Thanks to Aaron and Frontal Cortex for simultaneously alerting us to this fantastic animation that recounts a charming real life case of a false memory.
Families are like incubators for false memories because each family has its favourite stories, anecdotes and foundational myths that get passed on, retold and molded in the retelling, like an intergeneration game of Chinese whispers.
I have many early memories that I simply don’t know whether I genuinely remember, or I just think I do, because I’ve heard stories or seen the photos so many times.
I love listening to families talk about memories, because its fascinating to hear how recollections can vary, each highlighting a different aspect, as well as how they resolve conflicting accounts.
The animation shows exactly this process in action, showing us that remembering is more than just an individual process, it’s often a group activity.
Link to This American Life animation on memory.