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The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory

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Think you have a good memory? Think again. Memories are our most cherished possessions. We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting Think you have a good memory? Think again. Memories are our most cherished possessions. We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting why, or suddenly being unable to recall the name of someone we've met dozens of times. But what if our minds have the potential for more profound errors, that enable the manipulation or even outright fabrication of our memories? In The Memory Illusion, forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr Julia Shaw uses the latest research to show the astonishing variety of ways in which our brains can indeed be led astray. She shows why we can sometimes misappropriate other people's memories, subsequently believing them to be our own. She explains how police officers can imprison an innocent man for life on the basis of many denials and just one confession. She demonstrates the way radically false memories can be deliberately implanted, leading people to believe they had tea with Prince Charles, or committed crimes that never happened. And she reveals how, in spite of all this, we can improve our memory through simple awareness of its fallibility. Fascinating and unnerving in equal measure, The Memory Illusion offers a unique insight into the human brain, challenging you to question how much you can ever truly know about yourself.


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Think you have a good memory? Think again. Memories are our most cherished possessions. We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting Think you have a good memory? Think again. Memories are our most cherished possessions. We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting why, or suddenly being unable to recall the name of someone we've met dozens of times. But what if our minds have the potential for more profound errors, that enable the manipulation or even outright fabrication of our memories? In The Memory Illusion, forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr Julia Shaw uses the latest research to show the astonishing variety of ways in which our brains can indeed be led astray. She shows why we can sometimes misappropriate other people's memories, subsequently believing them to be our own. She explains how police officers can imprison an innocent man for life on the basis of many denials and just one confession. She demonstrates the way radically false memories can be deliberately implanted, leading people to believe they had tea with Prince Charles, or committed crimes that never happened. And she reveals how, in spite of all this, we can improve our memory through simple awareness of its fallibility. Fascinating and unnerving in equal measure, The Memory Illusion offers a unique insight into the human brain, challenging you to question how much you can ever truly know about yourself.

30 review for The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I am conflicted about this book. It deserves 5 stars because of its excellent investigation into how memory works and the book's ability to convey the finer points to a large audience. Writing such an accessible book on an important topic, such as faulty memory, will help make the much needed shift from understanding memory as something that is a bit faulty but is, in general, fairly reliable to understanding memory as a retrospective analysis of an old memory that does not reflect the actual ev I am conflicted about this book. It deserves 5 stars because of its excellent investigation into how memory works and the book's ability to convey the finer points to a large audience. Writing such an accessible book on an important topic, such as faulty memory, will help make the much needed shift from understanding memory as something that is a bit faulty but is, in general, fairly reliable to understanding memory as a retrospective analysis of an old memory that does not reflect the actual event as much as it reflects what the *current* you thinks about a completely overhauled representation of a past event. Shaw is really gifted at making this complex subject very relatable to her audience. However, as with many authors who are able to simplify the subject about which they are writing, Shaw falls into the trap of trading in accuracy and critical thinking for the sake of simplicity. Despite the criticisms listed below, I will be giving this book 5 stars because the nature of the work is so important to humanity if we are going to have an updated and more accurate understanding of memory. Some examples of the author's poor critical thinking ability are as follows: -She unquestionably accepts a study on false memories in bees-- even going so far as to call it a seminal work. First of all, it's far too early to call it that. Second of all, unless the methods are solid (and I think they are far from solid), then the findings mean nothing. The study on bees in no way suggested they had false memories. Being too much of a cheerleader about this type of study means that many people will question the rest of what is presented in this book. What a shame, because much of the rest of the book was phenomenal. - Another example of sloppy critical thinking was exhibited when Shaw talked about trauma. Anyone taking an undergrad class on trauma learns that a key rule in understanding trauma is to parse out those who have suffered different types of traumas (e.g. "shameful" rape v. natural disaster), different ages when suffering trauma (child v. adult), different perceptions of the same trauma (locus of control / attribution style), and the type of social and emotional support received after the trauma that affected the perception of trauma. Unless you include these things in your analysis, your analysis is going to be truly terrible. Shaw didn't look at these things; and thus, her analysis of trauma was truly terrible. - A third example lies in her relating studies of technology. She was so short sighted in regard to this section. (Anti-tech people usually annoy me to the point that I cannot bring myself to give them more than 2 or 3 stars. This book was a rare exception.) One study involving tech looked at the impact of screen time on kids' ability to learn. But "learning" was defined as how many novel words a child learned. There is so much more to learning than the acquisition of words. Using a smart device teaches the child how to relate to the larger world of disseminated information. So, if while learning how to use tech, a child is a bit slower at word acquisition, I would not call that a deficit in learning. I would call it a bad research measurement. Similarly, when trying to understand attention and distraction (e.g. cell phone use), it would have been *essential* to compare hands-free calls to controls (perhaps someone talking to a passenger who is indeed inside the same car, sitting in the passenger or back seat). Such a critical look at the hands-free study is never attempted in this book. Why didn't she at least try to discuss methods? There are great studies on cell phone distraction and attention when driving or doing other tasks. Why not include good studies and at least mention the controls so that the reader can have confidence that the author knows how to critically interpret a study? Maddening. As I said above, even with these flaws, the book will get a full five stars from me because despite her lack of critical understanding in some areas (noted above), Shaw actually excels in critical thinking when it comes to the overall process of memory formation and retrieval. The vast majority of what she presented in this book is exceptional. For example, one particularly great aspect of this book was the following: - Shaw gave many examples of how one person, who never experienced an event, could come to believe they had actually experienced an event. She used Loftus studies as well as her own to make this point, over and over. And, it was beautiful. (The studies included the usual suspects: subject was made to believe they experienced something as a child after parents made up fake event, subject was made to believe a car smashed or merely bumped into another car based on the word choice in the retelling of the event, etc) - Having given the reader a plethora of examples and having also provided the reader with a deep and easy to comprehend understanding of how memory coding and retrieval actually works (contrary to how we thought it worked), Shaw tied it all to Solomon Asch's study. Solomon Asch conducted one of the most famous studies in the psychology of perception (or peer pressure, depending on how you understand the results). He showed participants 3 lines; one short, one medium length, and one long. He had fake participants in the study who tried to mind-fuck the real participants by telling them to misbelieve what they saw with their own eyes. The confederate participants confidently declared that the short line was longer than the medium line. Nothing could be more simple than identifying short, medium, and long length lines. And yet, the vast majority of the real participants *agreed* with the confederates that the shorter lines were longer than the *obviously* longer lines. What could make them do such an absurd thing? There has been a debate about this for a long time. Some suggested they caved to peer pressure (they lied and said the line was longer so they would fit in and not be embarrassed). Some say they actually change their perception and genuinely *saw* the line as longer, once everyone else said it was longer (thus showing that seeing is not always a simple biological process but can indeed depend on what others see). Professors, researchers, and authors alike have tried to make a case of either. I have enjoyed almost all explanations, no matter what side they tried to prove. I have to say that Shaw's discussion of Asch's lines and memory is possibly the best discussion I have ever read. That alone made the book 5 stars and made up for any other sloppy analysis. If you take some of the studies (and her annoying anti-tech stance) with a grain of salt, this book is fantastic and absolutely worth reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amirography

    A lovely book. Filled with scientific citations, anecdotes and provoking information. It was an easy read, than again, it was also a very insightful book. Though I was hoping for a more specific content, this book didn't disappoint as far as I'm concerned. It touched subjects such as cognitive biases, working memory, long term memory, biology, psychology, criminology, identity and mnemonics. It offered scientific facts and also ethical applications, and some applications. I would strongly sugges A lovely book. Filled with scientific citations, anecdotes and provoking information. It was an easy read, than again, it was also a very insightful book. Though I was hoping for a more specific content, this book didn't disappoint as far as I'm concerned. It touched subjects such as cognitive biases, working memory, long term memory, biology, psychology, criminology, identity and mnemonics. It offered scientific facts and also ethical applications, and some applications. I would strongly suggest it to anyone interested.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    I finished the book without developing any real affection for it. On the upside, there were plenty of examples and case studies which (unusually for a book of this type) were not rooted entirely in studies and statistics from the USA. On the downside, I felt that interesting points were raised, and then case studies and discussions were engaged to add to the point that more or less failed to add any real value. Did it enhance my understanding of memory? A bit. But I think my actual take-away learn I finished the book without developing any real affection for it. On the upside, there were plenty of examples and case studies which (unusually for a book of this type) were not rooted entirely in studies and statistics from the USA. On the downside, I felt that interesting points were raised, and then case studies and discussions were engaged to add to the point that more or less failed to add any real value. Did it enhance my understanding of memory? A bit. But I think my actual take-away learning from the book could have been condensed into a book half the size.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This was a really eye opening and easy to read non fiction book about memory. I picked this up because I'm planning on writing about memory for my forensic psychology dissertation. I wanted to get some extra reading it before I started, that wasn't just academic journal articles. I'm so glad I did pick this one up. It was full of lots of interesting information. She discussed lots of different aspects of memory and supported all her points with research studies, some of which I was aware of. Other This was a really eye opening and easy to read non fiction book about memory. I picked this up because I'm planning on writing about memory for my forensic psychology dissertation. I wanted to get some extra reading it before I started, that wasn't just academic journal articles. I'm so glad I did pick this one up. It was full of lots of interesting information. She discussed lots of different aspects of memory and supported all her points with research studies, some of which I was aware of. Others I was not. The writing style was super easy to read and engaging. You definitely don't have to be a psychology student to read and understand this book. I wish this book was longer. At 255 pages it was a short read. I could have easily read another 200 pages. If you are a psychology student or just generally interested in memory, I can't recommend this book enough. Overall, this was really eye opening and insightful

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Newton

    Generally a good and accessible read covering a wide range of science related to memory. Good if you like your scientists to quote plenty of research and remain accessible. Debunks all sorts of myths about memories - including things like repressed memories. The topic is an important one, and one that more of us could do with understanding. Pleasantly well written, although the best parts are the beginning and the end. I found some of the chapters in the middle a little dull. The basic message i Generally a good and accessible read covering a wide range of science related to memory. Good if you like your scientists to quote plenty of research and remain accessible. Debunks all sorts of myths about memories - including things like repressed memories. The topic is an important one, and one that more of us could do with understanding. Pleasantly well written, although the best parts are the beginning and the end. I found some of the chapters in the middle a little dull. The basic message is that your memory is much more fallible than you probably realise. It does leave one feeling quite a lot less confident about what you think you know, but if that's reality its best that we all know it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam Morva

    WOW! So, prior to starting this book I was fairly well read and educated in the topic, but I have to say I found this book quite useful and impressive nonetheless. It is accessible to the layman with no prior knowledge in the topic, but as I said, even advanced students will find their fill of fun. Julia Shaw talks about everything in just the right detail, with just the right amount of evidence to support her points, in just the right language. Don't be mislead by the title: Yes, the emphasis is on WOW! So, prior to starting this book I was fairly well read and educated in the topic, but I have to say I found this book quite useful and impressive nonetheless. It is accessible to the layman with no prior knowledge in the topic, but as I said, even advanced students will find their fill of fun. Julia Shaw talks about everything in just the right detail, with just the right amount of evidence to support her points, in just the right language. Don't be mislead by the title: Yes, the emphasis is on "false memories", but the reader will get a very good idea about how memory works. In fact, the author also discusses what all this means for law, eyewitness testimony, studying, or your life. For example: Did you know that if, let's say, you were eating a muffin when you made a memory (e.g. studying), you will have a better chance of recalling it if you eat a muffin (recreate parts of the environment)? Or, let's say you are studying. Did you know that reading the text over and over again is less efficient than reading it and recalling it afterwards? Did you know that verbalizing non-verbal memories has a detrimental effect on the accuracy/reaction time performance in non-verbal memory tasks? Or that task-switching (~multitasking) makes it harder to remember things, and also makes one more stressed and error prone? There's also some debunking of popular misconceptions. But back to the topic of False Memories... Most people, I think, would vehemently insist that they have no, or virtually no false memories. They almost certainly never heard of the concept. A bit smarter people will argue that it surely is an exotic thing that doesn't really happen to people, and barely affects their lives. WRONG! For example, in their study Julia Shaw and colleagues managed to convince more than 70% of the subjects that they committed crimes / something happened to them that did not. In other words, implanting false memories on purpose, and even by ACCIDENT is really easy and happens all the time! (Here's the gist of the study if you are interested: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/n... ) So... wow! I think this book should be required reading for everyone. (If you are a kindred spirit, and like to know what exactly you are getting into, here are some-and-not-all of the concepts being discussed: Semantic Memory; Confabulation; Source Confusion; Spilling the Punchbowl Experiment; Short Term Memory; Phonological Loop; Working Memory; Chunking; Childhood Amnesia; Memory Malleability; Pruning; Neuron; Synapse; Synapsogenesis; Synaptic Pruning; Optimal Minimal Value Deletion; Metamemory; Arousal; Chronostesia; Perspective Memory; Memory Landmark; Forward Telescoping, Backward Telescoping; Reminiscence Bump; Memory Fragmentation; Angrum; Fuzzy Trace Theory; Memory Trace; Gist Trace; Verbatim Trace; Verbatim Memory; Gist Memory; Error Proneness; Hyperthamisia; Eidetic Memory; HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory); Spreading Activation Model; Savants; Directed Forgetting Task; Attentional Gaze; Change Blindness; Change Blindness Blindness; Sleep + Glutamate Regulation; Priming; Hypnosis; Survivorship Bias; Superiority Illusion; Superrecognizer; Own Race Bias; Contact Hypothesis; Own Age Bias; Flashbulb Memory; Recollection Rejection; Verbal Overshadowing; Leading Questioning; Multitasking vs. Task-switching; Memory Borrowing; Social Contagion of Memory; Source Confusion; Memory Conformity; Groupiness; Entitativity; Transactive Memory; Digital Amnesia; Error Pruning; Retrieval Practice; Retrieval Induced Forgetting Effect; Suggestive Interrogation; n-back Training; Mnemonics; Memory palace)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Poppy

    Wonderful!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Passenger

    I've never read so many false statements in a row, presented in a conceited, fanatical way at that. Science? I think not. The book is all over the place which made it hard to understand what the point of some of the chapters or individual examples and stories were. Author was adamant that no one can remember early childhood memories or have memories from when they were a baby, then later basically negated that statement without seemingly even being aware of it. The more she wrote the more often I've never read so many false statements in a row, presented in a conceited, fanatical way at that. Science? I think not. The book is all over the place which made it hard to understand what the point of some of the chapters or individual examples and stories were. Author was adamant that no one can remember early childhood memories or have memories from when they were a baby, then later basically negated that statement without seemingly even being aware of it. The more she wrote the more often words such as "generally", "not always" etc. crept in. Oh yeah, and apparently lobotomies were "probably helpful" to people who were forced into becoming a zombie by the pseudo-science called psychiatry, whose history is filled with force, emotional and mental rape, murder, aggravated assault (basically) and other insanities. It's the playground of antisocial personalities...but alright. Let's not get into that. In any case, with this statement the author revealed herself for what she is: clueless and dangerously so. I read the rest of the book although I got discouraged early on. I could tear apart almost every single chapter of this shit, but this is the first time in my life that I feel it would be a waste of energy. I have wasted enough time on this ridiculous book, period. I pity the fools who take this for actual science.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Yu

    I could tell that the Julia Shaw made an effort to avoid too many medical jargon. Trying her best to make sure that the content of the book wasn't too dry, at times having intriguing anecdotes. Filled with many references to countless experiments and research conducted by various other doctors/professors, Julia Shaw gives insightful explanations to certain memory illusions of human beings such as - Why we tend to be overconfident with our capabilities of memory retention? - How can other people's I could tell that the Julia Shaw made an effort to avoid too many medical jargon. Trying her best to make sure that the content of the book wasn't too dry, at times having intriguing anecdotes. Filled with many references to countless experiments and research conducted by various other doctors/professors, Julia Shaw gives insightful explanations to certain memory illusions of human beings such as - Why we tend to be overconfident with our capabilities of memory retention? - How can other people's memories affect your own? However, being more of a visual learner I think it would have been more enjoyable if the the research/experiments conducted had photos of the subjects, or even just simple illustrations. It's just a small gripe. although I did enjoy and learn a lot from this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adam Osth

    I'm biased because I study memory for a living. With that being said, I was surprised at how much I learned while reading this book, especially during the neuroscience chapter, which talked about some really interesting recent developments in optogenetics. On the other hand, the book didn't seem to have much of a coherent thesis. It talked about various ways that people have false memories but didn't really talk about theories that actually explain these phenomena. Speaking as a cognitive scienti I'm biased because I study memory for a living. With that being said, I was surprised at how much I learned while reading this book, especially during the neuroscience chapter, which talked about some really interesting recent developments in optogenetics. On the other hand, the book didn't seem to have much of a coherent thesis. It talked about various ways that people have false memories but didn't really talk about theories that actually explain these phenomena. Speaking as a cognitive scientist, many of these phenomena are readily explained by current models of memory and understanding the theoretical basis can make these phenomena much less mysterious.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    Julia Shaw is a psychologist who conducted research into whether (and how) false memories could be “planted” in a person’s mind – and not just any memories, but memories of having committed a crime that one actually didn’t. That research is fascinating, and I think it’s tremendously valuable given the disparity between how accurate people believe their memories are and how fallible they are in practice. This disparity has played a major role in many a miscarriage of justice with eye-witnesses hi Julia Shaw is a psychologist who conducted research into whether (and how) false memories could be “planted” in a person’s mind – and not just any memories, but memories of having committed a crime that one actually didn’t. That research is fascinating, and I think it’s tremendously valuable given the disparity between how accurate people believe their memories are and how fallible they are in practice. This disparity has played a major role in many a miscarriage of justice with eye-witnesses historically being considered the gold standard of evidence in criminal trials. Of course, I’m also a bit uneasy about people learning the recipe for an optimal process of generating false memories as it has the taint of being MK Ultra-level nefarious. (Though it should be pointed out that subjects must be active – if unwitting – participants in creating these false memories, so “planting” memories is an oversimplification.) This book discusses Shaw’s research, but it’s more of an overview of science’s understanding of the limits of memory and how those limits conflict with our beliefs – at least about one’s own memory [we often recognize how fallible other people’s memories are.] The book consists of ten chapters. Chapter one dives into to one of the most common occurrences of false memory, and that’s the claim by some people that they remember events from their infancy – if not their own birth. Shaw presents the evidence for why such memories aren’t possible. This sets up the whole subject nicely because one must ask how so many people can claim to remember events that are physiologically impossible for them to have remembered, and to frequently be right about most key details. No one is suggesting that such people are liars (not all – or even most -- of them, anyway.) Imagine a school-age child hearing a story about his or her life as a baby. Hearing said story triggers a visualization in this child’s mind, and that visualization might well be filed away in memory, but when that memory is recalled the person in question may not realize she is recalling her imagined image of a story and not the actual event itself. Herein lies the crux of false memory: 1.) anything one visualizes in detail might potentially be stored away and become undifferentiated from the experiencing of an event; 2.) when we recall a memory we are recalling the last time we remembered it and not the event directly, and this can lead to a disparity between the memory and the actual event as it gets tied up with what’s going on in one’s mind at the time. Chapter two explores perception, and how flawed perceptions may become flawed or tarnished memories. Just as memory isn’t the direct recording of events that we often feel it is, perception isn’t a direct replication of the world but rather a model generated in the brain. Therefore, the limitations and inaccuracies of the mental model are the first line of deviation of memory from reality. Chapter three describes how the brain’s physiology and evolutionary biology produce limitations to our ability to remember – limitations in spite of which we could thrive in the world in which we evolved. Chapter four begins a series of chapters that take on specific objections that will arise to the ideas about false memory presented in the early chapters. This chapter counters an anticipated objection about people who seem to have perfect memories. In other words, a reader might admit that most people’s memories are crap (and even that his own memory isn’t infallible,) but what about the people with Las Vegas stage shows or the Asperger savant who knows every phone number in the Manhattan White Pages? Surely, these rare cases disprove the general idea of how memory works. Shaw shows that none of these people have perfect memory. Some have spectacular autobiographical memory (memory for their own life events) and others are exceedingly skilled at using mnemonic devices to remember any facts, but they all have limits. There’s also a discussion of how an unusually perfect autobiographical memory is often more of a curse than a blessing. We forget for good reason. Chapter five examines another common memory fallacy, which is that one can remember best by getting the middleman of the consciousness mind out of the way and feeding data directly into the subconscious. In other words, it takes on subliminal learning. You may be familiar with the idea from ads suggesting that you can learn French in a couple weeks without cracking a book just by playing audio tracks in one’s sleep and letting oneself learn effortlessly. Like every program that promises growth without effort, this one is debunked. Studies suggest that if one sleeps during such nights, one won’t learn, and if one learns, one isn’t actually sleeping. In other words, learning requires one’s attention. I will say, the book fell off the rails for me a bit during this chapter. As I wrote in a recent blog post about psychological concepts that even psychologists repeatedly get wrong, Shaw denies the existence of hypnotic trance state as an altered state of consciousness. However, it becomes clear she isn’t arguing against the scientific perspective of what hypnosis is (a physically relaxed but highly mentally attentive state) and is rather denying the misconceived popular notion that seems to involve a person (possibly wearing a glittery cape) taking control of another person’s mind and making them into a zombified drone. She writes in an odd, round-about fashion on this subject as well as the topic of brainwashing – for which she offers her own value-laden definition. I’m not so sure that she didn’t understand hypnosis as much as she wanted to make sure her work was thoroughly distanced from hypnosis and brainwashing. It seems just seems strange and a bit dubious that a scholar studying false memory wouldn’t be thoroughly familiar with the literature on suggestibility and the states of mind most associated with it, i.e. hypnosis. I can only imagine the hoops she had to go through to get her research design through an IRB. (IRB’s are review boards that make determinations about whether a research project is – among other things – ethically defensible. After a series of famous -- and ethically questionable -- studies by the likes of Stanley Milgrim, Ewen Cameron, and Timothy Leary, to name a few, psychology has come under great scrutiny.) Chapter six asks why we believe our memories are so awesome despite all evidence to the contrary. This comes down to why most of us unjustifiably judge ourselves superior in most regards. As is true of drivers, almost every person thinks she is better than average in the realm of memory. This is important because it’s not so much that our memory is fallible that leads to problems but that it’s fallible while we think it’s perfect. Chapter seven challenges the belief that there are certain events that are indelibly etched into our brains such as (depending upon age) the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, or 9/11. Such memories were once considered “flash bulb” memories, perfect renderings of societally traumatic events carved into our synapses. However, once these memories started to be put to the test, it was found that the details -- vis-à-vis where one was and what one was doing at the time -- are often wrong. Chapter eight discusses how media and social media mold memories. One element of this is group-think. One’s memories may be molded through manipulation of the fact that people will readily believe that which is consistent with their beliefs while denying that which is inconsistent – regardless of facts and evidence. This chapter also takes on how social media influences memory as a distraction and because of so-called digital amnesia in which people remember less because they figure they can look it up at any time in the vastness of the internet. Chapter nine proposes that even one’s most traumatic memories aren’t necessarily accurate, and – in fact – might be more likely to be fallacious. This may be the most important chapter of the book because it shows how a confluence of factors (namely, bad questioning tactics and peer / societal pressure) can result in the inadvertent planting of false memories. The chapter focuses on a series of Satanic ritual sexual abuse cases, a number of which were eventually disproved. So eager to build a case to bring believed wrong-doers to justice, law enforcement officers sometimes inadvertently pressured children into making up stories under the guise of trying to get them to open up, stories that sometimes became false memories. Chapter ten shifts gears to consider what one can do about the issue of faulty memory – in other words how one can avoid being manipulated through exploitation of the limitations of one’s own memory. This is valuable information and not just for legal purposes but for life in general. The book has a few graphics as necessary throughout the book and has end-notes to provide sources and elaboration on comments in the text. I found this book to be immensely valuable as food-for-thought. The author presents many fascinating stories and the results of intriguing research studies, all in a readable package. I’d recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the subject of the limits of human memory, how these limits can be manipulated, and how that manipulation can impact the criminal justice process.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elsa K

    This book was utterly fascinating. It was also a very engaging read. I was impressed how it was so gripping, even though it was mostly explaining science and psychological studies. I would recommend it to anyone. I found parts of it difficult to swallow- I want to hold onto my memories as fact! Also how this relates to criminology is difficult to think about. But I still think it was good to think through and to be aware of. The author's purpose seems to be to educate the public on this and to ge This book was utterly fascinating. It was also a very engaging read. I was impressed how it was so gripping, even though it was mostly explaining science and psychological studies. I would recommend it to anyone. I found parts of it difficult to swallow- I want to hold onto my memories as fact! Also how this relates to criminology is difficult to think about. But I still think it was good to think through and to be aware of. The author's purpose seems to be to educate the public on this and to get the word out there. She does a great and entertaining job accomplishing that. Also, the chapter on technology and how it effects our memory seriously has me considering getting off facebook (not like I use it much these days anyways), not using the internet on my smart phone and definitely not driving while talking on the phone. It seems like many of these technological advances do come at a price to our memories. And memories are something I hold of more value than facebook!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Phill

    I found "The Memory Illusion" to be an enjoyable as well as a humbling read. It was a sobering revelation coming to terms with the fact that our memories are undeniably flawed and subject to being "hacked". What I enjoyed most about the book is that it's all based on science and research with a full bibliography. Dr. Shaw explains in full--and entertainingly I might add--detail what false memories are and how they impact our lives and society. After finishing this book I wanted to buy a copy for I found "The Memory Illusion" to be an enjoyable as well as a humbling read. It was a sobering revelation coming to terms with the fact that our memories are undeniably flawed and subject to being "hacked". What I enjoyed most about the book is that it's all based on science and research with a full bibliography. Dr. Shaw explains in full--and entertainingly I might add--detail what false memories are and how they impact our lives and society. After finishing this book I wanted to buy a copy for everyone I knew, it's really that informative. I was particularly enthralled by all the studies on memory and the biology of the brain (dendrites, synapses, memory blocking proteins... so fckn cool!) I am also a relatively slow reader yet I finished the book within a week. I strongly recommend this book to everyone and even more so to those in positions of power/responsibility (e.g., parents, teachers, etc.) Also, Never Eat Soggy Weiners.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suncerae

    Our collections of memories make us who we are. They are the basis for self-identity, the sum of all of our life experiences. It is normal to occasionally forget someone’s name or why you went into the kitchen, but it is also just as normal to re-write entire memories, minutes or years after the original occurrence. Dr. Julia Shaw, memory expert and forensic psychologist, actually creates false memories in healthy unsuspecting college students. Using current research, she shows just how often ou Our collections of memories make us who we are. They are the basis for self-identity, the sum of all of our life experiences. It is normal to occasionally forget someone’s name or why you went into the kitchen, but it is also just as normal to re-write entire memories, minutes or years after the original occurrence. Dr. Julia Shaw, memory expert and forensic psychologist, actually creates false memories in healthy unsuspecting college students. Using current research, she shows just how often our memories are led astray from the truth. The Memory Illusion uses broad strokes to touch on the social science of current memory research alongside anecdotes of human studies or criminal court cases. You are likely to find at least a few chapters compelling in the hodge-podge of topics covered, but it’s a bumpy ride. While I really like parts of book, much of it is slow and occasionally too basic. For example, “popular” myths that I am surprised are still popular are debunked, including stories about memory geniuses and sinister memory alteration through inception, hypnosis, and the unconscious. I find the specifics of the social studies most interesting, as they are the strongest evidence of just how easy it is to not only convince an adult they committed a crime as teenager, but that they in fact begin to recall details of the incident in subsequent sessions, eventually appropriating the memory completely. Even more unnerving are the real-world examples of court convictions because of one passionate confession or police officers who ignore facts because they do not fit with an impressionable memory or stereotype. If someone asks you if you can remember something, say no. All of our memories are a mix of reality and rational interpretation, with details that change every time you remember that memory. But take heart, because even though our brains are highly constantly reworking those memories, they are also constantly learning. Plus, you get to live in a reality you can write. Recommended as a pop culture memory nonfiction for anyone who prides themselves on their memory! readwellreviews.com

  15. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    It’s a little scary to think of how much of our past is probably fictional — especially since our sense of self very much depends on our memories. It’s equally scary to think about what or who we’d be without them. This book draws together many different lines of memory research, including studies of false memories, cognitive biases, flashbulb memories. It’s amazing how prone to errors, both small and large, our memories are. And it’s sobering to consider the implications for eyewitness testimon It’s a little scary to think of how much of our past is probably fictional — especially since our sense of self very much depends on our memories. It’s equally scary to think about what or who we’d be without them. This book draws together many different lines of memory research, including studies of false memories, cognitive biases, flashbulb memories. It’s amazing how prone to errors, both small and large, our memories are. And it’s sobering to consider the implications for eyewitness testimony and the criminal justice system. Shaw is not only a memory researcher herself, but also a criminal psychologist. In this book, she draws on psychology, neuroscience, and criminology to illustrate the many different kinds of memory errors we can and do make all the time and why it’s natural to do so. The book does lead us to question our own histories and raises some fascinating questions about our constructions of reality. It can also make us more tolerant of others’ memory mistakes and a little less likely to insist, when we disagree with someone else’s recollection of events, that our own version is the true one. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Siri Steinmo, was just wonderful. I usually prefer books read by the author for they are much more likely to sound like someone talking to me than someone reading to me. But this one is an exception. I noted a few mispronounced words, but they’re not frequent enough to worry over. A fascinating read or listen!

  16. 4 out of 5

    D.K. Powell

    I was fascinated by Dr Shaw's work on false memories long before reading her books. When I decided it was time I really did read something of hers, I was distracted by her super book on evil -it just had that delicious "ooh!" factor about it which meant laying aside serious research to read about people's deviant behaviour (the academic's equivalent of reading a gossip magazine?). I was surprised to find a book on evil to be so delightful, honest and even fun. All this looked good then for the ma I was fascinated by Dr Shaw's work on false memories long before reading her books. When I decided it was time I really did read something of hers, I was distracted by her super book on evil -it just had that delicious "ooh!" factor about it which meant laying aside serious research to read about people's deviant behaviour (the academic's equivalent of reading a gossip magazine?). I was surprised to find a book on evil to be so delightful, honest and even fun. All this looked good then for the main course - her book based on her research where she 'implanted' false memories into test subjects. Her work on memory was actually important to me as I was busy writing my own book at the time of reading hers. I refer to 'The Memory Illusion' in my 'Try Not To Laugh' which is a memory system for students to help them prepare for exams. What I liked about her work is the way it highlights (although I'm not sure Dr Shaw says this quite so directly) the fact that our brains are built to forget as much as to remember. I've been teaching this to students for many years as a vital theory to explain why memorising information is so very difficult. In many ways, trying to memorising things is just like exercising muscles - you have to repeat regularly and build the strength of the memories. Otherwise, the brain ditches most of the sensory information it receives day by day. This, added to the human ability to imagine situations which allows us to conceive of the future and plan, means that parts of our memory of past events and events we have merely imagined can conflate and become one - a false memory! This is the premise of Dr Shaw's work, and she went about proving it, holding interviews with volunteers over a period of time and seeing if she could persuade their minds to think an entirely fictitious event had really happened in their past. The results were astonishing as much as they are profoundly disturbing. That our minds can be so easily 'altered' in this sense, has important implications for the reliability of witness testimony and could be an explanation for a host of other issues which Dr Shaw discusses thoroughly. Along the way, she gives short introductions to the working of the brain, memory theory and so on, and delves into a range of subjects including using mnemonics and the validity (or not) of hypnosis. There are times when I wish she'd go further; I think she missed a trick (pun intended) by not looking at the working of magicians in more depth, for instance. Perhaps it is my bias, as some-time conjuror, but our speciality is, in part, about implanting false memories. although she does briefly refer to magicians in chapter two, there she is more thinking about magic as an optical illusion - how do tricks fool our brain when we know they can't be true. Magic goes further than that though. Misdirection is the art of convincing someone they need to look at something when actually the 'move' is taking place away from their gaze. And I speak with considerable experience when I say that audiences do not remember magic tricks the way they actually happened at all. I love to hear people tell others of the tricks I've just shown them. I honestly don't know how those tricks are done because they ain't the tricks I just showed! A good magician makes it impossible to retrace the steps of what a spectator has just seen. Their 'witness testimony' is flawed. I wish Dr Shaw had gone further with this, but there you go, you can't have everything and she does the remarkable in covering as much as she does. My only reservation (for which, as a very personal issue, I won't reduce the star rating) was that I did find myself triggered by her chapter nine - on childhood sexual abuse. Most of the chapter was okay, insofar as this kind of material I've heard before and know it (unfortunately) very well, having counselled far too many people over the years who suffered abuse in their childhood. But there was one part where Dr Shaw discusses the evidence for 'abuse denial' in children - where they will deny any wrongdoing has taken place and evidence for abuse needs to be gleaned from other factors, such as bed-wetting. She concluded "the idea that children often deny abuse when confronted about it is largely a myth." I know that Dr Shaw takes child abuse extremely seriously and I do not wish to misrepresent her thoughts; nevertheless, I felt this comes dangerously close to saying that children don't deny abuse when it has happened. This triggered me because I am, myself, a survivor of childhood abuse and I know full well that I denied, denied and denied again when questioned on this during my breakdown in my teens. Social workers, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and other hospital staff all tried to make me 'confess' I had been abused; yet I refused to, for a whole host of reasons which I won't go into here other than to say that shame was a huge part of it. Decades later, when the man responsible had been caught as a result of another victim seeing him with a child he was molesting, I became a chief witness against him. The child himself, who had led to the investigation, refused to admit any wrongdoing, despite showing all the signs of this man's previous history. It was the testimony of those of us who were now adults that had the man sentenced to eighteen years. So child denial does take place, and often. I don't think Dr Shaw was trying to deny this; she was rightly criticising the scaremongering that was well-documented in the 1980s of hunting down of innocent people who experts became convinced had done wrong. This is a dreadful wrong but, as so often in life, it is possible that in counter-balancing one wrong, another may result. Life is a paradox. Nevertheless, 'The Memory Illusion' is an excellent book. Dr Shaw is a kind-hearted writer who writes honestly of herself and gives no sign of superiority - a trait which plagues too many in the field of psychology. She makes complex and uncomfortable subjects quite understandable, and her writing style is attractive. Books on psychology can often be as dry as sawdust. Dr Shaw's are a joy. Having gone from merely appreciating her work after I first came across it, to enjoying her book on evil, with 'The Memory Illusion' I have to say she is now confirmed as my favourite expert on psychology and I will look forward to buying her next book. Whatever it is on, I am quite certain I will love it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    Interesting and fascinating, very informative and opinion changing. However, for me, one point was being discarded too much, and that is how childhood memories (which we might not remember actively neither be able to recover, I agree on that point) could still influence our adult life (cue: attachment theory). Apart from that, I enjoyed that the writer clearly expressed her opinion based on her research, while still also explaining theories that exist but to which she does not adhere. Refreshing Interesting and fascinating, very informative and opinion changing. However, for me, one point was being discarded too much, and that is how childhood memories (which we might not remember actively neither be able to recover, I agree on that point) could still influence our adult life (cue: attachment theory). Apart from that, I enjoyed that the writer clearly expressed her opinion based on her research, while still also explaining theories that exist but to which she does not adhere. Refreshing openness. I certainly understand now even more than before, that memories can lead astray, that false memories are possible and can even be created on purpose. I have also understood to cherish the way my brain is working, with its faults and traps, while being aware not to trust it too much, especially when I feel absolutely sure about something. "If I have done my job, your memory should now seem hopelessly fragile, impossibly inaccurate. To bring you to an acceptance that all of us have critically flawed memories is the very reason I wrote this book."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Simone Beg

    I kind of expected the reviews for this to be a mixed bag with a topic that is so emotional to many people. After all most people strongly believe their memories to be facts and that their memories are what makes up a large chunk of their personalities. To put the accuracy of memories in general into question is bound to stir up some heated emotions. Personally I fall somewhere in the middle. Could the author convince me in every single aspect of her reasoning? Nope. But do I feel I learned a lot I kind of expected the reviews for this to be a mixed bag with a topic that is so emotional to many people. After all most people strongly believe their memories to be facts and that their memories are what makes up a large chunk of their personalities. To put the accuracy of memories in general into question is bound to stir up some heated emotions. Personally I fall somewhere in the middle. Could the author convince me in every single aspect of her reasoning? Nope. But do I feel I learned a lot of things and gained quite some insight into recent research that I didn't have before? Absolutely. People need to remember that this is not the end of all discussion about memory research. It is an argument put forward with often very strong supportive scientific findings, but you can be sure as research progresses you will see dozens of equally well supported counter arguments or otherwise differing views. Again, can a layman learn a lot from this book, yes. Do you have to take it as written in stone facts that have no chance of getting reconsidered when presented with new evidence, no. So for what it is, I'm giving it 5 stars. You can easily finish it in 2-3 days. It's a worthwhile and quite entertaining read... or... at least that's how I remember it...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Seemann

    A tour of what we (think we) know about memory, from experimental psychology over (popular) descriptions of brain anatomy. I had to pay attention in order to be able to follow the biological descriptions, but it's also not my forte. If you ever thought that memory is reliable, you probably don't think so after having read this. I'd already heard enough interviews with Julia Shaw to know what to expect, so new revelations were rare for me. I could imagine that if you don't know what to expect, you' A tour of what we (think we) know about memory, from experimental psychology over (popular) descriptions of brain anatomy. I had to pay attention in order to be able to follow the biological descriptions, but it's also not my forte. If you ever thought that memory is reliable, you probably don't think so after having read this. I'd already heard enough interviews with Julia Shaw to know what to expect, so new revelations were rare for me. I could imagine that if you don't know what to expect, you'd get more out of the book. I appreciated the level of detail. It's a popular book for the interested layman, and it doesn't seem to dumb things down. That does make it a bit dry at times, but that might also be because I knew about much of the contents already, including Shaw's own work into creating false memories.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chouba Nabil

    Book : the memory illusion Book present nice update on the latest research brain memory research, If our memory is gone who we are ? Episodic memory is like Facebook walls Short memory ( working memory) : only for 30s : can store 7±2 number Long term memory ( for longer than 30 sec ) 3.5 years we start having memories (between 2-5) we don’t know what is important that should be remember ( children amnesia ) Brain size: 2-4 week 36% 1 years 72% 2 years 83% 9 years 95% 13 years 100% ( when we start fully re Book : the memory illusion Book present nice update on the latest research brain memory research, If our memory is gone who we are ? Episodic memory is like Facebook walls Short memory ( working memory) : only for 30s : can store 7±2 number Long term memory ( for longer than 30 sec ) 3.5 years we start having memories (between 2-5) we don’t know what is important that should be remember ( children amnesia ) Brain size: 2-4 week 36% 1 years 72% 2 years 83% 9 years 95% 13 years 100% ( when we start fully remembering ) 18-20 peak memory : rememberers bomb : Emergence of the self : those memories who made us who we are. First removal neurone 51% : only most important stay and connection increase. Next removal of synapses after adolescence pruning : optimal minimum deletion 50% watched advertisements in Disney where persons meet Mikey, 50% person meet Bugs Bunny Both says when they want to Disney when they are young meet Mikey or bugs bunny Bugs Bunny is not Disney figure ! Prove that watching adverts induce a memory... Telling people story that is part of there memory and asking them to imagine the situation After 3-4 time section … they start believing that its part of their memory and start giving details of the fake event. Book prove it’s easy to hack the brain and add memory Arrosal : high harte rate, sweating, delayation of eyes => increase memory retention ( there is sweat point ) If we are in same state we remember better : you learned when drinking Tea and lessening to music, to remember do the same. Time is memory and memory is time : we use sequence of past events to feel the time passing. If you are optimistic: you are bad remembering how much it took you in the past. We underestimate what other do, but we are optimistic with ours. Biasing Telescoping : earlier if it’s less than 3 years else it’s later if more that 3 year ( 3 year memory are easy accessible ) Monism : all thinking originate from the brain Dualism : soul & body ( religion ) When we remember, we destroy it. Like in DRAM need to restore it again in longterm memory. A drug can be used to stop the restoring: used for depression: slow down the badly , slow chimical reaction ( like alcohol ) Researchers were able to create false memory using a protein during the muse sleeping dream hippocampus : matrix link neurone work by association to remember It’s the only place where brain is still generate new neurone when old. Eidetic memory : you see and remember the picture in your head 5% children 0% adult ( non-mature memory ) HESM : People who remember all what happened every day ( 56 in the world ) They have better search indexing, work like auto biographical memory They are stuck in the past all time, sensitive to criticism, sensitive. Forgetting is an important thing to : focus, filter , not distracted by stuff not needed. 1/10 autisme are savant: exceptional memory : abnormal big hippocampus ( memory ) , worst memory about their life, they remember facts information, the inverse of auto biographical memory. Inability to understand other selfs difference. Post stress disorder: overly focus on an event, they can’t forget. No one have perfect memory : its build to forget. Memory is attention, when meeting new guy we focus on lot of information and we miss the name. Attention: is filtering non useful thing, being blind Under 2 age : TV/PHONE/iPad/Media is bad, they need interact with real world. Hypnoses 3/4 : work on people that flow suggestions anyway with or without hypnoses. We think we are better than average, superiority illusion, survivorship bias : focus on successes ( like drop for university like S.Jobs, better see the statistics ) 2.5% people are face blindness : (book) man who missed his wife for a hate Inverse : super-recognisers are used for cctv Own race baise: culture shape how we look, scan and identify faces. Difficult to recognise others race faces ( own age baises & gender baises ) We remember faces by consulting our already existing database of faces Confidence in memory don’t mean accuracy Verbalisation : make things worst, make generation computing with existing memory. Photos : create also competing memory. Remember when we access ( via Verbalisation/Photos ) we need to rewrite and restore the memory. If a tree fall in the forest and nobody hears it : does really happen If you have a party and nobody shared in Facebook or tweeter: does it really happens Multitasking: fb and homework correlated with bad results : It overload the brain Thought : neurone fire in same time, work in same frequency => multitasking is impossible We need switching : Alfa wave : quite all neurone 75% chose a conformity solutions => it create strong groupe. if people are running is will save your life to stupidity flow . Knowing that you can access the information imply you will not remember it : Digital amnesia If we have the information and where to find it => brain will save the easy one. Stranger know your face better then you. You appearance change and you only knows some pic or few sec on mirrors. Collective memory: improve accuracy Recalling is better that studying for memory. Freud got all his speculation form his patient not using scientific results He created fake memories using regelation, trama berried in unconcussion memory. Feeling of knowing : is almost true We better remembering something is wired also (nomoniks) make more association helps

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Amazing.... and terrifying! Julia Shaw successfully destroys our confidence in our memories. There is so much poignant and practical information in here, especially for anyone in sociology or criminology fields, or just anyone who interacts with humans. If you think you have a good memory, or that people who make up stories must be lying, or you think that eye-witness accounts are the most reliable form of evidence, this book will change your perspective. Fortunately I never had a great memory a Amazing.... and terrifying! Julia Shaw successfully destroys our confidence in our memories. There is so much poignant and practical information in here, especially for anyone in sociology or criminology fields, or just anyone who interacts with humans. If you think you have a good memory, or that people who make up stories must be lying, or you think that eye-witness accounts are the most reliable form of evidence, this book will change your perspective. Fortunately I never had a great memory anyway. My only gripe is that some of the studies cited seemed less than comprehensive or conclusive, but the overall message of the book was clearly supported by her supporting research.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Truly insightful to the mind and memory and how unreliable it is. Quoting numerous studies done to show how easy our memories are affected or created by suggestions, words, talking about it, memorable occasions and much more. The strength of conviction that a memory is real is not related to the chance of it actually being true. So many false memories are vivid yet impossible to be true by many accounts, reducing the reliability of eye witness accounts and our own perception of self. Relates the Truly insightful to the mind and memory and how unreliable it is. Quoting numerous studies done to show how easy our memories are affected or created by suggestions, words, talking about it, memorable occasions and much more. The strength of conviction that a memory is real is not related to the chance of it actually being true. So many false memories are vivid yet impossible to be true by many accounts, reducing the reliability of eye witness accounts and our own perception of self. Relates the similarity between imagination and memory and how thoughts can easily get transferred over.

  23. 5 out of 5

    MD

    A drastic job change exposed memory issues I wanted to understand better. I wanted to read about actual research on memory - what it is & how it works, rather than a how-to type book at this point. Here I found that. Although Dr. Shaw’s primary interest is false memory, her book first lays down several foundational chapters on memory in order to explain the science behind false memory. Having just finished the book, I now plan to reread some of those foundational chapters. The final chapter prov A drastic job change exposed memory issues I wanted to understand better. I wanted to read about actual research on memory - what it is & how it works, rather than a how-to type book at this point. Here I found that. Although Dr. Shaw’s primary interest is false memory, her book first lays down several foundational chapters on memory in order to explain the science behind false memory. Having just finished the book, I now plan to reread some of those foundational chapters. The final chapter provided some useful information I plan to use in further exploring my newfound interest in memory. p.s. And it explains #thedress.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Judit

    Very engaging. This book is full of everyday examples that make it easy to conceptualise difficult abstract ideas and it's packed with scholarly references so it could be a good starting point for someone interested in further reading on the subject. Very engaging. This book is full of everyday examples that make it easy to conceptualise difficult abstract ideas and it's packed with scholarly references so it could be a good starting point for someone interested in further reading on the subject.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Camio.Dontchaknow

    Interesting. Funnily enough I don't remember much but happy to go through it again Interesting. Funnily enough I don't remember much but happy to go through it again

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna Morgenstern

    Well, if you're looking for an insightful mindfuck that will make you question every memory you've ever had- there you go! On a more serious tone, I found this one very thought-provoking, enlightening, fascinating, and at the same time very reader-friendly, I didn't feel like anything was "too science-y" or went over my head. It will definitely leave you with a lot of food for thought and will change your perspective regarding several topics. Well, if you're looking for an insightful mindfuck that will make you question every memory you've ever had- there you go! On a more serious tone, I found this one very thought-provoking, enlightening, fascinating, and at the same time very reader-friendly, I didn't feel like anything was "too science-y" or went over my head. It will definitely leave you with a lot of food for thought and will change your perspective regarding several topics.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kirstin

    So interesting and left me questioning what was real in my life!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    Some parts were interesting, but I didn't like the Audible narrator. I found her reading flat. The contents didn't completely make up for it. Some parts were interesting, but I didn't like the Audible narrator. I found her reading flat. The contents didn't completely make up for it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ioana

    I absolutely loved it. One of the very few books that made me question myself and what I thought about myself. This book basically makes you look at your own memories critically, then teaches you it’s okay to have a flawed sense of what and how much you remember. The references were on point, I have actually circled some to read the actual papers later on. Loved the ending chapter, it was like a bandage over the wound the rest of the book left. Would recommend it to anyone interested in how the h I absolutely loved it. One of the very few books that made me question myself and what I thought about myself. This book basically makes you look at your own memories critically, then teaches you it’s okay to have a flawed sense of what and how much you remember. The references were on point, I have actually circled some to read the actual papers later on. Loved the ending chapter, it was like a bandage over the wound the rest of the book left. Would recommend it to anyone interested in how the human brain works (at least from a memory-forming and keeping perspective).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    This book is close to exactly what I was looking for. I am interested in memory. It is a complex subject that is so misunderstood. When I watch crime shows or read crime stories I often find that the detectives rely too much on memory - either their own or a witness's. Our memories are subject to variation simply because of the way we store and retrieve memories. Shaw does not discuss the storage part as much as I would have wished, but does explain how we develop false memories (it's easier than This book is close to exactly what I was looking for. I am interested in memory. It is a complex subject that is so misunderstood. When I watch crime shows or read crime stories I often find that the detectives rely too much on memory - either their own or a witness's. Our memories are subject to variation simply because of the way we store and retrieve memories. Shaw does not discuss the storage part as much as I would have wished, but does explain how we develop false memories (it's easier than you might think) and how over time our memories can and usually do change. Even those memories that we think are embedded in our minds, memories of significant emotional events, can be wrong. When I write about incidents from my childhood I am aware that I may not be getting the facts exactly right. I am open to alternative memories. It's fascinating. I am certain that some of my memories aren't even mine, yet they feel like mine. The reasons for our vulnerability to false memories are explained well here. The book is easy to read and absorbing, and I am going to keep it on my shelf for a while, rather than give it away, because I may want to refer to it again and again.

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