Why Are We Attracted To Stories That Shake Our World View?
A recent news item that made its way to the online Times Newsfeed reported that the dates of the Zodiac were different than when most people assume and caused a brief firestorm across the Internet. It was shocking news for the many who hold a passing interest in astrology and identify themselves with the traits ascribed to their own Zodiac. Unknown to many the debate of when each Zodiac falls throughout the year has been going on for centuries and yet when such a story appears as news in reputable sources then it causes a stir that temporarily unravels the world view of many. Why does that happen?
We are strangely drawn to ideas and possibilities that have the potential to redefine our world view. These include stories of alien encounters, psychic phenomena, a variety of conspiracy theories, and many other plausible (or implausible) notions. Why are we attracted to these ideas?
I believe we are attracted to these ideas because fundamental questions concerning the very nature of reality and the universe continue to remain unanswered. These unanswered questions are essentially about one single over arching concern and that is whether there is a grand order and design to everything or not. One way of expressing this concern is by the persistent age old question: “Is there a God?” Another way is to ask ourselves if there are accidents in the universe or not and if there are none then what of free will?
These unanswered questions lie at the root of our beliefs, the edges of our science and the heart of our moral obligations. That they remain unanswered allow for the cracks and holes in the foundations upon which we have built the giant edifices of ideas that our world and sanity has come to depend on.
In our daily routine we prefer to ignore these cracks and leave them alone for fear that tampering with them would cause our world to collapse. We would also then have to confront the real possibility that all we do and have been doing is pointless and in vain.
Yet when stories appear in mainstream outlets that remind of these cracks or even hint at them, like the shifting of the dates of the Zodiac, then we can not help but be concerned, be curious, and even look forward to the rare spectacle of the collapse of the towers of false ideas that will forever change and redefine the landscape our world.
The thought of witnessing such a spectacle sparks our imagination beyond our wildest dreams. Once we get past the fear of losing our fabricated and invested identities then we are left with the possibility and chance to completely reinvent ourselves. It is a rare opportunity that we all would love to have much like being given Aladdin’s magic lamp with the Genie who will grant us anything we desire.
I believe this is ultimately why we are attracted to and so dearly love stories that shake our world view. However, the really curious thing is that we actually have been holding the magic lamp all along.