Stories vs Numbers

Humans are good with stories and bad with numbers.

Daniel Gardner, The Science of Fear

Some numbers from the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistic Report, 2017:

There are 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes each year. In 2015, nearly 85 million Americans over the age of 18 were considered prediabetic. That same year, the disease was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States while costing somewhere in the range of $330 billion to treat.

A story from a local affiliate:

Mike first came to us after a doctor’s appointment that scared him. He was told he was on the road to diabetes if he didn’t do something about his health. Mike knew what that meant, having lost his mother to the disease a few years early. The memory of her struggle & the knowledge of what it costs in money, time, & emotional energy was enough to shake him out of the denial he had been living under.

The same basic set of facts, presented in starkly different ways.

The first is numbing. The second is expansive, opening the reader up to possibilities, questions, & the kind of tension that leads to action.

Numbers don’t motivate us. Stories do.

Tell more of them.

Patrick Cummings