Saturday, February 5, 2022

The Unreliability Of Memory

Most people believe memory functions like a recording. Sure the image may degrade over time but what is there is essentially a true representation of what happened. The truth is that memory does not work that way. Not at all.  Memory is a  or model of what happened which is recreated from sparse data stored in the brain each time it is brought into consciousness. Furthermore the model changes each time a memory is recalled. 

Indeed it is quite easy to change people's memory or even create entirely new ones.  

"We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did experience," says Loftus. "And we can also go so far as to plant entirely false memories - we call them rich false memories because they are so detailed and so big."

She has persuaded people to adopt false but plausible memories - for instance, that at the age of five or six they had the distressing experience of being lost in a shopping mall - as well as implausible ones: memories of witnessing demonic possession, or an encounter with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character, and as the Los Angeles Times put it earlier this year, "The wascally Warner Bros. Wabbit would be awwested on sight", at Disney.

This is the reason I am so disappointed with our legal system. Not so much for its reliance on people's memories, but for its dismissal of hard evidence which does not rely on memory. I have unassailable evidence Nelly Wince committed fraud but this was totally ignored by the court. Furthermore both the county attorney and his criminal division director lied in writing in an attempt to cover it up. 

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