I’m an Awful Source

APS Past-President Elizabeth Loftus

APS Past-President Elizabeth Loftus

That’s the conclusion of Joel Stein in this recent Time article. “I’ve always been proud that my columns are 100% accurate, which isn’t all that hard since I write only about me. But,” says Stein, “it turns out that I’m an awful source.”

Keeping facts straight in our memory is a difficult task for humans, but the Internet has made it easier for us to record our lives, and just as easy for others to fact check. Stein writes “that night we fell in love instantly with our spouse? There’s a wall post on our Facebook Timeline and a Gmail to our best friend about how we weren’t sure if we wanted a second date… If I tell my son that I walked six miles in the snow to school, he’ll GPS it on his Google Goggles and tell me it was only 1.7 miles.”

For insight on the science behind our inaccurate memories, Stein reached out to APS Past-President Elizabeth Loftus, from University of California, Irving. Loftus, winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology and the 2010 AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award among others, is well-known for demonstrating that our memory is far from foolproof.

Loftus told Stein that she thinks a future of constantly realizing our stories are wrong will be a happy one. “It should make us more tolerant when we hear people say things that we don’t think are true. Because it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lying,” Loftus says. “It will be better for relationships. It’s going to make things better for justice.”

Read the full article “Don’t Speak, Memory

To learn more about Elizabeth Loftus read Mind Changer and Game Changer, ‘Memory, Like Liberty, Is a Fragile Thing’ or watch Inside the Psychologist’s Studio: Beth Loftus.

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