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We all misremember things. However, false memories are not so much mistakes but can be very detailed fantasies. Some people remember precise details of an event they attended, only to later realise they were never there.
Being aware of the concept of false memories does not make us immune to it.
False memories are not useless. It seems that they're able to improve our mental processing.
Memories are our reality. Remembering isn't just looking up fact's from our mental files. It's more like telling stories. If we forget, we reconstruct the details, even if the details are false.
When we remember what something 'should' look like, we will often construct a memory to fit the mould.
False memories can also happen to groups and could lead to mass delusions. People were shown a fake CCTV footage of a shop robbery and discussed what they’d seen. One of the participants introduced false ideas: the thief had a gun, right? Three in four people later recounted these fabricated ‘facts’ when questioned.
Scientists think that memories help us prepare for imagined future scenarios: If I do this, then that will be the result.
Sometimes a plausible guess, shown as a false memory, can be better than no idea at all.
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