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False Memory

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284222.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:00 am Reply with quote

In his book “Life On Air - a history of Radio Four” (OUP, 2007), David Hendy refers to the keenness of a section of the radio audience for contacting the BBC to complain about “bad language” on air. Of particular interest, he talks of people complaining about bad language, or other filthiness, which they have imagined. He points out that because radio drama is “infinitely suggestive” it would draw complaints from people who were convinced, for instance, that they had heard sex scenes which in fact were “in the ear of the beholder.”

He also gives the example of the 1975 radio versions of TV show The Likely Lads, after which several listeners complained that swearing had been added to the scripts; they were wrong, the scripts were unchanged, but clearly the words had more power on radio than on TV, presumably because it’s an almost entirely verbal medium.

At other times, the swearing that listeners complain(ed) about simply hadn't happened - as initially panicky and then merely baffled production staff were able to confirm when they played the tapes back; listeners had “heard” offensive material which hadn't actually existed.

I wonder if JumpingJack has any experience of inaccurate listeners’/viewers’ complaints of this sort?

Links: Filth, Fuck

284596.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:23 pm Reply with quote

I can't think of anything of that specific nature at the moment.

There should be a word for it, though - False Mammary Memory Syndrome or something.

284604.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:26 pm Reply with quote

This might be one for the notes on the subject of False Memory in (maybe) a Fakes, Frauds and Falsities themed show. In fact I think I'll rename the thread header, by your leave.

284608.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:28 pm Reply with quote

Q: Have you ever had False Memory Syndrome?

F: I can't remember.

284616.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:36 pm Reply with quote

There was an experiment in which students were asked to write down what they witnessed when the Challenger space shuttle exploded, and were then asked to do so again three years later. It turned out that not only had their recollection of the event changed, but that when they were shown both versions they thought the later one was the more accurate.
On the day after the Challenger space shuttle exploded, professors at Emory University asked their college freshmen students to write a description of where they were and what they were doing when the Challenger exploded. Three years later, the professors asked the same students to recall where they were and what they were doing when the Challenger exploded; the professors then compared the statements to those made the day after the explosion. The experimenters reached two conclusions: first, there was a high level of inaccuracy in the recollections three years later, and second, high confidence levels accompanied completely wrong recollections.
The available scholarship concerning recovered memory theory strongly weighs against its admission at trial. Under either the modified Daubert approach suggested here, or the simpler Frye test, such evidence should be excluded as unaccepted by any relevant community of experts, and as unreliable for use as a truth seeking device in a court of law.

284618.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:38 pm Reply with quote

One hundred participants completed a News Coverage Questionnaire concerning personal memories of where they were, what they were doing and who they were with when footage of dramatic news events was first shown on television, as well as asking them to recall details of the footage itself. These news items included four events that are known to have been captured on film and one item concerning non-existent footage of the bombing of a nightclub in Bali. Overall, 36% of respondents reported false memories of the alleged footage of the Bali bombing. Participants reporting false memories were found to score significantly higher than those who did not report such memories on the Australian Sheep–Goat Scale, on various subscales of the Anomalous Experiences Inventory (Belief, Experience and Ability) and on the Dissociative Experiences Scale, supporting the hypothesis that believers in the paranormal may be more susceptible to false memories than non-believers.

... which doesn't take much believing.

Haven't got round to finding out what the Australian Sheep-Goat scale is yet. Saving that one up for a dreary day.

284622.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:41 pm Reply with quote

George W Bush apparently gave an account of his feelings when he saw film of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers, though no such film actually exists.

284672.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:21 pm Reply with quote

And did we ever use the invisible gorilla?
post 53882

284795.  Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:35 pm Reply with quote

No, but I think that was because the clip is fantastically expensive.

284930.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:28 am Reply with quote

Does it need the clip? I mean, I know it's a TV show an' all that, but the matter is amazing and amusing enough when recounted verbally, isn't it? Or could we say "They won't let us show the clip, so we're going to re-enact it with special guest star Brian Blessed in the role of the invisible gorilla ... I wonder if you'll be able to spot him at home?"

284976.  Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:05 am Reply with quote

All true.

285621.  Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:54 am Reply with quote

I'm working with Derren Brown at present and he has made his own version of the gorillas film (still with gorillas but playing table tennis). Richard Wiseman (who made gorillas) has also made a film called the colour changing card trick to show just how little visual information we actually retain ( I think I once heard that it is as little as 50 bits from moment to moment). Googling Richard Wiseman colour change card trick shows that his film is now on You Tube (is that good or bad?). The last bit of the film where they show how it's done is quite funny - particularly with the added gorilla suit prop. His site at has some other videos.

285637.  Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:16 am Reply with quote

There have been experiments carried out within the law enforcement world, haven’t there, to show how utterly useless eye-witness evidence is, and how it should never be used in court - despite the instinctive feeling by jurors that it is the best sort of evidence. Does that ring a bell with anyone?

285749.  Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:39 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
George W Bush apparently gave an account of his feelings when he saw film of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers, though no such film actually exists.

To be fair, he probably saw the rehearsal.

285917.  Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:20 pm Reply with quote

Ooh, satire.

The card trick video is here:


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