I used to think the brain was the most fascinating part of the human anatomy…
…then I remembered what part of my body was telling me that.
So goes one of Emo Phillips’ old jokes.
But the brain is fascinating. I myself am particularly intrigued by how memory works, and the way the brain interprets stimuli (i.e., how we perceive reality).
Despite having bashed on MetaFilter before, I do still peruse the site occassionally. Yesterday there was a post that dealt peripherally with memory, that was sort of interesting in of itself. The post dealt with a mythical picture of hunters with a mythical “thunderbird” – no one seems to be able to produce this picture, but everyone remembers seeing it.
I myself could vaguely recall seeing the proposed picture, even though I only even heard the term “thunderbird” in this application fairly recently. My personal theory is that we have all seen so many of those old turn-of-the-century hunters-with-trophy type pictures, that as soon as we hear about this supposed picture the suggestion is planted in our subconcious and we think it is a memory. The archetype of that picture is so familiar to most of us, it makes suggestion easier.
Anyway, this post kicked off one of the more interesting and entertaining threads I’ve seen on MeFi in a long, long time, and is well worth the read. There’s a link to another interesting thread about memory, and some scary nightmare material to boot.
An aside: while reading the thread, when I got to the nightmare description, it reminded me immediately of an episode from the “first revival” of Twilight Zone, titled Shadowman, which I absolutely loved. Just a couple of weeks ago, an old friend who also loved the Shadowman episode, said he caught it again recently on TV (or DVD, ironically I don’t remember), and said it really wasn’t that good after all. To preserve my memory of that episode being freaking awesome, I vowed I would never watch it again, lest I discover it sucked and only my lack of taste in youth made it seem awesome.
So, was I mis-remembering it? Am I conciously tampering with my memory by refusing to watch it again?
I very much recommend reading through the comments on that MeFi thread. But don’t blame me if you see the “TerrorMan” in your dreams tonight.