Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog

12Aug/074

Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo

I stumbled across a website that was talking about the "magical number seven, plus or minus two". The Wikipedia article that I link to has some great stuff. It's really quite fascinating. I myself have found that I am able to really track 8 things at a time. If I'm stressed it seems to drop to 6. I use this quite a bit for making lists. Most lists I wish to make are short (less than 7 items) but I often wish to make them when I'm without a writing device (no PDA, pen and paper, etc.). So what I do is simply think out the list and make sure I firmly remember the number of items. Then, when I need to recall the list, I quickly think of the appropriate number (which is easy to remember) and the items tend to "fall out" of my memory quite easily. I have tried to track multiple lists and can succeed in juggling a few (although it's unnecessary since I rarely have more than one list in my mind at a time).

Sometimes I wish I was autistic (since many of autistic people seem to have this cognitive numeric limit removed). It would be fun to track lists that contained hundreds or thousands of items.

Okay, well maybe not "fun" but useful.

Or I could just get a digital voice recorder.

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  1. So…just wondering how the title and your post relate?

  2. Wow, you’re still a huge geek. But that’s OK!

  3. I have the same Q as James F

    Interesting post, though.

    I knew a guy who would keep his memory sharp and amuse himself on road trips by keeping a buffer list of the last eight (!) license plates he had seen.

    If I remember correctly, he pointed out that such a routine has the additional benefit of coming in handy if one witnesses (or participates in) a traffic accident.

  4. The reason for the title is sort of random. It’s a palindrome and I was thinking of how difficult it is to think of palindromes in your head because we’re limited by such a small “buffer” size. It’s easy to handle the short palindromes but it just becomes ridiculous trying to keep track of longer ones in our head.

    It’s a funny phrase also. Sort of like how just saying “rabid weasels” seems somehow inherently funny — at least to me.

    …and it generates more comments to this blog! 🙂


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