Editor of End the Lie
A recent study has found that people can have memories of events that never occurred implanted in a laboratory setting, even when they know that it never actually happened. Combining these findings with the reality of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) hallucination-inducing technology and you have the potential for both the reliability of our memory and perception to be manipulated and thus become completely unreliable.
In 2010, Giuliana Mazzoni and Lucy Harvey of the University of Hall in the UK along with Alan Scoboria of the University of Windsor conducted a survey of over 1,500 undergraduate students.
These researchers found that almost an entire quarter of the individuals surveyed reported having a memory of an event which they know or believe did not actually happen.
Now a group of psychologists including Andrew Clark, Robert Nash, Gabrielle Fincham, and Giuliana Mazzoni have conducted a three-stage study which was actually able to produce false memories which persisted despite the fact that the participants knew, and no longer believed, they had ever performed the actions.
As per usual, a certain amount of deception was involved in the study. Twenty participants were brought to a psychology lab for what they thought was a study dealing with mimicry.
They were filmed as they sat across from a research associate and repeated the actions of the researcher. Actions were simple and included snapping fingers, clapping hands, rubbing the table, etc.
Each participant would watch the researcher passively then mimic their actions. In total, 26 different actions were mimicked by each participant.
Two days later, participants were shown clips taken from the earlier footage which showed them watching the researcher perform actions.
However, this time two clips had been manipulated to show the participant passively watching the researcher perform actions that were actually never part of the original sessions.
BPS Research Digest explains, “Because the participants had earlier mimicked all the actions that they’d witnessed, the doctored footage gave the strong impression that they must have mimicked those two new actions even though they hadn’t. This set-up provided a powerful means of inducing false memories – 68 per cent of the participants’ memory ratings for the fake actions suggested they “remembered” performing the actions. Their belief that they’d performed these actions was similar in strength to their memories.”
Four hours later the participants were brought back into the lab for a final session during which they were told that they had been tricked.
Participants were then asked to provide memory and belief ratings for the different actions which showed that for a whopping 25 percent of fake actions, participants reported stronger memory scores than belief scores.
This means that their false memories of having performed actions which never occurred continued to be held even after they no longer believed that they had ever performed the actions.
Not only does this raise some questions about the reliability of memory and perception, but it also raises some major ethical questions dealing with this type of memory research.
“To the extent that debriefing might not always completely ‘undo’ the effects of suggestive manipulation, we might question the ethics of inducing false memories in experimental participants,” Clark said. “Is it ethical for participants to leave research labs with remnants of non-believed false memory content in the forefront of their minds?”
Future research into this type of memory, known as “non-believed memory,” will likely explore if belief is required for the initial creation of memories, even if that belief is later eliminated as it was when subjects were debriefed in the study.
“Or, alternatively,” said the researchers, “can memories form completely in the absence of belief?”
One must wonder, when you combine weaponized hallucinations like those being developed by DARPA and findings like these, could people soon have completely fabricated memories implanted in their minds?
After all, Putin reportedly confirmed that Russia is actively working on psychotronic weaponry, so it can only be expected that we are going to leverage findings like these and related technology to psychologically terrorize the supposed enemy.
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