On fiction as a brain hack

by look i have opinions

“My theory is that the parts of our brains that keep track of other people and try to model them, the seats of our empathy, can be tricked into treating the adventures of imaginary people as though they were real. Even though your rational mind knows that imaginary people are inconsequential, the largely automatic, unconscious systems that organize information about the people around you in order to figure out what they’re likely to do—and that let you predict how they feel in given situations and sympathize with them—don’t differentiate between information about real people and imaginary people.”

—Cory Doctorow, in his recent essay in Locus