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Imagining the Future Is Just Another Form of Memory

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https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/10/imagining-the-future-is-just-another-form-of-memory/542832/

theatlantic.com

Imagining the Future Is Just Another Form of Memory
Humans’ ability to predict the future is all thanks to our ability to remember the past.

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John Green, Looking for Alaska

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.”

John Green, Looking for Alaska

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We use our memories to imagine the future

We use our memories to imagine the future

We predict what the future will look like by using our memories. This is how actions we do repeatedly become routine. For example, you have an ideas of what your day will look ...

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Past and future for amnesia patients

An evidence that memory and imagining the future might go hand in hand comes from research related to amnesia patients. Studies show that when they lose their pasts, it seems they lose thei...

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Construction of mental scenes

You can remember facts and you can make entirely informational forecasts, but most of the time, when you recall something, you are reliving a scene from your memory.

Yo...

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Close and distant scenarios

Just as memories are more accurate the more recent they are, imagined future scenes are more accurate the nearer in the future they are.

When we attempt to imagine the ...

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Planning for the future: an evolutionary advantage

If you can plan for the future, you’re more likely to survive it. But there’s are limitations as well.

Your accumulated experiences and your cultural life script are the on...

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The optimistic bias toward the future

There’s an extreme positivity bias toward the future: we think that future events are more important to our identity than the past events.

But we have to temper our expectations and keep in...

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The Self-Perception of Experts

The Self-Perception of Experts

New research on the accuracy of future predictions by people has some interesting findings:

  • Experts, largely considered an authority, fared poorly than the novices, due to their over...

Facing Change: Millennials Vs Boomers

Past experience, which many experts think helps them to better understand the world, surprisingly does not improve the ability to predict the future. The research data showed accuracy levels of the younger generation (25 to 35 years of age) being the highest.

Old people are slower to comprehend change, faster to believe and share fake news and less likely to be objective.

Humility

Working with an open mind, ready to dive into unfamiliar territory and learning new things, makes the entire exercise stress-free and rewarding experience. This state of mind, along with basic humility makes for better performance. One’s arrogance, ego and past can negatively affect the prediction quality.

A humble attitude also makes people listen to others opinions and share their own unique insights, helping collaboration and constructive teamwork.

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The perception of time

Although some physicists would argue against the existence of time, we all do have a perception of time that reflects the reality of our lives on Earth.

False pasts

Most of us forget more than we remember. We change memories to make sense of what has happened in our lives. When we then recall a memory, we reconstruct the events in our minds and even shape them to fit in with any new information.

Understand the future

Many of us think of our past as a kind of a video library where we can look at records of our lives. If memories were fixed like videotapes, you would find it difficult to imagine a new situation.

It is our past memories that help us imagine a future, and to preview future events. This skill of using the past to predict the future helps us try out different hypothetical scenarios before we commit.

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Past and future

Past and future
  • When English speakers use hand gestures to talk about the past and the future, they thrust a hand over the shoulder for the past and put a hand forward to indicate the future. English speake...

How humans sense time

Humans are different from animals in that we don't sense time only as passing. We dice time into units or think of time to go beyond our lifespan, such as millennia. We rely on time concepts that allow us to make plans, follow recipes, and discuss possible futures.

Describing yesterday and tomorrow

Recent research suggests that across all cultures, the concept of time depends on metaphor, known as a conceptual metaphor. We build our understanding of duration and sequences of events out of familiar spatial ideas such as size, movement, and location.

But the "time is like space" metaphor takes on very different forms from one culture to the next.

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