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“stories equip us with a mental file of dilemmas we might one day face”

From Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal:

In his groundbreaking book How the Mind Works, Pinker argues that stories equip us with a mental file of dilemmas we might one day face, along with workable solutions. In the way that serious chess players memorize optimal responses to a wide variety of attacks and defenses, we equip ourselves for real life by absorbing fictional game plans.

But…

this model has flaws. As some critics have pointed out, fiction can make a terrible guide for real life. What if you actually tried to apply fictional solutions to your problems? You might end up running around like the comically insane Don Quixote or the tragically deluded Emma Bovary—both of whom go astray because they confuse literary fantasy with reality.