Chapter 20: Memory
We like to think that we have a single memory, an autobiographical history of ourselves stretching backwards into our past, from the present back to when we were very young. We understand that there are gaps and that it gets more vague the further back we go, but we still have the impression of a single fairly consistent record of time. We rarely question its accuracy. If we say, “He was there. I remember seeing him,” others will likely believe us. We believe that our eyes and ears are like video cameras, relaying sights and sounds to our brain, which records everything for later use like a mental VCR.
Memory isn’t like that at all. In truth, we have a collection of fragments and familiarities. We process only a fraction of the information our senses take in, and far less makes it into our long-term memory. Our long-term memory fades over time, leaving islands of memory in a sea of haze. What’s more, even those islands may be difficult to recall. Many of our memories lie dormant, requiring specific reminders to “jog our memories” and bring them to the surface.
…and here’s the rest: