Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Storytelling isn’t everything, it’s the only thing

A friend of mine asked me what kind of clinical, peer reviewed research I typically conducted when writing books. 

I almost fell out of my chair. After all, she’s academic, and so, she was trained in the objective, statistically rigorous analysis of scientific inquiry. 

But I explained to her, I write from life. That is my research. The world gives me everything I need. And that doesn’t make my words any less serious, objective or valuable. Carr’s essay on the power of anecdote put it best:

The danger in scorning the anecdotal, is that science gets too far removed from the actual experience of life, and it loses sight of the fact that mathematical averages and other such measures are always abstractions. But philosophers, poets, artists, their raw material includes the anecdote, and they remain, even more so than scientists, our best guides to what it means to exist. It’s time we rehabilitating the anecdote. It’s time we finally made room for both the statistical and the anecdotal. Because numbers can lie. 

The point is, research and data and studies and numbers can be manipulated into supporting whatever argument you want to make. But anecdotal is not a curse word. Story is not a distortion. I understand that people remember the past the way they need to. And I understand that the plural of anecdote is not evidence. But I also understand that we live in a world made of more story than stuff. And that narrative is the basic tool for making sense of the world, the currency of human contact, the fundamental instrument of thought and the foundation that psychologically sustains our species.

Storytelling isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

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