clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Importance of Narratives

New, comments

David McRaney talks about the importance of narratives using "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti" as an example.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

As you can see from the links referenced below, I've spent significant time writing on irrationality, bias and delusions:

The world of self-delusion and bias is one of my favorite topics to study and discuss, and You Are Not So Smart is an indispensable resource in the area.  In a recent episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, David McRaney discusses "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti" and the power and depth of the narrative bias:

Fighter pilots, when they experience extreme g-forces that suck the blood out of the brain, will report hallucinations. Intense hallucinations that involve a tunnel, a white light, friends and family coming to greet them - the same hallucinations that a person who is close to death will experience, a person who is deprived of oxygen. Even as the brain is dying, it refuses to stop generating a narrative, the scaffolding upon which it weaves cause and effect, memory and experience, feeling and cognition. Narrative is so important to survival that it is literally the last thing you give up before becoming a sack of meat.

The need to create stories to make sense of the world, even in the face of evidence that conflicts with that story, is hard-wired.  As I wrote in "Fans Dodge The Truth To Hold Fast To Their Delusions", once that narrative is in place, people dig deep to defend it.  I'll write more about this in the next few days.  For now, click through to the You Are Not So Smart Podcast with David McRaney