tvSmarter – Life in a TV Nation

The Power of Fiction

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Novels, even though they are fictional can convey powerful political messages (for both good and evil).


Traditionally the power of fiction was understood, this was partly why Literature used to be considered an essential subject for the well-educated scholar.

This was also why book-banning was not unheard of. People understood that books (even, or especially fictional books) could challenge the established order. And could also encourage and glorify people’s worst vices.


What a contrast to TV & movies.


Pointing out a moral failing of a TV/movie is dismissed as hopelessly old fashioned. Shows like “24” and “Dexter” are defended as “just fiction”. Meanwhile these same critics are happy to point out where a TV/movie promotes women’s rights and racial harmony and happily speculate on their benign effects on society.

Examples of influential Novels:


– “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was the best-selling novel of the 19th century (according to Wikipedia) and helped convince a huge number of Americans that slavery is wrong. This book became very important to the abolitionist movement.  See also The woman who started the Civil War


– The novels of Ayn Rand became bibles of the Objectivist Movement.


– “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” illustrated the cruel conditions in the Soviet Union.


– “The Turner Diaries” became a bible of the white supremacists and an inspiration to Timothy McVeigh

– The novels of Jean-Paul Sartre became essential reading for Existentialists.


– “Left Behind Series” is a very popular and influential series of novels that make theological arguments about the nature of God.

And as a Science Fiction Fan, I’d like to point out:


Feminist Science Fiction


Libertarian Science Fiction


Social Science Fiction

Update: Intestesting article in Scientific American Mind:

Our love for telling tales reveals the workings of the mind 

Update: Intestesting article in Psychology Today:

Happily Ever After. Fictional tales that surround a “just world” may influence belief in the fairness of the real world.

Update: Intestesting article in SixWise

Those Who Read Fiction Better at Reading People



Update: Intestesting Study

Fiction Improves ‘Social Intelligence’


Update: Intestesting article in Psychology Today Blog:

 Why Don’t We Doubt Spider-Man’s Existence?

Update: Abraham Lincoln was a big fan of Aesop’s Fables. He retold them often to illustrate various political points. 

Georgia militia group planned ricin attack to ‘save the Constitution’ (via Raw Story )

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that four members of a fringe militia used a book written by Fox News “expert” Mike Vanderboegh as a basis for a plot to commit domestic terrorism. Federal law enforcement authorities on Tuesday arrested four Georgia senior citizens for allegedly plotting…

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