Everyone is a Storyteller

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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And scientists may be our most important storytellers.


As you navigate college, your career, and your future, it is important to keep in mind the fact that you are responsible for telling your story, the stories of those around you, and perhaps even part of the story of the world.

Typically, folks in the humanities are considered society’s storytellers, but scientists, engineers, and just about anyone else are also storytellers. In fact, I think scientists are some of our most important storytellers. They study the universe, its nature, how it works. Then, they take their knowledge and share it with us so that we can learn the story of the universe. Being able to take something as complex as neuroscience or astrophysics and paring it down to something for the masses to discover? That takes talent and it is invaluable. Where would we be without those people who can look at the complexity of the world and find a cohesive story in it?

I am studying psychology and statistics, and my goal (and the goal of all psychologists) is to figure out how humans work. What makes us tick. I want to help tell the story of humanity. But psychologists can’t tell this story alone. Our information is incomplete. We need the stories from biologists, historians, physicists, archaeologists, and neuroscientists (to name a few) to paint a complete picture of the past, present, and future of humanity and human nature.

The elements needed to craft a compelling work of fiction are the same elements needed to discover and share the nature of our world: context/setting, motivation, characters, conflict, etc. This is why I believe the best scientists are also able to communicate their findings in a compelling, creative, and engaging way. As someone working toward a Master’s of Science, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a dry, boring, mundane article. Sure, they were informative and told a part of humanity’s story, but they were not engaging. If you want folks to read the story you tell, you need to make sure you communicate it in a compelling way.

It’s the same with fiction, too. Fiction should be compelling, entertaining, and thought-provoking. The stories we tell through fiction also give insight to human nature and the human experience. Music, sculpture, art, dance, poetry, literature? Those are all media humans use to tell their stories. The fields of history, social science, and psychology have a long history with creative works and the insights they share, and it baffles me how little our creatives are valued in many societies.

Aside from the joy and entertainment they bring, creatives are our unofficial historians in a sense – capturing the world as they experience it and sharing it with others. An objective retelling of history that professional historians (should) strive for is not complete without us being able to also learn the subjective feelings of the parties involved. Emotion is what brings history to life. I can tell you honestly that I would not remember as much history as I do without class lessons being supplemented with music, film, art, poetry, and photography.

Our world’s storytellers are some of our most critical people and we must cherish and nurture them. Support your local artists. Rally for the funding and sharing of scientific research. And, please, consume the stories that these people have made for us.

Kris Shiflet

Currently pursuing a co-terminal BS Psychology, minor in Stats, and MS in IO Psychology –basically a big old nerd. While HR is my work passion, I also love creative writing and I have way too many unfinished stories in my drive. I write to music, but a chaotic mix of heavy metal, jazz, classical, punk, and pop. Hey, whatever works, right?