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How Source Amnesia Effects Our Society

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posted on May, 31 2009 @ 11:13 AM
Hi All,

This is a new topic for me, as I've only just come across it now. It's a condition that we ALL have called source amnesia.

Although if we all have it then it can't be called a condition. It's closer to a psychological aspect that doesn't get all the attention it should.

Now I don't claim in any way to be an expert (in fact I'm really just regurgitating facts gleaned from web sites about this), so bear with me as I try to delve into the wonderful world of Source Amnesia. While listening to the Super Mario 64 soundtrack. Don't know why you need to know that, but hey, I'm just typing what my mind thinks of at the time.



We all have the ability to recall information. The brain is very well designed to pull out a piece of info as we need it. It's a very, very old part of our brain functions. Without it we would not have been able to recognise a lion or react to unexpected events with any hope of surviving. The ability to recall past information was and still is essential to humankind.

Now the accessing of that information is easy. We've had since the dawn of time to train and perfect this trait. e.g You see a car - you recognise it as a car and can then take action based on the situation.

The hard part is trying to truly pinpoint the when and where you learned that information. Usually not a problem in a simple society, as the when and where aren't really important. You know what a buffalo is. You don't need keep the superfluous information like when and where you first saw one.

But flash forward a couple of hundred thousand years and it's a very different story. What was simple has now evolved complexity. Society has advanced while our brains play catchup.

To quote (where I first read about this tonight)

In the era of the web and information overload, that's a mechanism They can exploit very easily. What They have found is that a piece of information--say, an ugly rumor about a politician--can be presented with all sorts of qualifiers (a question mark, attribution to a #ty source, the word "unconfirmed") but often the brain will only remember the ugly rumor and completely forget the qualifier.

And get this: it happens even if the headline we read was specifically about the rumor being untrue. You'll see this daily, in every election cycle. The entire point of putting a shaky rumor into the press is to force your opponent to deny it. Why? Because They know that the denial works just as well as the accusation. Thanks to Source Amnesia, for millions of people all three of these ...




... register as the exact same headline.

I had to quote that simply because it summarizes it perfectly. Without the Where and When qualifiers, that simple piece of information stored in your brain can be used by anyone savvy enough in this type of manipulation to get results.

To me this seems almost like a big flaw in our type of society. Have we developed, not a society that makes sense to our minds, but rather one that is designed to manipulate these inherent flaws in our psyche?

So there you have it. I'll follow this up tomorrow after a good night sleep (which I desperately need right now) So I'll see you all later.


I have to include this link from Make sure to follow the link in the subject to the New York Times, who ran a great editorial about this subject that I recommend to anyone interested in the little flaw in all of us.

Also, the obligatory Wikipedia entry.

This one I'm reading now: Source Amnesia




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