I was struck by how well the following extract seems to fit my previous post, the Marshal Amp monologue, which features a character who rejects hard evidence that goes against his favourite story:
Stories are the means by which we navigate the world. They allow us to interpret its complex and contradictory signals. We all possess a narrative instinct: an innate disposition to listen for an account of who we are and where we stand.
When we encounter a complex issue and try to understand it, what we look for is not consistent and reliable facts but a consistent and comprehensible story. When we ask ourselves whether something “makes sense”, the “sense” we seek is not rationality, as scientists and philosophers perceive it, but narrative fidelity. Does what we are hearing reflect the way we expect humans and the world to behave? Does it hang together? Does it progress as stories should progress?
A string of facts, however well attested, will not correct or dislodge a powerful story. The only response it is likely to provoke is indignation: people often angrily deny facts that clash with the narrative “truth” established in their minds. The only thing that can displace a story is a story. Those who tell the stories run the world.
The extract is from a newspaper article by environment campaigner George Monbiot who makes a powerful case for replacing our old, cantankerous narratives with a new and kinder story. The full article is quite long but, in my opinion, well worth a read: