The Intelligence in Forgetting

This page was first published on the 12th of May, 2016 and last updated on the 12th of May, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.

Intelligence in forgetting: because the human mind is not stupid.

How many times have you heard the expression “some things get repeated over and over because they are true”. That’s because it really is true: some things get repeated over and over because they are true.

And the human brain was designed, through intelligence, to remember things that were repeated several times with consistency and without too many contradictions.

So is forgetfulness a design of intelligence? As paradoxical as it sounds, it is! The human brain was designed to accept a statement as true only after hearing it so many times. And if it hears several variations of the fact, it will accept, although partially, the one that it heard more often.

How many time did someone not tell you something but you forgot it? But after hearing it again and again, you eventually remembered. And while some people say they remember everything the first time, this just isn’t practical. The fact: we remember what we are told often. That is because the human brain is wired to think: if we hear it only once, it probably isn’t true.

There are exceptions were something may stand out in our memories because they were told to us when we were very young and impressionable, or by someone in authority.

Let’s put things into perspective. If you hear that there are 20 million people living in Brazil, you might ask again a few weeks later “how many people are living in Brazil”? You may do this over and over until you hear the answer over 10 times. By that time, if you didn’t hear too many contradictory answers, your mind would accept the statement as fact and keep it in long term memory.

But if 3 people tell you that Brazil has 20 million people, 7 people tell you it has 100 million and 4 tell you that is has 15 million, your brain will not retain any. That is an intelligence mechanism in your brain which reasons that none of these answers is likely to be correct. Or if any is correct, it will not take the risk of guessing which is.

So the next time someone forgets something, don’t think they’re stupid: there is intelligence in forgetting.

Related: The Power of Getting it from different sources.

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