Nov 22 / Network Capital
We have a limited ability to comprehend data. Therefore, to make sense of the abstraction, we impose our imagination on arrangements of data. We create patterns where none exist.

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A ball, bat and pitch in themselves mean nothing. Human minds have the unique ability to draw patterns, dots and connections from seemingly unrelated pieces of information. The patterns we draw are informed by our personal biases and narratives. Therefore, based on our personal context, that ball, bat and pitch could mean the sport of cricket, baseball, both or something completely different.

Much of the conspiracy theories as well as pieces of creativity are a product of Apophenia. The process typically involves an indivi- dual (or a group of individuals) piecing together random articles of observation, news and information to create convincing narra- tives. Even study of data and census is influenced by Apophenia. In many cases, it subconsciously determines the variables, sample audience and research parameters. It handicaps our ability to objectively analyse. Building on this core theme, Richard Schiller has written extensively on what he calls ‘narrative economics’. Narrative economics is ‘the study of the spread and dynamics of popular narratives, the stories, particularly those of human interest and emotions, and how these change through time, to understand economic fluctuations’.

Schiller’s scholarship on narrative economics is a critical tool in countervailing Apophenia in a constructive manner. By building and leveraging an acute understanding of patterns we can unpack modern developments.
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