| "Bluff" |
Set in the 22nd Century
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Occupation:||Cultural anthropologist, astronaut|
|Affiliations:||Crew of the William Howells|
Ramon Castillo was a Colombian-born cultural anthropologist aboard the starship William Howells. He was the first person to notice evidence of a city in a river valley on an unnamed planet. This fact was cause for celebration amongst the crew of the Howells.
After the crew contacted the people of Kussara, Castillo noticed their tendency to speak to their gods and deceased ancestors. He recorded one such instance while dickering with a woodworker, who frequently interrupted their barter to consult with Kadashman, the patron god of woodworkers. Based on the advice of his god, the woodworker accepted Castillo's offer.
Castillo brought the recording to the rest of the crew. Everyone was at a loss to explain the phenomenon, until Castillo participated in a poker game, hosted by ship's navigator Stan Jeffries. The Kussaran soldier Tushratta was one of the players. When Jeffries attempted to bluff Tushratta on a high-stakes hand, Tushratta could not understand the concept of "bluff" or "deceit". He shared his observations with Katerina Tolmasova, the ship's captain and his lover. When Tolmasova quoted Karl Marx, that "it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but rather their social existence determines their consciousness," it was enough to send Castillo on the right track: the Kussarans were not conscious beings.
Castillo presented his theory to the rest of the scientists on board. While he was met with skepticism, after careful argument, bolstered by the theories of Julian Jaynes, which were first posited over a 150 years prior. The Kussarans were aware, but relied on the part of their brain that was responsible for patterns and broad perceptions, not language or logic. Thus, their gods and deceased ancestors were hallucinations designed to keep the society functioning.
After much discussion and argument, Castillo's hypothesis was accepted, pending experimentation.