False memory

Our memories are not a neutral record of events, but are vulnerable to various kinds of distortion. Experimental studies have shown that not only are we highly predisposed to ‘remember’ things that actually never happened at all, it is also surprisingly easy to implant false memories in people at will.

False memory can enter the ‘paranormal’ arena when the thing that never really occurred happens to be something impossible or weird. This can be the case if – for instance – we recall as an actual occurrence something that was really a dream; or if we mistake as a real event something that only happened in a story or film.

Sometimes, people can base large portions of their identity or beliefs on things that really never happened at all, which – in the absence of corroborating evidence, or sometimes even with solid evidence to the contrary – can make this form of misperception very difficult to see around.

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