The Power Of Novels

Brian Boyd explains the science behind our love of fictional stories:

Wouldn’t you expect a successful species, as we seem to be, to spend its time focusing on what’s true in the world? But we, uniquely, often distract ourselves with what we know to be untrue. ...

The amount of play in a species correlates with its flexibility of behavior. If behavior is not built in genetically, it needs to be learned to maximize flexibility. If a behavior is hardwired, there would be no point in exercising it in a way as expensive in energy and risk as play. But if there is room for flexibility, then individuals who can improve their execution of complicated behaviors and their judgment of situations in which they are needed, will fare better. ..

We, uniquely, gain most of our advantages over other species, and even over one another, not from physical but from mental strength and speed. Information matters for any species, but for no others is it so decisive as for ours.