The Illusion Of Memory

Miss Bum Bum 2012 ©Getty Images

Miss Bum Bum 2012
©Getty Images

I have always loved listening to stories on the radio. Even before itunes and podcasts but now that we have them I am overjoyed. I am always finding new and interesting podcasts. I just stumbled upon a new podcast called, You Are Not So Smart, and all of the episodes deal with the subject of self delusion. In the words of David McRaney, a journalist and author  of the podcast and accompanying book; The central theme of You Are Not So Smart is that you are unaware of how unaware you are. The first podcast had the authors of the invisible gorilla study. If you do not know about The Invisible Gorilla click on the hyperlink.

The one stand out lesson I have taken away so far is that memories are an illusion. As we experience our live our eyes do not record the world as a video camera does. First of all you have not taken note of everything and most likely missed some major things that affect how you interpret and remember a situation. Secondly, every time you remember a specific event you are filling that memory with your current perspective and understanding of how the world works. In other words each memory (of the same event) is unique and created anew each time you remember.

As a photographer (this is a photography blog after all and so I must bring everything around to this theme) I have had the experience common to anyone taking photographs of looking at the photo and realizing that you did not see or were aware of half of the things going on in the photo. You were so narrowly focused on your subject that it crowded out everything else out. Ever look at one of your photos and think that, hmm, I thought I was much closer than that. If I were the one taking the photo above I probably would not remember seeing the flag! That lucky photographer (and many others) were photographing the 2012 edition of the Miss Bum Bum pageant in Brazil.

So then, are photographs better than memory? I would think yes. I guess that was the whole point of the movie Blow-up. Great movie. Check it out when you have a chance.

Enjoy the links and the podcast. They are eye opening reads.

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