‘Memory-Like Liberty-Can Be A Fragile Thing’

MemoryThere are some people in my life who have a reputation for “embellishing” stories from their past.

It’s a mostly amusing tendency, relatively harmless. But in this June 2013 TED Global talk by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, not all revisions of history are so innocent.

Memories are “constructive and re-constructive,” Loftus says. As a result, they can be immensely destructive, as was the sad tale of the wrongful conviction of Steven Titus, which Loftus described at the start of her talk.

In addition to the title of this post, among Loftus’ remarks that resonated with me:

“Memories work a little bit like a Wikipedia page. You can go in there and change it, but so can other people.”

“Out there in the world, misinformation is everywhere.”

“If I’ve learned anything from these decades of working on these problems, it’s this: just because somebody tells you something and they say it with confidence, just because they say it with lots of detail, just because they express emotion when they say it, it doesn’t mean that it really happened.”

Here is Elizabeth Loftus’ TED talk:


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