Theories. Questions. Once in a while, I’ll try to find something to rant about.
Spoilers! Do not read if you have not yet seen/read the subject of today’s rant!
Inside Out: Question and Theory #1
What is the difference between a Memory, a Fact, an Opinion, a Daydream, and an Idea?
I finally watched this movie two days ago, and it was totally worth it. However, it left me with many, many questions. I’m tackling the question above today.
Memories are made when Riley has sufficient emotional investment in a scene that she wants to recall it later. An emotion touches the console, and a memory is created.
This is the only thing in Riley’s mind we know how it’s made. Everything else simply shows up on the Train of Thought in headquarters, at least in theory.
A Daydream comes in via the train of thought. They have multiple functions, ranging from being used like a memory for projection to helping you imagine what being where you are would be like if some condition were met.
Ideas take the form of light bulbs that can be plugged into the console so that Riley has an epiphany. They (like everything else) seem to begin limited quantity compared to what I would expect, especially sense the movie seems to be indicating that there is one for every idea Riley could have.
Facts and opinions feature in one scene, and only one scene during the movie, and are used for a throwaway joke, but they left me with a bit of a conundrum. If facts are a physical entity, then what are memories?
Memories only exist when you have sufficient emotional investment. When you lose emotional investment in a scene, or you just don’t recall the scene for a while, they fade. However, when the forgetters were sucking up the memories, they seemed to be treating them as if they were just facts – they were forgetting, “all the presidents except Washington, Lincoln, and the fat one.”
But wait. That’s not what a memory is. Wouldn’t those be facts? The definition of fact is, “a thing that is indisputably the case.” The name of George Washington and that he was the first president of the United States are both facts. I don’t have any real emotional investment in them, but I haven’t forgotten it either.
To explain this, I’m going to cite a couple of things. For one, Riley’s brain is much larger than we see in the movie. We know that, at the very least, we don’t see Deja Vu, Language Processing, Critical Thinking, and Inductive Reasoning.
Inductive Reasoning is when you try to provide strong support for the truth of the conclusion. According to The Critical Thinking Community, “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” Aren’t these the same?
Sort of. I think of it as Critical Thinking making (or synthesizing, as it says in the quote) the information, and giving it to Inductive Reasoning, which makes a decision – Critical Thinking is the guide, Inductive Reasoning is the executor.
And what does Critical Thinking make to give to Inductive Reasoning?
I’m going to go with facts and opinions.
This makes sense – since Critical Thinking is the evaluation of an issue, it makes the facts and opinions of the problem, then hands them off somewhere else. One could also assume that the way facts are made is by taking the memories from Long Term and converting them, then sending them back. This would allow for the fact that memories seem to have a factual side. Meanwhile, opinions coalesce when Riley is exposed to that opinion enough, and decides that it must be correct.
So, if Riley were to take a test, the factual part of her brain would deal with most of the test, with headquarters exclusively making Riley nervous and reinforcing the facts with memories of learning the facts.
However this poses a problem – if Inductive Reasoning takes facts and opinions and makes a decision… wouldn’t that be an idea?
Ideas are just, “a thought or decision on a possible course of action.” If Riley had lived in San Francisco her whole life, she wouldn’t have even remotely thought of the possibility of running away to Minnesota. So does that mean that ideas would come from Inductive Reasoning?
I would say yes. Ideas tend to be emotional, but if ideas are made in Inductive Reasoning and executed in Headquarters, it would account for that fact. Riley has all the ideas already – they just only get executed when under an emotional drive. The other product of Inductive Reasoning, answers to questions, are less emotional, and do not have to go through Headquarters to be expressed in the outside world.
So we’ve covered Memories, Ideas, Facts, and Opinions. That leaves Daydreams.
As I said earlier, Daydreams come in many forms. One is a straight up replacement for a memory, when you don’t want to remember what has been, but instead what could be:
Another provides an overlay over what the user sees:
The real questions is, how is this different from an idea or a memory?
An idea, in this case, is a more abstract concept. Yes, the overlay literally fits the definition of idea to a T, but the difference is what they are powered by. Ideas are powered by logic. Daydreams are powered by imagination. Or, more specifically, Imagination Land.
There is a lot of evidence for this second point. Remember all the things and places in imagination land? One of them was a lava pool filled with chairs. During one scene towards the beginning, Joy puts in a daydream, and the floor looks exactly like that to the younger Riley. I’m even willing to bet that a Daydream powered Bing Bong – the emotions put it in, and Riley could see him.
This also shows how daydreams are different from memories. Memories are things that really happened in the past. Daydreams haven’t. They just show what could happen.
In conclusion: Memories are made when one has sufficient emotional investment in a moment. Facts and opinions are made from memories in Critical Thinking. Inductive Reasoning makes ideas. Daydreams are made in Imagination Land and have an active link there.
So, what do you think? Am I wildly off the mark? Did I miss something important? Do you have a better idea? Feel free to tell me!