Wednesday, July 31, 2019

False Memories

     When you recall a past event, your brain is tasked to reconstruct its occurrences. During this process, you subconsciously fill in the gaps with new information which aligns with present attitudes. The accuracy of this autofill function is questionable at best because of the creative license it has been known to take. So, is what you remember the truth or has it been tainted by time or other influences and become a false memory? 
     I’d argue that anyone with a sibling has seen false memories in action. I myself have witnessed and taken part in quarrels over the truth of a childhood fight, only to find that both parties were far off the mark when a parent interjects. Not just in perspective, but the actual substance of the story: location, people present, time. In this example incorrectness is harmless but imagine the ramifications of false memories in something like a police case. What if a line of questioning presented to a victim or witness is created with a suspect in mind? Even without a third party getting involved, the most confident eyewitness can inaccurately identify a suspect in a lineup due to the malleable nature of memory.
“Research has found that eyewitness-identification testimony can be very unreliable. Law enforcement and the courts should follow the recommendations of social scientists when using and assessing eyewitness techniques, such as lineups, in criminal cases.Rule 3:11 (Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey).

1 comment:

  1. I love that you brought up the idea of how siblings give a very tangible way for someone to view how false memories can occur. I have an older sister, and we both recall this one memory of us in a car trip up to Maine. There was this huuuuge dirt pile; naturally 8 year old me said "Holy cow! Look at that dirt pile!" Although, my sister will swear to you that she said it. Our parents refuse to get involved. Almost 20 years later and we still have two completely different memories of that trip.