The immortality bias: Further reading on the 4 stories we tell ourselves about death


John Smith:

Interesting, as TEDTalks usually are …

Originally posted on TED Blog:

In a talk at TEDxBratislava, philosopher Steven Cave turns his eye to four stories about death that circulate over and over again. His suggestions of where you can see each story in action. Photo: TEDxBratislava

At TEDxBratislava, I shared 4 stories about death that have circulated over and over again, across cultures and time. Below, notes on where you can see each story reflected. Photo: TEDxBratislava

We each live in the shadow of a personal apocalypse: the knowledge that — someday, somehow — we will die. It’s a terrifying thought, and so we look for a way out. In my talk from TEDxBratislava (and in my book Immortality)[ted_talkteaser id=1891], I walk through four stories that people have told throughout cultures and time, as a way to manage this very real fear. Here, some of the myths, books, movies and articles where you can see each of these stories reflected. I’ll end with a fifth story — I call it the “wisdom narrative” — an alternative to these oft-repeated tales.

1. The Elixir story

Almost every known culture has legends of a magic pill or potion…

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