Stories stick, while data is discounted

September 23, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

Over at Andy Goodman’s Free Range Journal, we hear more evidence that “Stories stick,” while “data is discounted.”

At this site we quite often see this problem in some of our comments. Someone who was taught a Bible story at a young age will ignore great quantities of statistical data in order to save the (Bible) story.  The scientific story of evolution all-too-often wins when pitted against Adam and Eve.  Even though natural selection offers an elegant story, it is not as available to many people as the bible story against which it competes.   Then there’s no contest between the scientific data versus the Bible story.

Perhaps scientists need to develop better story frames if we are to have any chance against Adam and Eve. Same issue with Sarah Palin, who offers simple stories that stick with her followers. What chance does a statistics-wielding politician have against such simple stories as “Drill Baby Drill” or “America is the World’s Greatest Country”?

In this earlier post, I pointed out the correlation between innumeracy and rejection of the scientific theory of evolution.

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Category: Communication, Science, Writing

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Mike Baker says:

    "Perhaps scientists need to develop better story frames.."

    Erich, not that it would have to be all that great a story either. That the human race began, based on incestuous relationships is rather an ugly story to begin with. It shouldn't be hard to beat that.

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