Sunday, April 7, 2013

Our changeable memories

The article: Our changeable memories: legal and practical implications, had a few main points. first, our memory is more prone to error than many people realize. Second, our memory system can be infused with compelling illusory memories of important events. Finally these grand memory errors have contributed to injustices. 

Discussed are many instances of memory's documented failures. First the wrongful conviction of prisoners then the eyewitness accounts of crimes like the DC snipers'. Some of the experiments described I was skeptical of, especially the hot air balloon ride. In that experiment people were shown a false photo of a hot air balloon with them in it and told to recall.  I think this is problematic because it could be proving 50 percent of people are simply gullible since their result was half the people "remembered" the ride. The article states that the people who created false memories lacked detail and confidence when recalling. 

To me the articles most interesting point is that memory is born anew everyday. I think it's very true because each day our minds are in different states and conditions with different levels of activity. It seems logical that on a day where we access a wide range of memories and have active thought our memories could be sharper than on a day of languish and television consumption. 

It is fascinating how easy and common it is to possess the ability to implant memories in people. At the same time people take their memories quite seriously and are often offended when their memory is brought into question. Could one drive a person to lunacy by tinkering with these two ideas? 

I imagine that in recent years with the increasing prevalence of people's connectivity to media, memories have merged between persons and are solidified through documentation.  Will this affect our memories by making our wrote accounts of events our memory versus the our actual recall of the actual time of the event? I think it would cause us to remember the documentation not the event. This is backed up by the fact that during the dc sniper killings, people were told to immediately write on paper what they witnessed before discussing with anyone else. 

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