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Any story is better than a pile of questions. Discuss.

October 4, 2019

I heard that line in a podcast yesterday as I was driving home from work.

The moment the sentence was delivered to my ears, my brain leapt into action and sent that all-too-familiar sinking feeling through my body.

Oh shit, is THIS how normal people think (leading to the realisation that I clearly still have the view that I am NOT normal which is fine by me)…

How can literally ANY story be better than the exciting prospect of a bunch of questions that you can explore, plan for, invest in, discuss and ponder over?

I just didn’t and still don’t compute.

The context leading up to that line being delivered was a story about a woman who found that her long-term boyfriend had an online dating profile that had been set up while they were dating.  She confronted him, he was perplexed by it, saying that someone must have hacked him. She then set out to find the trickster and so the story went on. It’s on the Invisibiia podcast if you want the full story. The episode is called ‘The Profile’ from 20 Sep 2019.

If I’m honest I’ve probably spent a good proportion of my life trying to work out how other people think and process information and why they come to the conclusions they do.  I didn’t realise that my career as a Cosmetic Chemist would put me in the perfect position to do this on a daily basis on account of being surrounded by people for whom stories are real and science is magic.

The reason I’ve invested so much time in trying to work out the patterns and points at which the story becomes the appeal is not just because I don’t get it but because, if I’m honest, I want to CHANGE that.  I do want to tap into that brain wiring and re-route that connection towards one that follows MY path, the path of scientific enquiry.  Why? Because I want there to be more truth and less ‘any story’.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love stories, all kinds of stories from the factually correct and historical to the fantasy and dreamlike imaginings of the true creatives.  Constructing stories is a very human thing to do and telling them over and over is a tried and tested way of passing knowledge, culture and meaning from generation to generation.  So I don’t hate stories at all, in fact, on reflection, one of the reasons my blog has been such a big part of my business life over the last 12 years is that it is a medium through which I can tell my type of stories, stories about science stuff.

I have my story about why people prefer ANY story, even one that is fanciful, unlikely or odd, over just a bunch of questions.  I feel it’s a combination of things.  Firstly because the human brain is lazy and secondly because we become successful and powerful humans by knowing stuff.  Not just any stuff like the stuff that good questions are made of, no I mean stuff that makes people go ‘aha, thanks, you have just given me an answer to something and now I know more than I did before’.

Answers are like gold.

Answers make us successful, rich and powerful.

On the other hand, our mind can easily equate us having unanswered questions with us being inadequate, poor and vulnerable.  None of which is evolutionary desirable.

But of course that is bollocks and making up literally anything instead of seeking something based on reality is a sure fire way to stuff your life up.

So clearly we are smarter than that. Clearly we don’t just make up any story when we have questions. There must be a filter somewhere, some place in our brain where we weigh up the odds and then go down the story vs truth march path…

Again I have an idea of where that switch might be but again I don’t really know and am just making my own stories up as I go, to make me feel better maybe as I really do feel like my switch is either not functioning in the same way as lots of other people or is in a different place.  Not that it matters but the difference does fascinate me.

I think that we must all set our ‘story’ point depending on our own history, world view, personal motivation for making the investment (perceived gain)  and capacity for question investigating.

Ever since I can remember I’ve had a scientific mind. I have always been fascinated by stuff and would sit looking at the grass for ages or I’d pick things out of the pond to look at under a magnifying glass or microscope. I’d lie out on the road (yep, not too bright) to check out the stars at night and would spend hours pouring over books on biology, birds and mushrooms just because I loved how weird and different these things could be and loved the questions that I came up with to investigate.  Anyway, that’s me.

So my world view is one that pivots around an intense thirst for not just theoretical knowledge but experimental investigating of the natural world.  I know that most things in nature can be dissected and investigated in a way that’s like peeling an onion – the layers just keep coming and each one is wonderful!  So for me the prospect of just settling and leaving those layers un-investigated is not appealing at all.  But I get it that not everyone has that level of engagement with, or experience of, the joy of this.  I guess that’s where my compulsion to share my enthusiasm for chemistry comes from, that desire for others to be able to share the joy that I experience by knowing this and doing that.

Anyway, I’m waffling.

I guess my point in writing this was, as it always is, to commit to paper (albeit of the virtual kind) my thoughts about an issue that can lead to my clients making up and trusting stories rather than engaging with the science.  As always I find myself coming to the end of this piece realising that in writing this I’m probably more likely to have changed (or grown, I think I prefer grown) myself than anyone else and I like that, I really do.

So now all that’s left is to wrap this up with an enlightened, succinct conclusion so here goes…

My purpose on this planet is to write the kind of stories that make the scientific investigative path seem so easy, comfortable and inviting that it’s only natural to explore it.   My job is to offer those that can’t explore it personally, the opportunity to explore it through me, either via this blog or via the stuff I get paid to do as a consultant.  I really like that. I think I’ve once again re-found my spot in the world and in doing that I recognise how normal wanting that is.

Amanda x

6 Comments leave one →
  1. sukimarmelaide permalink
    October 4, 2019 12:08 pm

    Dear Amanda,
    I just wanted to say that I adore the way your mind works & I’m deeply grateful for your worldview & that you share your stories & thoughts & questions with us.
    Maybe we like stories so much because they represent the question & the answer in a tidy little package. Think about when a movie has what we think of as a crappy or dissatisfying ending; almost without exception, its not a ‘happy’ ending..the protagonist doesn’t ‘get’ the mate for whom they pine, the father or mother dies before telling the son or daughter they love them or absolve them, or the caper goes off without a hitch, but the money is returned.
    I like stories that foster questions me its the difference between a road that ends & one that continues but branches off in multiple directions, which is the most tempting kind of mystery!
    Thank you so much for all the recent content!
    I love it when you come back after cogitating &write twenty posts!
    Warm regards, suki

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      October 4, 2019 10:19 pm

      Hi Suki, thank you, so sweet. I do tend to be a bit feast or famine 😊 glad you are enjoying this fresh batch of enthusiasm and insights.

  2. October 18, 2019 2:23 pm

    Hi Amanda – I’m a truth teller and searcher too – loves your post 👌

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      November 19, 2019 6:53 pm

      Good stuff,
      It’s great how like attracts like. I’d better go have a look at your blog. I can be so wrapped up in my own world that I forget to do that, sorry!

  3. ehtrun permalink
    October 27, 2019 2:37 am

    jenna marbles has said before that her purpose is to glue shit to her face and distract you from getting anything meaningful done. so, you know, watch me spin in this chair, idiots

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