Category Archives: narrative science

George Packer’s four warring visions

Are we really “Four Americas,” as George Packer’s recent Atlantic article tells us? Does this really mean, as he says, that “competing visions of the country’s purpose and meaning are tearing it apart”? I haven’t yet read his new book, … Continue reading

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“Happily ever after!” The new GOP storyline

On the one hand, it’s heartening that Republicans recently voted to make Juneteenth a new federal holiday. On the other hand, with all the Lost Cause handwringing during the Trump years, one wonders why. In a recent Slate interview, historian … Continue reading

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There are storms, and then there are “storms” — reassurance from the world of survey science

In yesterday’s Washington Post, columnist Karen Tumulty described her concerns about the Republicans’ failure to endorse the January 6 investigation for which they’d helped set the terms. Some of her worries are based on recent non-partisan polling. As she put … Continue reading

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On men understanding women, or, why Harry Potter’s gender mattered

Boys don’t read books written by women, said Joanne Rowling’s publisher, and they didn’t want her first name on the book, hence the “J.K.” by which we all know her. It’s good for her that she pictured Harry as a … Continue reading

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How China’s ruling story helped kill 2.6 million people, and counting

So far, more than 2,640,000 people around the world have died from COVID-19. Thanks to the vaccines, maybe the death toll won’t climb much higher, and maybe life will soon return to normal. But is there anything China could have … Continue reading

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A thousand years of grievance? Here???

When I write about speeches that get people really riled up – as part of our research team’s ongoing study of genocide – one of my favorite examples is Slobodan Milošević’s Gazimestan speech. About a million Serbs showed up to … Continue reading

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Hacking your mood with a Strawberry Letter

A couple of weeks ago, I popped into the First National Taphouse to pick up the dinner we’d ordered, and on their sound system was a song I hadn’t heard, or thought about, in years. It was the Brothers Johnson, … Continue reading

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The hidden danger of stories – and a friendly alternative

Audiences loved the 2019 Downton Abbey movie, but some reviewers found fault. The New York Times review noted there was “barely enough plot to go around.” The critic for RogerEbert.com frames it more positively: It’s a movie about seeing people … Continue reading

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When is a story not a story?

This question comes up a lot in my line of work – honestly, all too often. Let’s start with a definition. A story is a description of a particular event or series of events with a focus on one or … Continue reading

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The Twelve Super-Stories

Let’s imagine you’ve been invited to speak to your entire country! You have to talk about current events (sorry, no sharing your hobbies or bragging about your kids), and the purpose of your talk is not just to educate, but … Continue reading

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