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[Transcript] Tyler Cowen on Stories

Cowen's is a very good and very useful insight, because so many people, especially in the popular press, seem to think solely in terms of pre-fabricated narratives. But it's also a deleterious one if you hold on to it too tightly—in the real world, decisions must be made under uncertainty, and insisting on (an always arbitrarily determined level of) rigor in one's decisionmaking while deprecating stories entirely is likely to lead one astray. Reason needs to be tested against experience, and stories can be valuable condensations of experience that serve as intuition pumps. Certain stories are also useful as models of human behavior—granted, they can be extremely easy to misuse, I've seen many do so, but in capable hands they're a great complement to one's thinking. Aside from that, one should keep in mind that, in a sense, Tyler's talk is itself a "story" in his sense, with the same potential to manipulate and compel that all stories have.