Power of Fiction

As Chomsky says, "We will always learn more about human life and personality from novels than from scientific psychology"

Here's Herb Simon’s take on novels over textbooks for teaching social science.

“Most humans are able to attend to issues longer, to think harder about them, to receive deeper impressions that last longer, if information is presented in a context of emotion, a sort of hot dressing, than if it’s presented wholly without effect.”

This “hot cognition” is what makes Ted Chiang’s stuff so compelling.

Other examples

People respond well to story, but this leaves us with an important responsibility.

If we are to learn our social science from novelists, then the novelists have to get it right. The scientific content must be valid. - Herb Simon

Example: Freud’s ideas still permeate novels despite very few psychoanalysts following Freud's methods today.

Last edited on Jul 2021