False memory examples

Memories on trial: Parents say

You probably think that you remember how you first heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. When I think back to the events of that day, I feel like I’m playing back a video recording of the events as I experienced them. That experience of vividness is misleading, though. Highly emotional and meaningful events produce memories that are more vivid, but those memories are subject to the same distortions that affect more run-of-the-mill memories. In The Invisible Gorilla, we reported a test of my memories for 9/11. I wrote out a detailed description of everything I could recall: who was with me, what I was doing, where I was, what I did after first hearing about it, what I did for the rest of that day. The narrative I produced was extensive and detailed. I then emailed each of the people I remembered having been with me that day and asked them to recall their own memories for that day’s events. I told them nothing about what I remembered. As it turns out, 2 of the people I remembered being there had definitive evidence that they weren’t. And, I hadn’t remembered the person who was actually in the room with me at the time we first heard and was there for the entire morning!

One of the main reasons we suffer from the Illusion of Memory is that we rarely have the opportunity to test the accuracy of our vivid memories. We just trust that those rich details we can remember must reflect what actually happened. I encourage you to try this test for yourself — you might be surprised by the discrepancies between your own memories and those of the people who were with you.

Although most people don’t get regular evidence of memory distortions, celebrities and politicians do. Yet, the media often examines the claims politicians make about their past. For example, Hilary Clinton famously claimed during the 2008 presidential primary to have come under sniper fire when landing in Bosnia some years earlier. Yet, contemporary media coverage revealed a greeting ceremony on the tarmac in which a Bosnian child read her a poem — no snipers. We can’t say for certain if Hilary was lying or misremembering, but what was striking during the primary was the assumption that she must have been lying. The sort of recollection would be entirely consistent with more typical memory distortion.

Thanks to a tip from a reader of our blog, I encountered an even more dramatic example of proven memory distortion. In a 1995 film, Captain Robert Daniell was interviewed about his experiences with the British army when he helped liberate the Belsen concentration camp. The details of the interview are documented in an edited volume about the Belson camp (Reilly et al, 1997):

Daniell recounted how he was the first British soldier to go into Belsen and how he ’saw the gas ovens, which had been cleaned out because there was no fuel to run them. This was why there were so many corpses lying around … It was pathetic. There were worn paths to each of the gas chambers and on the side a pile of spectacles at least 6ft high.’”

You might also like

A Letter to the Rev. John Milnerauthor of the Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Winchester, Occasioned By His False and Illiberal Aspersions on the Memory and Writings of Dr. Benjamin Hoadly, Formerly Bishop of Winchester
Book (Repressed Publishing)
Real Spark Real Spark Unisex Black and White Love Theme Adjustable Length Closer Hearts Wrap Bracelet
Jewelry (Real Spark)
  • Braided style
  • Lobster claw
  • A good gift
  • Love bracelet
  • Unisex fashion accessory

Q&A

avatar
What is the Mason Memorial Foundation?

In loving memory of their grandson, Mike and Debbie Pianalto established the MASON Memorial Foundation in May 2003. on!

avatar
What incited Pamela and Peter Freyd to form the False Memory Syndrome Foundation? | Yahoo Answers

false memory or wrong recall of things that had happened previously may hv an adverse effect on the course of law and justice. many such cases hv occurred. those in the twilight suddenly suffers from such false accusations and their lives shattered. premature deaths, suicide has taken these poor souls. there is a genuine need for help. PF has indeed come forward to fill this void

Copyright © . All Rights Reserved