[Memory] Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read – Julie Beck

In the internet age, recall memory—the ability to spontaneously call information up in your mind—has become less necessary… what’s called recognition memory is more important. “So long as you know where that information is at and how to access it, then you don’t really need to recall it,” [Horvath] says.

Last year, Horvath and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne found that those who binge-watched TV shows forgot the content of them much more quickly than people who watched one episode a week. Right after finishing the show, the binge-watchers scored the highest on a quiz about it, but after 140 days, they scored lower than the weekly viewers. They also reported enjoying the show less than did people who watched it once a day, or weekly.

Plato was a famous early curmudgeon when it came to the dangers of externalizing memory… Socrates tells a story about the god Theuth discovering “the use of letters.” The Egyptian king Thamus says to Theuth: “This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.”

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