The facts are clear: You have to give 1,900 women mammograms before you save one life. Along the way are hundreds of false positives, needless worry and unnecessary procedures.
The stories are more compelling: We all know someone whose breast cancer was caught early. That one life is real to us. The hundreds of false-positives are not. Even if we know an individual who got a clean bill of health after a suspicious mammogram, we don’t question her decision to get a mammogram in the first place.
The stories have and will prevail over the facts, and that is an important lesson for any of us who ever want to change someone’s mind. You want to improve service at work? Get your kid to drive safely? Pass a health care reform bill? Find yourself stories that resonate with the people you want to convince.