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Science Shows People Regularly Remember Things That Didn’t Happen
In 1975, a young woman was brutally raped in her home while she was watching TV. Shortly thereafter, she identified her assailant as Dr. Donald Thomson. On the basis of her compelling and apparently credible testimony, Thomson was arrested and charged despite having an irrefutable alibi.
In an ironic and exculpatory turn of events, authorities discovered that, prior to the attack, the woman had been watching Thomson on live TV discussing the inaccuracies of eye-witness testimony and simply confused his face with that of her rapist’s. As bizarre as this incident may appear, false memories in concert with compelling but false testimony is often the rule rather than the exception.
Strong Emotions Don’t Negate False Memories Contrary to popular belief, the emotional content of memories leads to a “breakdown of the relationship between accuracy and confidence” such that each retelling of a stressful event increases the likelihood that false memories will be created in concert with increasing confidence in those fictional accounts. For example, after studying thousands of battlefield interviews, the author of “The Longest Day,” Cornelius Ryan, wrote “one fact stands out more than any of the others—the very worthlessness of human testimony unless it can be substantiated by documents supporting the testimony.”
Every memory you have ever had is chock-full of errors. I would even go as far as saying that memory is largely an illusion.
This is because our perception of the world is deeply imperfect, our brains only bother to remember a tiny piece of what we actually experience, and every time we remember something we have the potential to change the memory we are accessing.
“My top 5 take-home messages on memory:
1. Memory does not work like a video camera, accurately recording all of the details of witnessed events. Instead, memory (like perception) is a constructive process. We typically remember the gist of an event rather than the exact details.
2. When we construct a memory, errors can occur. We will typically fill in gaps in our memories with what we think we must have experienced not necessarily what we actually did experience. We may also include misinformation we encountered after the event. We will not even be consciously aware that this has happened.
3. We not only distort memories for events that we have witnessed, we may have completely false memories for events that never occurred at all. Such false memories are particularly likely to arise in certain contexts, such as (unintentionally) through the use of certain dubious psychotherapeutic techniques or (intentionally) in psychology experiments.
4. There is no convincing evidence to support the existence of the psychoanalytic concept of repression, despite it being a widely accepted concept.
5. There is currently no way to distinguish, in the absence of independent evidence, whether a particular memory is true or false. Even memories which are detailed and vivid and held with 100 percent conviction can be completely false.”
originally posted by: Aallanon
a reply to: DictionaryOfExcuses
I was trying to steer clear of politics on this.
Importantly, none of these facts suggest that Ford is lying. Quite the contrary; the evidence suggests that she sincerely believes she is telling the truth. For example, we were told that she passed a polygraph. This suggests she honestly believes her testimony to be true.
originally posted by: Chadwickus
a reply to: Aallanon
Trying not to keep it political eh?
Don’t lie. All you contribute here is politically motivated.
Your entire history here has been to push a right wing agenda.
Oh, right you just suddenly decided to look into how fallible people’s memories are, it’s just a coincidence that the Ford Kavanaugh nonsense is happening....and that you chose an article written about the Ford Kavanaugh nonsense.