The Narrative.

I keep mention The Narrative and then find myself searching online to find the quote from Stephen Hunter’s book I, Sniper So I went ahead and created my own post so I don’t have to go crazy next time.

 

You do not fight the narrative. The narrative will destroy you. The narrative is all-powerful. The narrative rules. It rules us, it rules Washington, it rules everything.

The narrative is the set of assumptions the press believes in, possibly without even knowing that it believes in them. It’s so powerful because it’s unconscious. It’s not like they get together every morning and decide “These are the lies we will tell today.” No, that would be too crude and honest. Rather, it’s a set of casual, nonrigorous assumptions about a reality they’ve never really experienced that’s arranged in such a way as to reinforce their best and most ideal presumptions about themselves and their importance to the system and the way they’ve chosen to live their lives. It’s a way of arranging things a certain way that they all believe in without ever really addressing carefully. It permeates their whole culture. They know, for example, that Bush is a moron and Obama is a saint. They know communism was a phony threat cooked up by right-wing cranks as a way to leverage power to the executive. They know that Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, the response to Katrina was fucked up…. Cheney’s a devil. Biden’s a genius. Soft power good, hard power bad. Forgiveness excellent, punishment counterproductive, capital punishment a sin.

And the narrative is the bedrock of their culture, the keystone of their faith, the altar of their church. They don’t even know they’re true believers, because in theory they despise the true believer in anything. But they will absolutely de-frackin’-stroy anybody who makes them question that….

i sniper

6 Replies to “The Narrative.”

  1. There’s a whole lot of truth in your memory aid. I haven’t read that, but I think I should. Thanks.




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  2. No amount of facts or reality will dissuade them from their worldview because they think they are superior morally and intellectually. Oh yeah, and guns are icky.




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  3. This “worldview construct” is also true in every human endeavor, to a greater or lesser degree. We humans have mental foibles that create and color our personal narratives. We acquire some of these things from our parents, some from our neighbors, our friends, our school, our college, our job … and your post eloquently describes people with a particular narrative who acquired that narrative in just that way. And, they don’t even realize what they are doing.

    This human condition, however, can lead any of us into narrative pitfalls of our own.

    So, we have to be careful not to just go along with the crowd, not to take everything at face value, not to unquestioningly buy-in to any worldview. In other words, be skeptical about everything. Deliberately look for opposing views. Weigh the evidence. Look for logical fallacies. But most of all, use the scientific method. If your hypothesis is not supported by data, you must change your hypothesis.

    For example, we can easily see why the Cult to Stop Gun Rights actually believes the crap that they post. Even if you hand them dis-confirming evidence on a platter, they won’t believe it, since it is not in their worldview. They are not being logical, but they certainly believe that they are being logical. They have bought into their narrative, and, once someone invests a lot of time and effort into a narrative, and has a personal stake in not wavering from the narrative in front of their peers, they will almost never change. They have changed into what we call True Believers. We can see this in their behavior, and see it easily.

    It’s not so easy to monitor ourselves and prevent ourselves from believing stupid stuff, and falling into the same type of trap. A skeptical outlook is essential to prevent this. If we make sure that we use only facts and do not resort to logical fallacies and ad hominem attacks, we should be able to prevail in this culture war. We won’t convince the True Believers, but we can prevent them from gaining legions of converts to their belief system. If we can marginalize them, and sideline them, we may yet prevail.




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