When Was the Last Time Someone Told You a Story?

14 Feb

According to economist Tyler Cowen we hear them and tell them all the time.  This is because stories are one of the main structures through which we communicate. Stories range in size and medium from the ones we share in everyday conversation to 300 page autobiographies in the bookstore. Stories are useful because they allow us to take lots of information, organize it, and share it. In fact, Cowen argues, stories are so good at helping us and our audiences understand things, we usually take the fact that they are simplified versions of the truth for granted.

The consequences of storybook thinking are all around us and are especially relevant now that we approach an election. Over the coming months, each candidate will tell voters thousands of stories that explain why they should be elected. Very often, these stories will take complex issues and condense them into matters of good vs. evil. An effective tale may get a candidate elected but won’t promote a realistic understanding of the world.

The solution? Tyler Cowen suggests we become critical consumers of information. The more a story resonates with us, the more we should question it.

Watch Tyler Cowen warn you about stories with an excellent one:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/tyler_cowen_be_suspicious_of_stories.html

by Diarra Edwards

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