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Our Brains Tell Stories So We Can Live - Issue 75: Story - Nautilus

Good science

Good science = precise data - possible interpretations.

Good science is a humble recognition of the limits of what scientific data can say.

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Our Brains Tell Stories So We Can Live - Issue 75: Story - Nautilus

Our Brains Tell Stories So We Can Live - Issue 75: Story - Nautilus

http://nautil.us/issue/75/story/our-brains-tell-stories-so-we-can-live

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Key Ideas

Storytelling is essential to living

Stories are the primary way through which we make sense of our world. We explain ideas by telling stories.

Even science uses storytelling when they use data of the physical world to explain phenomena that cannot be reduced to physical facts, or when they extend incomplete data to draw general conclusions.

For example, knowing the atomic weight of carbon and oxygen cannot explain to us what life is. 

The brain’s reward system

When the brain pieces separate bits of an image together to form a coherent picture, it is known as pattern recognition. Once we recognize a pattern, it can spark a degree of pleasure, often described as that "a-ha" moment.

Where science and story meet

Despite the verities of science, we feel compelled to tell stories that venture beyond the facts.

When we first see separate ideas, we feel obliged to find a relationship between the ideas to form a coherent picture. Once a possible relationship has been established, we feel the need to come up with an explanation.

Hypotheses and making up stories

Science is about making up stories called hypotheses and testing them, then coming up with better stories. Once a story is complete, science goes to a lab to test it. While a story is useful, it can also be a problem if we run with an incomplete story. Our brains' reward for possible pattern-matching can overlook conflicting information as it searches for patterns, not identical inputs.

We earn a dopamine reward every time we understand something - even if the explanation is defective. This may result in misinterpreting data.

What science to accept

  • Ensure that any science you trust has passed through the peer-review process. And even then it might not be accurate. 
  • Search for information on the limits of the data in science reports. Were assumptions made? Be concerned if the discussion of them is missing.
  • Assess the preciseness of language, tightness of structure and restraint with which they present moral issues.
  • Assess the historical, cultural, and personal context of the study.
  • Are they willing to entertain alternative opinions and interpretations?

Good science

Good science = precise data - possible interpretations.

Good science is a humble recognition of the limits of what scientific data can say.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

A new disorder

The World Health Organization officially added a new disorder to the section on substance use and addictive behaviors :

The term "addiction"

Addiction can include:

  • Addiction as a moral transgression, like excessive drinking or drug use.
  • Addiction as a scientific disease, which characterize alcoholism and drug addiction as biological.
  • Colloquial violation, which applies the term to almost any fixation. 

The idea that someone can be addicted to a behavior, as opposed to a substance, remains debatable.

Arguments against gaming addiction
  • Excessive gameplay is a symptom of a larger problem, like anxiety or depression.
  • The fear of possible addiction arrises from moral panic about new technologies, not scientific research or clinical data.
  • Making excessive gaming a disorder can harm the gaming industry by stigmatizing their products. 

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The Science Of Storytelling

According to Will Storr, author of ‘The Science Of Storytelling’, reality is just a phrase for a common set of shared facts and surroundings and is mainly a mind construct. We may not be living in ...

Change Matters

Human beings react to physical and environmental changes all the time. Likewise, a good story requires changes and challenges, and characters need to be provided with certain crossroads of change, else the story does not move.

Cause And Effect

Incomplete stories are filled automatically by the brain, as we have an urge to find meaning in everything. We also tend to believe the simplest explanations. Stories need to be shown a linear cause and effect for the reader to stay interested. If there are too many effects, the effect is lost.

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Hardwired for Stories

We love to tell and listen to stories. The 'Story Narrative' is hardwired in us, as we think and remember in stories.

A strong narrative can be the difference between succes...

Creative Problem Solving

Human beings are able to creatively solve problems, alone or in a group. This has given rise to many inventions, shaping common goals shared by a group of people.

We needed a 'sticky' idea to spread it among people, and the story narrative is exactly that.

Relating To The Characters

Stories cater to our Ego. A listener puts himself in the shoes of the protagonist of a story, and an idea is given emotional heft and sturdiness.

The more we are able to relate to the central character, the more engaging, effective and memorable a story narrative becomes.

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