ABSTRACT

There is a tradition in the study of memory that, like a great many others, can be traced to Ebbinghaus (1885). The tradition is that the materials used in memory experiments are exceedingly boring. Ebbinghaus himself, of course, used nonsense syllables. A century later, the nonsense syllable has all but disappeared, but the materials that have replaced it are barely more thrilling. If subjects in a contemporary memory experiment are lucky, they will be asked to study, and subsequently to remember, what is euphemistically called "meaningful prose," and a fairly written informed-consent form should remind potential subjects that "meaningful" does not mean "interesting."