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If the story is good, the facts don’t matter

Jason Cohen makes a compelling point that if the story is good, the facts (kind of) don’t really matter (that much). He does this by looking at Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point (yeah, his blog post is from 2008, so it wasn’t outdated then).

He quotes Duncan Watts, who has debunked many of Gladwell’s claims:

“It sort of sounds cool,” Watts says, tucking into his salad. “But it’s wonderfully persuasive only for as long as you don’t think about it.”

Well, at least as long as you don’t think about it deeply and double-check.

We want to be fascinated. We want to be entertained. We want to have Eureka! moments. And if a good story gives us all of that, hey, don’t start splitting hairs please, you annoying fact-checker dude wearing your booooring logical reasoning hat.

Now this shouldn’t mean that you should come up with stories to distort the truth.

Instead, it means that you should use stories to convey the truth in the best way possible.

If you’re a bakery, don’t tell me you’ve got the most delicious, yummy cakes. Don’t even just tell me why they are delicious, or just about the wholesome ingredients you use, and what makes it superior to the new breed of cakes that uses all kinds of chemical shortcuts to look like a really awesome cake and taste like crap. Instead, tell me stories that convey these features and benefits, so I don’t just know about them, but I actually feel glad to know them!

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