Proactive Interference

One of the running jokes while I was in San Diego was the that professor who was nominally overseeing all the research in the lab was considerably absentminded. Never mind the times when he would phone up the lab to ask us what the time was because his watch wasn’t working, or when he’d ask random students whether they had his car keys – the best time was when he rang us up and said, “I thought my lecture was supposed to be at 2pm, but I’m getting proactive interference from what you said this morning.”

The funny thing wasn’t that he forget when his lecture was supposed to be, or even what it was about*, it was that he used the term ‘proactive interference’ in casual conversation. It’s a specialised term and basically means that an older memory is interfering with a newer memory.

Anyway, I thought it was funny…

* (while this happened a lot, it never turned out to be a problem because he could give a lecture on any topic with zero notice – the mark of a lecturer who knows his stuff)

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