In his TedX talk, economist Tyler Cowen delivers some great insights into the dangers of telling simple stories.
While acknowledging that “to think in terms of stories is entirely human”, Cowen also claims, though not without irony, that every time you tell yourself a simple story “you are lowering your IQ”. That’s of course a too simple story in itself, but I agree that in storytelling it is important to look out for the risk of losing complexity.
One of the things I am working on right now is to help create engaging and interesting presentations for a CPWF event later this year. As part of the preparations, I was asked to write a blog post on why it’s worthwhile to introduce storytelling into a research program:
“My brother used to hate school. He didn’t fit the bill for quietly sitting down to listen, and he was always really bored in class. He would much rather run into the woods to chase insects or search for not-so-ripe plumps. As he started middle school, the fights with his teachers got worse, and his grades started to drop.
Until the day a new history professor arrived at our small village school. My brother braced himself for more yawn-inducing classes. But, the historian turned out to be a world-class storyteller, who painted vivid images of kings and queens, revolutions and political intrigues, and who had my brother and his classmates fighting out battles with wooden swords. The stories this teacher told made my brother listen.”