If stories are essential to how we humans understand and interpret the world, what separates the good ones from the bad ones? Alison Gopnik believes it's a certain startling quality, and finds that common ground between the good story and good science:
Good stories are strange. What strong scientific theories, even those crafted in pop form, have in common with good stories is not some specious universality. It’s that they make claims so astonishing that they seem instantly very different from all the other stories we’ve ever heard. Good stories are startling....
Good science is more like Proust than Mr. Popper’s Penguins; its stories startle us with their strangeness, but they intrigue us by their originality, and end by rewarding us with the truth, after an effort. It is the shock good stories offer to our expectations, not some sop they offer to our pieties, that makes tales tally, and makes comtes count.
At the IdeaFestival this year, theoretical physicist Lisa Randall will describe how parallel universes might be possible, about how black holes and dark energy shape reality, about how the truth might be stranger than any fiction we could ever image. You won't want to miss her story. In fact, great stories are required to appear at the IdeaFestival, which is why we spend so much time finding and bringing leading innovators, doers and dreamers to Louisville. The surprise happens when you realize that person it talking directly to you, when it occurs to you that you had never really thought of it that way and, when, right after your head absorbs the news, your fingers and toes start to tingle.
Going a little weak in the knees makes life worth living doesn't it?