Why am I asking if there are poisonous snakes in Maine?
Well, I’m not.
I am asking you – one year after you read this post – if there are poisonous snakes in Maine.
Because this intuition is correct here.
And 10 months after I read it for the first time, I had completely forgotten the fact.
Likewise, if we are busy, stressed, distracted, or otherwise depleted mentally, we may keep something marked as true without ever having taken the time to verify it—when faced with multiple demands, our mental capacity is simply too limited to be able to handle everything at once, and the verification process is one of the first things to go. When that happens, we are left with uncorrected beliefs, things that we will later recall as true when they are, in fact, false. (Are there poisonous snakes in Maine? Yes, as a matter of fact there are. But get asked in a year, and who knows if you will remember that or the opposite—especially if you were tired or distracted when reading this paragraph.)
-Maria Konnikova, Mastermind
Also published on Medium.