False Memories And False Confessions Summary

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Emma Bryce, a science and environmental journalist wrote an article for WIRED titled “False memories and false confessions: the psychology of imagined crimes”. She bases her article on the experience of a criminal psychologist, Julia Shaw and studies of a cognitive psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus. The article describes several cases where false memories resulted in getting innocent people in jail. Julia’s job is to study what triggers false memories we encounter every day and how the results of her studies can be applied to the criminal-justice system where it is very important to detect them. As she said, unfortunately, the police still makes a lot of mistakes that put innocent people in prison, so her job is to fix this by providing scientific…show more content…
For example, it is unlikely that a child younger than 3 years old, could remember anything and keep remembering that until an older age. If a person claims she or he remembers something from that time, Julia suspects that somebody could have influenced these memories via a therapy, interrogation, or even a story that sounded convincing: “False memories are everywhere. In everyday situations, we don't really notice or care that they're happening. We call them mistakes or say we misremember things” (Bryce, 2017, para. 7). Another important red flag in her investigation is if the memory suddenly resurfaces (Bryce, 2017). This is called “repressed memory”, a concept invented by Sigmund Freud, which Julia does not really trust as it is not scientifically proven: "There are still psychoanalytic schools saying repression is something we need to look for. So we've got universities teaching this nonsense to people" (Bryce, 2017, para.…show more content…
I believe that painful memories created in adulthood are harder to forget, but I am not sure about childhood memories. I have heard veterans of World War II saying that they recall painful events they experienced in the war almost every day. Since memories tend to get distorted over the time or after physical damage to the brain, I think that we should be careful not to judge innocent people based on sole evidence of such witnesses. However, as Jimmy Savile, whose words were mentioned in the article, it is important not to discourage the victims by being too sceptical of what they say: “The criminal justice system has historically let down victims. Victims had terrible ordeals in those courtrooms. Nobody believed them, and they were ridiculed. Since Savile, it's gone in the opposite direction.” (Bryce, 2017, para. 45). High scepticism would let criminals a chance to commit their crimes again and

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