April 30, 2003

Notes: Psychology: Sandra Bullock

Why does it take 15 minutes of staring at her on the screen before I can come up with the name of Sandra Bullock? Why do I keep thinking "Sarah Jessica Parker... no... that's not it"? Is my brain really so crowded that I have only one memory location for "modern actress whose first name begins with an S"?

Or am I just losing my mind?

Posted by DeLong at April 30, 2003 03:42 PM | TrackBack


Well, maybe you have a block about Jack Nicholson, whom she's married to.

Or is it Warren Beatty?

Who's Sally Jessica Parker married to? Sean Penn? Or is that Jennifer Lopez?

Once you get on this freeway, you never get off. You just go from one cloverleaf to another forever and ever.

Julia Roberts. Who's she married to?........

Posted by: zizka on April 30, 2003 04:24 PM

Is this really an exclusive or? (Sorry, couldn't resist it.)

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on April 30, 2003 04:34 PM

I can't offer you much hope here. I have the same problem and I KNOW my brain is not crowded.

I was watching "Inventing the Abbots" on television a few weeks back, and spent the whole time playing "who is that?" Mr. Abbott looked like Robert Duvall, but I knew that was wrong (turned out to be Will Patton). The kid was definitely not Tobey Maguire (J Phoenix, actually), and I had to wait for the credits to place Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, gone like my own).

But the absolute crusher was Liv Tyler. Two hours of "gee, she looks familiar". The credits roll - "aha, Liv Tyler from Lord of the Rings! She was Aragorn's girlfriend, uhh, umm, not Galadriel, the other one."

Dan Qualyle was sooo right - its a terrible thing to lose one's mind.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on April 30, 2003 04:39 PM

Sarah Jessica Parker is married to Matthew Broderick, last seen in The Producers.

I have the same problem with Andie McDowell, concerning whom I know nothing. Old timer's disease?

Posted by: bad Jim on April 30, 2003 08:10 PM

she's generic

Posted by: Texan on April 30, 2003 08:26 PM

Its not you - its just that Sandra Bullock id very forgettable.

Posted by: derrida derider on April 30, 2003 08:52 PM

The errors people make in remembering names -should- give you some insight into how the brain's 'naming engine' works, but the only conclusion that I can think of is that it must be bizarrely complicated. I recall reading once that people tend to replace the surname 'Armstrong' with 'Montgomery' and vice-versa. There may be some psycho-neuro-linguistic logic there, but I have a bad feeling that it's the 'every case is an exception' type of logic.

Posted by: Matt on May 1, 2003 06:05 AM

When Ross Perot ran for president it wrote right over my brain's storage of Pareto efficiency. I knew it wasn't Perot efficiency but that was the only thing I could think of no matter how many times I tried.

Posted by: snsterling on May 1, 2003 06:32 AM

The mnemonic fails. "Bullock" does not help you recall the actress in question. If Jackie Gleason, Rod Steiger, Ving Raimes, Arnie or Mr T had been a "Bullock", I'm sure your memory would work just fine.

Posted by: K Harris on May 1, 2003 06:33 AM

Remember the line from Seinfeld

Frank Costanza: I saw a movie called "The Net." It was with the girl from the bus.

Posted by: P O'Neill on May 1, 2003 06:47 AM

You've got Old-Timers disease. It starts around 40 and gradually worsens. Similar to Alzheimer's Disease but without the neurofibrillary tangles.

Posted by: jrossi on May 1, 2003 06:54 AM

Bill Cosby pointed out that at about 40 the nouns start to go. Verbs, adverbs and adjectives will stay with you for a while though.

Posted by: LowLife on May 1, 2003 07:07 AM

I can't distinguish Sandra Bullock from Jm J. Bullock.

Posted by: Andrew Northrup on May 1, 2003 07:30 AM

A question came to me recently, "Who was the woman with Gary Hart?"

I thought of Donna W***** (a woman where I work), and "Donna, Donna, the prima donna." I couldn't come up with Donna Rice.

The human brain has a fairly small hard drive--or would it be soft drive?--and it's pretty prone to addressing/write/rewrite errors.

In the early episodes of Star Trek, The Next Generation, Data did a lot of thinking where he would pause, and say, "Accessing..." Later episodes seemed to take that out...appropriately, I think. He would simply pause and stare blankly for a second or two, and then come up with the most esoteric information from his "positronic" brain. No misremembering for him.

Well, live another 30 years, and we'll all have 10 terabyte hard drives as ear rings (or nose rings, for teenagers). Show you a photo of Ms. Bullock, and you'll just touch your ear ring, and:***

"Ah, yes, Sandra Bullock: born July 26, 1974, in Arlington, VA. Height: 5' 7 1/2". Major film roles include..."

***Actually, it may be that the more likely scenario would be that the right ear ring would be a 1 gigabyte-per-second wireless transmitter, hooked to the Internet. (Internet 3, of course.) You'd get information on Sandra Bullock from the Internet, rather than wasting some of the precious 10 terabytes of space on your hard drive.

The ear ring on your *left* ear would be the hard drive for your own *personal* information: "Ah, yes...my fourth grade math teacher was Mrs. Frank..."

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 1, 2003 09:48 AM

I just had to check and see how old she was. I thought she was pushing 40. She was born in 1964.

Anyway, one thing I've noticed is that alcohol consumed the previous night and name recollection the following day are inversely related.

Posted by: pills on May 1, 2003 10:11 AM

Ah, the Dilbert Cartoon...

"Why are you giving me a piece of liver?" "Strap it around your waist with this belt and say it's your external brain pack."

Posted by: Brad DeLong on May 1, 2003 11:54 AM

Ah, the laughs to be had on this website...
But May 1st really seems to be special.

Posted by: Joerg Wenck on May 1, 2003 07:32 PM

It is odd though that it's always the same person(s) whose name escapes. it's like you filed that particular one away in a _really_ inconvenient place.
for example Herschel from grad school

p.s. brad i made a post for you. smash the dominant paradigm and drop by, ncfocus.blogspot.com/2003_04_27_ncfocus_archive.html#200226909

Posted by: anna on May 1, 2003 08:16 PM
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