Curiosity in humans is a funny thing. Without it, we’d have never evolved into what we are, but with it, we’ve created strange beliefs that have held our collective progress back. It seems that as a whole we’re curious enough to ask the right questions, but not curious enough to seek out answers beyond the most readily available. In general, we’re surface scratchers and not excavators.
Part of this trait is our insistence on attaching a narrative to events that don’t require such shaping. We see this a lot in sports writing, and while the motivation to “connect the dots” as Richard Whittall put it on this very blog, is understandable for sports writers serving an audience that is best described as casual, and not really caring – after all, it is sports that we’re talking about – it doesn’t make things any less frustrating for critical thinking sports fans being spoon fed constant bowls of foul tasting and malnourishing pablum.
We’ve seen egregious displays of this phenomenon before, most notably with the Manti T’eo reporting debacle, in which reporters shaped a narrative that an athlete was far too willing to participate in, creating and contributing to large scale deception. While the trickery of this story took place on multiple levels, a more recent example of enhanced narration at the cost of realistic perception has occurred in a more straight forward manner with coverage of the World Baseball Classic, an international baseball tournament that occurs every four years.