Slate messes with minds...and discovers minds are pretty messy to begin with

Fascinating article in Slate about the wobbly nature of human memory and the work of experimental psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who specializes in the study of false memories.

From "The Memory Doctor":
In 1984, George Orwell told the story of Winston Smith, an employee in the propaganda office of a totalitarian regime. Smith's job at the fictional Ministry of Truth was to destroy photographs and alter documents, remaking the past to fit the needs of the present. But 1984 came and went, along with Soviet communism. In the age of the Internet, nobody could tamper with the past that way. Could they?

Yes, we can. In fact, last week, Slate did.
The results of their experiment are predictably disturbing. Read the rest here.

Interesting word of caution to anyone writing a memoir. In my work as a ghostwriter, I exhaustively research the stories people tell me. I also come into the interview process with ironclad memory anchors--verifiable dates from which to backdate events, photos, journals, letters. It's natural to rewrite our own histories in a way that takes us forward in life, and one of the healing aspects of doing a memoir is setting the record straight in one's own mind in order to make peace with what really happened.


Great article. I've been doing tons of research on the subject, and it makes me wonder how much of what I remember is actually true.

Perhaps my mind's covering for some nefarious doings in my past. ;)

This explains much of the "I don't recall" answers so common to Congressional hearings, doesn't it?
"in order to make peace with what really happened." What a great way to think about memoir. Thanks for this, Joni.

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