How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory


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Schacter explores instances of what we would consider memory failure—absent-mindedness, transience, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence—and suggests instead that these miscues are actually indications that memory is functioning as designed. Drawing from vivid scientific research and creative literature, as well as high-profile events in which memory has figured significantly Bill Clinton's grand jury testimony, for instance , The Seven Sins of Memory provides a more nuanced understanding of how memory and the mind influence each other and shape our lives.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published May 7th by Mariner Books first published More Details Original Title. William James Book Award Other Editions 2.

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Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Seven Sins of Memory , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Seven Sins of Memory. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.

Showing Rating details. Sort order. Apr 25, John Wolfe rated it it was amazing. We refer to this as one of the "tippingpointblinkfreakanomicsbrainisakludge" books -- one of those books that makes you feel like your brain is filling up -- that gives you insight into how the mind works and -- even better! Summarizes classic and state of the art experiments demonstrating the complete and total unreliability of memory!

That alone is worth the price of the book which is, btw, 88 cents at Goodwill. Shelves: books , non-fiction , psychology. An interesting - if a bit academic, at times - read that was written by Harvard Psychology Department Chair. Since I'm sure you're dying to know, the 7 sins are: 1. Transience loss of memory over time 2.

Absent-mindedness forgetting where your car keys are - due to the info never being properly encoded in your memory because you weren't really paying attention 3. Blocking inability to retrieve known information such as someone's name, name of a song, etc. Misattribution assigning a memory An interesting - if a bit academic, at times - read that was written by Harvard Psychology Department Chair. Misattribution assigning a memory to the wrong source 5. Suggestibility implanted memories due to leading questions, comments, or suggestions 6. Bias how we unknowingly change our memory of the past to be more consistent with our current beliefs 7.

Persistence repeated recall of disturbing info or events you would prefer to forget Schacter explains how these common foibles can be frustrating and dives into the science of why they happen. While we've all disparaged our memories at one point or another, the 7 sins are a small price to pay for the many times our minds do get it right.

Considering the staggering amount of data our minds process every day, it's actually amazing it works as well as it does.

The Seven Sins of Memory

I found the tip of the tongue phenomenon 3 particularly interesting because you can usually tell another person everything about the thing you're trying to name except its name. The science phonological vs. Might we one day see these used for first-responders, military people, emergency workers, etc. Some researchers think this may be due to the fact that during the hunter-gatherer period, when human cognition evolved, women primarily foraged for food while men primarily hunted.


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Women needed to remember the various food locations they frequented, often embedded with complex vegetations. Men used and developed other spatial skills, but apparently not the ability to see things they're looking for that always right in front of their face or perhaps that's just my husband! Overall, this was a very interesting read - 3.

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Oct 23, Steven rated it it was ok Shelves: books-i-own , psychology. I was much looking forward to reading this, since the concept and workings of memory particularly intrigue me. Nothing too much in depth, however, which is why I thought this book might be good both to tie together what I had learned and to find out something new! Here I was slightly disappointed, however. Although much much! A friend asked me, just after I read the book, 'what it was about' and I was able to describe to him the 7 sins and the general theme Schacter places them in with little difficulty. This, I think, is both the strength and weakness of the book.

It's a very coherent, neat story, and if you haven't studied memory before like my friend it is definitely a good start. I applaud the book for this. And, despite the fact that the author's high esteem of himself, Harvard, and other prestigious universities throughly irritated me at times, I would be willing to give it 3 stars. What robbed the book of that 3rd star, however, was the last chapter - the one beyond the 7 sins - the one attempting to exculpate memory's sins by adopting an evolutionary approach.

I'm sorry, but in my maybe-not-so-humble opinion this chapter just should not have been in the book. Schacter should have left it at the neat 7 sin story. The reason is this: to end the book, which was pretty much complete after the 7th sin for its particular purpose, with an afterthought on evolution as a principle to explain the discrepancy between its apparent positive and negative effects, is a task much too heavy for a small concluding chapter.

If Schacter had announced this framework from the beginning of the book, it would have been clearer since the reader could then actively try to integrate the notions within an evolutionary perspective. Now one is left to make sense of it all retrospectively, which is made difficult by the brevity of the chapter and the obvious redundancy of repeating the previous chapters for the sake of relating it to evolutionary theory. That last chapter is by far the shallowest, at least if you relate it to the prolific debate on evolution.

This, while the last chapter is supposed to be overarching and in that sense the most significant, is a letdown. I mean, we're explaining why one of our most prized possessions - memory - which essentially gives us our sense of selfhood, also seems to fail us systematically. Maybe I was expecting some sort of colossal conclusion, in which case my own expectations and desire let me down in part. I do also think, though, that that last chapter came off as a slightly cheap attempt to latch the book onto the evolutionary debate.

The question, "can evolution explain the differential effectiveness of memory in humans" is intriguing and absolutely fundamental to our lives; by reducing it to an afterthought Schacter's book in fact covers 8 sins. Mar 20, Satyajeet rated it really liked it. Schacter approaches his task like a teacher. He focuses on seven problems with memory that have undoubtedly been experienced by the average reader: 1. Transience - Our memories weaken over time. Absent-mindedness - We don't focus on what we need to remember.

Blocking - It's in our memory somewhere, but we can't find it. Misattribution - We are wrong about where we learned something. Suggestibility - Other people can "plant" false memories in us. Bias - We rewrite the past with the pen o Schacter approaches his task like a teacher.

Bias - We rewrite the past with the pen of present beliefs. Persistence - We keep remembering things we'd like to forget. For each of these problems, he gives understandable examples. In the final chapter, the problems are discussed as a group, and the author states the opinion that these problems are a small price to pay for a memory capability that performs extraordinarily well. In the early part of the book, there are references to specific functions of the various lobes of the brain and how those lobes may affect the processes of memory. Professor Schacter does a thorough job of referencing the works of other psychologists, and summarizing their opinions.

An informative book, intended for non-technical people who want an overview of the field and a basic understanding of academic progress. Dec 06, Eman Said rated it it was amazing. This book is rated 5 simply because it has valuable information in a very easy and interesting way. You do not get lost in science; on the contrary, you fully understand how the memory works. Aug 06, Sid rated it really liked it. Entertainment value 3 out of 5 : The book mostly held my interest.

Daniel Schacter - The Seven Sins of Memory

Many examples that I could relate to, including Men and Women and how they recall memories. Men seem to remember the gist, while women the details. Knowledge 5 out of 5 : There were a lot of nuggets of wisdom. Repeat to remember. Mnemonic reminders are helpful during encoding information. Proper names are harder to remember because a name has no association to the person.

Writing Style 3 out of 5 : I think the psychological and b Entertainment value 3 out of 5 : The book mostly held my interest. Writing Style 3 out of 5 : I think the psychological and brain sections of the book were too technical for me. The author could've included more everyday examples to make the novel more entertaining.

Final Takeaway 3. While Daniel contends there are 7 types of memory vices, he also shows how these can be virtues. Once we are aware of our memory system's shortcomings, we can look to address them one at a time. Apr 11, Michal rated it it was amazing. I forgot to mark this as read. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies.

Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days When will my order arrive? Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. Transience refers to a weakening, deterioration, or loss of a specific memory over time.

In fact, the person is able to remember recent events much better than those from the past. This is a basic characteristic of memory, as well as the culprit of many memory issues. Interference is what causes transience. There are two types of interference: proactive interference, when old information inhibits the ability to remember new information, and retroactive interference, when new information inhibits the ability to remember old information. Absent-mindedness implies a malfunction in the interface between attention and memory.

What Are The Seven Sins Of Memory

It involves problems related to the interaction of these two aspects. Blocking refers to a frustrated search for information that the individual is desperately trying to recover. It occurs when the brain tries to retrieve or encode information but another memory interferes. The curious aspect of blocking is that the individual realizes it when they unexpectedly recover the blocked memory hours or days later.

The sin of misattribution involves assigning a memory to the wrong source. It takes a correct collection of information and links it to an incorrect recollection of the source of that information. Suggestibility is somewhat similar to misattribution, only with the inclusion of an open suggestion.

The sin of suggestibility refers to memories that are stored as a result of questions, comments, or important suggestions. Biases are retrospective distortions produced by current knowledge and beliefs. That being said, bias reflects our ability to significantly modify our memories without realizing it.

We often rely on what we now know or believe in to unconsciously edit or rewrite our past experiences.

How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory
How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory How the Mind Forgets and Remembers: The Seven Sins of Memory

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