Know the answer you probably knew you didn t know

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know the answer, you probably knew you didn t know those immediately, without effort. Even if you knew you knew, but couldn t quite recall it, you didn t know how you knew that, or what was happening as you tried to remember. You might have had trouble with the phone number of a friend because most of us have turned over to our technology the job of remembering phone numbers. I don t know anybody s phone number I barely remember my own. When I wish to call someone, I just do a quick search in my contact list and have the telephone place the call. Or I just push the 2 button on the phone � � for a few seconds, which autodials my home. Or in my auto, I can simply speak: Call home. What s the number? I don t know: my technology knows. Do we count our technology as an extension of our memory systems? Of our thought processes? Of our mind? What about Beethoven s phone number? If I asked my computer, it would take a long time, because it would have to search all the people I know to see whether any one of them was Beethoven. But you immediately discarded the question as nonsensical. You don t personally know Beethoven. And anyway, he is dead. Besides, he died in the early 1800s and the phone wasn t invented until the late 1800s. How do we know what we do not know so rapidly? Yet some things that we do know can take a long time to retrieve. For example, answer this: In the house you lived in three houses ago, as you entered the front door, was the doorknob on the left or right? Now you have to engage in conscious, reflective problem solving, first to retrieve just which house is being talked about, and then what the correct answer is. Most people can determine the house, but have difficulty answering the question because they can readily imagine the doorknob on both sides of the door. The way to solve this problem is to imagine doing some activity, such as walking up to the front door while carrying heavy packages with both hands: how do you open the door? Alternatively, visualize yourself inside the house, rushing to the front door to open it for a visitor. two: The Psychology of Everyday Actions 47 Usually one of these imagined scenarios provides the answer. But note how different the memory retrieval for this question was from the retrieval for the others. All these questions involved long-term memory, but in very different ways. The earlier questions were memory for factual information, what is called declarative memory. The last question could have been answered factually, but is usually most easily answered by recalling the activities performed to open the door. This is called procedural memory. I return to a discussion of human memory in Chapter 3. Walking, talking, reading. Riding a bicycle or driving a car. Singing.
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