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Stories, by Steven Pinker
I am fascinated by Steven Pinker’s example of how humans remember things1.
Our brain can hold only about six bits of information in our working memory at once.
M D P H D R S V P C E O I H O P
How many of those letters can you remember immediately after reading them?
If we compress the random letters above into familiar groups, we’re able to remember them all easily:
MD PHD RSVP CEO IHOP
It’s easier to remember them all when they’re condensed into five chunks. But we can do even better:
The MD and the PhD RSVP'd to the CEO of IHOP.
Stories are our competitive advantage as a species. The great storytellers among us can wield outsize power2.