Yes, you're right. There's something new on the NewsGarden website. We've become an Amazon affliate. That means if you buy something from one of our Amazon links the channel will get from 2.5-15% which will be used to help defray expenses, for quiz prizes, etc. Support your channel! Buy! If you have any questions or suggestions contact Maggijo, Jed, alllie or Patti on channel!
It Started With Copernicus: How Turning the World Inside Out Led to the Scientific Revolution
An account of the rise of western civilization which began with Copernicus.
Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
Dava Sobel tells the story of the Galileo and his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. Sobel bases her book on 124 surviving letters to the scientist from the nun. This impressive book proves to be less the story of Galileo's elder daughter, the oldest of his three illegitimate children, and more the story of Galileo himself and his trial before the Inquisition for arguing that Earth moves around the Sun. That familiar tale is given a new slant by Sobel's translation.
God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible---A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal
From Publishers Weekly:
William Tyndale set out to produce a faithful translation of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Old and New Testament. Such a translation brought him into conflict with the king and his court. Tyndale set out on a life of self-imposed exile in Germany and Amsterdam, where he translated and printed his Bible. As his work made its way into England-thanks in large part to Anne Boleyn's advocacy-Sir Thomas More, one of England's most active heretic hunters, attempted in every possible way to have Tyndale tried as a heretic. Moynahan recounts the oft-told story of Tyndale's subterfuge and his remarkable contribution to the history of Bible translation while recreating the political and religious intrigue of early 16th-century England. Moynahan captures well More's hatred of Tyndale as well as Tyndale's burning desire to contribute to God's work through Bible translation, even if it meant death at the stake. As Moynahan points out, Tyndale's translation still exists in the King James Version, since his words account for 84% of its New Testament and 76% of its Old Testament.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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Happy Endings: A Theory of

By Alllie

Why do we feel so dissatisfied if a story doesn't have a happy ending? Why do we like stories in the first place? Why do we not only like to hear them, we like to tell them? We are compulsive communicators. We can't stop ourselves. When a caveman went down to a water hole and a lion jumped out and almost got him, the first thing he did after his escape was to hurry home and tell everyone he met about the lion down by the waterhole and how he avoided being eaten. Thus his relatives and his group of hunter/gatherers learned there was a lion down by the waterhole and how to avoid it. As the years passed the information about the hunter who escaped a lion hiding by a waterhole might be transformed into a story repeated around fires for a thousand years, a story people love to tell.

We like our lessons wrapped in stories, we like stories about people rather than just information, because we are social animals. Our survival has long been enhanced by living in groups and when intelligent animals live in social groups it is adaptive for them to like…gossip, to be interested in who is doing what to whom and who is buddies with whom, who will cheat you and who will help you. Social animals, particularly animals like us that engage in reciprocal altruism, aka doing favors and getting favors in return, have to take a keen interest in learning who to trust, who will reciprocate, and who will not. We have evolved to like doing what we needed to do. Like hunting. Or gathering, aka shopping without having to pay. Or gossiping. We evolved to like listening to stories about individuals we know. And then about individuals we didn't know. We came to like our lessons disguised as stories because we had already evolved to like stories, to like gossip. We absorb information more easily, remember it more completely, if it comes packaged in stories about people.

So we are compulsive communicators. Writing was the first great facilitator of this obsession, books* the second and the Internet the third.** The free sharing of information shows our compulsive communication, our drive to tell. We can't keep quiet. We have to tell what we know even if telling can get us hurt or dead. Copernicus had to share his proofs that the world circled around the sun even if that sharing could get him killed. No fool, he waited till he was almost safely dead before he had his work published. Galileo couldn't keep his mouth shut either and was tried (and this was his second trial for repeating the same offense), threatened with torture, forced to recant the Copernican doctrine and still spent the last years of his life under house arrest. William Tyndale was strangled and his body burned for translating the Bible into English. He knew the danger but he was compelled to share what he knew at a time when even parents were burned for teaching their children the Lord's Prayer or the Ten Commandments in English. Even cops understand this drive and know if they just let criminals talk they will often confess just because they can't stop themselves from telling about their crimes. The people who can keep their mouths shut or who knowingly tell lies, like the CIA or the Bush Junta, prove how inhuman they are by this unhuman behavior. That is the lesson of the boy who cries wolf. He tells untrue stories; gives untrue warnings, until no one believes him even when he's telling the truth, and therefore he gets eaten. The lesson is not to give false warnings, not to tell false stories, because they can get you killed, or at least ignored by those you know. The boy's death is even a happy ending, a just punishment for his lies, and happy because he will never again mislead anyone.

So we are compulsive communicators and we like stories, both telling them and listening to them. But why must the stories have a happy endings? Well they don't have to. Stories with unhappy endings can be useful too. An unhappy story about how the lion down by the waterhole ate someone can be instructive because it teaches that the waterhole is a dangerous place. Even better would be a story about someone caught but who escaped by ramming his fist down the lion's throat. That would be a lesson worth knowing and telling even if the victim was crippled in the attack. It would still be a helpful story. The best stories though, the stories with the happy endings, are about not getting hurt; about not getting eaten, they teach us how to survive and prevail! The story of the person who got mauled by a lion is not nearly as useful or satisfying as the story of the guy who watched the half hidden places down by the waterhole; saw the lion before it saw him, and managed to sneak away or climb a tree and not get caught in the first place. The happy ending validates the lesson.

The media recognizes our need for happy endings, and uses that knowledge to graft them on stories that have no lessons or that are as filled with lies as the mouth of the boy who cried wolf or the Bush who cried terrorist. Much of today's "entertainment" consists of stories that teach nothing. When we encounter a story that does it adds an extra dimension to our enjoyment. For example, Titanic. The lessons are: How to escape from a sinking ship; and the value of a pair bond in a dangerous situation, i.e., the value of love. As the young lovers help one another we are shown that each would have died without the other. As they struggle through the sinking ship we see what it would be like to struggle through the cold water, the flooded compartments, what to expect, which strategies work. As the ship goes down with the lovers clinging to the stern we are taught that maybe we could cling to the stern in the same situation and live. The story, like all good stories, becomes a kind of virtual mental simulator, allowing us to experience what it would be like to be on a sinking ship without actually being on one. We learn what to expect. We figure out what we would do the same and what do differently. Even though Titanic's ending is semi-unhappy, the lesson that love can keep you alive is still a valid one.

So, I think that is why we like stories and why we like happy endings. I believe telling stories and listening to stories are adaptive. They help us and our DNA to survive and we have evolved to like them. The telling and the listening, both sides. Most of us can't restrain ourselves from telling what we know even if sometimes our stories are little more than whining because another time they might teach a loved one an important lesson in how to survive.

I mean "books" to include all print media, everything from the Encyclopedia Britannica to the most lowly flyer and everything in between.

**I'm leaving movies, television and radio out of this list because with them the communication is all one way, from those rich enough to own a television or radio station or rich enough to make movies or TV shows, to us. We only get to listen in this form of communication. We never get to tell.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Jed for his beta help.

© Alllie, 2003

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