In response to The Last Mimzy part 5: the Alice Mimzy, Virgil Dunbar wrote:
That’s certainly debatable.
As mentioned in response there, all reconstructions of what might have happened had history been otherwise are debatable; the question is whether they are more or less probable than some alternate reconstruction.
Mr. Dunbar did not respond to suggest what part of the reconstruction there he found dubious. Perhaps he thinks the estimation of the impact of Lewis Carroll on various fields excessive. Perhaps he does not believe that Alice’s rabbit was a Mimzy or that the story intends for us to see the Alice stories as inspired by the Mimzy experience. Perhaps he objects to the notion that those stories would have been successful without that inspiration. Without a specific statement of what he finds doubtful, it is difficult to make a defense of what was stated, particularly within the limits of one article.
Perhaps, though, it is sufficient to acknowledge that probabilities are the foundation of all such reconstructions. In some ways, they are a bit like economic forecasts. Assumptions are made concerning the influence particular events had on outcomes–such as, for example, the consideration of whether Obama would now be President had Gore carried Florida in 2000. No one can say who would have won the election in 2008, nor even with certainty who would have been in the running for it, but the history of the past half century suggests that a Democratic win in 2000 would have severely limited the chance for an unknown to rise to the head of the democratic ticket and carry the general election two terms later, no matter what happened in 2004. That does not make it impossible–just extremely unlikely.
Thus in considering Lewis Carroll, we find a man who had a significant impact on people in many fields, from linguistics to logic to entertainment, who was propelled to his platform by the popularity of the Alice stories. Much as movie and pop stars today influence opinion for no better reason than popularity, so too it was his successful fantasy fiction that gave Carroll the platform for his impact. If we assume that those stories were completely dependent on information from the future, we create an original history in which he is just another writer. That changes history enough that when he gains his influence, the world changes dramatically.
Yet the other side of the analysis is identifying the possible improbable. The movie tells us that the scientist succeeded, and that there was a future beyond that moment. Therefore as unlikely as it appears, it must be that the change did not destroy time–no infinity loop was created. The question then becomes not how improbable is it that time could survive, but what set of circumstances makes it possible? The answers appear to be that the influence of the Mimzy on the Alice stories was minimal, that Carroll was famous for those stories without those portions. It may seem improbable, but it is not impossible, and for history to survive it may be necessary.
Is there another explanation? There are always other possibilities. Perhaps aliens were involved; perhaps an angel intervened; perhaps there was another time traveler. A good analysis makes as few assumptions as possible, working mostly from what is known to reach what will work. Only when some outside influence is necessary to save the story is it appropriate to include one.
So perhaps the guesses about Lewis Carroll are wrong; but thus far no one has suggested another theory that works.