Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

AI: Lost memories… and anus

Warning: Anus

Last night, I was in the shower and I came up with a perfect AI for today. It was fucking brilliant. I laughed and laughed as conditioner ran into my eyes. I thought about how great the discussion was going to be. You were going to LOVE this question. And I was going to love moderating the discussion. It was going to be fun and intelligent and silly and insightful.

But now all I can remember about the question was that the only words above the <–more–> tag (the part you see on the main page) were “Warning: Anus”. That’s it. And I have no idea anything that came after that. I warned you about anuses, which was apparently important, but then forgot everything I was going to say that required me to warn you about. I’m sure it was great, though. My shower memories rarely lie… at least not about things as important as anus discussion topics.

Now here I am. Under deadline. And the only thing I have to offer is the promise of tons of anus talk… and I have to somehow link it back to skepticism or science or feminism or… really I just need to link it to anything besides just a plain old anus. What about this anus is interesting? Is it interesting at all? Does it involve zombie Fleshlight dildos? (NSFW Warning: zombie dildo) Is it about hemorroids? Butt-plug-inspired astronomy-themed dog toys? And how something called the “Extra Large Galileo Bone” is genuinely safe for work? Was it something horribly personal and embarrassing?

I also remember thinking about scents triggering memories but I think that was unrelated… at least I hope that was unrelated. I don’t even know. All I’m left with is writers block and a butthole opener.

This is why memories are the worst. You’d think something as wonderful as bringing together the entire skeptic community to laugh together and agree on sphincters would be something a brain would work extra hard to store. But it doesn’t. Instead, it replaced my brilliant question with a memory of shaving my armpits… except in my mind’s playback, I didn’t miss all those spots. So even that’s a lie. Why even lie about armpit stubble? It’s not like the evidence isn’t scratching the hell out of my arm as I’m typing this. I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, BRAIN. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PROTECT ME FROM THE TRUTH. I AM NOT ASHAMED.

So I guess we have to move this discussion from butts to brains. And memories. And the fallibility of those memories… and maybe shaving techniques.

Memories are strange creatures. We can forget things that did happen while vividly recalling things that never happened.  And as we experience more things in life worth remembering, the harder it gets to remember things.

How good do you think your memory is? Do you know you remember things that didn’t happen? Are there things you wish you did remember? Have you ever played a scenario over and over in your head to the point where you weren’t even sure if it happened or not? What kinds of things do you always forget? What things do you think you always remember? Is the moral of the story here that I should just wax my armpits because then I would remember what the anus thing was about?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

Related Articles


  1. My memory is mush, a colander holds more.

    My house is a modified shot-gun (narrow, but long, you could fire a shot-gun from the front door out the back door.)

    The front room is the living room, in the hallway are three small bedrooms and then there’s the kitchen. I will leave the front room, reach the kitchen, automatically close all the cupboard doors left open by my family and then wonder what the hell I’m there for. I have to return to the living room to remember why I left in the first place.

    1. I can’t google right now, but I remember seeing a study or report of some sort, a couple years ago, maybe, that said that our brains sort of “reset” when we walk through doors/entry-ways, and so it’s really quite typical to suddenly forget why the fuck you went into the kitchen to begin with.

  2. Memory is a fickle thing, isn’t it?

    Considering how much green I’ve smoked through the years, my memory isn’t that terrible. That said, it just depends on the circumstances.

    I have only blacked out once, MANY years ago — and even then, I remember a great deal from that night. No matter how fucked up I’ve gotten, I tend to remember EVERYTHING. Which is a curse.

    My favorite John Irving quote, from a Prayer from Owen Meany (I believe):

    “Your memory is a monster; you forget – it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you.”

  3. “Do you know you remember things that didn’t happen? Are there things you wish you did remember? Have you ever played a scenario over and over in your head to the point where you weren’t even sure if it happened or not?”

    Fuck yeah! It was AMAZING! Although, I shit you not, she denied it ever happened at all!

    One of those things you can look back on when you are old and stuck permanently on the chamber pot and say it was worthwhile!

  4. Ah, obviously your memories were stored in your armpit hair and you lost them when you shaved it off.

    The solution is obviously not to shave your armpits.

    Either that or your memories got tied to a specific location and you need to go back into the shower to locate them…

  5. My memory is a lot like Scott Baklua’s: Swiss cheese!

    Funny thing about memory is that some rather silly things do manage to stand out, while other things that may be relatively signifigent fade to obscurity.

  6. So no one has brought up False Anus Syndrome yet? That’s where you think you remember something about some topic, but aren’t really sure so you make up something vaguely plausible (also known as pulling it out of your butt.) With any luck, the made-up factoid will go viral and you will eventually have a nice career as a skeptical debunker of it, raking in all that Big Blogger money.

    Remembering is always a process of reconstructing the past in a plausible form* from the stuff stored in your brain (memories) and your brain’s ability to fill in the details, well enough to find the roots and berries that are currently in season, or the watering hole where the antelopes hang out, and using the feedback to alter the stored memories for next time. So you should just make something up and claim it’s what you always had in mind.

    [*] My niece has a great word for the combination of active remembering feeding back into passive memory… When she was 4, I asked her how she knew so much about slugs and dinosaurs and sea creatures (and everything else she’s an expert on), and she said “I have a very good remembory.”

  7. I know this is well after the post, but I’ve been feeling the need to talk about this somewhere, so here goes.

    When I gave birth in a Catholic hospital, I was denied pain relief. I can only imagine it was for ideological reasons, as the *three times* I asked what the nurse’s scientific basis for not giving me an epidural was, she was dismissive. (The first time she assured me I could go without, the second she mumbled something about waiting for my blood work, and the third she ignored me entirely.) I remember knowing at the time that it was by far the most painful thing I’d ever experienced, but the thing is, I don’t actually remember the pain itself. It’s just not there.

    I hate that. I hate it because it makes me wonder what else I don’t remember about giving birth, but more than that I hate it because it feeds into the idea that it’s okay to do that to people. If I don’t really remember it, then no harm done, right? I hate it because it makes me feel guilty for not standing up for myself, and I hate it because medieval thinking about women’s place in the cosmic scheme of things affected the quality of care I received in an American hospital in fucking 2012.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button