Forgetting

So, you go to a comedy club, have a laugh out loud time, go home and, the next day tell everyone how good it was. But, can you remember a single joke? Or you watch a video from the Khan Academy on a subject that fascinates you but, a week later, you can’t remember a thing? Or how about a TedTalk on Youtube? Or, prehaps more importantly, a training course on Project Management or a lecture on Economics. Well, good news everybody! You’re perfectly normal and have the same crappy sieve brain that most humans have! Or, to be more scientific; welcome to the forgetting curve…

The forgetting curve was first described by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885 who memorised meaningless information and then measured how long it took him to forget it. Not very long as it turns out. This makes sense… if we remembered everything we encountered, our brains would be full of useless junk – like what your wife’s dress size is. Oh, no, wait… that’s important. Anyway, Ebbinghaus was being a good scientist and isolating the variables, so he was memorising strings of meaningless syllables… which of course means that these results only apply to learning German.

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