Writing and the narrative fallacy (2018)

Writing and the narrative fallacy (2018)

Expensive Jack,

A bloody good anticipate of and I’d anticipate such questions of Mr. Bezos since he’s requested all of them his mental life or there wouldn’t be Amazon.

What moreover caught me inside the aforementioned narrative is the riff about luck.

Good fortune is considered by many editors a non-starter in plotting and constructing of every and every fictive and non-fictive experiences. It’s often scratched out, or zigzag staunch right into a rational argument for what was actually cosmic accident. Guide and film critics flip their noses up at luck. Many reporters are inclined to shun luck in making explanations of how and why one factor took plot.

I’m writing a e book about luck, a enviornment I’ve discovered enthralling ever since my early days as a pupil anthropologist, when newspapering was merely a ability to pay faculty tuitions. I taught a variety of programs about luck in diversified cultures, and the contrivance during which human and essential a perception “luck” is.

Currently I listed these I might nicely expend of the easiest doable moments in my life the place issues went precise or unsuitable. Virtually 100% of the precise moments had been absolutely fortunate, with out a sniff of smarts about them.

The unsuitable stuff then once more had all to enact with my lack of staunch kind smarts. The best doable luck was that its timing wasn’t any worse.

It is miles purposeful, I deem, for all writers and editors to resolve deeply into consideration the “sage fallacy” which, as I uncover about it, reflexively disbelieves in luck.

There are too few accessible phrases to painting luck and the contrivance during which all lives are affected by it. There are too many phrases about smarts and clear-prick the development to win smarter, far fewer on how and why to win fortunate.

One in all many fortunate issues about taking luck into recurring consideration is which potentialities are you will additionally discover luck when it pops by.

Regular luck renders the disagreeable risks of life’s unpredictability a lot much less threatening, and Mr. Bezos actually warned that chaos and shortage of readability is new on the beginning of every and every profitable perception and to be too cautious of luck is neither prison nor tidy.

Many thanks for the fortunate alternative to look at this in About Modifying and Writing.



  1. The mirror of this premise is also interesting; think, for example, of all the extremely complicated narratives woven to explain COVID-19 (5G, Bill Gates, etc.) On the other hand, maybe those narratives could also be considered a kind of simplification, which is to say they all boil down to "it's the fault of {fill in the blank evil rich person or organization}" as opposed to what's more likely to be the truth, which is that nature and the physical world are full of complexity and randomness.

  2. Wow, Bezos must be extremely hyper intelligent to bring up a concept from a pop science book. What an awe inspiring mind.

  3. I like "Be suspicious of simple stories" TED Talk by Tyler Cowen (https://www.ted.com/talks/tyler_cowen_be_suspicious_of_simpl…):

    > Then asked to describe their lives, what is interesting is how few people said "mess". It's probably the best answer, I don't mean that in a bad way. "Mess" can be liberating, "mess" can be empowering, "mess" can be a way of drawing upon multiple strengths. But what people wanted to say was, "My life is a journey." 51% wanted to turn his or her life into a story. 11% said, "My life is a battle." Again, that is a kind of story. 8% said, "My life is a novel." 5% said, "My life is a play.

    In a similar vain, I recommend "The danger of a single story" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_dange…).

    Yes, for most people stories are the easiest way to learn something. However, but their own nature they are intentionally oversimplified. So they are also they easiest way to fool other, intentionally or not.

  4. Taleb repeatedly strikes me as over rated. The difference between narrative and time is as old as the gods and can easily be argued both ways.

    People who adhere to time and conplexity don't get a free pass on the fundamentals. The project will spring leaks if you get the story wrong. Information will slip out, people will get the wrong idea and go in opposite directions.

    You can blame those errors on randomness, but really you just let the basic elements fail by skipping good reasoning.

    Taleb's point about unconnected thoughts making an oversimplified story really misses the complexity in story and the massive filtering efforts that go into making good stories. He's pandering at best with these ideas.


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