Police interrogation techniques generate false memories of committing crimes




Two links with additional data:

There was a big noise about satanic ritual abuse that involved this kind of iatrogenic false memories.


Never talk to the cops. Never.


Never talk to anyone for that matter! I wonder if this is how my wife wins so many arguments.


Is there a type of person that can never remember having done anything wrong, and is that type particularly well-represented in certain occupations?


I’ve always wanted to exploit this to make myself truly believe I had a fantastic Narnia-esque adventure in another dimension where I saved a whole civilization, and then returned to Earth as if no time has passed.

Sadly, though, it’s never worked out.


Would a false memory of committing a crime in Narnia work better?



Look, I promised not to tell anybody this but… the reason Mr. Tumnus was shirtless when Lucy met him was because I stole his jacket. In my defense, it was a very cold day and a VERY nice jacket. And I left him his scarf.


I think the problem here is listening to the cops.


This is a completely unbelievable psychological trick to use on your spouse if you can stomach feeling like you a kind of subhuman monster: when they do something that they do all the time that annoys you, tell them that it surprises you because that’s not like them at all. For instance, suppose they are never remembering to unload the dishwasher. Instead of getting irritated, say, “That’s not like you, you always unload the dishwasher right when its finished.”

Somehow, this actually changes how people behave. I know someone who has used it to success despite telling her husband exactly what she was going to do.


The most incredible part of this story to me is the part where they tell people that they implanted the memory and the people are like, “Nope.” Having memories implanted is just a vulnerability in our brain architecture, I’m pretty sure. But believing that your memories are infallible is definitely something that you can get over, and if people are getting out of gradeschool without knowing that their memories are made up bits of nonsense their brains strung together that can’t be trusted, I think our education system is failing.


What could possibly go wrong?


Well, I “liked” the post. I’ll let you know what my partner thinks in a few days.

(Hoo boy! I’m very surprised at this. It’s not like you to burst out of a hiding spot and pelt me point-blank with paint pellets.)


Interesting, especially in light of how many of the lay memory experts in the Brian Williams case assert all sort of nonsense about the indelible nature of memories formed under stressful circumstances.


A related anecdote: I’ve assisted with police training at my local college a couple times. Both times I was given a sheet of paper detailing the crime my character committed which I was going to be interrogated about. I asked around a bit, and everyone else who had participated in these training interrogations also played a criminal. No one played an innocent person. (Admittedly, my sample size was only about three people besides myself.)


No surprise. With the amount of laws around (see “Three felonies a day”), nobody is truly innocent anymore.


Yeah, whatever. You’re not getting parole until you admit your dirty deeds.

Interesting, though, 0% innocent role-players. The police probably just assess their arrest records and make the training scenarios reflect that real-life ratio.


Interesting…I don’t know many cops, but I’m always surprised that the ones I do know seem to have an extreme confidence in their ability to detect when people are lying/really guilty. But most of their explanations of how seem like Confirmation Bias 101.


Or my ex-! (joking) (not really)

False memories go hand in hand with a traumatic past. If you had to do it as a kid, to survive, you, sadly, probably can and might do it as an adult. I cannot say someone will do it, because will has nothing to do with false memories.

That’s my anecdotal experience of several friends and former friends who had survived childhood abuses of several varieties. They ALSO can find false memories to cover up the times when, as an adult, -they- were the abusive one.

Sometimes abuse of kids leaves marks that you and I can see, but the victim cannot. False memories are, in my experience of them, like that. They come with a blind spot.

I do wonder if the police have come to use this foible of human psychology to their advantage.