Category: Uncategorized

  • How the misinformation effect changes your memory of events (and how to limit it)

    There are a few moments in history when everyone can remember where they were.

    • The first moon landing
    • The Fall of the Berlin wall
    • The attack on the twin towers

    But your memory of these events may be less reliable than you think due to a cognitive bias.

    The misinformation effect is when our memory is changed by what we hear and see after an event.

    E.g. a witness to a crime who remembers seeing something they couldn’t see.

    They remember it because they heard or saw something after the event

    The lesson from an experiment

    Elizabeth Loftus got two groups to watch a video of a car accident and then asked them either:

    1. How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?
    2. How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?

    The second group falsely remembered broken glass when they were asked about the accident a week later [Loftus EF 1975].

    Accidentally influenced

    This isn’t always malicious.

    We might see video footage after an event from a different angle which then implants new information in our minds.

    Our memories then incorporate this information.

    But it can be abused by unsavoury actors.

    How propaganda uses the misinformation effect

    Propaganda can change our recollections of event we witnessed.

    The longer since the events and the more times a falsehood is told, the more likely we are to remember a false narrative.

    So how can we avoid the misinformation effect?

    How to limit the misinformation effect

    Recording your own recollection of an event as soon as possible provides a record of your immediate memories.

    You can use this to evaluate your later recollection and notice how it changes.

    But that’s not foolproof.

    When writing, you may add false data.

    Correction of false information can help to overwrite the implanted idea.

    This only works when the correct information is shared more often than the misinformation.

    This also does nothing for restoring your original memory.


    Our recollections of events can be easily shaped by later information.

    It’s worse the more time passes and the more false information is shared.

    Journaling can limit these effects.

  • Are you suffering from Precrastination (and what to do about it if you are) [Sketchnote]

    What is Precrastination?

    Unlike procrastination when we put off tasks when we should just get them done, precrastination involves starting a task before the best moment.

    If that sounds unbelievable then consider the example from a study in …

    A group of people had to walk and pick up two heavy buckets and bring them back to a starting line. One bucket was placed further away than the other. The logical thing would have been to go to the further away bucket and then bring it back to the first, collect that one and bring both back to the starting line. However, 80% collected the first bucket on their way to the second buck causing them to exert substantially more energy.

    What are the negative effects of precrastination?

    There are three negative side effects from precrastination.

    1. Wasted energy – by doing tasks before we need to, we can waste energy spending more time and mental energy on a task.
    2. Neglecting important but not urgent – by jumping to task as soon as they come in, we fail to make progress on bigger issues.
    3. Chasing worse ideas – precrastination also tends to follow a lack of evaluation of ideas and project. This causes us to start working immediately and so we go down bad paths focusing on worse idea rather than the best ones.

    In contrast, avoiding precrastination allows us to focus on doing ore important tasks and doing them more efficiently.

    What causes precrastination

    Although there’s no definitive answer, precrastination may have several causes. We can group these into social and mental.

    From a social side, appearing to do work and work hard reflects better on the individual than appearing lazy. We form stronger bonds with the person who does work rather than finds shortcuts (even if those help everyone).

    From a mental perspective, doing a task now reduces the thinking we have to do. This can be a way to ensure something gets done and isn’t forgotten and also avoids the risk of not being able to complete the task later (whether the risk is real or not).

    This final point seems to have some truth as when we are more mentally overloaded, we tend to procrastinate more.

    How you can avoid precrastination

    As precrastination appears to be heavily tied to how much is on our minds, reducing our cognitive load can cut precrastination dramatically.

    This may mean having fewer tasks on our plate at one time, but it also means taking good breaks from time to time too and relaxing properly when we aren’t working.

    Another approach is to schedule times to tackle certain tasks or “time blocking” as it’s sometimes called. This helps us to know that we have time for the urgent task and introduces blocks to work on the important tasks. It can also help us escape being at someone else’s beck and call and give us the confidence of what we should work on at any moment.

    To see a more practical example, take a look at how I planned my ideal week.

    Precrastionors, you’re already on your road to recovery.

    If you’re a precrastinator then have no fear. Realising your tendency is a key first step on your journey to recovery.

    Adding some blocks of time in your day for certain tasks including downtime will take you a long way too.

    If you have developed some techniques to help with precrastination, I’d love it if you shared them in the comments below.

  • Black Ink Friday 2019

    Last year I had an idea but it didn’t get off the ground in time. The idea was Black Ink Friday, a sketchnote replacement for Black Friday. This year, I’m going public, I want you to help me start a new holiday tradition.

    What is Black Ink Friday?

    Instead of shopping, I want you to make a sketchnote, using only black ink (get it), of alternative activities to shopping. That way not only have you got a focus for your sketchnotes today, but maybe we’ll inspire some non-sketchnoters to make the most of what they already have.

    We were heavily inspired by Buy Nothing Day and REI with their #OptOutside campaign. Instead of the mad rushes in shops, or the constant staring at a screen for the best online sales, Black Ink Friday gives you a shopping free focus for the day.

    How can I get involved in Black Ink Friday?

    The one rule for Black Ink Friday (November 29, 2019) is you can only use Black Ink — it’s in the name. Other than that, it’s up to you, but we do have four possible prompts for you.

    1. Sketchnote an activity which is an alternative to Black Friday Shopping
    2. Sketchnote an activity you love doing (that isn’t shopping)
    3. Sketchnote about your thanksgiving
    4. Sketchnote about Buy Nothing Day

    Those are just our suggestions, if you have a fresh alternative idea then go for it!

    When you’re finished, share your sketchnote with #BlackInkFriday and tag me on Twitter (@MrChrisJWilson) or Instagram (@Sketchnotr). I’ll retweet what I see and may even make a blog post wrap up.

    Ready to join in?

    This Friday — November 29, 2019 — get your favorite black Ink out and join in with #BlackInkFriday

    P.s. If you want to share photos of people taking part in Black Ink Friday and not shopping, then that’s cool too.