Memory Failure

What we remember and history are often two separate things. Memories are flawed, no matter how insistent we are that we remember exactly what happened.

Lots of things shape our memories; our pre-existing thoughts and beliefs apparently help certain memories “stick” better. Apparently, even our political orientation can contribute to the formation of false memories.

Memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus has demonstrated that it is possible to induce false memories through suggestion. She has also shown that these memories can become stronger and more vivid as time goes on. Over time, memories become distorted and begin to change. In some case, the original memory may be changed in order to incorporate new information or experiences.

Another great local landmark, painted by Frank Gross--Worumbo Park, circa 1930s.

Another great local landmark, painted by Frank Gross–Worumbo Park, circa 1930s.

So what we remember about a place and time might have flaws. That’s fine.

There are ways to verify what actually happened. There are places where a paper trail exists and if you can interview first-person witnesses and verify stories by interviewing others, you can often piece together what actually happened. This takes time, but if you care about creating a narrative that’s accurate, then you must make the commitment of time to do so. Doing it this way beats conjecture and innuendo every time.

That’s why history is often different than what we remember about a place and time. There’s also a difference between fact and fiction.

Searching for facts about Lisbon--LHS, MTM Center.

Searching for facts about Lisbon–LHS, MTM Center.