One of my hunches is that people differ much more than commonly thought on the accuracy and strength of face recognition, even outside of clinical prosopagnosia.

I'm very poor at this, tending both to not recognize people, but also to over-recognize; some days every stranger I cross makes me think of someone I know strongly enough that I almost break into a smile and start greeting them, and because of past embarrassing occasions I've developed compensations which now manifest as shyness.

I'm very bad at recognizing celebrities; I've often been out walking w... (read more)

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I usually (fail to) recognize people as appropriate, but one time I failed to recognize my own sister, and another time I kissed a total stranger on the cheek, thinking he was a friend.

1Emily8yThis is what I was going to post about. I am terrible at recognising faces. People I know well are fine, but even a quite good acquaintance in the wrong context can easily throw me completely. There are a very small handful of celebrities I can recognise by their faces. I recognise most people below the level of fairly-good-acquaintance by their voice, not their face. There have been many occasions on which I haven't realised I know someone, or have seen an actor in something else, till they speak. It's also not quite that I remember the features but can't synthesise them into a face, which I think some people with this difficulty find -- I have real trouble remembering features, too. Half the time, if you ask me whether friend-so-and-so has dark or light hair, or is tall or short, I'll struggle to say for sure. I think I'm relatively bad at reading facial expressions, too.
2[anonymous]8yI do this so frequently that I have come to call it "rounding to the nearest cached [] person." Based on conversations with people I know (warning: anecdotal evidence), it seems to be a relatively common phenomenon. I agree with Nancy's prognosis [] that people vary a lot more than is commonly thought, which seems to explain this.

How is your mind different from everyone else's?

by Kaj_Sotala 1 min read5th Dec 2011267 comments


Partially to help reduce the typical mind fallacy and partially because I'm curious, I'm thinking about writing either an essay or a book with plenty of examples about ways by which human minds differ. From commonly known and ordinary, like differences in sexual orientation, to the rare and seemingly impossible, like motion blindness.

To do this, I need to start collecting examples. In what ways does your mind differ from what you think is the norm for most people?

I'm particularly interested in differences - small or large - that you didn't realize for a long time, automatically assuming that everyone was like you in that regard. It can even be something as trivial as always having conceptualized the passing of years as a visual timeline, and then finding out that not everyone does so. I'm also interested in links to blog posts where people talk about their own mental peculiarities, even if you didn't write them yourself. Also books and academic articles that you might think could be relevant.

Some of the content that I'm thinking about including are cultural differences in various things as recounted in the WEIRD article, differences in sexual and romantic orientation (such as mono/poly), differences in the ability to recover from setbacks, extroversion vs. introversion in terms of gaining/losing energy from social activity, differences in visualization ability, various cognitive differences ranging from autism to synesthesia to an inability to hear music in particular, differences in moral intuitions, differences in the way people think (visual vs. verbal vs. conceptual vs. something that I'm not aware of yet), differences in thinking styles (social/rational, reflectivity vs. impulsiveness) and various odd brain damage cases.

If you find this project interesting, consider spreading the link to this post or resharing my Google Plus update about it. Also, if you don't want to reply in public, feel free to send me a private message.