Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Corrupted memories

Last year a very interesting news feature was published about the memory and how malleable it is. The article deals with the work of Elizabeth Loftus who is a psychologist that studies how memories are shaped. In fact she takes part in court cases as an expert to explain how memories can be created or corrupted by suggestion or what people want to believe. This had lead her to been a highly targeted individual by people that believe she is helping criminals get away with murder, literally. However, her work is sound and It can teach us a lot about how we perceive events. Events such as the miracle healing of a leg in church?

It is amazing that theists still claim miracles when there is so much evidence that points towards corrupted/malleable memory and confirmation bias. Or to put it simply, you can create memories that meet your internal desires. Its self affirmation and its certainly not healthy when the outcomes are so dramatic.

To bring this back to the law and court cases, this is why your are innocent until proven guilty (in most countries). Simply, if there is not enough evidence there is no case. So, if their is no witnesses to this "miracle" (preferably videotape) then their is no evidence for the miracle. I say videotape, as we know already how malleable minds are and their are even things called group hallucinations.

In conclusion Loftus says the following about the clinical benefits of creating memories:"Parents lie to their kids all the time, about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Would you rather have an unhealthy kid, or one with a few false memories?"

While I do not think creating memories is a good thing, she is certainly spot on that children are getting memories created which are based in lies.