Story is the way we make sense of the world. Take science, for example. You gather data. Some of it agrees with other bits of it. Some of it doesn’t. You gather more data. Eventually you make a story that connects the data. We call it a theory.
A “story” can be fictional or true, or it can mix the two together. A scientific theory is like that last option. At least some of it is true, or so the researchers believe. Though the parts we think are true today might turn out not to be true tomorrow. Researchers also know that some parts of a theory probably aren’t true, but they won’t find out what is or isn’t true until more data comes in.
Once in a while, to try to make sense out of a theory that has too many gaps, scientists throw in a known falsity. They call it a hypothetical construct. It serves its purpose to help the story flow smoothly, but it’s like a plot twist forced onto a tale by the author during the first draft. It never feels completely right, and hopefully it gets replaced during the revision process.
As the years go by and theories are tested, and as they pass those tests, they move closer and closer to being true in the final sense of that word. And they help us understand a very complex and chaotic universe by turning it into stories full of meaning and relevance.
We humans are constantly in the process of telling stories. Science is just one of type of story, though one very interesting to me. In future posts I'll explore a few other types of stories.