The Downside of Stories

by Limbic on January 5, 2012

Interesting speech on “the heuristic narratological basis of self-delusion”,  “the stories and metaphors we seduce ourselves with”.

Transcript is here: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/8w1/transcript_tyler_cowen_on_stories/

Here is one extract from the transcript.

Another set of stories that are popular – if you know Oliver Stone movies or Michael Moore movies. You can’t make a movie and say, “It was all a big accident.” No, it has to be a conspiracy, people plotting together, because a story is about intention. A story is not about spontaneous order or complex human institutions which are the product of human action but not of human design. No, a story is about evil people plotting together. So you hear stories about plots, or even stories about good people plotting things together, just like when you’re watching movies. This, again, is reason to be suspicious.

He is so right. Our narrative bias feeds the engine of Ideological belief, which always holds that there are oppressors and oppressed and that the oppressors are intentionally oppressing, usually via conspiracy.

Complex systems, emergent properties, mistakes and unforeseen second or third order effects are discounted. Narrative bias demands agency, and that serves Ideology, the dominant political mode of our time.

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