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9. Remembering: Hacks 81–92 > 85. Create False Memories

Create False Memories

Here is one way of creating memories of things that you haven’t actually experienced.

We’ve seen how memory’s way of orienting us to our surroundings has all the ingredients for a hack [Fake Familiarity]—a fast-and-loose process that is expressed through gut sensation. Here we will see that even more measured and absolute experiences, like recalling an event or information, can also be fooled. The processes that sit behind familiarity, or word recall (in this example), use a whatever-works principle. They’re ad hoc, not carefully designed filing systems that pack away memories and bring them out later for comparison or regurgitation. By seeing where these processes break down, here by constructing very simple false memories, we can shed light on how memory works.


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