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Mandala Effect Monday

There's this story about a contestant on an old quiz show called You Bet Your Life. A woman with (varyingly according to the telling) somewhere between 10 and 20 kids. The show was hosted by one of my heroes, Groucho Marx, who is remembered for his faster-than-lightning wit even more than his ubiquitous cigar.

"Why do you have so many kids?" Groucho asks.

"I love my husband," came the answer.

"I love my cigar, but I take it out once in a while," is the response everyone remembers. This was the 50s so, naturally, this was pulled immediately off the air. The people who remember seeing it on TV remember the screen cutting out or to one of those "We are experiencing technical difficulties" cards. The censors would have fined the network. Groucho was reportedly threatened. People say someone(s) lost their job(s). There are a lot of versions of what happened.

The real version: It never happened at all. Groucho himself said, "That's funny, but I never said that."

We all do this. Memory is a funny thing.

Think of some story about when you were a kid. One of those stories you're embaressed every time it comes up... and it ALWAYS seems to come up. That time you came home from school naked for some reason. Or that time decided to feed the dog licorice and it spray painted the entire house with shit. Something that happened when you were really young, and you remember it happening...

... but you don't. You were actually too young for the memory to form. But you remember it. But you don't. You've just heard the story so very many times that the memory... the pictures in your head... they just kinda hung themselves around the structure of the story that you've heard a million times. Your brain filled in the blanks and the faces around you.

You remember it, of course, from the first-person perspective. And you remember all the people, your family and whatnot. But if you could actually snapshot a memory... I bet the hairstyles would be wrong and out of date. And the clothes. Because it's not really a memory and those parts have to be added. It's a fiction your mind has filled in for itself.

That's called False Memory Effect. A person "remembering" a fiction. And they'll fucking fight you over it.

Think of how good a diver you are.

Now remember that thing from when you were a kid that there's no way you could possibly actually remember.

Now think of how good a diver you are. Think of all those dive stories you've told that you (and only you, alone in all the world) know that it didn't really go the way you say it did... but you kinda remember it going like that... even as you ALSO remember it going the way you'd rather not admit, too.

The brain is a powerful gizmo that can substitute all sorts of idiotic myths and fallacies for reality. That's how we keep getting things like racism and more Marvel TV shows.

That's what happens when a bunch of people do it... it's the Mandala Effect.

And the Mandala Effect can be dangerous.

When a group of people start remembering how they are the best group of divers that have ever lived... when they all agree to remember things they way they might not have actually happened...

I've gotta go pack the car and go diving. So I'm gonna have to leave you to unpack where that might go on your own.

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