5 Ways Your Brain Is Messing With Your Head

#2. Cryptomnesia

What is it?

It's sometimes called subconscious plagiarism. It's what happens when your brain rips off someone else's ideas and doesn't tell you, knowing nobody will believe you when you get caught later.

Um, What?

Among the many things your brain isn't good at is correctly remembering where your ideas come from. Cryptomnesia happens when your brain finds a really good idea, but doesn't bother remembering that, oh, yeah, it's not yours.

Despite what has to be an enormous temptation for people to jump all over that shit and claim it for themselves, Carl Jung discovered it.

Although occurrences are pretty rare, there are still some famous cases: Nietzche accidentally didn't write quite a bit of Thus Spake Zarathustra, George Harrison was forced to shell out almost $600,000 over a song he "borrowed," and an early incident with cryptomnesia permanently ruined the celebrity-author career of Helen Keller, who wrote up a fairy tale that it turned out had been told to her years before--much to her surprise.

Sad, because she never got to write Harry Potter and the Miracle Worker.

Why Does the Brain Lie About it?

Like so many of the other items on this list, explanations are pretty thin on the ground. Cryptomnesiologists seem to think that, for some reason, your brain retains enough memory of the event to recall the event, but not the origin of the event, leading to the mistaken impression that you're the originator.

You may be wondering at this point how we know cryptomnesia exists at all. After all, how do we know those cases of "accidental" plagiarism weren't all intentional?

The answer: we don't. If you haven't experienced it for yourself, you have no way of knowing it's not just a big fat scam. If you have experienced it, good luck trying to convince that first group.

Where it Really Gets Weird...

Studies show cryptomnesia is more likely to happen when the originating source is of the same sex. Scientists think this is because when the actual source is more similar to you, your brain is more likely to confuse you with the other person. Yes, because the brain is actually a drooling idiot, next week some woman is going to write a book called Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and think it was her own idea.

#1. Subconscious Behavior aka Best Guessing

What is it?

It's precognition.

Um, What?

Okay, fine. It's not exactly precognition. But there is evidence that your brain makes predictions (oftentimes incredibly bad ones) about what's either happening or about to happen in the future.

Once your brain has a good idea of what it thinks is about to go down, it acts on that prediction, and--here's the weird part--there's evidence that it acts before you've made a conscious choice to act, either by moving parts of your body, or just by fucking with your perception.

Why Does the Brain Lie About it?

Because, otherwise, we'd be the clumsiest creatures on the planet. Our brains are lots of things, but they aren't necessarily that bright, and they particularly aren't good at coping with entirely unexpected situations. We deal with almost everything that happens to us by comparing ongoing events with past experiences, mostly in our subconscious. Our minds pay much more attention to comparisons with past experiences than they do with the events facing you at any given moment. It's why "practice makes perfect."

Where it's less useful is when your brain gets confused and starts fucking with you, like in the starburst illusion.

The starburst illusion takes advantage of the fact that your brain (and eyes) have LOTS of experience with converging horizon lines. When we "see" the background starburst pattern in real life, we're generally traveling towards the point of convergence. Your brain can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy, so it assumes you're traveling towards the center of the image, and adjusts your perception by enlarging and distorting the center, as though you were moving towards it.

So when we say "adjusts your perception," we mean "fucking lies to you. AGAIN."

Where it Really Gets Weird...

Scientists recently found out that if they hook your brain up to a scanner and then ask you to make a decision, a part of your brain lights up to take action several seconds before you consciously make the decision. So when you're working out in your head whether or not to go to work tomorrow, a part of your brain has already decided to call in sick, several seconds before the voice in your head arrives at that same conclusion.

I'm calling the shots, here.

That's right: If somebody had electrodes hooked to your brain, they could tell you--with 100% accuracy--what decision you'll make a few seconds from now. Now think about what that means for free will, and prepare to have your mind blown.

In case it wasn't enough that you're brain is fucking with you, check out how advertisers and other unsavory characters are messing with you, in 6 Brainwashing Techniques They're Using On You Right Now. Or find out about some things your body isn't telling you, in 6 Of Your Favorite Things That Are Secretly Making You Fat.

Or, visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to beat your brain back into submission (with boobs).

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