A new podcast project that uses old-fashioned storytelling to promote effective climate activism.
After extensive tweaking, beta-testing, trial-and-error, and a very steep learning curve, See Through News has launched its podcast, The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories, from See Through News.
Search this website or any podcast platform like SoundCloud, and you can now find The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories. Episodes can take a day or so before they’re fully searchable, but you can always access them via this website.
- Series 1 – The Story of Ganbaatar: the Only Deep Sea Navigator in Mongolia. All 10 Episodes now available.
- Series 2 –Betrayed : a Tale of Christmas Spiritual Pollution. All 8 Episodes now available.
- Series 3 – Life on the Edge: Taiwan, China, America and the Moment I Realised Mrs. Wang Was Mostly Guessing What Her Husband Said All 10 Episodes now available, also an omnibus edition.
In the pipeline:
- The Quiet Revolutionary – the Heroic Role Played in a Plot to Assassinate The King by Someone You’ve All Heard Of
- Teetering – how a Hawaiian Beach Bum Held My Career in the Balance
- Marcus & Jemima – How I Deal With People at Parties Who Assume I Have Children
Plus omnibus editions of all these stories, for those who prefer to hear them in a single 60-90 min hit.
Plus, we hope, many more to come.
The concept behind the bedtime stories format is explained here.
How does this podcast further the See Through News Goal of Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active?
STN’s goal is simple – remove carbon from the atmosphere and stop putting more up there.
STN’s methodology can be subtly indirect.
By flagging their ‘green’ mission, most orthodox environmental activists preach to the converted. Honking green klaxons and sporting green rosettes makes many of the unconverted close their ears and avert their eyes the moment they see anything overtly badged ‘green/eco/sustainable/climate’ etc.
Hence the choice of the transparent See Through News brand, and the absence of explicit references to climate/green/activism in our public-facing projects.
STN projects, like this podcast one, are all designed to engage people on their own merits, whatever their position on climate activism.
In order to land these fish, we need to reel them in. To reel them in, we have to hook them. To hook them, we need to attract their attention.
To earn their attention, we first get them invested in something they care about, before nudging them towards effective climate activism. This can sometimes involve a long trail of cookie crumbs. In the case of our The Truth Lies podcasts, we only hint at the STN goal in the last episode. Even then, we avoid mentioning obvious trigger words like ‘climate’, ‘carbon’ or ‘sustainability’.
This methodology involves a certain element of misdirection/manipulation/hoodwinking, in the sense that all the ‘green stuff’ or ‘political stuff’ has to be hidden under the bonnet at first. But, as evidenced by this article, our Trojan Horses are transparent.
In the internet age, getting people’s attention is the hardest thing of all.
If you seek to reach large numbers of people, and you can’t get anyone’s attention, whatever you do is futile. If you’re an angler standing on the riverbank with no line, hook or bait, you’ll meet other anglers, but catch no fish.
Humans like stories. We’re hard-wired to fit stories into certain familiar categories. As anyone who’s worked in journalism knows, this usually requires sacrificing nuance for cut-through’. For those who haven’t, imagine having to explain a complex issue you know all about in two minutes of video, or 300 words.
Simplification and ignoring inconvenient truths works fine for fiction, but can be disastrous for complex, nuanced concepts. Such concepts include the greenhouse effect and the multitudinous array of trade-offs required to form and sell policies requiring us to radically change our behaviour.
Conforming to narrative tropes is the easy path. Literally and neuro-scientifically, it’s what what we want to hear.
Simple, familiar stories are what make it so easy for populist demagogues to offer ‘simple’ one-plank ‘solutions’ that rely on emotion, tribal affiliations, and schoolyard name-calling to denigrate opponents/scapegoats/villains.
It’s also what makes it so hard for anyone trying to use reason, logic, and science to compete with these simple stories.
The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories aims to reel in unsuspecting listeners with a cracking yarn – it really doesn’t matter what. These yarns include constant warnings, starting with the title itself, that the story is ‘fictionalised truth’, embracing both Truth and Lies.
We hope/expect listeners will be so caught up in the flow of the story, and the impulse to find out What Happens Next, that they either ignore these warnings, or discount them as narrative tricks in order to find out WHN.
Only at the denouement, do we deconstruct the whole podcast, suddenly drawing attention to the fact that listeners have chosen to believe everything we say. Having ‘earned’ the right over the previous 9 episodes, we’re cashing in our right to mess with your expectations of what constitutes a ‘satisfactory’ ending.
In the final episode, we turn the tables on the listener, and challenge why they believe a world we’ve said, or why they’re so hung up on a neat, Poirot-like, conclusion that ties up all the narrative threads we’ve been spinning into a neat bow.
In different ways each series we point out our audience has no idea whether these threads have been entirely true, true-but-conflated, true stories mixed with lies, or entirely plucked from thin air. If only real life were like that.
For See Through News, the final episodes are the whole point of the exercise, apart from the very pleasurable indulgence of revealing a few undiscovered narrative gems.
It’s a storytelling tightrope. The Truth Lies stories need to suppress any journalistic urges to fact-check, and indulge instead on what makes any story – True or Fake News – ‘compelling’.
By pointing out how easy it is to manipulate people, and merge truth and lies, these stories seek to lay one more cookie crumb along the path to effective climate activism.
By equipping you to see through the Lies of the Three-headed Beasts, we seek to put you in a better position to influence the Beasts yourselves. They’re powerful, but not invulnerable.
The *purpose* of our The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories podcast is thus a kind of subtle alternative to lecturing people with bullhorns in the street.
Our podcasts take a subtler, more allusive, roundabout journey to the same destination. Not everyone is equipped to take the shortest route.
The Truth Lies in Bedtime Stories is a See Through News production.
See Through News is a not-for-profit social media network with the goal of Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown By Helping the Inactive Become Active.
For more, go to seethroughnews.org.
Thank you for listening.