Addicted to novelty since 2001

Jay Ingram on Theatre of the Mind

Tonight I was lucky to watch a conversation between Jay Ingram, Discovery Channel Canada dude and Hal Wake, CBC producer. Ingram told stories from his new book, Theatre of the Mind (hurrah for a dedicated website). It’s about a very complex and controversial subject: what is consciousness? Here’s the spiel:

In Theatre of the Mind, popular science writer Jay Ingram looks at some of the most fascinating and baffling cases in consciousness research: what the world looks like to a man whose vision is restored after 50 years of blindness; how a roomful of people missed seeing a man in a gorilla suit walk through their midst; what bats think about when they’re hunting for insects; whether split-brain patients have two separate consciousnesses; if dreams are rehearsals for the waking world or merely neural noise; and how we might reach a higher level of consciousness.

Here’s an article on Ingram and the book.

Ingram (and, presumably, the book is too) was full of tales of experiments into the mind. He discussed the myth that we only use 10% of the brain, the curious results of severing the corpus callosum, and the bizarre phenomenon that is childhood amnesia. On the latter point–at two years old, we can apparently remember things from when we were one. However, by the time we’re roughly four years old, we’ve forgotten everything from before the age of three.

Ingram’s a good, if meandering storyteller. If the book is the same way, it’ll be fascinating.

The session was part of UBC’s Talk of the Town series. They’re free, but be sure to pre-register if you’re going to attend–we barely got in. The session was recorded, but I don’t see any audio files or streams from previous sessions on the website. Too bad, it seems like a natural podcast.

The session was in the same theatre as the main sessions at Northern Voice. I liked the interview style, with a host and an expert. It wasn’t as random as a panel, but more informal than a regular keynote.

7 Responses to “Jay Ingram on Theatre of the Mind”

  1. Jason

    Another excellent nonacademic book on consciousness is “How the Mind Works” by Steven Pinker.

  2. alexis

    I think Hal Wake is a good interviewer. I like his informal style. Last week, the talk was about the new “Mao” book co-written by Jung Chang. I didn’t go, but apparently it was quite good.

  3. double-plus-ungood

    However, by the time we’re roughly four years old, we’ve forgotten everything from before the age of three.

    Except that I have vivid memories of stuff from about just after I turned one, and onward.

  4. Darren

    Double: According to Ingram (and, if he’s to believed, a bunch of corroborating experts), that’s not true. You remember events which others have explained to, which you’ve seen in photos or otherwise experienced secondhand. That’s what Ingram said, at least.

  5. double-plus-ungood

    That may be the expert consensus, but my memories involve a home that I lived in until just after I turned two, and had no photos of. Details of the layout of the house, as well as furnishings and some details of a home across the street, were never discussed with my parents, at least until I was an early adult when I confirmed it with them. As the home was in Scotland and we never returned to it, I can’t think of how this would be false memories from secondhand info.

    My memories of age two and up are far more comprehensive.

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