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ETpro's avatar

Is truth really stranger than fiction?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) December 6th, 2012

If it is, why is that? Mark Twain guessed, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” Did he have it right?

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13 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sometimes, I guess…but that’s just one of those sayings like ‘you just wait and you’ll persevere’ or ‘better sleep on it’ – it’s sort of neither here nor there, it’s not really prescriptive, it’s, I don’t know, pointless.

marinelife's avatar

Yes in the sense that fiction has some conventions that writers will usually not contravene in the interest of a major seller. Life has no need of neat endings and plausible outcomes. It is just messy.

flutherother's avatar

Truth is original fiction is just a reflection of the truth.

gasman's avatar

The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
—scientist J.B.S.Haldane, 1927
using ‘queer’ in the old sense of strange or odd

KNOWITALL's avatar

He had it right. If you’ve read the unedited autobiography that was published 100 years after his death, he mentioned the rich guy in his hometown, Hannibal, MO who had his daughter encased in a clear coffin in the cave that he owned.

There are tons of real life crazier-than-you-can-imagine stories like that. Or is that just here in Missouri? lol

burntbonez's avatar

Only in Missouri.

Just kidding.

Writers can often imagine things that are pretty strange, but somehow no matter how outlandish they get, they seem to get trumped by reality in terms of strangeness. Perhaps this is because we only have our experience with which to work, but reality has everyone’s experience to work with.

JenniferP's avatar

I have a few stories that some would consider unbelievable. I don’t know that I want to share them though.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Sometimes, I think that’s correct. I have heard some things that are incredibly strange. The fact that they’re true really disturbs me. I haven’t read much fiction that disturbs me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I completely agree….the flesh-eating serial killers for one…that so grosses me out. Actually Dahmer really freaks me out all around. Even in interviews…something about his squishy girly mouth is sooooo creepy.

ETpro's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Perhaps.

@marinelife That’s what I took interest it.

@flutherother Profound answer. Thanks.

@gasman How right Haldane was.

@burntbonez I have not read that. Sounds interesting, though.

@JenniferP Do we have to beg?

@WillWorkForChocolate Excellent point.

@KNOWITALL Say no more.

JenniferP's avatar

I met someone who said that he read crystal balls for major corporations. It reminded me of how Nancy Reagan consulted psychics to give Ronald advice.

My sister met a guy who said he liked to chop up puppies for entertainment.

JenniferP's avatar

Someone told me that at a toy factory, a battery operated toy started moving or talking or whatever. They opened it up and there were no batteries inside.

ETpro's avatar

@JenniferP The top management of major corporations think global warming isn’t real and couldn’t possibly affect them or their families. Being able to read a balance sheet isn’t necessarily synonymous with being wise, or a sane and reasoned polymath. So the first one would work just fine in fiction. The second one, I’d leave out of anything other than horror stories or fiction where the character experiencing the toy come to life is insane or on drugs.

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