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Whether you lean qualitative or a quantitative, you’ve got to have stories to make information stick. Regardless of time or place, stories touch deep human’s psychological processes of perception, learning and memory to help us do this. The human mind has evolved a narrative sensemaking faculty that allows us to perceive and experience the chaos of reality in such a way that the brain then reassembles the various bits of experience into a story in the effort to understand and remember. Stories balance the logical (sequence) and the emotional (empathy) aspects of our brains.

My question is: Is our sector’s over-reliance on “killer facts” and numbers (e.g. the “data dash,” obsessive measurement disorder) just a reflection of our fear and thus our unhealthy relationship with risk? In many development programs, precise ways of measuring results in order to make consequential judgments about how to help people and affect social change remain elusive. But that’s hard for us do-gooders to admit.