De omnibus dubitandum
16 Feb 2009
A new study among US soldiers in a mock interrogation exercise proves once again that human memories are ridiculously easy to manipulate:
The study of misinformation and false memories have consistently shown that human beings are highly susceptible to suggestion. Much of the work has focused on creating or changing people’s memories of the past.
Apparently creating false memories is very easy and likely very common in daily life. This has some uncomfortable consequences:
The research calls into question the entire eyewitness-based legal system. False memories implanted by researchers, it turns out, look basically identical to real memories. Neuroimaging machines can’t tell them apart and neither can researchers.
However counter-intuitive it might be, we have to accept that what we remember and what actually happened are probably different things. And we really need to get rid of eyewitnesses in court cases.