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Certainty And Memory In Stephen Jay Gould´S Essay: Some Encounters Of A Mental Mind

1019 words - 5 pages

In Stephen Jay Gould’s essay, “Some close encounters of a mental kind,” Gould discussed about how certainty can be both blessing and dangerous. According to Gould, certainty can be blessing because it can provide warmth, comfort and secure. However, it can also be a danger because it can trick our mind with false information of what we see and remember in our mind. Gould also talked about the three levels of possible error in direct visual observation: misperception, retention and retrieval. According to Gould, our human mind is the greatest miracle of nature and the wicked of all frauds and tricksters mixed. To support his argument and statements, he used an example of an experiment that ...view middle of the document...

Over the years, he might have forgotten that the place he visited was not the Devils tower, yet he still remember it as it was the Devils Tower. In this case, Gould seem to struggled through the retention and retrieval error in which he failed to pull out his memory of the trip to the Devils Tower fully and filled up the gaps in his memory about the trip.
Moreover, what we remember may not always be the way it is, because our memories fade and things changes over time. For instance, when I was in elementary school, those desks and chairs that I used every day to do my work seemed to be really big for me because I was really tiny when I was younger. Then after ten years later, I went back to the same elementary school to pick up my younger sister from school, I saw those desks and chairs, they weren’t as big as I remembered it. They were small, so small that I cannot fit to sit down anymore. This shows that things change over time, so from what we remember from before it is different from now. As I grew older those desks does not seems to be big for me anymore. Likewise, from my memory, when I was in middle school, my whole middle school’s walls were painted blue and white because that was the school’s color code. Also, we used to carry many heavy textbooks around to learn and study. Then after a few years later, I went back to visit my middle school. To my surprised, everything looked so different from what I remembered. The walls became green and the students each have a mini laptop that they use from the school district instead of textbooks like it used to be. This shows that what we remember does not remain the way as we remembered it. Therefore, sight and memory does not provide the certainty we...

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