"In my defense... I saw 'Bring It On'..." -Anonymous Board Writer
Question #90064 posted on 07/12/2017 6:08 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was watching "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" today. One of the questions was about the "We Are The World" music video from 1985, which (though people as well-rounded as yourselves are probably aware) was a celebrity-filled music video promoting USA for Africa. While thinking about the question, I remembered a time on my mission (in Madagascar) when I was at a restaurant that happened to be playing that music video. A few hours after watching "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and experiencing that flashback, I was scrolling through Facebook and happened to see the music video again.

Another time (still on the mission), I was at lunch, and the radio was playing a song I did not recognize. My companion and I started talking about music, and I randomly asked him, "Do you like Sean Kingston?" As he answered, I tuned out for a second...only to realize that Sean Kingston was playing on the radio. I definitely recognized THAT song. I swear I didn't hear that song before I asked him the question, so I thought it was the strangest thing. But now that I think about it, I realize that my brain seems to make a habit of this. For example, if I read or hear about something, whether it be the name of a person or completely random bit of information, I start noticing it everywhere. I understand that the mind subconsciously picks up signals, which might explain how I knew (maybe?) that Sean Kingston was going to play on the radio without hearing the song, but I don't understand how random information suddenly proves relevant multiple times in a day (as it did with the TV show, the memory from my mission and Facebook). This happens a lot.

I apologize if the question is confusing; I made an attempt to find an answer in the archives, but I could not think of what to search. Does anybody else experience this? Is there a name for it? I would really be interested to know more about how it works.

-somebody call 911


Dear Emergency,

With respect to noticing something you've recently learned, heard, or read, I'm pretty sure that happens to everyone. It stands out to you more because it's on your mind. This happened to me with phrases that I learned on my mission; before I learned them, I hardly noticed them, but afterward it seemed like everyone was saying them.

I can't find a very specific name for it, but it's a sort of selection bias, where you notice and remember things better that match with whatever you're thinking about than the things you don't have on your mind. This happens a lot with people who think they have precognition; they remember all the times they guessed the future right, and just forget about all the times they were wrong. In fact, it's entirely normal to think about several different possible outcomes to a situation and then only remember having predicted the one that came true.

It's not necessarily that it's a series of unlikely coincidences, but rather that those things come up all the time, but you don't notice them unless something else happened earlier to make you pay more attention to them. Frankly, the flashback was obviously triggered by the question, so it can't really be considered a separate event, so you just have two related events that happened on the same day, a simple coincidence.

-The Entomophagist


Dear somebody,

This is known as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon or Frequency Illusion.  Want to blow your mind about how "hackable" human psychology is?  Read through the Wikipedia list of cognitive biases.

-Curious Physics Minor