The Number 73

If you don’t see it, did it happen?

When I was a tiny boy, my mother and I boarded one of London’s famous Number 73 double-decker buses — the old ones with the open back.

We were probably on the way to the zoo.

I was delighted.

It was the first time I had been on this type of bus.

Turning to my mother, I exclaimed,

“We’ve never been on this type of bus before, have we?”

She laughed.

No,” she said, “You haven’t been on this type of bus before.”

It took the three-year-old Ben a little while to digest that.

Was it possible that the world and my parents had existed — and had experienced things — before I was born?

It seemed implausible. Unimaginable.

We laugh at this infantile view, but most people live in this state.

It’s very human.

We call it recency bias.

We’ve been loping around this planet for a million years.

Modern society has been developing for at least 20,000 years.

What makes anyone think that what is going on right now hasn’t been tried before in any number of ways?

Chronological arrogance is rampant.

Ignoring history usually ends up taking us backward, not forwards.