Praised by Steven Pinker as "our deepest thinker about the powerful role of stories in our lives," Jonathan Gottschall is a Distinguished Fellow in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College. His writing at the intersection of science and art has been covered in-depth by The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oprah Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Science, Nature...
Humans are storytelling animals. Stories are what make our societies possible. Countless books celebrate their virtues. But Jonathan Gottschall, an expert on the science of stories, argues that there is a dark side to storytelling we can no longer ignore. Storytelling, the very tradition that built human civilization, may be the thing that destroys it.
Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Event sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?
When a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym moves in across the street from his office, Jonathan Gottschall sees a challenge, and an opportunity. Pushing forty, out of shape, and disenchanted with his job as an adjunct English professor, part of him yearns to cross the street and join up. The other part is terrified. Gottschall eventually works up his nerve, and starts training for a real cage fight. He’s fighting not only as a personal test but also to answer questions that have intrigued him for years: Why do men fight? And why do so many seemingly decent people like to watch?