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You Have No Idea What Happened (We get many details wrong when recalling past memories)

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posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:08 PM
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I copied the title of the article below to the subject, and added my own interpretation after that in parentheses, which is that you may have some idea of what happened, but you will be over-confident in the details of your memory, and you will not believe people who tell you that you're wrong.

Normally that might seem like a defensible position, because who else could know better what you personally experienced than you? Well, how about you, at an earlier time? The researchers gave the same subjects questionnaires on what they recalled about certain emotional events, like the Challenger explosion, at two different points in time. (separated by about 2.5 years in that Challenger example). The reason the researchers could confidently tell the subjects they were wrong about their recollection is, they had the recollection from the same subject 2.5 years earlier and the two recollections were different, so at least one of them had to be wrong.

The other interesting finding is that there is NO correlation between confidence in the memory, and the accuracy of that memory.

You Have No Idea What Happened

There was no relationship at all between confidence and accuracy....

The strength of the central memory seems to make us confident of all of the details when we should only be confident of a few. Because the shock or other negative emotion helps us to remember the animal (or the explosion), we think we also remember the color (or the call to our parents). “You just feel you know it better,” Phelps says. “And even when we tell them they’re mistaken people still don’t buy it.”
The article doesn't mention memories of UFO sightings specifically, but I see no reason why the research wouldn't apply to any kind of emotional event and if I saw what I suspected was an alien space ship I would certainly classify that as an emotional event. People often state that if we trust eyewitnesses in court, why shouldn't we trust them for accurate memories of UFO sightings? The article does address the eyewitnesses in court issue:


Our misplaced confidence in recalling dramatic events is troubling when we need to rely on a memory for something important—evidence in court, for instance. For now, juries tend to trust the confident witness: she knows what she saw. But that may be changing....
Then the article discusses the suggested changes in the way courts should handle and treat eyewitness testimony.


If the committee’s conclusions are taken up, the way memory is treated may, over time, change from something unshakeable to something much less valuable to a case. “Something that is incredibly adaptive normally may not be adaptive somewhere like the courtroom,” Davachi says. “The goal of memory isn’t to keep the details. It’s to be able to generalize from what you know so that you are more confident in acting on it.” You run away from the dog that looks like the one that bit you, rather than standing around questioning how accurate your recall is.

“The implications for trusting our memories, and getting others to trust them, are huge,” Phelps says. “The more we learn about emotional memory, the more we realize that we can never say what someone will or won’t remember given a particular set of circumstances.” The best we can do, she says, is to err on the side of caution: unless we are talking about the most central part of the recollection, assume that our confidence is misplaced. More often than not, it is.
So what can we take away from this in our analysis of UFO reports?

The central part of the memory may be fine. If someone says they saw three lights in the sky, they probably did. It's all the surrounding details which research shows people tend to get wrong. Even at the time of the sighting before any memory errors, people think they can estimate the size, distance or speed of unknown objects in the sky. Even trained observers can only do this for known objects, and nobody can do it for unknown objects. Other details which might have some reliability immediately after the incident, are recalled incorrectly with the passage of time. The witness is confident of these details when they should not be, based on this research.

So why did I make this thread? I've seen numerous UFO threads where anecdotes from witnesses are central to the UFO case. In one example, someone asked me to watch interviews from the 1966 Westall case, over 40 years after the event occurred. I tried to explain why I wasn't confident in eyewitness evidence in general but especially from old cases.

I was told that if I didn't believe the witness, I must think they are lying. No, that's not my position. Take this research for example. The people given the Challenger questionnaires 2.5 years apart had huge problems with their memories, yet I see absolutely no motive or any reason to suspect a single one of them was lying.

I think this type of research is known by far too few people, so the main purpose in making this thread is to make people aware of how important it is to consider in UFO cases, and especially if you ask me to watch videos interviewing witnesses about something that happened years ago. In general I like to presume that people aren't lying, but this presumption is no reason to trust any of the details of such an old memory.

Can you see why eyewitnesses recalling old events like old UFO sightings are often given more weight than they should be? This is why my investigative focus is on sources at the time of the event. What did witnesses say immediately after the event, sometimes as reported by newspapers the next day? We should give more weight to these timely accounts, than something recalled years or decades later which research shows is prone to many errors in details of the event.

edit on 29-5-2015 by Arbitrageur because: clarification




posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:13 PM
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Nice thread.
Eyewitness accounts are extremely unreliable, even shortly after an event. The more time passes, the less reliable those accounts get. This has been known for quite some time, but this was a good write-up on the topic, and hopefully it will change the minds of some of the people who immediately believe a story solely based on another person's account of it.

S&F



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:16 PM
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a reply to: AdmireTheDistance

Exactly. You can interview 100 people who witnessed an event and get 100 variations on the event. No two people's stories will match 100%. Everyone sees the world through their own perceptual filter, which has been built by their own life experiences.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:20 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

what if the eyewitness to the u.f.o, is proven to have a photographic memory after the event ?

recalls,,..

*also has a talent for drawing* ;D

for instance



funbox


edit on 29-5-2015 by funbox because: photgraphic wolves see mirages of sheep



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:20 PM
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The more we humans investigate the working of our brains, our thoughts, the more we discover the inaccuracies of our memories. All of us. Good article and good reflections upon it Arbit.

My only suggestion in bringing it here to ATS where it is well known that many many people are very defensive is that you might have changed the title. The usage of YOU rather than WE can set up an immediate defensive postures in many people. "What, me, How dare you impune my integrity' kind of reactions.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:20 PM
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double post
edit on 31America/ChicagoFri, 29 May 2015 19:21:10 -0500Fri, 29 May 2015 19:21:10 -050015052015-05-29T19:21:10-05:00700000021 by TerryMcGuire because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:35 PM
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a reply to: TerryMcGuire
Thanks for the reply. Yes of course it applies to me also. The first part of the title is copied verbatim from the article so I didn't change that, but I did change my interpretation to "We" in the parenthetical part of the subject, based on your suggestion.

a reply to: funbox
Obviously he has an unusual ability and we can make allowances for this, but that video fails to show that even he could do that 2.5 years after the helicopter ride, and the main point in the article was how much memory details can deteriorate after a few years.

But sure if you have an autistic witness such as him with certain gifts why not take those gifts into account, as long as the recollection is made soon after the event. Everybody will have better recollections immediately after an event (but not many people can do that that man can do).

edit on 29-5-2015 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:35 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur


The central part of the memory may be fine. If someone says they saw three lights in the sky, they probably did.


Cool. So if someone says they saw 3 greys enter or exit a craft, they probably did.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:46 PM
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originally posted by: TrueMessiah

originally posted by: Arbitrageur


The central part of the memory may be fine. If someone says they saw three lights in the sky, they probably did.


Cool. So if someone says they saw 3 greys enter or exit a craft, they probably did.
That's another thread, the key words being "may be". There is more research showing that in some cases the central part of the memory may not be fine in some cases.

I thought about trying to combine several research articles all in one thread but I decided not to as it would be trying to present too much information at once. I might make a future thread about that topic though.

edit on 29-5-2015 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:48 PM
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a reply to: TrueMessiah


Yea I went back after 30 some years and stood at a place and went to all the key points. In my memory one event, a side event of sorts was a block away but looking things over it turned out to be 3 blocks away. Why was that? Because there was a secondary event at one block. Over the years I had superimposed the wrong place, what happened at 1 block, with the event that took place a 3 blocks. Anyway nothing really germane to anything.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 07:56 PM
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originally posted by: Arbitrageur

The central part of the memory may be fine.




originally posted by: Arbitrageur
There is more research showing that in some cases the central part of the memory may not be fine.


Well, what a unexpected change of course and turn of events here.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 08:00 PM
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What are the 'surroundings' details regarding little creatures entering at some dude's house, going through solid walls, immobilizing him, taking him to some sort of spaceship, doing medical procedures on him, and returning him some time later?

I'm intrigued.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 08:27 PM
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a reply to: JackHill
I suppose the best approach to take is to study the research conducted, see what kind of details were missed in recalling emotional memories, and make inferences as appropriate.

If you do that, this research suggests that even our location could be such a detail we might forget. People couldn't even remember where they were in some cases, which in some ways hardly seems like a detail, but that's what the research showed.

There are also other types of research relevant to the situation you describe which are beyond the scope of the topic of this thread.


edit on 29-5-2015 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 10:04 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur
Awesome thread! I will try to share some stuff I have come across regarding memory. This is incredibly important information to understand with regards to UFOs. After all just about EVERYTHING we know about UFOs is based on memory recall.

Daniel Schacter


Elizabeth F. Loftus
Searching for the neurobiology of the misinformation effect


edit on 29-5-2015 by ZetaRediculian because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 10:12 PM
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originally posted by: TrueMessiah


originally posted by: Arbitrageur

The central part of the memory may be fine.




originally posted by: Arbitrageur
There is more research showing that in some cases the central part of the memory may not be fine.



Well, what a unexpected change of course and turn of events here.


I guess he could have said "The central part of the memory may or may not be fine." That may or may not have been easier to understand.

I suppose the discussion of topics like this should be discouraged in the UFO forum?



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 10:30 PM
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a reply to: funbox


what if the eyewitness to the u.f.o, is proven to have a photographic memory after the event ?

Certainly interesting. I had a psych professor who mastered memorization using mnemonics. On the first day of class he demonstrated this by asking each students to say their name out loud. Conservatively, there was 50 students (I don't recall exactly). He then went in order and pointed to each student individually and said their name. He missed one but corrected himself. This was 20 years ago so I might not be remembering this correctly. Regardless, its a cool memory.



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 10:32 PM
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originally posted by: ZetaRediculian

I suppose the discussion of topics like this should be discouraged in the UFO forum?



It serves a purpose. But just know there are folks out there who have been close eye witnesses and testimony is all they can offer. Of the event that is.
edit on 29-5-2015 by Logarock because: n



posted on May, 29 2015 @ 10:44 PM
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originally posted by: Logarock

originally posted by: ZetaRediculian

I suppose the discussion of topics like this should be discouraged in the UFO forum?



It serves a purpose. But just know there are folks out there who have been close eye witnesses and testimony is all they can offer. Of the event that is.


yes, of course. The idea is not to throw out this type of information, its to enhance our understanding of what it means. There are probably a lot of misconceptions about memory and it couldn't hurt to correct that. That really goes for both sides



posted on May, 30 2015 @ 05:18 AM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

I see nothing new in this thread except an effort to paint witness accounts of UFO experiences as faulty at the onset which then allows the denial of any aspect the "investigator" wishes to put forth. I've mentioned frequently of efforts to revise the historical context of UFOs by those that have a duty or need to deny them.

This particular method looks only at individual reports about the phenomena and is quick to cast doubt on the entire event. That is a vulnerable spot, of course, and makes it a likely point of attack if one wishes to use an outside, "scientific" parameter to attack the whole premise of ET UFOs without even touching the physical fact of the matter that something unworldly was apparently witnessed.

So what about the hard evidence of UFOs? Not too conducive to the manipulation of revisionism is it?



posted on May, 30 2015 @ 05:29 AM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

im surprised they left out people *autistic or otherwise* with photographic memory's from the study, it would have made an interesting comparison,.. a bit late now


to me this article sounds like a small snippet of justification for doing some long lasting change's to the legal systems

funbox



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