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Children, only animals live entirely in the Here and Now. Only nature knows neither memory nor history. But man -- let me offer you a definition -- is the story-telling animal. Whereever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker -- buoys and trail-signs of stories. He has to go on telling stories, he has to keep making them up. As long as there's a story , it's all right. Even in his last moments, it's said, in the split second of a fatal fall -- or when he's about to drown -- he sees, passing rapidly before him, the story of his life. (p.63)
The psychology of narrativity (Daniel Morrow, Rolf Zwaan) has reached interesting results over the past 20 years, and now neuroscience is weighing in with corroborative research: It would appear that we don’t just tell stories to make sense of ourselves, we actually adopt the stories of others as though we were the protagonist. Brain-scanning research published in 2009 seems to confirm this. When a team led by Jeffrey Zacks of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, ran functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on people reading a story or watching a movie, they found that the same brain regions that are active in real-life situations fire up when a fictitious character encounters an equivalent situation.
And furthermore, our brains like it: Stories can also manipulate how you feel, as anyone who has watched a horror movie or read a Charles Dickens novel will confirm. But what makes us empathise so strongly with fictional characters? Paul Zak from Claremont Graduate University, California, thinks the key is oxytocin, a hormone produced during feel-good encounters such as breastfeeding and sex.
Given that the process of democratization consists in large part of changing how political society functions in a given sovereign area, it is not a stretch to argue that this initiative, and aspects of it which have made their way into both the U.S. National Security Strategy andCounter-Terrorism Strategy, are at their core calls for the use of force to change the nature of cultures elsewhere....
...Using Gustav Freytag’s concept of the Freytag triangle, which leads to an exploration of how stories can influence such politically important concepts as identity, and how they can especially be used by terrorist organizations and groups for purposes ranging from recruitment of new members to the shoring up of stakeholder support.
ed note: Conversely, you can leverage narrative to undermine stakeholder support: Control the narrative, and you can %&^% with the enemy's cash flow.
The conclusion is cautiously hopeful: while we can’t expect military force to be useful in many culture-change related circumstances, we can also see how force can usefully shape the environment so as to make some types of socially transmitted behavior more likely than others. Understanding when the shift is possible and when it can only be influenced, and at least in the case of stories how culture and force interact to produce some changes rather than others, is critically important if we are to retain the moral high-ground (ed note: you might think this an empty concession, but his other work indicates that this guy intends more than lip service to morality) when it comes to the appropriate application of military power.
Stories exert a powerful influence on human thoughts and behavior. They consolidate memory, shape emotions, cue heuristics and biases in judgment, influence in-group/out-group distinctions, and may affect the fundamental contents of personal identity. It comes as no surprise that these influences make stories highly relevant to vexing security challenges such as radicalization, violent social mobilization, insurgency and terrorism, and conflict prevention and resolution.
Therefore, understanding the role stories play in a security context is a matter of great import and some urgency," DARPA stated. "Ascertaining exactly what function stories enact, and by what mechanisms they do so, is a necessity if we are to effectively analyze the security phenomena shaped by stories. Doing this in a scientifically respectable manner requires a working theory of narratives, an understanding of what role narratives play in security contexts, and examination of how to best analyze stories-decomposing them and their psychological impact systematically."
For example, all of the text in the World Wide Web will become available for automating the monitoring and analysis of technological and political activities of nations; plans, rhetoric, and activities of transnational organizations; and scientific discovery within various disciplines, DARPA stated. As digitized text from library books becomes available, new avenues of cultural awareness and historical research will be enabled. With truly general techniques for effectively handling the incompatibilities between natural language and the language of formal inference, a system could, in principal, be constructed that maps between natural and formal languages in any subject domain, DARPA said.
*Shape how people think about complex topics and can influence beliefs;
*Reduce the complexity of meaning associated with a topic by capturing or expressing patterns;
*Show uncovered inferred meanings and worldviews of particular groups or individuals: Characterization of disparities in social issues and contrasting political goals; exposure of inclusion and exclusion of social and political groups and understanding of psychological problems and conflicts.
In the first 18-month phase of the program, the Pentagon wants researchers to study how stories infiltrate social networks and alter our brain circuits. One of the stipulated research goals: to “explore the function narratives serve in the process of political radicalization and how they can influence a person or group’s choice of means (such as indiscriminate violence) to achieve political ends.”
DARPA is even calling for devices that detect the influence of stories in unseen ways: “Efforts that rely solely on standoff/non-invasive/non-detectable sensors are highly encouraged.”
Forget boundaries, cohorts are the future. Organizational, cultural, regional, and national boundaries will disappear, replaced by on-line cohorts based upon attitudes and interests being the glue that binds people into future marketplaces. Ads will increasingly be targeted to these future virtual groups making online targeted marketing as the most effective mechanism. The explosive growth of weblogs are the tip of what is to come."
Originally posted by Mr. D
Imagination is the source of almost everything we have, logic helps bring about what our imaginations conjure.
Originally posted by mistermonculous
Hey, incidentally, is anyone else bothered by the fact that the tech development on this front is skewed entirely toward the needs of security and advertising? It seems like there are far more important and interesting applications.
The advertising industry has been leveraging our Stories against us since the early 2000's
So what’s new here? What secrets of the narrative art will be unveiled in this quantitative analysis?
Nothing much, other than what was once an art-form will suffer yet another reduction into a somewhat less effective means for moving markets, and manipulating populations. And that, in the end, is really the goal...
What a hustler is able to do every day on the streets to grab a few bucks for a beer, or a hit of heroin, and what poets and prostyletizers have been banking on for millennium, it’s doubtful DARPA will be able to add anything new with an MRI or EKG strapped to the head of some already desensitized citizen, or college kid looking for a couple of extra dollars to pay rent.
The interesting thing will be to find how long it'll take for the smart ones in the herd to learn to pass along immunity to their children or other people.
Hey, you guys ever notice that Science Fiction seems to drive actual haaaaahd science?