Afternoon Inquisition 3.11

Today’s AI come to us courtesy of last week’s Comment o’ the Week winner, Steve:

I have a recurring dream in which I have the ability to levitate but
no one seems to find it remarkable. I wish I had that ability in real
life, especially when it comes to cleaning the windows on the second

So the question is: What fictitious / imaginary / mythical thing
would you like to be real?

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Time Travel. Sure there’s all those alltruistic reasons of living history or killing Hitler, or to steal the tag line from Quantum Leap “put right what once went wrong.”

    But really I just would really like to stop my self from following through on a couple of really stupid ideas.

  2. Truthfully, some part of me wishes EVERYTHING were real. Ghosts, Bigfoot, Nessie… all of it.

    The world is plenty interesting without them, sure, but it’d be a whole lot more absurd with them here, esp. for science.

    But, if I were picking one thing I’d like to have be real, it’d be time travel/time manipulation. I really want to be able to go back and see dinosaurs.

    It’d be even more fun to go to Israel two thousand years ago and convince Jesus to come back to the Cretaceous with me so I could snap a few pics of him cradling raptors and riding triceratops.

  3. Instead of run-of-the-mill things like telepathy or PK (Psycho-Krap), what about cool mutant powers that control nuclear forces? Ah, the scary things that could be done with those…

  4. I wish that Expatria were real.

    Or that Digital Cuttlefish were an actual cuttlefish who writes poetry.

    Also, I wish that cats in real life could have captions on them.

    Which would be totally possible if Ghost in the Shell-style cyberbrains actually existed. Seriously, I’d sign up for one of those in a heartbeat, provided that it doesn’t run Windows.

  5. Definitely telepathy, or “magic” of the kind nerdy teenage girls think they can do.

    If I could have read minds and put curses on people, my high school years would have been much more fun.

  6. @infinitemonkey:

    I would like to point out I am aware of their 3-fold rule. Supposedly, whatever you do comes back 3 fold. Its designed to keep practicing whtches from going off the deep end.

  7. I’m with Kristin…I’d want to be telepathic. I mean, sure mutant powers powers that control nuclear forces might be cool but it sounds like way too much math for me to be bothered.

  8. No one has said it yet, so I have to, even if my nerd is showing… I would love for the Force to be real… and also have the power to use it!

  9. Magic as described in Jim Buthcer’s books.
    That or interplanetary travel that’s as simple as, “Hey, I wanna visit terraformed Mars today.” *jumps on the 3:15 shuttle*

  10. Whatever it is, just make sure that I am the only one who can make use of it, lest it become ubiquitously mundane and the world regard it as no more captivating or thrilling than, say, ambulating.

  11. @Elyse: See, my first thought was to make precisely that comment. However, I know from conducting extensive experiments with past girlfriends that it does, indeed, exist.

    Never did try it blinded, though, I must admit.

  12. Instant Karma baby. Like say whenever a person tries to cheat someone they immediately crap their pants in a very obvious manner. Psychics get face warts and televangelists suffer from toothaches and halitosis. Really bad people get hit by fireballs from the heavens. Don’t even mess around they just get cratered. Immediately tho. It’s gotta be swift retribution.

    Nice people find twenty dollar bills every time they open up their worn out old copy of The God Delusion or Demon Haunted World and then they go out and have a really nice lunch w/ their secular buddies.

    That’s what I want to see.

  13. @Procrustes:

    You can walk? COLLECT THE JREF PRIZE NOW!!

    ALSO: Daemons, like in the His Dark Materials books, would be awesome if real. In fact, I just got a little bit depressed because they aren’t.

  14. @Elles: It’d be cool if The Doctor did exist but I’m not sure I’d want to meet him. Seems to get himself into trouble constantly. Like, every week.

  15. @KristinMH: Back in jr high, when I thought telepathy was real, I was terrified that some of the girls in my class might be able to read my mind.

    For my self, I’d like to be able to fly.

  16. I want Dr. Manhattan’s powers, I think I could deal with the detachment from humanity in exchange for what is essentially unlimited power.

  17. @KristinMH: I would love to. Just I think we would need a third person, since three is a very important number…



    Non-paying, Non-equity. Knowledge of actual Latin, not just made-up stuff from Harry Potter, a plus.

  19. I hope there *never* is telepathy, because then the people on the other side of a table in a meeting with me would know what useless posturing tools I think they are.
    That would be bad.

    I would like to be able to breathe underwater. That would be way cool.

  20. The Luggage (from Discworld)

    As a serial over-packer, who can’t go away for a week-end without at least 10 books (and a similar quantity of pairs of shoes) and coming back with twice that, I’d really like to not a) pay excess baggage ever again. b) wash or iron clothes on holiday again. c) lift a suitcase that has been packed by me ever again d) have to worry about my safety traveling on my own as a single woman.

    Even cooler if The Discworld actually existed and I could go there for my holidays…..

  21. A Star Trek-style replicator.
    Then I could make all the warp drives and other assorted toys I want! :-D

    You know, “bottomless peanut sack” sounds like a great insult, EvilSpock.

  22. Any takers for the dinner show at Milliways – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe?

  23. @Procrustes:

    Yeah, I understand your fear. But thankfully my parents never had me intercised :-P

    OH COME ON, it was the perfect set-up!

    And @femmebieninformee: I would SO love to go to Milliways with you, but you see, I’m spending the year dead for tax purposes so I’m not sure I can make it. :(

  24. Come now, the obvious answer is we all agree to wish for bigfoots riding on unicorns that poop rainbows.

    Personally, not really a myth or supernatural idea, but I’d really like the idea of predetermination (fate) to be cleared up. A simple e-mail from a god telling me that things were meant to be this way would do the trick.

  25. The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my brains bashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick, without actually having my brains bashed out. The improbability drive and the babel fish would kick ass, too.

    I could really go for reading minds, living a life in another body, and another head, if only as an observer… I just don’t want anyone in mine. I guess that’s the problem with that one.

  26. Being a time traveler would get confusing and frustrating. I’d rather be able to stop time like Evie from 80s sitcom Out Of This World. I would suddenly be really good at Win Lose or Draw, and untie so many shoelaces on the sly, and it would never ever get old watching jerks trip over themselves.

    Also, it would be awesome if The Incredible Mr. Limpet was a documentary instead of a kid flick, and it was possible to turn into that which you are most obsessed with. I might accidentally become a bottle of Campo Viejo, but it’d sure be neat if a man-turned-into-a-fish really had won World War II like in the movie. How much fun would writing that history paper be?


    1) Was a Witch for 12 yrs.
    2) Own the book “X-treme Latin, all the Latin you need to know for surviving the 21st century” by Henry Beard (Henricus Barbatus) and am willing to share.

  28. I would’ve liked to have grown up in the tunnels with Vincent and Father then gone to Hogwarts though that would mean Paracelsus/Tom Riddle would also be real.

  29. What fictitious thing would you like to be real?

    a time machine so I could go back to the year 32 or so and see for myself if a certain jewish carpenter really was around. End a Lot of arguements that way. Of course, I’ld have to learn Hebrew…bummer. Or should I say Oiy Vey!

  30. 1/ The ability to read with my eyes closed

    2/ the ability to move objects just using the power of the mind

    3/ the ability to make my patient list grow ever shorter just by sitting here reading skepchick threads…

  31. I stick by the answer I came up with when I was, like, ten. Dragons. Not the evil, destructive kind, but the wise, cool to hang out with kind.

  32. Teleportation.

    How much time, energy, and money do we spend getting from one place to another?

    Imagine if you could live in San Diego and work in Boston and your commute is a matter of seconds.

    Cities would become a thing of the past soon I think. Grandparents would see their grandchildren more.

    Actual human interactions would be almost as easily accomplished as internet human interactions. Want to see what it’s like in Rio during carnival? Go. You can still be home by dinner.

  33. Curving my bullets, like in “Wanted”.

    I mean, I thought I may have had that, for a minute or two.

    But I re-crowned my barrel muzzle and have been shooting straight, ever since.

    However, “Wanted: Muzzle Crowning Tool” would have been a MUCH shorter movie… :)


  34. Oh, and a universal translator. Hell, I’d settle for useful machine translation between English and any other given language.

  35. I’m with weatherwax – I’ve always dreamed about flying and would love to fly.

    Current events require that I also get behind the desire for teleportation as I am preparing for a 7000 mile trip with my four kids (well, one is really my husband), two pets, and the contents of our house. Yeah, teleportation. Please.

  36. Let’s see… I’d like for the old arthurian legends to be true, exactly as they are often told. To be a combat magician. To have access to the sorts of tech described by transhumanists, be connected by radio implants to every other human with similar implants, have a HUD system that pops up on my eye. I think I’m in a much larger Warren Ellis kick than I previously though I might be.

    Also cows who talk and provide helpful tips on how best to prepare and serve themselves.

    @femmebieninformee: I don’t know if I’d really want to vacation in Discworld. Seems awfully dangerous and wrought with peril. Be much safer to stay home, where I can get mashed potatoes. Although XXXX sounds like an interesting place to visit (though I suppose I could just go to Australia and get the same experience).

  37. @tania “I want to make-out with an alternate universe me.”

    That’s pretty kinky, what’s your cell number? :)

  38. i’d have to go with being a Jedi. I thought of being Q but then maybe things would get rather boring. on the other hand maybe you could screw around with “people”, you know mess with their heads. would that be too cruel?

  39. @Expatria:

    I moved to London from Australia 14 years ago, copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (with “Don’t Panic” written on the front cover in large friendly letters) in hand…. and discovered whole new layers to the books as I immersed myself in Brit culture. I think I even met Zaphod Beeblebrox at a party once – but the two heads may just have been the result of over-indulgence in pan-galactic gargle blasters.
    Haven’t come across the Estate Agent’s yet – will see if it’s still there next time I’m in that part of town.

  40. The Discworld dangerous? – you wouldn’t have a Rincewind in your family tree somewhere would you? Besides, Twoflower managed OK.

    If you think Australia is anything like XXXX, I should warn you (as an Aussie) IT IS MUCH MORE DANGEROUS!! The very land itself seeks to rid itself of people on a regular basis by sending fires, floods and cyclones (though granted it gives them a fair chance of escape despite the best efforts of the government). If the crocodiles, sharks, snakes, spiders or jellyfish don’t get you, then the drop bears or beer probably will.
    Still….no worries, eh?

  41. @Rasputin:

    I agree teleportation would be cool. There would need to be a few protocols established however – There are times I really don’t need my parents popping in from Aus – like when my (currently imaginary) boyfriend and I are… well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination;)
    It’s bad enough when I forget to check what I’m wearing before I answer their Skype calls:(

  42. Q

    That’d be badass. He’s badass.

    Or Data, because I had a huge crush on him.

    Why, yes, I WAS watching Star Trek last night, how did you know?

  43. An immaterial soul. It kinda sucks that “I” am just a result of physcial processes in a much too fragile body.

    It also opens up endless possibilites of other neat stuff being real.

  44. I really with The Rapture were real. All the religious nuts get taken up to their imaginary reward, and we are left alone to run the planet rationality.

  45. I don’t know about teleportation. There’s just no way to stop mom from visiting at the worst possible time, not to mention ALL the time.

    Give me the ability to soar on the air currents, and see the earth laid out below me.

    But it wouldn’t help my commute too much, unfortunantly, as my jobs tend to involve alot of equipment in remote areas. But in any case you have to walk occasionally, or you miss the flowers. Not to mention the lizards, snakes, wood-rats, racoons, lions, bears…

  46. Legolas – from Lord of the Rings, yummy yumm yumm

    Also, the Rapture would be real cool if it was real and wisked all the non-rationals off the planet

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