Monday, July 5, 2010

Removable Memories

No, I didn't come up with that title on my own. It comes from the  second segment of William Salatan's Slate piece on "The Memory Doctor". This piece focuses first on how pathetically easy it is to get someone to remember something that didn't happen, and then goes on to dissect the life of Loftus herself. Loftus comes across as a bit queasymaking, but it's also a kind of clumsy piece, which surprised me a little. It's as if Loftus herself was a subject hard to remember long enough to accurately record.

The main thing I got from this excerpt, though, is that memory is not like a recording machine. It seems to resemble something more like silly putty--pliable and infinitely ready to take whatever image is impressed upon it. Frankly, I don't get it, and I don't in the end really believe it. I start to feel as though there is a surface memory function that you can lie to and implant with things but beneath that a deeper memory, perhaps a memory of the body itself that is incapable of lying, or of accepting lies. We shall see as this blog goes along.


  1. I had a great time drinking with Beth Loftus (who is at UC Irvine). She's a heap of fun. Sometime we should talk about this topic (memories) since I have thought about it a lot and written about it a lot and know some really interesting folks in the area...

  2. Sounds great. Uh, are you the Robin I know?

    In any case, I've only gotten through part two of this eight part series, so I might need a little time to prepare...

  3. Robin, I replied to this but it isn't showing up here, so I'll just say that a discussion would be very interesting.