We’ve all heard of urban myths. But are you familiar with collective illusions? They happen when a vocal minority misrepresents and misleads the majority’s opinions, and they’re very easy to buy into. How can we combat this common problem?
Breaking the Spell
Journalism has a role in breaking apart collective illusions, but it can also exacerbate them. (Consider what happens when people hear about a bank run.) Artists often play an even more essential role since they question social norms with their work. Norms are often arbitrary, but they’re treated as ironclad rules — which can be harmful when they’re outdated. Art helps us break out of old patterns of thinking, which is always a good thing.