Would You Trust Your Own Google Search History?


Read on esquire.com

There was a fantastic segment on 60 Minutes last night about people with highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM. Only 56 people in the world are known to have this condition, one of whom is the actress Marilu Henner. In short, people with HSAM remember every single day of their lives in acute detail. Throw out a random date from a random year, and, without a moment’s hesitation, they can tell you what day of the week it was. It’s not a party trick. Many people with HSAM are obsessive, but they lead “normal” lives. The main subject of the 60 Minutes piece, Bob Petrella, is a fully-functioning adult living and working in Los Angeles, but embedded within his super-memory is a never-ending story about a fictional college basketball team. He can name every fake player on the non-existent team going back decades. He can recall the score of specific games or jump into announcer mode and give you the play-by-play of situations that never occurred. It’s not that Petrella has memorized an arsenal of disparate details so much as he’s created an entire universe inside his mind. But Petrella knows that it’s all fake, and nobody seems to think it’s a particularly harmful hobby. In other words, the imaginary power forward is not telling Bob to go commit mass murder. Bob even laughs at the absurdity of it all now and again. He’s using his memory to tell himself a story, which is something that we all do every day. (more…)