Humans can relate to about 150 other individuals at a given time. Only through a shared narrative can humans control a greater number of people.
Through traditions of mythology and religion, thousands of people act according to shared beliefs. Control of the shared narrative is the greatest tool for inspiring cooperation.
We perceive the world through narrative structure; this ability separates us from other creatures. If the narrative is false or ignites people's passions for the wrong reasons, it can take us in the wrong direction. It’s important to understand that our reality is made up of a series of fictions that give form and purpose to our life.
America operates under a number of narrative constructs: the economic system, the capitalist system, the legal system, these are all inventions just like Christianity, Judaism, good versus evil, the religion of progress; these are all things that we assume are true, and the world is built around these assumptions, but actually it’s just the way our brain operates, that’s our way of processing reality. All mythologies are simply the way we process reality. And it’s good to know that, so that you can step outside of it and have some objectivity about your own assumptions.
A narrative that is disconnected from basic facts and laws of physics can be dangerous, just as an ideology based on wishful thinking can be destructive to the society it is meant to serve. If the power of persuasion are stronger than our ability to discern truth, we can fall victim to false narratives and suffer the disorientation of cognitive dissonance.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari