Wednesday, August 4, 2021

False Memories

     One of the topics that was covered in this class that I find particularly interesting is the topic of false memories. At first it seems crazy that people are so likely to remember things incorrectly, but when carefully considering the tendencies it makes perfect sense. Unless people have a photographic memory they don’t remember things exactly how they were in all cases, and instead they combine what they do remember with organization that makes sense to them and is consistent with what is expected from them. With this in mind it is easy to see how people are prone to false memories, and how this can be used to peddle pseudoscience and belief in the paranormal. But aside from that it made me wonder about some of my childhood memories. 

Many of my most cherished childhood memories are shared with my family, and so to test my theory about false memories I brought up some of these memories to my siblings and parents to see how well our stories matched up with several different memories. For most the general gist of the memory is the same, but many details were not. Some of these included location, order of events, and who else was present. In other cases I discovered that some of my memories were in fact false memories that I had created after hearing a story so many times and imagining it in my head the same way every time. In most of those cases I was either too young to actually remember or I was only there for part of the story but remember the whole thing as if I were there. This is consistent with what we learned about false memories because I was using what I knew and what I had heard from retellings of the events to fill in the blanks of my memory. In some other cases it seems my memory is consistent with that of the rest of my family, but someone else in the family had a false memory of it. Now while I had no memories of anything that was completely made up, it was extremely interesting to find out how much of these memories I had retained from the actual experience, and how much I had fabricated in my mind based on other people retelling the story or myself trying to piece it together in my mind. If anyone is interested in doing the same I strongly recommend it because it was very nostalgic and fun bonding experience and it was also fascinating to discover how differently we remembered some of these occurrences.  


1 comment:

  1. Hello Aidan,
    I find this topic very interesting, especially when it comes to how good our individual brains are at filling in the blanks for memories that may not be accurate or partially accurate, with some truth and some false events. I can recall some instances in my life when I told stories about my experiences as a child, and then another, older relative would tell me a story about what I did that I had little to no memory of, which would also fascinate me and unlock memories that my brain may not have prioritized in my young age. I really loved your spin on testing out this theory, and I thought it was really cute. This is definitely something I am going to try later with family for the sake of reminiscing on good times, and it is very much needed nowadays. Thank you for sharing, and I hope you have a good night!