Extrapolation

This post ends with a joke about extrapolation.

It ends with a joke, so that I could use it as a hook in that first sentence to illustrate a point: In storytelling, a common way of creating tension for your audience is to plant a seed by leaving out a key piece of information.

Doing so leaves an open loop in people’s minds, and because the brain craves closure, it grabs their attention. This is why some stories give away the ending at the beginning. We’re left wondering how the situation evolves from point A to point B.

We are meaning makers and like to fill in gaps based on our lived experiences. It’s why when you read the phrase “to be or not to ___,” you can confidently fill in the blank, even though there are thousands of words that would be grammatically correct there.

The urge to resolve the tension created by gaps in a narrative is irresistible, so we try to fill in those spaces until they’re resolved. Once we’ve done so, we often experience an emotional release.

I promised you a joke, so here it is:

There are two types of people in this world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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