Why your shoddy memory is actually a good thing

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Episode one from our new miniseries THE MIND, EXPLAINED on Netflix. Watch now:

THE MIND, EXPLAINED takes a five-episode deep dive into how our brains handle memory, anxiety, psychedelics and dreams. Narrated by Emma Stone.

After nearly a year of labor behind the scenes, we have an announcement for you: Explained is finally back! And during this year, we’ve turned our attention to a crucial question: Why can’t we remember what is in the fridge?

Or more importantly, why can’t we remember most of the details of our own lives? Why do an estimated 1 in 3 people suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point? And why, when we go to bed at night, are we overcome with strange visions? Do our dreams actually mean anything, or serve any purpose?

Our minds often feel like a black box. And the stakes of these questions go far beyond the fridge – to our fundamental sense of reality, and what it means to be human. How can we help ourselves, and each other, when our minds betray us? What can we do to take back some control?

Scientists have figured out so much more than you might realize – and today, we’re diving deep, with 5 brand new episodes narrated by Emma Stone taking you on an adventure through the mind, available today.

Our weekly episodes return, as well, on September 26th. They’ll be right here – where Season 1 also awaits any of you who haven’t seen it yet.

Thanks so much to all of you who watch, support, and even teach the series. If you’re a teacher wondering if you can use the series: yes you can. Here’s Netflix’s policy:

And for more ideas of things we should cover in explained, send us a note at explained@vox.com.

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50 thoughts on “Why your shoddy memory is actually a good thing

  1. Explained is BACK! With a miniseries: THE MIND, EXPLAINED takes a five-episode deep dive into how our brains handle memory, anxiety, psychedelics and dreams, narrated by Emma Stone. This is just the first episode – see the whole thing at http://www.netflix.com/mindexplained

  2. I studied the Physiology of Learning and Memory today and everything makes so much more sense after watching this video. Thank you Vox!!

  3. Basically, what I got from this is not why it's a good thing, but that it is indeed shoddy and it's a sad thing… We need emotions and we need exercise.

  4. Huh, I've studied about memory before (many years ago), but I'm not sure I can say I've ever seen it connected to thoughts of the future or planning like this before (I'm now wondering if this is an imperfect memory or a fresh take on things ;))

    Either way – well done 😀

  5. I'm doing a course in Cognitive Pschology and I have a questions about something that they say at 04:48 they said that the damage was to his episodic memory and not his semantic memory, but I don' think that was his problem. The problem was that he couldn't form new memories of any type after the extensive damage to his hippocampus. So it doesn't matter if the memory is episodic or semantic, he couldn't make either of them. So if he tried to learn a fact after the damage he wouldn't be able to learn it. Which is exactly the problem that he had. When asked about who the current president of the United States is he answered the one that was president at the time of the damage. Any thoughts anyone?

  6. I barely remember my childhood, and I barely remember my kids childhoods. Makes me so sad, I'm only 43 and it's like my life is a blank book. I'm glad for photos but that doesn't make up for it:(

  7. I have trouble separating the memories that I actually remember happening and the ones I think I remember but it’s childhood photos and videos that I’ve watched more than once over the years growing up. Like do I really remember my 3rd birthday party or is it cause of the photos and videos I’ve seen? Can’t decide.

  8. I have really bad memory due to having epilepsy I don't remember any of my childhood it's like it's wiped out or never existed and I'm 40

  9. Very interesting, but did anyone else feel like they didn't actually answer why it was a good thing or have I just forgotten already?

  10. Interesting to consider what this means for History as a subject. The conclusion of the study that memory (or our study of past events) helps us plot and envision our future confirms the idea that through looking at History we are able to better understand what the future will entail.

  11. If anyone found this fascinating, you should watch Nolans 2nd feature film Memento. It is an exploration of this concept of memories forming are identity but more importantly; how we tweak for the sake of the present and future.

  12. So does this mean no matter what technique you use to help you memorise things, there is always a chance (and pretty high one by the sound of it) that it will be inaccurate in the future (since emotional memory disintegrates as quickly as normal ones)?

  13. That is why this selfie generation is lucky because you have so much evidence

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