Forgetful People Have Superior Intelligence, Study Finds

by : Tom Percival on : 24 Feb 2018 14:06

Contrary to what you may think it seems that forgetful people are… are… what was I typing? Oh yeah, forgetful people may be more intelligent than those who have an impeccable memory.

According to a study published in the journal Neuron forgetting things is a sign of intelligence because it shows that your brain is focused on more important things.


That’s all well and good but I can’t help but feel that I’d struggle to get into Oxford or Cambridge if I wrote on my application letter that I’m really good at forgetting my keys or leaving my wallet at home.

Twentieth Century Fox

Anyway, the study was conducted by Paul Frankland and Blake Richards from the University of Toronto who found that people who remember things tend to have a difficulty making important decisions.

Richards told CNN:


It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world.

We all admire the person who can smash Trivial Pursuit or win at Jeopardy, but the fact is that evolution shaped our memory not to win a trivia game, but to make intelligent decisions.


As a quick aside does anyone else think that it’s funny Richards mentioned ‘smashing Trivial Pursuit’?

I hate to aimlessly speculate but I can’t help but think this whole study’s his way of legitimising losing to his friends and family every year despite being a university professor.


Back to his research, which is totally not an attempt to deflect the fact he still doesn’t know what the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is.

Pratyeka via Wikimedia

Basically, Richards and Frankland claim that intelligent people filter out useless information allowing them to focus on the things that really matter.

They also found that minds which were able to ‘overwrite old memories’ with new ones were able to quickly and make decisions based on new information rather than old misleading memories.


The pair added that in the modern age the Internet has given us instant access to any and all information so remembering things is pointless.

That’s all well and good of course, but we here in the UK still judge students by how much information they can arbitrarily remember so don’t go thinking the fact you forgot to revise is proof you’re destined for great things.

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Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.

Topics: Science


  1. CNN

    Forgetful? It might actually make you smarter, study says