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better stories


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Ari Melber’s interview with author Yuval Noah Harari on MSNBC — Yuval Noah Harari on GOP losses, conspiracies, AI, religion & history. A few quotes stood out.

  1. the most successful fiction ever created is not God, it’s money”
  2. “human beings think in stories, and the only thing that can defeat or displace a story is a better story”
  3. “the super-power of our species is not individual genius, it’s the ability to cooperate in large numbers. So if you really want to change something, join an organization or start an organization. But 50 people who cooperate as part of a community … can make a much bigger change than 500 isolated individuals.”

Quote #1 reminded me of Ursula K. Le Guin’s observation that, “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

The challenge with stories as observed in Quote #2, is that we have to find better ones. One approach I have suggested is story skepticism, making sense before making up stories, all toward pre-bunking the conspiracy theorists. But how can we create better stories?

The answer to the question above is in Quote #3. Better stories come through better cooperation.

“At the point at which the collective complexity reaches the complexity of an individual, the process of complexity increase encounters the limitations of hierarchical structures. Hierarchical structures are not able to provide a higher complexity and must give way to structures that are dominated by lateral interactions.” —Yaneer Bar Yam

Image: Amy Burvall
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