I am going to begin this piece by presenting you with some insights. Hot off the digits and delivered fresh to your pre-frontal squire :
- Human neurology is such that we prefer engaging with narratives to wrestling with raw data points.
- This fondness for stories means that we are inclined to draw a line of best fit through the facts, eagerly accepting those claims that fit our narratives whilst turning a blind eye to those facts that contradict or complicate the story.
- This tendency to seek out narratives means that it is considerably easier for people to sell us a story than it is for them to convince us of isolated facts, even if the facts are more obviously true than the competing stories.
- Advertisers, politicians and all forms of demagogue are aware of these tendencies and factor them in to their dealings with the public.
These four insights can all more or less be inferred from the title of Christian Salmon’s book-length essay Storytelling – Bewitching the Modern Mind. They are also the only insights that the book contains. Sadly, instead of fleshing out these concepts and painting a picture of the dangers inherent in such lazy thought patterns, Salmon prefers to indulge in a number of weak forms of argument that are, somewhat disappointingly, rife in the non-academic non-fiction sub-genre.