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Remembering Subtle Details

Six items to wear is all a woman wore for an entire month as part of a “shopping diet”. What’s really interesting is that nobody seemed to have noticed:

No one notices.

Nearly a month into what amounted to just such a self-inflicted fast of fashion, Stella Brennan, 31, an insurance sales executive from Kenosha, Wis., realized last week that not even her husband, Kelly, a machinist, had yet figured out that she had been wearing the same six items, over and over, since June 21. The sad punch line is that Mr. Brennan is the one who actually does the laundry in the family.

It is possible people noticed but didn’t say anything within earshot. Her husband could just be a stereotypical male who doesn’t remember subtle details. I couldn’t tell you what shirt I wore on Monday (it’s now Thursday). However it seems more likely that nobody did actually notice.

Human memory is extremely complicated and not yet fully understood by science. This is generally considered to be an episodic memory. Unless you have Hyperthymesia, you likely only remember portions of your day that for some reason became memorable. Odds are you don’t know what color shirt the person sitting next to you on the bus was wearing, or the person in front of you on line was wearing this morning.

If Ms. Brennan had been in a situation where her clothing had either become a focal point or an accessory to an event or situation it would have been memorable. For example if someone noticed her shirt and complemented it. Another obvious situation would be if she had spilled something on herself in the presence of others. If she told someone very important news, they might remember what she was wearing when she told them the news. People can accurately recall seemingly small details from emotional events. That is a phenomenon known as a Flashbulb memory.

Self-consciousness is an interesting thing. What for one person is viewed as obvious and eye-catching might be completely ignored by others. We remember more things about ourselves than we do of others.

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The Science Behind i-Dosing

Before the FUD gets to you, take a moment and read the I-Dousing article on Psychology Today. If the paranoid stuff out there sounds ridiculous, it’s because you’re a sane individual.

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Invisible Gorilla

Invisible Gorilla

I remember seeing the original demonstration before. Since I had heard about the experiment before I knew to expect the gorilla. The new 2010 version introduces a few new tricks to prove the concept even further. If you’ve got an interest cognitive science, this is pretty cool stuff.


2010 Version

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IDK My BFF…. zzzz

eMarketer on research from Oxygen Media Insights Group:

More than a third of female social media users ages 18 to 34 had fallen asleep with their PDA in their hands or reported regularly checking Facebook first thing in the morning.

I get that females especially that age group are the more social demographic, we’ve seen that demonstrated countless times… but this can’t be healthy. “more than a third” is actually 37% almost 2 in 5. I’d bet if you go skew the demographic younger, 15-23 for example you’d get an even higher percentage.

That might be why Telco’s can charge so much for text messaging despite it having an extremely low actual cost to provide the service (translation: it’s almost pure profit). Addicts will pay.

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

About a week ago I linked to a video called the secret powers of time, here’s another from the RSA series titled Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us by Dan Pink. Another really interesting 10 minute look at the psychology that drives us.

I’m starting to become addicted to this series.

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The Secret Powers Of Time

Secret Power Of Time

Professor Philip Zimbardo on how your perspective of time impacts pretty much everything in life and how it’s fundamentally changing thanks to technology. There’s been a lot of talk about this lately.

I guess this is pretty much the idea behind his book The Time Paradox. I guess I should add that to my list of books to read if I can ironically ever find the time.

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Favorite Blogs – Edge Cases Of Intelligence

I decided I would periodically share a few blogs that I’ve found particularly interesting for various reasons. Some educational, some just comical and amusing. I’m not sure how often I’ll do one of these, but it’s unlikely more than quarterly. The particular theme for this edition is “edge cases of intelligence”. Read on and you’ll understand why.

Less Wrong

Less Wrong‘s title is a surprisingly good description of its contents. Its more verbose tagline “a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality” is even more so. Given it’s operated by Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University as you can expect, it’s slightly more intellectual. Anyone with an interest in cognitive science, decision-making, or just human psychology in general will likely find at least half of the posts mesmerizing.

Hot Chicks with Stormtroopers

Hot Chicks with Stormtroopers is also a blog with a very descriptive name. This is one of those websites that you didn’t know there was a need or market until you found it. Now I’m not sure what I would do without it. The mere fact that there is enough content that fits this specific niche to fill a regularly updated blog is in itself just amazing to me. The internet truly has everything for everyone.

Yahoo! Answer Fail

Yahoo! Answer Fail falls in the same family as the more popular FAIL blog but with a specific focus on Yahoo! Answers. I can’t help but read and fear for the future of humanity. I suspect at least half of Yahoo! Answers posters are just jokers, but I can’t help but think that some of these people are really out there. Be warned, if you visit this site you will spend no less than an hour, and likely more reading through some of the saddest examples of humanity out there.

Mozilla Open Source

Self Serving Sausage Fest?

Does that title accurately describe open source? Via Valleywag I found this blog post from Psychology Today which I’d recommend reading. This is really the most interesting part:

First, there’s street cred: People want to garner approval from their peers and build their reputation. Second, there’s self-actualization: Working on these projects is enjoyable in and of itself, and it also provides the opportunities to practice your skills, collect feedback, and grow as a geek. Third, there’s pure altruism: Let’s save the world, one squashed bug or “[citation needed]” at a time.

Interesting stuff. I definitely fall in the “practice your skills, collect feedback, and grow as a geek” category.

Also noteworthy: 97.8 percent of open source programmers are male. Like there was any surprise that it’s somewhat of a sausage fest on #developers. Anyone ever check the ratio on about:credits? Come up with an automated way to do that’s licensed under MPL/GPL/LGPL and you’ll earn some serious street cred not to mention save the world and practice your text analysis skills.

I guess this is even more extreme than the Dave-to-Girl ratio.