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Old November 19th, 2012, 04:56 PM   #1

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How much of what we remember is false?


It turns out that we don't just forget things, we seem to remember false memories which can be implemented by manipulating factors. I suppose this is why old people tell lies about when they were young, making me wonder if we recall what we want instead of what happened. How well do you remember your childhood?

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True memories fade and false ones appear.
Each time we recall something, the memory is imperfectly re-stitched by our brains. Our memories retain familiarity but, like our childhood blankets, can be recognizable yet filled with holes and worn down with time.
To date, research has shown that it is fairly easy to take advantage of our fallible memory. Elizabeth Loftus, cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory, has found that simply changing one word in a question can contort what we recall. In one experiment, Loftus had participants watch a film of a car crash, and then asked about what they saw. They were either asked “How fast were the cars going when they hit each other,” or “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other.” One week later the participants returned for some memory questions. Loftus asked whether or not there was broken glass at the scene of the accident. Those participants that heard the word “smashed” were more than twice as likely to recall seeing broken glass than those who heard the word “hit.” Keep in mind, there was in fact no broken glass at the scene[2].
How Long Will a Lie Last? New Study Finds That False Memories Linger for Years | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network
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Old November 19th, 2012, 04:58 PM   #2
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i remember the important details. small details? I probably will forget them...
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:05 PM   #3

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What this is making me think about are cases of denial by Japan over Nanjing or some of the current claims made in China.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:54 PM   #4
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What this is making me think about are cases of denial by Japan over Nanjing or some of the current claims made in China.
The Rape of Nanjing? Some Japanese deny that it ever happened..... I remember this one guy told me he once almost drowned in the sea and then he was finally saved by a guard or something. Now that event happened like 30 years ago and he still remember every single detail of that drowning event.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 06:17 PM   #5

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I think that the older memories get, they become memories of memories. They get revised a bit each time. Forgotten bits filled in with assumptions.

I doubt that our brains have sufficient capacity to record every moment of our lives. There'll be a compression algorithms going on. Storing one experience of smashed glass, and reusing parts of it to construct multiple memories.

Sounds, smells, emotions... they are like keys in a database.
select events from memories where sound="crashtinkle" and smell="burning rubber" and emotion="excitement + confusion + mild fear";

If that particular sound recalls several events in your life, then the memories might become mixed or used to fill in gaps in each other. Which is useful.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 06:40 PM   #6

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I wonder how much truth there is to what the article says about retrieving long lost traumas actually being induced memories.

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This kind of insight—that our memories are terrible camcorders of reality—had serious pop culture ramifications. “Repression” and “repressed memories” have entered our culture’s lexicon, without evidential support. Even with numerous accusations of sexual abuse and other childhood horrors filed in court with the explosion of “recovered memory therapy,” the same research pioneered by experts like Loftus has suggested that most if not all of these “repressed” memories are merely false ones[1]. At CSICon, a skeptic’s conference earlier this year in Nashville, Tennessee, Loftus herself noted that the same techniques used to implant false memories in psychological experiments are precisely the techniques used by repression therapists to recover supposedly buried traumas.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 06:53 PM   #7
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How well do you remember your childhood?
One memory I have is when I was playing near the veranda. I guess my Mother was calling me but I was more interested in a lot of large black ants. I placed my right hand over them and was bitten badly. I don't really have any memories of pain from that incident but it was an interesting one
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Old November 19th, 2012, 07:20 PM   #8

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It's weird because sometimes I have very vivid memories that I trust other times I have sketchy recollections I don't entirely trust. Though I have seen false memories implant themselves first hand.

Not too long ago my roommate recalled a story that had happened to him, what he forgot was that it happened to me and I told the story to him. It was weird looking him in the eye and he believed every word he was saying.

What probably happened was that while I was explaining the story he imagined it as if he were there, when he recalled the events, the events that he remembered triggered the mental image of him experiencing the story.

Bizarre stuff. I have also recalled a memory to my mom that was probably based on a story told to me by my father that she says never happened, though I have a clear image in my mind. I think there is a lot of truth to the phenomena described in the OP.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 07:31 PM   #9

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I think that the older memories get, they become memories of memories. They get revised a bit each time. Forgotten bits filled in with assumptions.

I doubt that our brains have sufficient capacity to record every moment of our lives. There'll be a compression algorithms going on. Storing one experience of smashed glass, and reusing parts of it to construct multiple memories.

Sounds, smells, emotions... they are like keys in a database.
select events from memories where sound="crashtinkle" and smell="burning rubber" and emotion="excitement + confusion + mild fear";

If that particular sound recalls several events in your life, then the memories might become mixed or used to fill in gaps in each other. Which is useful.
Very interesting when you think of it like that.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 07:45 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by Rasta View Post
It's weird because sometimes I have very vivid memories that I trust other times I have sketchy recollections I don't entirely trust. Though I have seen false memories implant themselves first hand.

Not too long ago my roommate recalled a story that had happened to him, what he forgot was that it happened to me and I told the story to him. It was weird looking him in the eye and he believed every word he was saying.

What probably happened was that while I was explaining the story he imagined it as if he were there, when he recalled the events, the events that he remembered triggered the mental image of him experiencing the story.

Bizarre stuff. I have also recalled a memory to my mom that was probably based on a story told to me by my father that she says never happened, though I have a clear image in my mind. I think there is a lot of truth to the phenomena described in the OP.
I had a girlfriend many years ago who did something like that. I told her something I did and years later she recalled doing it herself. I had to prove to her that it had been me.
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