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Craig_Heldreth comments on [Transcript] Tyler Cowen on Stories - Less Wrong Discussion

65 Post author: Grognor 17 December 2011 05:42AM

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Comment author: Craig_Heldreth 17 December 2011 03:31:38PM *  2 points [-]

Very nicely done.

For emphasis I cut and paste the following:

as an economist, I'm thinking about life on the margin. The extra decision: should we think more in terms of stories, or less in terms of stories? When we hear stories, should we be more suspicious? and what kind of stories should we be suspicious of?

This repetition of "at the margin" or "on the margin" and even calling his blog Marginal Revolution may be the biggest thing about Cowen's writing which really hooks me.

And now some narrative. In the beginning the story was a memory device. There were bards and storytellers before we had writing and their greatest power may be as mnemonic. I have forgotten where I saw this--it may have been in a largely bogus pop psychology book--but one story about stories I have always liked goes something like: when telling a fairy tale to a child, they will never permit you to alter or leave out any important detail. So say you are telling Cinderella; in that case you cannot leave out the part about the abusive stepmother and stepsisters, or the child immediately goes bonkers.

I have no idea if that is true or not but it certainly is memorable.

OK one more and then I will stop. I took a community police class a couple years ago. Three hours, one night a week, ten weeks. Really interesting. It was free and if you have one in your town I highly recommend going for it. One of the things in the class was the pedophile detective explaining how you do an interrogation to catch a suspect in a lie. He said the trick (and it's really easy) is you get him to retell his story starting over again in the middle. He claimed the guys have their story memorized A, B, C, D, E, . . . X, Y, Z. But, if you say: OK begin at F and start over; or, if you ask: now did M happen before O or did O happen first? They always had to go back to A and start over again in their mind from the beginning of their story and that 40 second or 80 second or whatever delay while they were working down from A was the tell.

I have no idea if that is true or not either but it certainly is memorable for me.

Comment author: MixedNuts 18 December 2011 12:19:45PM 1 point [-]

That probably produces a lot of false positives!