Stories simplify things and help us remember things. However, the narrative that we construct can distract from the fact we don’t actually know the real facts and causality, or from the arguably more important parts of the story.
I like how Rolf Dobelli explains that in this example of news media narratives:
A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? On the car. On the person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). What kind of person he is (was). But – that is all completely irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking and could lurk in other bridges. That is the lesson to be learned from this event.
Another example is biographies. I used to enjoy reading biographies, those cherry picked chapters for a neatly woven story of someones life - but I had to quit those after learning about the narrative fallacy! (Let alone the survivorship bias
and hindsight bias.)
Stories can be used to inspire or teach - so enjoy them and use their power as you wish, but beware they are simplistic representations at best, and deeply deceptive at worst!
I’ll leave you with Taleb’s dry but helpful advice to be scientific:
You can escape the narrative fallacy by making conjectures and running experiments, by making testable predictions