Tag Archives: Face Memory

Moments that will shock and stun in the story of the late Orion AKA Jimmy Ellis

I had missed the beginning of this documentary about a singer from the south of the United States who’s claim to fame was a singing voice that was naturally and astonishingly similar, even identical, to the voice of the great Elvis Presley. I was fussing over things in the kitchen and not paying 100% attention until there was one jaw-dropping “Oh wow!” moment that stopped me in my tracks. This was the bit where profile photos of Jimmy Ellis and the father of Elvis Presley, Vernon Presley were shown side-by-side. Jimmy had been an adopted, illegitimate child, with a father only listed on his birth certificate as “Vernon”. This wasn’t the only shocking moment in the documentary. Fame and money aren’t the only motivations in entertainers’ careers. There are also groupies.

Do I believe Ellis was Elvis’s half-brother? 150% I do. I’d believe it based on the incredibly similar singing voices and Ellis’ birth certificate alone, but the facial resemblance – that is amazing. This story is a reminder of how sometimes close relatives can look like twins, while at other times they can look like random strangers. Clearly Elvis got his looks from his mother and his voice from his father, and therefore didn’t look much like Ellis. This documentary is also a reminder of the way that extraordinary talents and creative drives can apparently be inherited, coded in DNA to be sent to one child or another like the random results of a throw of a dice. The pattern of apparently inherited desire to sing, along with an incredible singing voice in this documentary reminds me of the apparently inherited talent and drive in ballet dancing in another fascinating real-life mystery of DNA – the story of Somerton Man recounted in the TV series Australian Story, which I have previously written about in this blog.

I recommend this documentary about a third-rate musical career based on an astounding natural talent that cannot be dismissed, even though in many ways it is a sad story. Maybe this is not a good choice of documentary for any viewers who have not come to terms with a childhood in foster care.

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/orion-the-man-who-would-be-king

The man they thought was Elvis
The strange tale of Jimmy Ellis and one of the greatest hoaxes in music history.
LOUISE BRODTHAGEN JENSEN 13. MAJ 2017

https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/webfeature/orion-eng

Year ends minus a friend

Before 2019 ends, I think it is worth putting on record that this was the year that I lost a good friend, an elderly lady I’d known for many years. Despite belonging to different generations and classes, and despite many ups and downs and misunderstandings and difficulties, we had time for each other, we appreciated each other’s finer qualities, we tolerated each other’s considerable flaws and we were genuinely hoping for all the best things for each other. I can’t say I’ve had many friendships like that, even though I’ve met many acquaintances who, at face value, have many more things in common with myself. Perhaps any kind of friendship is possible when people share a love of gardening and the natural world?

At my friend’s funeral I never expected to hear a description of a rare memory ability, even though my friend had plainly and clearly told me a year earlier that she was able to remember her own life in detail over long periods of time. Was it a memory of every day of her life, or was it flashbacks, or was it an ability to recall the events of any given date in her past? I’m unfortunately quite vague at recalling conversations, but I know at the time I thought my friend’s memory sounded like a case of “highly superior autobiographical memory” or HSAM, previously known as hyperthymestic syndrome. In reply I told my friend that it was the weirdest coincidence that I had read the first neuroscience/psychology journal paper describing this type of ability, and then realised that the person who was the case study was also a time-sequence synaesthete and this was probably an aspect of her memory superiority, and I then informed a leading synaesthesia researcher about this apparent link between synaesthesia and HSAM, and as a result I got a mention in a paper that she wrote and was published exploring this association. And I also have a freakishly good memory ability, mine an extreme memory for faces. After my friend and I both said our bit about our unusual memories, it felt like we were both sitting there, each thinking our friend must be some kind of show-off bullshitter. Me a super-recognizer and my friend a HSAM? What was the chance that such a pair would meet, let alone become friends? It seemed too weird to believe. The topic of conversation changed.

I should never have doubted my friend. At her funeral a eulogy by a third party confirmed my late friend’s claim to an uncanny memory of  life’s events. The first case of HSAM that was described by researchers complained that her memory of past events was too often a re-experiencing of painful experiences, while other (male) cases that came to light later didn’t experience their exceptional memory as a burden. I think my late friend, a widow, was at times vividly haunted by memories of the past. I’m convinced that she had the ability to recall conversations verbatim. Have you ever had an annoyed octogenerian correct your recollection of a past visit by repeating a conversation from weeks ago, word-for-word? I have. I’ll never be able to confirm it now, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if hyperphantasia is a psychological trait that we had in common. One day I’ll find the time to do a test for that.

I know I will never meet another person like my late friend. I also know that she will have been ticked-off that she left this world leaving this world’s problems unresolved. Regardless of her aging and often broken bones, chronic health issues and a sensitivity to life’s mundane disappointments, she was always ready to get up and go out again, and meet new vague, indecisive and forgetful people. I’ll always miss her, but she’s still very much a part of my life.

Young blue eyes….

After watching the American journalist Ronan Farrow, the son of actress Mia Farrow and supposedly the son of actor/director/creep Woody Allen, I must declare that there is no way in the wide, wide, world that Ronan Farrow is not the biological son of Frank Sinatra. Just look at those eyes! And the rest of his face, which I could happily look at for hours. He got genes for looking good from both biological parents. Life is not fair. Surely one doesn’t need to be a super-recogniser like me to see Sinatra when Farrow speaks?

I think Farrow also looks a bit like the blond actor from the TV series Starsky and Hutch, but that’s probably just a coincidental mix of similar attractive features and the blond hair. One American actor that Farrow does not look at all like is Woody Allen, and I think we can all agree, that’s a good thing.

https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/ronan-farrow-discusses-his-investigation-into/11605546

https://www.yourtango.com/2019328782/ronan-farrow-frank-sinatra-son

 

Do you see it?

When I watch this movie director’s face I also see the face of another (more) famous person. Can you see it too?

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/dexter-fletcher-from-press-gang-to-rocketman

P.S. At least a couple of other people have seen the other face too:

 

 

Amazing British synaesthete super-perceiver gets to use her super-power to aid science and medicine!

Sorry, I don’t have time to write much about the very interesting and talented super-sniffer Joy Milne. You can read her story in the below linked reports and watch the fascinating BBC documentaries. I very much hope there will be exploration of her as a case study published in the science literature one day, because her special talent is clearly of vital importance.

Clearly I’m not the only syneasthete who’s synaesthesia is associated an extraordinary ability in the sensory/perception ability that is the synaesthesia trigger or inducer, as I described in the very first post in this blog.

My super-ability is as a super-recognizer, which has been validated many times over in very high or perfect scores in world-class face recognition tests, and the form of synaesthesia that I (very rarely) experience that is related to this is a form of synaesthesia that had never been described by science before I wrote about it here, way back in 2010. I named it The Strange Phenomenon, but in hindsight a more sensible name might have been a good idea. It involves a cluster of sensory memories of a woman that I barely knew, being triggered by viewing one particular man’s face from a very specific angle, in an experience that was very much like the feeling of spotting a family resemblance in two strangers’ faces, a type of face recognition, but also operated in exactly the same way as some of my many synaesthesia experiences. I believe I was the first person/researcher in the world to publish a theory with supporting evidence (my first-hand accounts of my experiences as a case study) asserting a link between synaesthesia and super-recognition, a hypothesis that I do not believe any “real” researcher in a university has bothered to explore using more conventional forms of research.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24132200-300-meet-the-super-smeller-who-can-diagnose-parkinsons-at-a-sniff/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/12/18/woman-can-smell-parkinsons-disease-helps-scientists-develop/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/meet-woman-can-smell-parkinsons-disease/

Do you recognise this Aussie celeb?

https://au.news.yahoo.com/recognise-aussie-celeb-054349098.html

 

Disappointed but not surprised

I haven’t read the whole book, but as far as I can tell the new book Superhuman: Life at the Extremes of Mental and Physical Ability by Rowan Hooper does not discuss super-recognizers. It appears that in the chapter on memory the accuracy of eyewitness tesimony is critiqued just as it has been done before countless times, without focussing on the various elements of what goes into such testimony and memory, such as face recognition – a form of visual memory, episodic or autobiographical memory and sensory memory (smell, temperature, pain etc). Testing of the idea of eyewitness memory is done by testing people who can be assumed to have average or unknown levels of face memory ability, not including any known super-recognizers. I could be wrong as I’ve not read the whole book, and probably never will, but I don’t think so.

This is curious, considering that Pitt is supposed to be a prosopagnosic

It appears that actor Brad Pitt is dating a professor who is a double for his ex, which seems unlikely to be just a coincidence, but I’m wondering how he’s identified a lady who looks just like his ex when by his own account, he has difficulty with face memory. Could there have even been an episode of mistaken identity?

http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/is-brad-pitt-dating-angelina-jolie-lookalike-professor-neri-oxman/news-story/48eaa5ceaf07049162f06d3fa387d637

https://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/23/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/brad-pitt-esquire-face-blindness/index.html

 

Super-recognizers on Australian public radio today

 

Genelle Weule So, you think you’re good at recognising faces. ABC Science. March 11 2018.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-03-11/super-face-recognisers-are-you-one/95177

Super-recognisers. All in the Mind. ABC Radio National. 11 March 2018.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/super-recognisers/9523296

So does this mean that folks with an immune deficiency in complement C3 have some kind of protection against Alzheimer’s?

You might have autoimmune diseases and chest infections that take forever to clear, but possibly also less of your brain disappearing with age, if research on mice is relevant to people.

Complement C3 deficiency protects against neurodegeneration in aged plaque-rich APP/PS1 mice

http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/392/eaaf6295

Readers of this blog from back in 2011-2012 could have predicted this, because I pretty-much predicted this with my immune hypothesis of synaesthesia and my immune hypothesis of Benson’s syndrome (a variety of dementia). I wonder how many lives could have been saved and cases of dementia prevented if the world of science had bothered to read my blog and taken my theories seriously back then and set to work finding a therapy that reduces levels of C3? How hard could that be? It happens naturally, so how hard could it be to engineer a similar process? Instead all I got for my ideas and blogging was synaesthesia researchers plagiarizing my ideas shamelessly in a speculative paper about synaesthesia (a mere triviality in the world of neuroscience compared with the tragic and expensive problem of dementia). And all this time funding for dementia research has been counted in the hundreds of millions of dollars and has given the public virutally nothing in the way of effective therapies. How much of that research funding do I get? Not one single frickin’ red cent, because I’m not a scientist. I’m just a housewife with ideas, and a blog.