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What Is Emotional Truth?

Summary:
As a rule, I don't care for "hard sci-fi."  In fact, artistically speaking, I normally dislike true stories of any kind.  And I barely care about continuity errors.  When I read novels or watch movies, I crave what I call "emotional truth."  This recently prompted Robin Hanson to tweet:@bryan_caplan Someday you should blog on what you mean by "emotional truth".-- robin hanson (@robinhanson) May 12, 2017 I don't have a full answer today, but I'd start by quoting this passage from Being John Malkovich:Well, Maxine, I'm not sure exactly. Perhaps it's the idea of becoming someone else for a little while. Being inside another skin. Moving differently, thinking differently, feeling differently.Why can't hard sci-fi or true stories fulfill this ideal?  In principle, they could.  But

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As a rule, I don't care for "hard sci-fi."  In fact, artistically speaking, I normally dislike true stories of any kind.  And I barely care about continuity errors.  When I read novels or watch movies, I crave what I call "emotional truth."  This recently prompted Robin Hanson to tweet:

I don't have a full answer today, but I'd start by quoting this passage from Being John Malkovich:
Well, Maxine, I'm not sure exactly. Perhaps it's the idea of becoming someone else for a little while. Being inside another skin. Moving differently, thinking differently, feeling differently.
Why can't hard sci-fi or true stories fulfill this ideal?  In principle, they could.  But when creators spend a lot of mental energy on the accuracy of their physics or the historical sequence of events, they tend to lose sight of their characters' inner lives.  A well-told story is designed to maximize the audiences' identification with the characters - to bridge the Problem of Other Minds via art.  And you know a creator has succeeded when you temporarily lose yourself in the story.
Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, FoxNews, and C-SPAN. Bryan Caplan blogs on EconLog.

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