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The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn

We (as in humanity) often view ourselves as being logical. We spend much time in philosophy classes debating the nature of logic, playing with logic tables, and generally convincing ourselves that what defines us as humans is our ability to explore concepts and ideas through a framework of logic. After, isn’t the scientific method a testament to the power of a logical framework to banish myth and superstition? While logic certainly is a large part of who we are, most of us are moved more by stories than by logic. Bambi, for example, did more to raise awareness about hunting than did studies and logical arguments. Political leaders aren’t elected because they are the best or most competent, but rather because of their ability to translate a meaningful world view (through narrative and story) that resonates with what we aspire to be. And advertisers, well, let’s not get into the latest Axe or Budweiser commercials. Regardless of how far-fetched and at times comical an advertising message is, something in a story stirs us. The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn tackles why stories have such power over people: “Psychologists and neuroscientists have recently become fascinated by the human predilection for storytelling. Why does our brain seem to be wired to enjoy stories? And how do the emotional and cognitive effects of a narrative influence our beliefs and real-world decisions?
The answers to these questions seem to be rooted in our history as a social animal. We tell stories about other people and for other people. Stories help us to keep tabs on what is happening in our communities. The safe, imaginary world of a story may be a kind of training ground, where we can practice interacting with others and learn the customs and rules of society. And stories have a unique power to persuade and motivate, because they appeal to our emotions and capacity for empathy.”