I work as a research scientist, and so my days consist of reading, writing, and reviewing cutting-edge research papers; familiarizing myself with the latest software and technology; and advising graduate students on their theses and research projects. Writing a single grant proposal or research article can involve my reading several dozen papers whose information I need to digest, extract, synthesize, and then incorporate into whatever it is I’m doing. Even though I am able to do this, most of the knowledge I gain fades from memory within a few months. If I need to reuse or write a follow-up to something I’ve done – even a project I’ve worked on full-time for months – this often involves carefully and actively rereading the original sources in order to refresh my memory. As far as I can tell, I’ve always been this way; this isn’t a case of my brainpower getting worse with age.
By contrast, it seems my brain is happy to passively absorb all kinds of useless trivia and indelibly impermeate it into my neurons, whence it can be instantly called up, with perfect fidelity, many decades later. For example, I recently discovered that someone has been uploading to YouTube old episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos, that silly clip show from ABC which premiered back when I was 11 years old (and which, amazingly, is still on the air today). I’ve been watching through the first and second seasons. Amazingly, not only do I recall each and every winner of the weekly $10,000 prizes before Bob Saget even announces the candidates, but I even remember most of the other videos that aren’t in competition. I can do this even though most of these videos are only a few seconds long, and I only ever saw them once before, over 30 years ago.
Dopers, what ancient, useless crap do your brains automatically store, to the exclusion really important things you really try and need to remember?