Thursday, September 27, 2018

Important Facts About Human Memory That Everyone Should Know

Alright, assholes. Let's do a little mental exercise here.

I want you to imagine that someone you really don't like is nominated for a position on the Supreme Court of the U.S. So you decide to make up a sexual assault allegation in order to stop it from happening.

Imagine you have a pretty good head on your shoulders. Maybe you're even, I don't know, a brain surgeon. Skipping over the fact that you'd probably invent a completed rape rather than an attempt, imagine your story gets attention and succeeds in getting a hearing before the Senate. You have time to prepare your statement and for any questions you predict coming up.

Do you:

A) Come up with all the obvious details about the night because you know you're going to be grilled for the deets, or
B) Wing it and just say you can't remember when they ask for details?

These are the kind of inconvenient things that asshole conservatives don't think about because it would be inconvenient to their narrative/their attempt to drag the country back to the 1950s.

Now let's do a more serious exercise. Think back to an event in your life, 10, 20, 30 years ago. Something important enough to remember pretty clearly. Now try to remember it REALLY clearly. Try to remember the small details. How did you get there? What time was it? Who was with you? What were you wearing?

Unless you have a photographic memory, it's pretty tough, yeah?

That's because human memory is, say it with me now, fallible.

Normally, human memories of any event start to fade the moment after they're made. According to neuroscientists Daniela Schiller, a memory changes every time you recall it. So even the things you do recall are not 100% correct.

This is under normal circumstances. When you introduce trauma into the mix, things get all kinds of fucked up. First of all, during a highly stressful situation, such as when a random dude pulls you into a room, sexually assaults you, and you think you might die, your brain goes into self-preservation mode. All of its resources go into the flight, fight, or freeze response, and your blood rushes to your limbs as adrenaline spikes.

There's not a lot of room for perfect memory processing in the mix there.

If you have any idea about how the brain works, like, say, if you were a brain surgeon, then you would know that trauma will often sear certain memories into the brain while background details are often completely absent. Some may remember very little or nothing at all of the incident, but the most common result is vivid memories of the assault at the expense of everything else.

So the fact that Dr. Ford doesn't remember unimportant details about the night of her assault but vividly remembers the assault itself tells me, an informed individual, that she is not lying and the assault did happen. A savvy liar would know that Republicans would expect perfect recall and ask a bunch of inane little "gotcha" questions and be prepared with a perfectly fleshed-out story. If Dr. Ford had come with that, then I would be suspicious. But her fallible recall fits the profile of a trauma victim perfectly.

Of course, even if Senate Republicans and other conservatives did/do know this about memory, they'd still put on this fucking circus show to try and discredit her to the uninformed public. They'll pretend they don't know that she's clearly not lying all the way to the grave if it gets them more power. That's why I do my exercises daily.

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