April 14, 2017

Elephants never forget. And neither should you. Credit: Subash BGK / Flickr Creative Commons

Memory is one of the things that separates us from animals. We experience things, then we learn and grow because of them. We’re not just our genes: we’re our past, our actions, and our recollections. But what if our memories… have some major flaws? 

 Dr. Julia Shaw, author of The Memory Illusion, says our memories aren’t nearly as good as we think they are. Our memories change every time we recall something, functioning less like cassette tapes or DVDs, and more like stories that we continually tell ourselves. And if you’re wondering whether our inconsistent, imperfect memories present problems for our legal system, yes, they definitely do.

Then, our memories don’t just live in our heads. They live online. Our vacation photos are on Instagram, our musings are on Twitter, and our long diatribes about politics are on Facebook. Abby Smith Rumsey, author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping our Future, talks about the challenges of preserving the past when so much stuff lives on the cloud.

Plus, our own Caroline Lester takes a look at why we rely on mice for medical research, why it’s not always a good idea, and how it all started many decades ago with so-called “fancy mice.”

Finally, from mice to an entirely different animal: an animal that Americans eat a lot of. To the tune of six million pounds every hour of every day. Chicken. Emelyn Rude, author of the book Tastes Like Chicken: A History of America’s Favorite Food, tells us how chicken went from being a high-priced treat to an everyday staple.

Emelyn Rude, Julia Shaw, Kara Miller, Caroline Lester

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