Quotes

The mind is not a camera — so what we perceive is a result of art not science.

“People assume that they perceive reality as it is, that our senses accurately record the outside world. Yet the science suggests that, in important ways, people experience reality not as it is, but as they expect it to be.”

“Physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an attempt by an atom to understand itself.”

“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy. ”

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”

Richard Buckminster Fuller

Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the thought is staggering

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.

“When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty…….. but
when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is
wrong.”

“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.”

“Everything you’ve learned in school as “obvious” becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.”

“Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.”

Dare to be naive.

“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.”

“I am a passenger on the spaceship Earth.”

“I would say, then, that you are faced with a future in which education is going to be number one amongst the great world industries.”

Human beings were given a left foot and a right foot to make a mistake first to the left, then to the right, left again and repeat.

Memory

When I cast back to an event from my past – let’s say the first time I ever swam backstroke unaided in the sea – I don’t just conjure up dates and times and places (what psychologists call “semantic memory”). I do much more than that. I am somehow able to reconstruct the moment in some of its sensory detail, and relive it, as it were, from the inside. I am back there, amid the sights and sounds and seaside smells. I become a time traveller who can return to the present as soon as the demands of “now” intervene.

Memories are mental reconstructions, nifty multimedia collages of how things were, that are shaped by how things are now. Autobiographical memories are stitched together as and when they are needed from information stored in many different neural systems. That makes them curiously susceptible to distortion, and often not nearly as reliable as we would like.

When we look at how memories are constructed by the brain, the unreliability of memory makes perfect sense. In storyboarding an autobiographical memory, the brain combines fragments of sensory memory with a more abstract knowledge about events, and reassembles them according to the demands of the present. The memory researcher Martin Conway has described how two forces go head to head in remembering. The force of correspondence tries to keep memory true to what actually happened, while the force of coherence ensures that the emerging story fits in with the needs of the self, which often involves portraying the ego in the best possible light.The force of correspondence makes her want to stick to the facts; the force of coherence wants to tell a good story.

That’s how I think we should value memory: as a means for endlessly rewriting the self.

If we can be more honest about memory’s quirks, we can get along with it better. When I think back to my first attempt at solo swimming, it doesn’t bother me that I have probably got some of the details wrong. It might be a fiction, but it’s my fiction, and I treasure it. Memory is like that. It makes storytellers of us all.