Oh my MG
A good writer, journalist, author can bring you aboard their insight like a sea worthy crew member after being swept up in a raging sea storm. Malcolm Gladwell is for me that great sailor and an ongoing *inspirator (inspiring conspirator). His expansive ideas educate and instill knowledge like glittering diamonds. Carefully collected like the gems they truly are.
Currently I have been challenged by his Revisionist History episode Free Brian Williams and will explain below.
Do You Remember When?
The episode presents a curious point of view. It all begins with where we’re you when the World Trade Centre Buildings were attacked? Me: September 11, 2001 I was called from my office by a young person. I remember them asking “but weren’t you there this year?”
I remember looking at the TV in a Youth Cafe in Woolwich in dumbfounded shock! Filled with disbelief. In January of that year I had spent many wonderful days in NY with my friend SO. Travelling from New Jersey to NY beneath the World Trade Cenre Buildings.
And so hooked I fell into the story of a news anchor person who told a version of events that did not occur as his memory told him they had.
Made up mind
The why of the story is what threw me. I did not want to have my mind changed. Especially because what I had thought was so obviously correct. In my minds eye I was right and decent and moral. He the cheat, Brian Williams, should have known better. But Malcolm weaves a story that blends science, psychopathology with neuroscience. The mix is heavy and splits me along ethically dubious lines. The show ends and I find myself interrogating my many memory missteps too.
Again with the Netflix?
Mamadou Athie was not Grandmaster Flash in the Get Down I confidently said to Dr CW as we watched Uncorked. He was an older gentleman I said. I replayed scenes burned into my mind of Grandmaster flash teaching the ‘younger’ DJ how to find the lyric in a song and keep that playing. I was confident. Then I heard Malcom whispering “remember what was said in the podcast”. We think our memory is indelible like a CD or Video recording or cassette tape. It is not.
Our memories may remember key pieces of information. Bits. Like an outfit. A face. A scene. A voice. A piece of music. A scent. But the whole conceptualisation our memories simply cannot fully compute with crystalline accuracy.
For 1 second of data to be processed by our brains there are millions of pieces of information being assimilated, ignored and stored. Of course we aren’t going to be able to recall them all. We simply cannot. So I revised mentally The Get Down and Mahmadou in Uncorked and realised my error.
Malcolm and Dr CW were right. My memory had failed me and yet I was ready to stick to my wrongful ideas and hold these above what turned out to be a truth. Reluctantly I realised that I was similar to Brian Williams! Believing what my memory told me and not what others advised me was true and correct.
The effect of the realisation is laughable and uncomfortable. Another area of fallibility is our gut feeling or going on the feeling of something purely. Read ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman for a fuller understanding. We should employ both fast and slow thinking. We would find, we would make different choices. Also read the Chimp Paradox to gain a better understanding of our brains capacity to splice information resulting in different reactions.
Listen to the episode of revisionist history and share either anonymously or below when and where your memory played a trick on you.
Altered Carbon? Possibly we are. We were not meant to hold onto these *rememberings. In fact every time we pull up a memory the memory changes. These blogs, journals, diaries, photos and videos are a way of capturing an idea or memory in a time capsule and store it as it was back then.
After Lockdown 2020
Post COVID19, you could do yourself a favour. Welcome a new world. Where we recognise that unless we train our minds to become memory champions like Jim Kwik or Yanjaa Wintersoul, external devices will store parts of what you no longer have active need to remember. Why not let these memories go. Remembering things like embarrassing or traumatic events might actually be holding you back from experiencing something new and worth remembering. Just a thought. Remember to forget.
Perhaps life is better that way.
Revisionist History Free Brian Williams
Jim Kwik Memory
2 Guys on Your Head – Memory
Hidden Brain – Did That Really Happen?