs, Joan Radam (1965–1970), Kathy St. Johns (1978–1980), and actress Anne-Marie Martin (1987–2003), the mother of his daughter Taylor Anne (born 1989). At the time of his death, Crichton was married to Sherri Alexander, who was six months pregnant with their son. John Michael Todd Crichton was born on February 12, 2009.

Given the private way in which Crichton lived his life, his battle with throat cancer was not made public until his death. According to Crichton's brother Douglas, Michael was diagnosed with lymphoma in early 2008. He was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time of his death. Crichton's physicians and family members had been expecting him to make a recovery. He unexpectedly died of the disease on November 4, 2008.[36][37][38][39]

Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park.' He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the earth. In the early days, Michael had just sold 'The Andromeda Strain' to Robert Wise at Universal and I had recently signed on as a contract TV director there. My first assignment was to show Michael Crichton around the Universal lot. We became friends and professionally 'Jurassic Park,' 'ER,' and 'Twister' followed. Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.[40]
Steven Spielberg on Michael Crichton's death

Works

Fiction

Year Title Notes
1966 Odds On as John Lange
1967 Scratch One as John Lange
1968 Easy Go as John Lange (also titled as The Last Tomb)
A Case of Need as Jeffery Hudson (re-released as Crichton in 1993)
1969 Zero Cool as John Lange
The Andromeda Strain
The Venom Business as John Lange
1970 Drug of Choice as John Lange
Dealing as Michael Douglas (with brother Douglas Crichton)
Grave Descend as John Lange
1972 Binary as John Lange (re-released as Crichton in 1993)
The Terminal Man
1975 The Great Train Robbery
1976 Eaters of the Dead
1980 Congo
1987 Sphere
1990 Jurassic Park
1992 Rising Sun
1994 Disclosure
1995 The Lost World
1996 Airframe
1999 Timeline
2002 Prey
2004 State of Fear
2006 Next
2009 Pirate Latitudes posthumous publication
2010 Title not yet revealed (Techno-thriller) posthumous publication

Non-fiction

Year Title
1970 Five Patients
1977 Jasper Johns
1983 Electronic Life
1988 Travels

Film and television

Novels adapted into films
Year Title Filmmaker/Director
1971 The Andromeda Strain Robert Wise
1972 Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues Paul Williams
1972 The Carey Treatment (A Case of Need) Blake Edwards
1974 The Terminal Man Mike Hodges
1979 The First Great Train Robbery Himself
1993 Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg
1993 Rising Sun Philip Kaufman
1994 Disclosure Barry Levinson
1995 Congo Frank Marshall
1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg
1998 Sphere Barry Levinson
1999 The 13th Warrior (Eaters of the Dead) John McTiernan
2003 Timeline Richard Donner
2008 The Andromeda Strain (TV miniseries) Mikael Salomon
As a screenwriter and/or director
Year Title Notes
1972 Pursuit (TV film) Co-Writer/Director
1973 Westworld Writer/Director
1978 Coma Writer/Director
1979 The First Great Train Robbery Writer/Director
1981 Looker Writer/Director
1984 Runaway Writer/Director
1989 Physical Evidence Director
1993 Jurassic Park Co-Writer
1993 Rising Sun Co-Writer
1996 Twister Co-Writer/Producer
TV series
Year Title Notes
1980 Beyond Westworld Creator/Writer
1994–2009 ER Creator/Writer/Executive Producer

References

  1. ^ [Michael Crichton's literary influences http://www.infloox.com/person?id=8cb8fbb9]
  2. ^ a b - Crichton, Michael. "For Younger Readers", michaelcrichton.com, 2005. Retrieved December 11, 2005.
  3. ^ a b c d "Michael Crichton:Novelist and screenwriter responsible for 'Jurassic Park', 'Westworld' and the TV series 'ER'". The Telegraph. November 10, 2008. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/3387711/MichaelCrichton.html. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  4. ^ Motoko Rich (2009-04-05). "Posthumous Crichton Novels on the Way". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/books/06crichton.html?_r=2&ref=arts. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  5. ^ "Michael Crichton’s Mark on the Science Fiction World"; "Michael Crichton"; [1]; Profile by IGN; see the IMDB entry here
  6. ^ King of the techno-thriller, The Observer, December 3, 2006
  7. ^ http://www.crichton-official.com/aboutmichaelcrichton-biography.html
  8. ^ "Michael Crichton". The Oprah Winfrey Show. http://web.archive.org/web/20050325012031/http://www.adara-interactive.com/crichton/ow_transcripts2.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  9. ^ Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index 1960–2002
  10. ^ a b Crichton, Michael. Travels, 1989
  11. ^ "Edgar Award: Best Paperback Original". Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. http://www.webcitation.org/5cCX5j8Vj. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  12. ^ Michael Crichton. (2001). Michael Crichton on the Jurassic Park Phenomenon. [DVD]. Universal. 
  13. ^ Joseph McBride (1997). Steven Spielberg. Faber and Faber, 416–9. ISBN 0-571-19177-0
  14. ^ DVD Production Notes
  15. ^ "Leaping Lizards". Entertainment Weekly. 1990-12-07. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,318785,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-17. 
  16. ^ Steve Biodrowski. Cinefantastique Magazine, Vol. 24, No.2, pg. 12, "Jurassic Park: Michael Crichton"
  17. ^ NATURE| VOL 433 |JANUARY 20, 2005
  18. ^ Cold, Hard Facts - New York Times
  19. ^ Michael Crichton’s “Scientific Method” James Hansen
  20. ^ Union of Concerned Scientists Crichton's Thriller State of Fear: Separating Fact from Fiction
  21. ^ 'Jurassic Park' Author Michael Crichton Dies at 66
  22. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/books/06crichton.html?_r=2&ref=arts
  23. ^ Crichton, Michael. Electronic Life, Knopf, 1983, p. 44. ISBN 0-394-53406-9
  24. ^ a b Wootton, Adrian (November 6, 2008). "How Michael Crichton struck fear into the bestseller list". http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2008/nov/06/sciencefictionfantasyandhorror. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  25. ^ McGrath, Charles (November 5, 2008). "Builder of Windup Realms That Thrillingly Run Amok". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/books/06appr.html. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 
  26. ^ Amazon at Home of the Underdogs
  27. ^ Kerr, Richard A. (July 28, 2006) "Politicians Attack, But Evidence for Global Warming Doesn’t Wilt." Science 313 (5786): 421. DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5786.421
  28. ^ http://www.michaelcrichton.net/speech-alienscauseglobalwarming.html Speech: Aliens cause global warming]
  29. ^ Masters, Jeffery M.. "Review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear". Weather Underground. http://www.wunderground.com/education/stateoffear.asp. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  30. ^ Cold, Hard Facts Doran, Peter The New York Times July 2006
  31. ^ Ansible 237, April 2007
  32. ^ Climate of fear, The Boston Globe, April 1, 2007
  33. ^ More from 'Inconvenient Gore', Alaska Report, March 22, 2007
  34. ^ Lee, Felicia (December 14, 2006). "Columnist Accuses Crichton of ‘Literary Hit-and-Run’". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/books/14cric.html. 
  35. ^ Cock and Bull Crowley, Michael The New Republic December 2006
  36. ^ "Best-Selling Author Michael Crichton Dies". CBS News. 2008-11-05. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/05/print/main4575403.shtml. 
  37. ^ Harvard Crimson
  38. ^ "'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies". CNN. November 5, 2008. http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/11/05/obit.crichton/index.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  39. ^ [2]
  40. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (November 5, 2008). "Michael Crichton Dies". The New York Times. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/michael-crichton-dies/. Retrieved December 18, 2008. 

Bibliography

  • Hayhurst, Robert Readings on Michael Crichton, Greenhaven Press, 2004, ISBN 0737716622
  • Trembley, Elizabeth A. Michael Crichton: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press, 1996, ISBN 0313294143

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Dr. John Michael Crichton [pronounced "kraɪtən"] (23 October 1942November 4, 2008) was an American author, film producer and television producer.

Contents

Sourced

  • They passed a farmhouse, a simple shack surrounded by animals-a lazy burro, clucking chickens, a litter of pigs. The farmhouse stood alone in the desolate landscape. There was no sign of a living person anywhere. And then it was gone, lost in the swirling dust plume of the car.
    • Zero Cool, written under the pseudonym John Lange (1969)
  • We are all assumed, these days, to reside at one extreme of the opinion spectrum, or another. We are pro-abortion or anti-abortion. We are free traders or protectionist. We are pro-private sector or pro-big government. We are feminists or chauvinists. But in the real world, few of us holds these extreme views. There is instead a spectrum of opinion.
  • The extreme positions of the Crossfire Syndrome require extreme simplification — framing the debate in terms which ignore the real issues.
    • "Mediasaurus: The decline of conventional media" - Speech at the National Press Club, Washington D.C. (7 April 1993)
  • Let's be clear: all professions look bad in the movies. And there's a good reason for this. Movies don't portray career paths, they conscript interesting lifestyles to serve a plot. So lawyers are all unscrupulous and doctors are all uncaring. Psychiatrists are all crazy, and politicians are all corrupt. All cops are psychopaths, and all businessmen are crooks. Even moviemakers come off badly: directors are megalomaniacs, actors are spoiled brats. Since all occupations are portrayed negatively, why expect scientists to be treated differently?
  • Science is the most exciting and sustained enterprise of discovery in the history of our species. It is the great adventure of our time. We live today in an era of discovery that far outshadows the discoveries of the New World five hundred years ago.
    • "Ritual Abuse, Hot Air, and Missed Opportunities: Science Views Media" Speech to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Anaheim, California (25 January 1999)
  • I want to mention in passing that punditry has undergone a subtle change over the years. In the old days, commentators such as Eric Sevareid spent most of their time putting events in a context, giving a point of view about what had already happened. Telling what they thought was important or irrelevant in the events that had already taken place. This is of course a legitimate function of expertise in every area of human knowledge.
    But over the years the punditic thrust has shifted away from discussing what has happened, to discussing what may happen. And here the pundits have no benefit of expertise at all. Worse, they may, like the Sunday politicians, attempt to advance one or another agenda by predicting its imminent arrival or demise. This is politicking, not predicting.
    • "Why Speculate?" - speech at the International Leadership Forum, La Jolla, California (26 April 2002)
  • Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
    Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.
  • Science is nothing more than a method of inquiry. The method says an assertion is valid — and merits universal acceptance — only if it can be independently verified. The impersonal rigor of the method means it is utterly apolitical. A truth in science is verifiable whether you are black or white, male or female, old or young. It's verifiable whether you like the results of a study, or you don't.
    • Testimony before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (28 September 2005)
  • I want to state emphatically that nothing in my remarks should be taken to imply that we can ignore our environment, or that we should not take climate change seriously. On the contrary, we must dramatically improve our record on environmental management. That is why a focused effort on climate science, aimed at securing sound, independently verified answers to policy questions, is so important now.
    • Testimony before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (28 September 2005)

Travels (1988)

  • I have included experiences in the realms that are sometimes called psychic, or transpersonal. or spiritual. I think of this as inner travel, to complement the outer travel, although that distinction — between what is internal sensation and what is external stimulus — often blurs in my mind.
    • Preface
  • The best doctors found a middle position where they were neither overwhelmed by their feelings nor estranged from them. That was the most difficult position of all, and the precise balance — neither too detached nor too caring — was something few learned.
    • "Cadaver"
  • The emotional aspect seemed more like hazing, like a professional initiation, than education. It was a long time before I understood that how a doctor behaved was at least important as what he knew.
    • "Cadaver"
  • We cause our diseases. We are directly responsible for any illness that happens to us.
    • "Heart Attack!"
  • To give up responsibility for our lives is not healthy.
    • "Heart Attack!"
  • The doctor is not a miracle worker who can magically save us but, rather, an expert adviser who can assist us in our own recovery.
    • "Heart Attack!"
  • The fact that the patients were complex human beings with a rich life beyond the hospital never really sank into the consciousness of the residents. Because they had no rich lives beyond the hospital, they assumed no one else did, either. In the end, what they lacked was not medical knowledge but ordinary life experience.
    • "Quitting Medicine"
  • What I knew was that the history of man demonstrated the inexorable triumph of reason over superstition, culminating in our acceptance of science as the best method for learning the truth and exploring the universe.
    • "Psychiatry"
  • I read all sorts of books there for the first time. The other thing that I did was, I began to travel again.
    • "Psychiatry"
  • The entire episode left me with a renewed respect for the power of the unconscious mind. What I had demonstrated, to myself at least, was that my ordinary assumption that in some casual and automatic way I know what I am doing, and why, is simply wrong.
    • "Bonaire"
  • I couldn't leave things alone. I was an urban, technological man accustomed to making things happen. I had been taught countless times that you were supposed to make things happen, that anything less implied shameful passivity.
    • "Pahang"
  • This increased my conviction that there was indeed something going on, that these people had some information source that ordinary people did not. I didn't know why they had access and the rest of us did not, but there didn't seem to be any hocus-pocus about it.
    • "London Psychics"
  • I was certain that some people, whether by accident of birth or some pecularity of training, could tune in to another source of information and could know things about people we didn't think were possible to know.
    • "London Psychics"
  • Sometimes I think man needs to feel a special position within nature, and this leads him to believe that he is either specially hated by other animals or specially cherished. Instead of the truth, which is that he's just another animal on the plain. A smart one, but just another animal.
    • "Sharks"

Cactus Teachings

  • I was jealous. Let's face it, to have a mystical experience is a sign of favor from God. Everybody knows that. And I wasn't getting any favors. It really made me feel bad.
  • If you stand beside a person who lies on his back, and move the palm of your hand slowly down the midline of his body about a foot above the skin, you will feel some distinct warm spots. These are the chakras.
  • There isn't any delusion. It is absolutely clear that this body energy is a genuine phenomenon of some kind.
  • The basic mechanism of the I Ching had to be the same as the mechanism of the tarot — to provide an ambiguous stimulus to the unconscious mind.
  • The book doesn't have that power. You do. You can answer your own question. You already know the answer, if you can just gain access to it.
  • The purpose of the I Ching or the tarot, then, is to help you get access to yourself, by providing ambiguity for you to interpret.

They

  • By now I had adopted David's view of the inherent differences between the sexes, that men were the romantics and women were the pragmatists. His view was that each sex saw the other as a projection of itself.
  • What's really wrong with making them the problem is that you abdicate your own responsibility. Once you say some mysterious they is in charge, then you're able to sit back comfortably and complain about how they are doing it.
  • The biggest problem between the sexes was the tendency to objectify the opposite sex and ultimately become powerless before them. Both men and women did this about the opposite sex. They were this way or that way. They had this tendency. There was nothing we could do about the way they behaved.
  • I had thought that women were inherently different from men. And in formulating that difference, I had also objectified women. They were different. They didn't have the same feelings I did. They were they.

Life on the Astral Plane

  • Intermittent panicky skepticism was to be expected whenever you stepped off the cliff, whenever you went into some realm of experience that wasn't modeled and accepted and approved and stuck into a nice fram by society at large.
  • The kind of evidence I have seen for clairvoyance or telepathy — evidence that leads me to accept these phenomena as unquestionably real — I have not experienced for the idea of past lives.

Spoon Bending

  • Of course, spoon bending has been the focus of long-standing controversy. Uri Geller, an Israeli magician, who claims psychic powers, often bends spoons, but other magicians, such a James Randi, claim that spoon bending isn't a psychic phenomenon at all, just a trick.
    But I had bent a spoon, and I knew it wasn't a trick. I looked around the room and saw little children, eight or nine years old, bending large metal bars. They weren't trying to trick anybody. They were just little kids having a good time. Staying up past their bedtimes on a Friday night, going along with the adults, doing this silly bending stuff.
  • Spoon bending obviously must have some ordinary explanation, since a hundred people from all walks of life we're doing it. And it was hard to feel any sort of mystery: you just rub the spoon for a while and pretty soon it gets soft, and it bends. And that's that.
    The only thing I noticed is that spoon bending seemed to require a focused inattention. You had to try to get it to bend, and then you had to forget about it. Maybe talk to someone else while you rubbed the spoon. Or look around the room. Change your attention. That's when it was likely to bend.
  • I don't know why spoons bend, but it seemed clear that almost anyone could do it.
  • This seems to me to confirm the idea that so-called psychic or paranormal phenomena are misnamed. There's nothing abnormal about them. On the contrary, they're utterly normal. We've just forgotten we can do them. The minute we do do them, we recognize them for what they are and think, So what?

Seeing Auras

  • When I got home, I looked at people to see if I could still see auras. I could. It's fun to do. When dinner parties get boring, you just look at people's auras.

Direct Experience

  • I had moved pretty far from the rational, academic, intellictual traditions in which I had been raised... So I decided to summarize the conclusions I had drawn from all these experiences.
  1. Consciousness has legitimate dimensions not yet guessed at.
  2. At least some psychic phenomena are real.
  3. There are energies associated with the human body that are not yet understood.
  • It's only different from what a certain variety of incautious, unintrospective physical scientist believes.
  • I hadn't traveled with the intention of learning about anything except myself. And the real point of all this travel was not what I had come to believe or disbelieve about the wider world, but what I had learned about myself.
  • The natural world, the traditional source of self-interest, is increasingly absent.
  • Cut off from direct experience, cut off from our own feelings and sometimes our own sensations, we are only too ready to adopt a viewpoint or perspective that is handed to us, and is not our own.
  • Unaccustomed to direct experience, we can come to fear it.
  • One of the most difficult features of direct experince is that it is unfiltered by any theories or expectations. It's hard to observe without imposing a theory to explain what we're seeing, but the trouble with theories, as Einstein said, is that they explain not only what is observed, but what can be observed. We start to build expectations based on our theories.
  • It takes enormous effort to avoid all theories and just see.
  • I believe the experiences reported in this book are reproducible by anyone who wishes to try.
  • Be cautious around anyone who creates proselytizing followers.

Postscript

  • Reality is always greater — much greater — than what we know, than whatever we can say about it.
  • Science is a kind of glorified tailoring enterprise, a method for taking measurements that describe something — reality — that may not be understood at all.
  • One may even suspect that there is more to reality than measurements will ever reveal.
  • Science can't tell you why anything happens.
  • Although knowledge of how things work is sufficient to allow manipulation of nature, what humans really want to know is why things work. Children don't ask how the sky is blue. They ask why the sky is blue.

Environmentalism as a Religion (2003)

Speech in San Francisco, California (15 September 2003)

  • We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we're told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.
  • In order not to be misunderstood, I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment.
  • I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can't be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people — the best people, the most enlightened people — do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.
  • Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism.
    Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.
  • Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.
  • There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago? When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?
  • The romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants in order to eat, to live. If they don't, they will die.
  • The truth is, almost nobody wants to experience real nature. What people want is to spend a week or two in a cabin in the woods, with screens on the windows. They want a simplified life for a while, without all their stuff. Or a nice river rafting trip for a few days, with somebody else doing the cooking. Nobody wants to go back to nature in any real way, and nobody does. It's all talk — and as the years go on, and the world population grows increasingly urban, it's uninformed talk. Farmers know what they're talking about. City people don't. It's all fantasy.
  • The notion that the natural world obeys its own rules and doesn't give a damn about your expectations comes as a massive shock... it will demand that you adapt to it — and if you don't, you die. It is a harsh, powerful, and unforgiving world, that most urban westerners have never experienced.
  • I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it.
  • Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good. On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view. In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas.
  • We need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.
  • Environmentalism needs to be absolutely based in objective and verifiable science, it needs to be rational, and it needs to be flexible. And it needs to be apolitical. To mix environmental concerns with the frantic fantasies that people have about one political party or another is to miss the cold truth — that there is very little difference between the parties, except a difference in pandering rhetoric. The effort to promote effective legislation for the environment is not helped by thinking that the Democrats will save us and the Republicans won't. Political history is more complicated than that.
  • The second reason to abandon environmental religion is more pressing. Religions think they know it all, but the unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge.
  • In the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don't know any better.

See also

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Michael Crichton (October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was the author of many books. He was also a producer, director, and doctor. Crichton is well known for Jurassic Park, a book that became a film series. He has also written books such as Prey and The Lost World. Crichton has also created the E.R. television show. He was 6'9" tall. He was married five times and had a daughter from his fourth marriage. In November 2008, he died of throat cancer, aged 66. He was looked down on by some as a climate change denier [1] In February 2009, his fifth wife gave birth to his only, posthumous son, by the name of John Michael Todd Crichton.

References








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