Philo and SophiaGreenteeeth Labyrinth's page for philosophical musings and original thinking that looks slantwise at the big questions.

The Science of Storytelling:

by Leo Widrich Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains: A reflection of the importance of narrative and the power of storytelling. Contact us:

From Seers and Seekers Yahoo Group: Posted by: "Laurie" libramoon42@mindspring.com libramoon42 Date: Sat Dec 8, 2012 1:55 pm ((PST)) and Lifehacker

The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains

Leo Widrich

A good story can make or break a presentation, article, or conversation. But why is that? When Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich started to market his product through stories instead of benefits and bullet points, sign-ups went through the roof. Here he shares the science of why storytelling is so uniquely powerful.

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, spent a lot of his free time playing cards. He greatly enjoyed eating a snack while still keeping one hand free for the cards. So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented "sandwich," the name for two slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the western world.

What's interesting about this is that you are very likely to never forget the story of who invented the sandwich ever again. Or at least, much less likely to do so, if it would have been presented to us in bullet points or other purely information-based form.

For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. Recently a good friend of mine gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, and I wanted to learn more.

Here is the science around storytelling and how we can use it to make better decisions every day:

Our brain on stories: How our brains become more active when we tell stories We all enjoy a good story, whether it's a novel, a movie, or simply something one of our friends is explaining to us. But why do we feel so much more engaged when we hear a narrative about events?

It's in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca's area and Wernicke's area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that's it, nothing else happens.

When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.

If someone tells us about how delicious certain foods were, our sensory cortex lights up. If it's about motion, our motor cortex gets active:

"Metaphors like "The singer had a velvet voice" and "He had leathery hands" roused the sensory cortex. […] Then, the brains of participants were scanned as they read sentences like "John grasped the object" and "Pablo kicked the ball." The scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body's movements."

A story can put your whole brain to work. And yet, it gets better:

When we tell stories to others that have really helped us shape our thinking and way of life, we can have the same effect on them too. The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it can synchronize, says Uri Hasson from Princeton:

"When the woman spoke English, the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners' brains."

Anything you've experienced, you can get others to experience the same. Or at least, get their brain areas that you've activated that way, active too:

Evolution has wired our brains for storytelling—how to make use of it

Now all this is interesting. We know that we can activate our brains better if we listen to stories. The still unanswered question is: Why is that? Why does the format of a story, where events unfold one after the other, have such a profound impact on our learning?

The simple answer is this: We are wired that way. A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. In fact, Jeremy Hsu found [that] "personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations."

Now, whenever we hear a story, we want to relate it to one of our existing experiences. That's why metaphors work so well with us. While we are busy searching for a similar experience in our brains, we activate a part called insula, which helps us relate to that same experience of pain, joy, or disgust.

The following graphic probably describes it best:

In a great experiment, John Bargh at Yale found the following:

"Volunteers would meet one of the experimenters, believing that they would be starting the experiment shortly. In reality, the experiment began when the experimenter, seemingly struggling with an armful of folders, asks the volunteer to briefly hold their coffee. As the key experimental manipulation, the coffee was either hot or iced. Subjects then read a description of some individual, and those who had held the warmer cup tended to rate the individual as having a warmer personality, with no change in ratings of other attributes."

We link up metaphors and literal happenings automatically. Everything in our brain is looking for the cause and effect relationship of something we've previously experienced.

Let's dig into some hands on tips to make use of it:

Do you know the feeling when a good friend tells you a story and then two weeks later, you mention the same story to him, as if it was your idea? This is totally normal and at the same time, one of the most powerful ways to get people on board with your ideas and thoughts. According to Uri Hasson from Princeton, a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.

The next time you struggle with getting people on board with your projects and ideas, simply tell them a story, where the outcome is that doing what you had in mind is the best thing to do. According to Princeton researcher Hasson, storytelling is the only way to plant ideas into other people's minds.

Learn to Write more persuasively — bring in stories from yourself or an expert. This is something that took me a long time to understand. If you start out writing, it's only natural to think "I don't have a lot of experience with this, how can I make my post believable if I use personal stories?" The best way to get around this is by simply exchanging stories with those of experts. When this blog used to be a social media blog, I would ask for quotes from the top folks in the industry or simply find great passages they had written online. It's a great way to add credibility and at the same time, tell a story.

The simple story is more successful than the complicated one, when we think of stories, it is often easy to convince ourselves that they have to be complex and detailed to be interesting. The truth is however, that the simpler a story, the more likely it will stick. Using simple language as well as low complexity is the best way to activate the brain regions that make us truly relate to the happenings of a story. This is a similar reason why multitasking is so hard for us. Try for example to reduce the number of adjectives or complicated nouns in a presentation or article and exchange them with more simple, yet heartfelt language.

Quick last fact: Our brain learns to ignore certain overused words and phrases that used to make stories awesome. Scientists, in the midst of researching the topic of storytelling have also discovered, that certain words and phrases have lost all storytelling power:

"Some scientists have contended that figures of speech like "a rough day" are so familiar that they are treated simply as words and no more."

This means, that the frontal cortex—the area of your brain responsible to experience emotions—can't be activated with these phrases. It's something that might be worth remembering when crafting your next story.


Leo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer, a smarter way to share on Twitter and Facebook. Leo writes more posts on efficiency and customer happiness over on the Buffer blog. Hit him up on Twitter @LeoWid anytime; he is a super nice guy. Want to see your work on Lifehacker? Email Tessa.

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In this era of high tech health care and rapidly advancing developments of drug therapy, sudden infant death syndrome (cot death) is a rare thing in the developed world, around one per hundred according to World Health Organisation statistics. Given that, you might think the sudden and simultaneous deaths of twins might cause somne raised eyebrows among medical professionals ...

PARIS ERUPTS: Many streets are NO-GO ZONES As Immigrant Violence Spreads
Five large areas have been reduced to no go areas for the past five nights as masked men cause mayhem on the streets. Now there are fears the fall out from allegations of police brutality could spread all over the country as unrest in the city grows. Police were hit with molotov cocktails and the heavy metal balls used in the French game Petanque ...

J.K. Rowling Goes Silent After Getting Challenged To Put Her Money Where Her Mouth Is
JK Rowling, who wrote 7 great books for kids (and an absolutely shit one for grown ups) has become one of those annoying celebrities who thinks we all need to hear regularly from her on the topic of how to live our lives. she sees no reason why a superior being such as her should abide by the advice she dishes out to the rest of us.

Corruption: Paraphrasing Johnny Rotten, 'Never trust a fahkin' liberal'
As the 'liberal supporters of Barack Obama's hapless presidency and more recently the US Democratic Party's 2016 failed candidate 'Crooked Hillary' Clinton whip themselves into an ever greater frenzy over the hugely entertaining antic of President Trump, An editorial at Investors Business Daily may end up being considered by historians as defining exactly why the Obama administration failed so catastrophically ...

Is a Global Wide Cash Ban Coming?

Anyone who has been paying attention over the last four years knows the Europe is ground zero for Central Planning insanity. Europe was created as a union with open borders with the open flow of capital. However, the elites have clearly demonstrated that they are willing to lie cheat and steal in order to maintain their agenda.

Trump Foiled Soros' Master Plan to Impose New World Order - Hedge Fund Manager
President Donald Trump came to power just in time to prevent George Soros and Hillary Clinton achieving a secret Trans Pacific trade deal, that would have transferred sovereign rights to global corporations Wall Street hedge fund manager and financial analyst Mitch Feierstein told Sputnik. George Soros and Clinton Inc. were nearly able to declare the ‘New World Order’ complete" hedge fund manager Feierstein, said on Tuesday.

TIME Magazine runs vile hit piece against Robert Kennedy Jr. for daring to tell the truth about mercury in vaccines
When newly inagurated President Donald Trump appointed Robert Kennedy, Jr. to head a commission to investigate and report on vaccine safety, it was inevitable the Big Pharma Corporations, the big money interest behind them, and their 'pet poodle' scientists would hit back and try to undermine the initiative. That it would happen so quickly, with higly respected fake news publication Time magazine lining up its biggest hitters to smear Kennedy's reputation

The War On Cash Intensifies In Response To Trump and Brexit
It appears Europe is charging towards a cashless society. Just days after Davos’ elites discussed why the world needs to “get rid of currency,” the European Commission has introduced a proposal enforcing “restrictions on payments in cash.” – because only terrorists and drug-dealers need cash (nothing at all to do with totalitarian control over a nation’s wealth) – we are not surprised that this proposal from the European Commission would appear…

French Finance Minister Says UK’s May Is Not In A Position To Negotiate With Trump You have to wonder just who the testicularly deficient little pen pusher of the failing EuroNazi project think they are. What do they not understand about Brexit that enables them to think they can still tell us what we can and can’t do? They may have got away with it while cottaging Prime Minister Blair or Old Etonian bum boy Cameron were in charge ...

Obama’s Gone, But His Genocidal Wars Go On
Continued fighting in Yemen between Houthi rebels seeking to overthrow the tyrannical Sunni Muslim government and ground and air forces of the SSaudi Arabian led coalition backed by the Obama administration in the USA killed at least 66 people in 24 hours, medics and security sources said on Sunday.
More Obama war

Inauguration crowd size lies: The Hypocrisy Of Mainstream Media Is Infinite When They Can Publish Shite Like This


Trump and liberals exchange insults over wether the inauguration audience for Trump was bigger than Obama's or not. It's hard to know which side is lying, probably both of them.
Liberal hypocrisy

‘Integrate or Leave’: As Wilders Surges in Polls Dutch PM Ramps Up Migrant Rhetoric


Just one day after polls which gave Geert Wilders’s insurgent populist party a nine-point lead on the ruling conservatives, Prime Minister Rutte took out a full page advert and spoke in an interview with Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad to tell migrants they should integrate or leave, and to issue a call for a return to “common decency”.

Soros Is Responsible for Europe's Immigration Crisis Says Hungary's Viktor Orban
With Britain's Conservative Government pressing ahead with a 'hard Brexit agenda, and the Trump administration setting abou demolishing the expressway to socialism Barack Obama had spent eight years contruction, there is a lot of speculation and precious little hard evidence to indicate where the globalist elite, having seen their ambition for a world government thwarted will go next.
More Soros mischief

Post Trump and Brexit, Predicting The Globalists Next Move
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made the American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros for the current refugee movements in Europe with responsibility. "This invasion (of migrants) on the one hand steered from the tractor business, on the other hand of those (human) activists who support everything that the nation-states weakens,
Globalisation index

The role of cosmic electric currents in earth’s climate
If you’ve been following the growth of the Electric Universe movement, you know that this growth is due largely to the power of a new paradigm to explain things left unexplained by conventional theory. The greatest surprises of the space age are not surprises to researchers exploring the role of the electric force across the cosmos. Nor is it surprising to see the electric force at work close to home, both in the sculpting of planetary surfaces and in the evolution of life on earth ...

The Reality Of Globalism - World Trade Has Increased By Less Than 1% Annually In The Last Decade
There can be little doubt that 2016 was the year the great pushback against globalisation and the push towards an authoritarian world government (NWO) really got off the ground. Fears that the world is on the edge of rejecting globalization and a global economy, with its false promise of prosperity for all and its reality of an ever widening gap between rich and poor have dominated ...

World Bank Aims to Hand Over Seed Industry to Agribusiness
Today Donald Trump will be inaugurated as 45h President of The United States, his victory in the November election having been a major setback to those dark forces that give the impression only one more big push was needed to drive the world into accepting a global authoritarian government. Trump's victory, combined with 'Brexit' the vote by British citizens to leave the EU, combined to make 2026 a bad year for the globalists.

The Left In Meltdown
As the UK Labour Party crumbles into complete disarray with it’s leader, the sixty – eight year old perpetual student protestor Jeremy Corbyn proving a more divisive figure than any of his predecessors, as he sacrifices more and more votes on the altar of fashionable causes, and the EU, natural successor to Hitler’s European unification project falls apart in the face of resurgent cultural nationalism, it is quite satisfying to see ...

Fake News and fake Fake News
The buzz phrase this past month has been ‘Fake News’ as over in the USA the Donald Trump camp have had to swat away repeated attempts to smear and the discredit the victor in the 2016 Presidential Election and supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, unable to accept their team lost because people rejected perpetual war and ...

Obama Has been An Inspirational President?Well He Probably Inspired More Suicides Than Any Other Obama’s greatest achievement perhaps it to have put Donald Trump in The White House. Whether you think this is a good or bad thing depends on your political stance. This blog is neutral, our view being that Trump can’t be a worse president than any of the three that preceded him.

Over 4000 Civilians Have Died In Forgotten War.
As attention has focused on Syria ans then on the efforts of the Obama administration, in its dying months, to avenge the defeat of the anointed successor Hillary Clinton and discredit the election victor and President - elect Donald Trump, and simultaneously demonize Russia and President Putin

NEW CHAINS FOR OLD
The problem with losing your chains is knowing what to do when you are free to act without them. The answer most people choose should not really be all that surprising.

Former UK Ambassador Says Obama's 'Russian Hacking' Claims Are Bullshit
Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who has always publicly opposed the demonization of Russia by United States and European Union official propaganda and has in the past collaborated with WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to expose western propaganda as being aimed at persuading voters war with Russia and China,is justified has dismissed the CIA's claims that Russia interfered in last month’s presidential election as "bullshit"

An Item In Todays News About US Gov't Internet Security Hack has Tipped Our Editor Over The Edge
The US election was on November 8, by November 12 it should have gone away, but the Democrats, proven crooks and liars who crookedly rigged their own selection process to cheat a man who could have beaten Trump out of the nomination and ensure their candidate was the traitor, war criminal, liar, AND head of the Clinton Crime Syndicate Hillary Clinton as their candidate.

Democrats Russia Hacked Us and Failed Recount Campaign is Political Suicide. The US Democratic Party’s inability to accept that they lost the Presidency to Donald Trump is turning into a slow polictical sucicide. The party that has always been quick to scream ‘conspiracy theorist’ to discredit critics of its dealings with oversreas governments and foreign billionaires like Soros has revealed in its efforts to overturn the result by claimING that Russian hacking influenced voters in favour of Trump.

Oxford University wants to turn English into a sterilized Orwellian language
Oxford University, one of the oldest universities in the world and, one might think, the 'home' of the English language is now, it seems, engaged in a New World Order campaign to destroy the English Language. It appears the finest young minds in society are so deeply offended by words that remind them men and women are biologically they, backed by their fuckwitted Marxist lecturers and professors, are demanding gender specific pronouns be abolished.

I Was Right - Gravilty Does Not Exist

Well OK, saying gravity does not exist is a bit of an oversimplification, but there is strong evidence Isaac Newton's theory of what makes things fall to the ground, which does not attempt to explain how gravity makes things fall, but only states gravity is a natural force, really misunderstood what was going on.

France Falling Apart As The World Looks On
France will elect a new president in May 2017. Politicians are already campaigning and debating about deficits, welfare recipients, GDP growth, and so on, but they look like puppets disconnected from the real country. Violence. It is spreading. Not just terrorist attacks; pure gang violence. The media does not dare to say that this violence is coming mainly from Muslim gangs

The Internet Purge Of Politically Incorrect (aka truthful) Content Begins
Facebook, Google (owners of YouTube) and Microsoft have long been known as CIA collaborators and it has been acknowledged that Obama's move in divesting the US government of responsibility for ICANN allows The White House to make outraged noises about suppression of free speech while using Search Engine Operators as proxies to shut down anything challinging US and NATO propaganda (on the grounds no doubt that challenging the politically correct orthodoxy constitutes hate speech.)

UK Education: Ofsted, Not The Government, Is Blighting Poor Pupils’ Chances
Experienced teacher say it is possible to teach effectively with that kind of a workload and although such working hours are common in business and commerce, people in those sectors do not have to deal with stupid, snotty nosed, hormonally hyperactive adolescents.

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