It is true that storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it, that it brings about consent and reconciliation with things as they really are, and that we may even trust it to contain eventually by implication that last word which we expect from the “day of judgement.”

Hannah Arendt from her essay on Isak Dinesen

Many academics are rather snobby about the value of stories.

But think about what a story does.

Telling a story is a way of revealing the reality of a person – not trying to fully comprehend that – but to try and see it – honestly. Any individual life is too much, too rich and too mysterious, to be captured by any limited perspective. But we can listen, we can learn and we can explore meanings – together.

On the other hand if we discard all that and say that truth must be in the numbers then first we need to create some simplistic account of what matters – one that will give ‘good maths’. We then abandon persuasion and exploration. We try to win – but often it is mere a trickery, an illusion that depends upon ignoring all the other questions you didn’t ask.