Did I mention that I’m taking the GRE in less than two weeks? Maybe once or twice? My eventual goal is to get into the cognitive psychology program at CU, and then go on to understand brains, teach other people to understand brains, and then go on sabbatical. A lot.
Between studying for the test and explaining what cognitive psychology to all of the random people who ask (ok fine, they ask because I’ve been telling complete strangers I want to go to grad school. Happy?), I’ve been thinking a lot about how the mind works. (That’s probably why I made a list of things I don’t understand the other day, now that I think about it.)
Crockett is, hands down, the smartest person I have ever known. (If you choose to believe I mean ‘known’ as the author of the bible meant it, so be it.) My mind works absolutely nothing like his. For example, he was accepted to Stanford for grad school and came here for the snowboarding instead, and I don’t even LIKE snowboarding!
I’m not exactly stupid, though. Know how I know?
See? That’s regular old three card flip solitaire. Obviously, Mensa will be calling any second. Also, have you ever seen Primer? I understood like 75% of that movie. If you haven’t seen it, shut up, go watch it, and get back to me. If you can beat 75% I’ll buy you an ice cream cone. Or, you know, something that won’t melt in shipment.
Anyway. Crockett is all geniusy and I’m all geniusy, but different kinds of geniusy. My friend Jeff in college was the smartest guy I knew until I met Crockett, and he had one of those memories that makes you think he MUST be a robot, but no. I asked him once how he remembered every teeny tiny thing he ever learned, and he said that he had a good filing system.
I asked him what he meant.
He said: When I get a piece of information that I didn’t know before, I decide how I’ll be most likely to remember it in the future, and store it in that part of my memory.
Seriously. He remembered things the same way that I try and put things away in my house. “Well, the next time I want to watch Jennifer’s Body it will probably be because I have work to do that I’m avoiding, so I’ll put it as far from my work stuff as possible.” (You can just imagine how well THAT storage idea worked out.)
I, on the other hand, seem to pick the least helpful data point about any given piece of information and file it that way. For example, someone I know is from Vermont… OR Virginia. While these two states have entirely different locations and cultures, apparently I just stuck them both in ‘places that start with V’, and therefore have no idea which state she actually lives in.
My mom can’t remember things when she only has two choices, a cute little habit she passed down to me. Can you see how that would be a problem? Just consider how many times a day you’re forced to pick, oh… right or left. Yeah. I think this is a variation of my issue – no filing exists for choosing between right and left, because instead you put it in a bunch of useless places. I probably have entire novels in my brain devoted to which is right and which is left, but they’re under ‘that cut I had on my thumb that one time’ or ‘that shoe that Mohawk’s dog ate’.
The tiniest sprinter tries to use the letter filing system as well, but his problem is that he is never thinking of the right letter. If he was trying to remember Vermont vs. Virginia, he’d be saying to himself “I’m pretty sure it starts with R”. Not as helpful as you might think.
When I just asked Crockett how he remembers things, he replied ‘I create taxonomies’. See what I mean about our brains? Me – a gigantic junk drawer. Him – an organized taxonomical (yeah whatever spellcheck, it’s a word today) library of facts.
But. He only understood like 35% of Primer. So I have that going for me.