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How our Small Stories add up to a Big Story

The biggest story is our view of the world. We might favour one political party (with their Big Story) because we like the sum of its policies (the Small Stories). Others, might accept the policies without further ado merely because they like the party. Many of us, though not all, trust that science offers a compelling Big Story narrative that accounts for many of the phenomena (Small Stories) that we encounter in our lives.

There are stories we accepted as children, then abandon as adults. Or we retain the choice of clinging onto them as true. It’s easy enough to keep the small stories – until they clash with enough of our wider world view.

One reason we can remain believers in all sorts of ‘nonsense’ is because it is notoriously difficult to show a negative – to prove that something isn’t the case. How would you show that fairies don’t exist? That homeopathy doesn’t work beyond a placebo effect or that astrology has zero predictive power?

It’s notoriously difficult. We can more readily explain how we are convinced that something does exist – that there are such creatures as reindeer, the efficacy of aspirin beyond a placebo effect, and that astronomy predicts eclipses with complete accuracy.

We do so partly with evidence for each (Small Story) and perhaps even more by subscribing to the predictive power of a world in which all these things are true for much the same reasons (and the other things don’t fit this consistent Big Story). It is easy to bump into a reindeer if you go to the right part of the forest.

And as a result of thousands of pieces of uncontroversial evidence, you realise that the way that you describe and use phenomena such as eclipses or magnetism are consistent with many other parts of the world around you. The bigger story lends plausibility to each of the elements you are promoting. There’s no contradiction between these various parts, they all work harmoniously and your view is coherent.

Do your stories – big and small – fit well with each other? And what’s the Big Story that they are telling the world about you?


Get in touch if you’d like to develop your storytelling skills by attending one of our workshops or contact us if you’d like to find out how we can help you design your conferences and events with more impactful stories and facilitation. Please contact Paul: paul@impro.org.uk.

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