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https://worldlife.jp/archives/10983The other day, I was surprised at the TV news that about 60% of the Australian people remember being maltreated during their childhood, including less than 30% sexually abused.
It sounds serious. But is it true? It just sounds too serious to be true.
Luckily, I have once read a book on how untrustworthy our memories are.
The most memorable experiment was conducted the morning following the tragic explosion of the NASA space shuttle Challenger, killing all the crew on board, which occurred while the whole world was watching the liftoff. The experimenters asked a whole class of students about the circumstances under which they heard about this accident. They kept their answers and asked the same subjects the same questions two and a half years later.
The differences between the two group of answers were dramatic. For example, one subject living in the dorm had reported that he was told about this incident from X at 11:30 a.m. and went back to his own room alone, reporting two and a half years later, however, that he was told by Y at 1:10p.m. in the company of Z. When he was shown his answers written by his own hand, he denied that it was correct.
If what an eminent neuroscientist says is true, we can assume that 60% positive answers can include a quarter of false positives, i.e. about 45 percent of the subjects can have been maltreated during childhood, which is still alarming, but more trustworthy, it seems.
These figures need verifying, to say the least, which is easier said than done.