stew's letter 6

Hunter-Gatherers Value Storytelling Over Hunting Skills

The Agta hunter gatherers value storytelling over hunting skills
Members of the Agta hunter-gatherer society in the Philippines

I recently stumbled across a study that was done on the role of storytelling in a hunter-gatherer community in the Philippines.

The researchers found that the presence of talented storytellers was associated with greater cooperation amongst tribe members.

Storytelling seemed to set expectations of how everybody was supposed to act, which resulted in more cooperation.

Seems reasonable, if not obvious…

But then the researchers did something clever: they asked tribe members who they’d most like to live with.

Those viewed as skilled storytellers were twice as likely to be nominated than their less-skilled counterparts.

Storytelling ability was more predictive than fishing and hunting skills, medicinal knowledge, and reputation or status.

…the Agta prefer to live in camps with skilled storytellers, who are even more valued than good foragers.

So even in a primitive culture where a hard skill like hunting might seem more important, a “soft skill” like storytelling was valued more.

Do with this information what you will, but I feel like it contains some wisdom for those of us encouraged to specialize and focus on “hard skills.”

Why not also become a great storyteller?

stew's letter 6

A Short Life Lesson From The Convenience Store Across The Street From My Apartment

The convenience store next to my apartment plays funky jazz music all day. This is a little unusual given how transactional and cold convenience stores usually are.

Presumably, there are studies that show certain music can affect customers’ moods and push them to spend more money in your store (“Customers buy 15% more crap when you play energizing pop music!”), but I’m glad the owner of my store doesn’t care.

The jazz music is a subtle expression of his identity and tastes.

I love this little store, too. They always have the stuff I need. They are professionals.

Conclusion: you can be a professional without surrendering your identity.

stew's letter 6

Strong Opinion That I Am Unlikely To Change

Haters, Stay The Hell Out Of My DMs

I love yoga. It makes me happy and I wish I did it more often.

But, man, if one more 22-year-old lectures me about chakras I’m going to freak.

Chakras are not a thing. They don’t exist. They aren’t real.

We don’t have chakras. We have organs, tissue, bone.

Have you ever heard of a quadruple-chakra-bypass surgery saving a life?

Chakras are a thing that people invented to help explain stuff. But now we know more about said stuff so we don’t need chakras.

Chakra-lovers, stay the hell out of my DMs.