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Tell Your Anti-Story
Fiction is not only not real, it differs from reality in systematic ways. For example, characters in novels, plays, TV tend to be more attractive, articulate, expressive, and principled than real people. Now we also like to tell stories about ourselves and the events we see around us. These stories are more constrained by the facts we see than fictional stories, but I suspect they suffer from similar biases. That is, I suggest we have a fiction bias:
Whatever we like or expect to see in fiction, relative to reality, we are also biased to like or expect to see in our lives.
So, for example, we tend to see ourselves and the people around us as more attractive, articulate, expressive, and principled than they really are. If true, my hypothesis (which I can’t believe is original) offers a powerful way to identify and correct our biases: Find ways in which fiction tends to deviate from reality, and then move your estimates of reality in the other direction.
For example, it seems to me that teen romp movies tend to portray parents and teachers as inept, clueless, sexually repressed, but ready to help when help is wanted. If so, teens should realize that parents and teachers probably know more, are more sexually satisfied, but less available to help, than teens realize. We should be able to find hundreds of other applications, such as using the standard biases of science fiction. Are there any important exceptions to this general trend?