Thursday, March 08, 2012


Returning to a common theme I’ve touched on a few times before.
I was listening to a podcast today. This is a relatively new one but I’ve come to trust the host by some of his previous work. At one point in the show the hosts go on a tangent and start talking about nicknames. The begin to talk about derogatory nicknames that they had for people and then wonder about what similar nicknames they were called behind their backs. I found the bit rather insightful. It invited introspection. What kind of a person do others think I am? It’s always good to reevaluate if you really are the type of person you want to be.
Something about the bit troubled me. It wasn’t until the program was over that I made the connection. The host told about how he used to call one of his junior high school teachers “Jabba the Hutt” and how bad he felt about it now that he looks back on it. Now here’s the problem. The host also revealed in the same episode that he is 56 years-old. So lets do a little math here. If he’s 56 in 2012 then he would have been 21 when the first Star Wars movie came out. But we never saw the character, Jabba the Hutt until Return of the Jedi which came out in 1983, when the host was 27 years-old.
Now I don’t doubt that the host called his teacher a derogatory name. And I don’t doubt his sincerity when he talks about how bad he feels decades later. This story just proves how plastic our memories really are. This event could not have played out the way he remembers it. At the very least the nickname in his memory morphed to accommodate the image he had of that teacher once he saw the movie in 1983.
I’ve talked before about how I’ve been guilty of this same type of memory error. It’s disconcerting to realize that our memories aren’t quite the “dash camera” that we like to think they are.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be curious as to the reaction if you were to email the podcast host with this observation.

    This memory stuff is weird, isn't it? How we can be convinced of something on one level, yet on another level work out the facts that render the memory impossible. Brings a new meaning to an old (I think) Heinlein quote: "I may be wrong, but I'm not unsure."