Storytelling that misleads!

We humans! A rare blend of ’emotional’ and ‘rational’ traits into one entity. Cognitive scientists say that our right brain connects to our creative, abstract, emotional side whereas our left brain relates to the logical, deductive and numeric.

Often times we face a disconnect between what ‘facts’ are telling us and what we ‘believe’. In other words, it is the weird uneasiness triggered by the gap in what we ‘should’ believe and what we ‘want’ to believe. This feeling of discomfort is what psychologists term as “cognitive dissonance”.

Our brain tends to take a shortcut when faced with such a dichotomy. It selectively picks up facts that conform to what it wants to believe and overlooks facts that do not. This tendency, more formally called the “confirmation bias” or a “velcro/teflon effect” is not very difficult to spot in a daily conversation in our offices, homes or neighbourhoods.

We tend to retain more if information is served in form of stories rather than in a matter-of-fact way. That is why storytelling has been a popular technology for transferring knowledge across generations since time immemorial. Storytelling has the power to connect the ‘rational’ with the ’emotional’, hence is an extremely powerful technology. Its meticulous use can result in exemplary inspiration, mountainous motivation or unfortunately malicious manipulation.

Watch out for storytellers who look, smell, talk like one amongst us however, are constantly trying to hack into our minds, through the back door of “cognitive dissonance” that we all humans naturally suffer, to seed a “confirmation bias ” that benefits only the class that (s)he represents.


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