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Questions:

  1. Have you ever thought about how reliable your memory is? Do you often doubt your memories?
  2. Why does the presenter share the story of Titus?
  3. What does it mean “to plant a false memory”?
  4. Why was the presenter’s work under attack?
  5. What repercussions do false memories have?
  6. What is your reaction to this statement: “We can’t reliably distinguish true memories from false memories.”

 

Vocabulary:

 

to resemble = to look like

You see, Titus’ car sort of resembled a car that was driven earlier in the evening by a man who raped a female hitchhiker…

to put in a photo lineup

they put it in a photo lineup, they later showed it to the victim, and she pointed to Titus’ photo

to proclaim one’s innocence = to say that you’re innocent

He proclaimed his innocence, his family screamed at the jury, his fiancée collapsed on the floor sobbing, and Titus is taken away to jail.

to be consumed with = to devote all of your attention to something so that you cannot think of anything else

Well, Titus was consumed with his civil case.

faulty = not working correctly or made correctly; wrong, containing mistakes

And when those cases have been analyzed, three quarters of them are due to faulty memory, faulty eyewitness memory.

to insinuate = to say something unpleasant in an indirect way

In another study, we showed a simulated accident where a car went through an intersection with a stop sign, and if we asked a question that insinuated it was a yield sign, many witnesses told us they remember seeing a yield sign at the intersection, not a stop sign.

harrowing –extremely worrying, upsetting, or frightening

The subjects in this study were members of the U.S. military who were undergoing a harrowing training exercise to teach them what it’s going to be like for them if they are ever captured as prisoners of war.

to contaminate – to affect something or someone in a negative way

And so what these studies are showing is that when you feed people misinformation about some experience that they may have had, you can distort or contaminate or change their memory.

inadvertently – not deliberately, and without realizing what you are doing

… get misinformation not only if we’re questioned in a leading way,but if we talk to other witnesses who might consciously or inadvertently feed us some erroneous information

to plant = to introduce (an idea), to put something into something

In one of the first studies we did, we used suggestion, a method inspired by the psychotherapy we saw in these cases, we used this kind of suggestion and planted a false memory.

defamation = the offence of writing or saying something bad about someone that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them

…she sued me for defamation and invasion of privacy

repercussions = consequences

When I got back to my work, I asked this question: if I plant a false memory in your mind, does it have repercussions?

outcry = an angry expression of protest or shock by a lot of people, as a reactionto something that someone has done or to something that has happened

And when I suggested this publicly, it created an outcry again. «There she goes. She’s advocating that parents lie to their children.»