And we're back! This week Kelly and Beth talk about fake memories and how they play a role in fake news and possibly the future of politics. Much of our discussion is related to a study entitled False Memories for Fake News During Ireland’s Abortion Referendum published in the journal Psychological Science in August 2019. This study indicates that during a campaign people are most likely to believe fake news and/or form false memories if that story lines up with previously held beliefs of the participant.
One of the leading researchers in the field of false memory is Elizabeth Loftus, who has been looking into how easily memory can be implanted for decades. One of the first groundbreaking studies she was involved in was the 'Lost in the Mall' experiment. In this experiment (published in 1996), researchers used multiple narratives from subjects childhoods and included one false story - a story about how they got lost in the mall as a child and were rescued and reunited with their family. 25% of participants in the study reported remembering the false event and chose a different (true) event as the false story.
While there are obvious concerns about creating false memories, it is also true that television and advertising do often do a bit of this false memory/fake news as well. The NRA will surely try to convince you to be afraid and put false narratives in their advertising so you buy guns. McDonalds will try to trigger a happier emotional response with their advertisements. We are all going to have to keep a critical eye on news, videos, and eyewitness reports, as all of these can become suspect in this ever growing world of fake news.
We can't forget some of the weirder false memories as well, such as the Berenstain Bears Name Confusion and the Shazam movie with Sinbad. Or maybe we did all cross over into the darkest timeline *gesturing vaguely at everything.
Kelly's Jam of the Week: A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren
As a child in small-town Oklahoma, Elizabeth Warren yearned to go to college and then become an elementary school teacher—an ambitious goal, given her family's modest means. Early marriage and motherhood seemed to put even that dream out of reach, but fifteen years later she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. Then came the phone call that changed her life: could she come to Washington DC to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws?
Thus began an impolite education into the bare-knuckled, often dysfunctional ways of Washington. She fought for better bankruptcy laws for ten years and lost. She tried to hold the federal government accountable during the financial crisis but became a target of the big banks. She came up with the idea for a new agency designed to protect consumers from predatory bankers and was denied the opportunity to run it. Finally, at age 62, she decided to run for elective office and won the most competitive—and watched—Senate race in the country.
In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class—and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America's government can and must do better for working families.
Beth's Jam of the Week: American Mouth, Flightless Bird by Iron and Wine
Fake News Can Lead to False Memories
The Strawberry Ice Cream Diet: Hacking Your Memories for a Skinnier You
How Reliable is Your Memory?
Crashing Memory 2.0: False Memories in Adults for an Upsetting Childhood Event
Fake News Can Lead To False Memories, Claims New Study
False memory syndrome
Making up History: False Memories of Fake News Stories
Half of people believe fake facts, 'remember' events that never happened
Manufacturing false memories using bits of reality
McMartin preschool trial
Berenstain Bears Name Confusion
Sorry internet, Sinbad never played a genie and 'Shazam' doesn't exist
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And don't forget - Spread jam, not lies.
Spread jam, not lies.