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RS 150 - Elizabeth Loftus on "The malleability of human memory"

Release date: January 10, 2016

Elizabeth Loftus

Do you remember when you were a kid, and you had that great day at Disneyland where you got to meet Bugs Bunny? No? Think harder. It was a sunny day... 

In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia interviews psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, whose pioneering work on human memory revealed that our memories can be contaminated by the questions people ask us, or by misinformation we encounter after the fact -- even to the point of making us remember entire events that never could have happened. (Like meeting Bugs Bunny, a Warner Bros character, at Disneyland.)

Elizabeth's Pick: "Missing: The Execution of Charles Horman" by Thomas Hauser

Podcast edited by Brent Silk




Full Transcripts 


Reader Comments (4)

Thanks for this podcast which articulates what we know about memory and in particluar its relevance to witness testimony.
If only the public in general were better educated on this subject. There is so much paranoia emerging in modern society, much of which is based upon the utterances and recollections of individuals.
January 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Perryman
I really like your your podcast and love the topics you you cover but if I could change one thing it would be to get rid of you two up tight assholes. You know who I'm talking about.
February 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertyler gregory
One could imagine going to a Psychiatrist's office for PTSD therapy. The Psychiatrist could interview the patient on visit one and tell the patient to come back two weeks later for visit two. At the second visit, the Psychiatrist could initially interview the Patient about the Patient's early childhood for half an hour and then tell the Patient that the Psychiatrist wants to test the Patient's reading comprehension. The Psychiatrist could then have the Patient read certain passages for about half and hour, except that Psychiatrist has nestled into the written passages details that mollify the traumatic event that causes the patient PTSD. Would this modify the Patient's memory of the traumatic event and cure the PTSD?

Eyewitness has a notoriously low accuracy. Many researchers have found the accuracy of eyewitness testimony below 50%. The vivid personal examples of false convictions definitely have more impact upon the Jury than statistics.

Elizabeth Loftus has a good teaching style.
December 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJameson
Very interesting and scary at the same time. Many things affect our memory in not so good ways. So the prevalence of Bad Diet, Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Prescription Drugs, Lack of Sleep etc. out there in Society is not looking so good for us. I think things might only get worse?
March 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterErnesto

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