Less Wrong transcribes Tyler Cowen’s Tedx talk on stories:
…we should be suspicious of stories. We’re biologically programmed to respond to them. They contain a lot of information. They have social power. They connect us to other people. So they’re like a kind of candy that we’re fed when we consume political information, when we read novels. When we read nonfiction books, we’re really being fed stories.
…So what are the problems of relying too heavily on stories? You view your life like “this” instead of the mess that it is or it ought to be.
…narratives tend to be too simple. The point of a narrative is to strip it way, not just into 18 minutes, but most narratives you could present in a sentence or two. So when you strip away detail, you tend to tell stories in terms of good vs. evil, whether it’s a story about your own life or a story about politics.
…As a simple rule of thumb, just imagine every time you’re telling a good vs. evil story, you’re basically lowering your IQ by ten points or more. If you just adopt that as a kind of inner mental habit, it’s, in my view, one way to get a lot smarter pretty quickly.
What are the stories of development? Off the cuff thoughts:
- Evil dictator versus good reformer
- Africa resurgent
- The tragedy of Africa
- Good reformer becomes evil dictator
- The elusive quest for growth?
Did your IQ just drop 50 points?
(Sorry bout the last one, Bill, but I couldn’t resist. You of all people can afford to lose 10 points).