Can We Trust Our Memory?

To human beings, memory is the sum total of what we remember and gives us the capability to learn and adapt from previous experiences as well as to build relationships.

It is the ability to remember past experiences and the power or process of recalling to mind previously learned facts, experiences, impressions, skills and habits.

Memory plays a big part in shaping our identity, but can we rely on what we recall about ourselves and about others? More often than not, people remember the same event differently. Sometimes, consequence of poor recall of an event can be calamitous. One may be asked about an outdoor event;

“What did your friend wear to the event?” and a likely response could be “I can’t recall precisely, but he certainly didn’t attend naked”.

More bewildering is how individuals give different reports about shared experiences. Memories can lead us falsely to accuse another person but the remarkable thing is, they can also lead us falsely to accuse ourselves.

Gudjohnson’s research suggests that many of us are capable of creating and believing a false memory about ourselves; several factors come into play, among them are intelligence and good imagination.

Hilary Clinton spoke about her visit to Bosnia landing under sniper fire and running with heads down into vehicles. But videos and photographs revealed it was a peaceful landing and nothing traumatic happened as described by her.

She did provide an explanation saying it was a mistake on her part to say that.

Hilary Clinton’s description of the event came 12 years after the event. Perhaps the passage of time was a factor. We may be able to improve our recall ability but there are good reasons to distrust our memories; they can be manipulated and as humans we tend to forget much more than we remember.

Can you remember precisely what you were doing about 20 minutes ago?

Were you Standing, sitting, had something in your hand? What are the exact first two sentences on this blog?

You can scroll up to check but our memory just doesn’t work exactly this way. However, there are conscious measures we can take to improve or assist our recall of events.

October 1, 2019

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