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How Memory Can Be Manipulated (SOP91)


Your help we're looking for engaging speakers to share their expertise with thousands of psychologists from around the world is your work innovative and influential so we're planning an amazing agenda for APA twenty twenty the American Psychological Association's annual meeting and we need hi this is Kay Luna host of speaking of psychology this Rosal to learn more please visit convention dot Apa Dot Org Slash proposals or click the Lincoln our show notes being device but rather new information new ideas new thoughts and suggestive information misinformation my PhD. I wanted to do some work that had a more immediate practical applications and and so I thought well I know something about in studying memory distortion many decades ago I I as a graduate student I've done a little bit of work on on human memory and then once can enter people's conscious awareness and caused a contamination a distortion an alteration in memory and that's even inadvertently people can be manipulated when they see media coverage about an event let's say it's a high publicity event that is what memory but how about looking at the memory of witnesses to accidents crimes and other legally relevant events so I kind of combined an interest in experience and you record it in memory it doesn't just stick there and some pristine form waiting to be played back like a record needed when people talk to each other after let's say some crime is over that they may have both witnessed they can be manipulated when they are in we want to hear from you so please email me at K. Luna at a p dot org if you have any comments or ideas for us that's K. L. U. N. A. AT APA DOT ORG and to contaminate a person's memory and what got you interested in this in this work oh gosh I got interested in arrogated by an investigator who maybe has an agenda or house a hypothesis about what probably happened and communicates that to the witness joined by Dr Elizabeth Loftus a distinguished professor at the University of California Irvine Dr Lofton's is well known for her research on human memory notably false memories we're going into therapy maybe they were had anxiety or maybe they had an eating disorder maybe they were depressed and they would end up with broadcast was recorded live during the two thousand eighteen APA convention in San Francisco this episode is about how our memories may not be as reliable as we like to think as always about a lot on television or newspapers in all of these cases the opportunity is there for new information not necessarily accurate information legal issues with some expertise in human memory and produced this this line of work gives you that would lead these patients to start to think they remembered years of brutalization that they had Dr Lofta has been honored by API as review of general psychology is one of the one hundred most psychologists of the twentieth century. Welcome Dr Loftus thank you allegedly banished into the unconscious until this a therapy made them aware of it and in many instances these people it's the kind of thing that I've been studying for the past many decades in how can human memory is being manipulated they can be manipulated it didn't happen so my work showed that you could plant very rich detailed false memories in the minds of we'll Sud- their parents or got their former neighbours or doctors or teachers whatever prosecuted based on theropods who said something like well many people I've seen with your symptoms were sexually abused as a child and there would begin these activities these claims of repressed memory so so the the wars were really about whether people can take years of brutalization banish it into the unconscious be completely unaware that these things happen and then reliably were cover all this information later and that was what else I work my work actually provided an alternative explanation where could these reports becoming from wasn't any strong credible scientific support for this idea of massive repression and that and yet so many families were destroyed Jack to manipulation can you explain that a bit more one of the things that I and other people who do similar work shown is that once you nineties and even in the late eighties we began to see an altogether more extreme kind of memory problem some patients it's wonderful to have you here today my pleasure so your your research tells us something I would think is unsettling about our minds that our memories aren't set in stone that easily of massive repression case the case history was anonymous so it was Jane Doe and John Doe Moms Town Dad's count on was so controversial and disputed and your work essentially refuted that that it's not necessarily possible or maybe brought up to like this literature published by a psychiatrist you know sort of and it was being used as as the new proof a coyote trysts account and I found enough information to convince me that was very strong likelihood that this accused Dan at some point I was able to identify the doe family and once I will it didn't mean that repressed memories did not exist repressed memories could still exist and false memories could still exist but they're they're really author and the magazine where we publish the expose and some other people and eventually after years of the litigation ended rather oddly the mother used of sexual abuse was probably innocent and just being involved in this on the doe family the name of the family then I could get into the divorce file I found all kinds of information that had been left out of this by this what I would say unsupported claim going off on what you just said he said you were at one point sued by a woman who her mother sexually abused her and in this situation you believe the mother was had not done this of us and and you publish an all the next investigation got me in a lot of hot water so yes the adult daughter did sue me and to my back to the early one thousand nine hundred and you're talking about the memory wars so what was that time like in what was happening Oh gee that well in the nineteen other individuals who were feeling I guess that their cherished beliefs were being attacked and would lash out in all kinds of of unpleasant unpleasant ways but but I I do think it's important because I mean science you know is that candle in the dark and the same kinds of experiments as far as I know there's never been an adverse effect and it has been a scientific contribution ethical question is whether what I do in in my experiments is plant false memories in the minds of of people in order to study the Aubrey ice cream and you don't want to eat as much of that food we've planted false memories that you got sick drinking vodka drink and you're not is interested in the vodka drink we've done the opposite at planet a warm fuzzy memory that you loved a healthy and maybe help them live a healthier life maybe that's not a bad thing to do I did is to look at the consequences of having a false memory if I plant a false memory in you doesn't have ripple effects does it affect your later thoughts or your later guests the danger is that some some evil various people could take this mind technology and put it to some bad news assist little biddy false memories and then great big ones so some people might think that that's not a very ethical thing to do I'm just the way we can build a nuclear bomb now and put it to some bad news he's talking about the broader implication Eddie's have revealed something that we might call best practices that have been implemented in a number of jurisdictions of your research on criminal law I think that the work that I and many other people have done on human memory it was controvercial and you were sued by by this daughter and he talked about in your Ted talk talk about the disturbing trend of scientists being sued or for that I think has helped make the world a better place you spoke about the positives of planting false how can we used in positive ways most accurate and complete information from people and we aren't wrongly convicted people of crimes they didn't do so I see standing up for science and in the face of a lot of hostility and the hostility came not just from from a lawsuit or you know but and you know I it is the thing that's going to help make this a better world so and it needs to be affected especially in today's climate he's talk about the ethical Prussia's that have come up about your research and how you responded I'll say that again talk about the Oh that when law enforcement members of the legal system interact with people who are involved in legal cases they they get I see some great impact there is there anything we can do to prevent against false memories or to enhance our memories Oh and you won that in two thousand sixteen he won the prize which recognizes the work of scientists who promote science evidence but but my face all the in doing so our house stability so talk a little bit about that in the why is important to speak out even when it's difficult even when you face these situations where he might be sued or and so we're going to need to find some other ways of getting people to protect themselves in check themselves and kind of fend off the misinformation the problem is that people don't walk around in life with those warnings at the forefront of their consciousness and you know if if you warn people that somebody might be trying to mislead them or fool them they can momentarily name gets gets called out and drags with them on this thing well I I did win the Jon Mattox Prize and I'm very proud of that because it is a recognition it would be translated into who knows how many languages so the exact wording was part of it and you have to all that are known to maximize the likelihood that people will remember the information this as we spoke about about intentions or your later behavior and we've now shown that you can plant a false memory that you got sick eating a particular food we've got sick on pickles or eggs or elaborate on that yes one one little twist in the false memory work that we he's been to the ethical questions that have come about your research and how you responded overly use the ethical questions well I suppose one this was going to be a talk in front of maybe a thousand people in the audience and then it would go out on the Ted website and you know I've been teaching for decades when I was invited to do a Ted talk at Ted Global on and so uh number one everything is reviewed by the Human Subjects Review Committees at the universities many people have a gun buddha in Hampshire memory for usually two simple things are just to pay better attention at the time year being experienced Eisai worked on involving a man named Steve Titus Titus was arrested rob manager and one day he was accused of a horrible crime it's dangerous the planning false memories if you're even even if it is for something

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