False memory Debate

3 The false memory debate

The recovered memory debate has been the most acrimonious, vicious and hurtful internal controversy in the history of modern psychiatry. From its very beginning in the late 1980s, it has been more an "ad hominem" war, appealing to feelings and prejudices, rather than a matter of reasoned professional disagreement. As such, it has demonstrated the wisdom of Louis Nizer's cogent observation that "mud thrown is ground lost" (Nizer, 1966). In this case, as we shall see, the ground lost has been considerable, and science, law and psychiatry have suffered the main casualties.

Common Ground

Until recently, the false memory/recovered memory controversy has been defined by zealots from both ends of the spectrum. Because the squeakiest wheel gets the most grease, the courts, legislators, public and professionals have heard, and acted upon, more diatribe than dialogue. To quiet this cacophony, we must make one fundamental observation: there is a crucial difference between opinion and belief on the one hand and science on the other. It is only by separating them that we can hope to understand and benefit from this unquiet controversy.

For hundreds of years, people believed that the earth was flat and the center of the universe. Their belief did not make it so. When science was able to demonstrate otherwise, people's beliefs changed. Sometimes, however, people prefer fiction to fact. Folklore is often more powerful than fact, as twentieth-century propagandists have proven time and time again. In discussions concerning false and repressed memories, a great deal depends upon what one believes, and what the science shows.

Perhaps we can find common ground with the understanding that the debate is most fundamentally about science, not belief. The important questions are all questions of science: whether repressed memories exist, whether they are accurate, whether false memories can be implanted, and how far suggestion can influence memory, thoughts and conduct. Regardless of what we may want to believe, as a civilized people we must be governed by what the science tells us is truth.

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Q&A

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what can i debate about dealing with the subject of false memory? | Yahoo Answers

think of eyewitness of a crime and how sometimes the details from one doesn't match others. Figure out the reasons that might happen.

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