“Note: A correction was made directly in this story at the request
of an independent fact checker for Facebook”
In the last period, there have been a lot of misinformation on the internet about claims that being forgetful, according to neuroscientists, is a sign that the person is super intelligent. But, this is nothing more than fake news. Let us find out what the real truth is…
Why Do People Think Forgetfulness Means You Are Intelligent?
These false claims started appearing when an article appeared and an old CNN report was mentioned and a certain scientific paper.
The headline had nothing to do with the actual data from the report. This claim went viral after the release of an article by Healthy Food House titled Neuroscientists Say Forgetfulness is a Sign of Extraordinary Intelligence on March 12, 2019.
Namely, this article claims that forgetting things like dates, names, faces of people, etc. should not worry you because scientists claim that this is a sign of being very intelligence.
They add that some people have a more efficient brain and thus, can memorize better whereas there are others who are unable to remember details or things they have learned some time ago.
In this fake article, we can read that they mention a research by scientists Blake Richards and Paul Frankland from the University of Toronto.
They quote an article from Global Remedy House where they quote another one. In this one with false claims too, they reference a story by CNN from March 8, 2018 that appeared on Health.
In this article, the scientific paper is referenced and it is called The Persistence and Transience of Memory, from Perspective Volume 94, Issue 6, from June 21, 2017.
Below, check out a section from the article.
“The predominant focus in the neurobiological study of memory has been on remembering (persistence). However, recent studies have considered the neurobiology of forgetting (transience). Here we draw parallels between neurobiological and computational mechanisms underlying transience. We propose that it is the interaction between persistence and transience that allows for intelligent decision-making in dynamic, noisy environments. Specifically, we argue that transience (1) enhances flexibility, by reducing the influence of outdated information on memory-guided decision-making, and (2) prevents overfitting to specific past events, thereby promoting generalization. According to this view, the goal of memory is not the transmission of information through time, per se. Rather, the goal of memory is to optimize decision-making. As such, transience is as important as persistence in mnemonic systems.”
These false claims, as you can see for yourself, are becoming less spectacular as the article goes deeper. More importantly, the actual scientific paper does not claim that being forgetful means that you are very intelligent.
What this article actually says that if people want to learn, memorize, and bring intelligent decisions, it could be wise to eliminate unimportant and outdated information from our memory.
And, this is the case with human brains and researchers believe that this could be a good idea for AI systems and machine learning.
In no way does this research make claims about the connection between forgetfulness and intelligence, though it says that our memory helps us bring more intelligent decisions in the future.