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Kavanaugh Investigation: False Memories and a SCOTUS Nomination

Image from Fox News

How Can Two Credible, Opposing Testimonies be Correct?

After the much-ballyhooed Hearing featuring Dr. Christine Ford and Honorable Judge Brett Kavanaugh the obvious takeaways are- on the one hand, Dr. Ford who seemed highly credibly and vulnerable, offering heart-wrenching testimony detailing an alcohol crazed incident of violence and on the other, Brett Kavanaugh who has a sparkling career as a Judge. How then, if both seem credible, can both be right? To a larger extent, can any be found wrong regarding culpability?

The question then, begging to be answered becomes “What are memories?”

Memories are an imperfect archive of our experiences. False memories then are circumstances in which we are possessed of positive (affirming), definite memories (tangible and visceral) of events that did not happen to us- Read Brainerd & Reyna, 2005

These memories become cemented in our psyche and take shape with a determinate quality, taking attributes of our surroundings, and inputs to our world.

Elizabeth Loftus, noted Memory Researcher, proved that it is indeed possible to induce a false memory, by suggestion! Additionally, once planted they grow more convincing over time! See “The Formation of False Memories” by Elizabeth Loftus for more information.

How Can You Determine If a Memory is False?

So “how” then, can one determine whether a memory is valid or not? To the person experiencing the false memory, very little will reveal our deception. As with most things, the truth is always subject to our own bias. We want to be fooled.

To the person witnessing a false memory, a rendering of reality, there will always be an area undeveloped. It is hard to create an accurate duplication of a timed event; it is impossible to account for a 24-hr period and 3D imprint from our limited perspectives, especially while being inspected. There will always be tells where coverage lapses and significant gaps persist. Life is fluid, and our understanding is subjective. When evaluated by others, false memories fail inspection because we just are not able to thoroughly anticipate every angle of inspection or perception.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony

Let’s take a look at Dr. Ford’s testimony:

“I assume that someone drove you to and from the party to your parent’s home?” (Which was established to be 8.6 miles away) - Inspector Rachel Mitchell

“Yes” - Dr. Ford

“How did you get to the party?’ - Inspector Rachel Mitchell

“I don’t remember” - Dr. Ford

One would immediately remember a girlfriend helping us get ready, impressions of people at the event, the thoughts of interaction with drunken and rowdy boys and possibly asked a friend to escort to the facilities or perhaps someone more familiar with the surroundings.

The lack of existence of these elements is what precludes credibility issues, and despite the abundance of emotionality, the fact that the imaging created is devoid of a proportional environmental response is in practicum evidence of a creative process, and not one of recollection.

One believes by way of influence, the other by detail-rich experience.

Kevin McLemore, Ph.D. / Guest Contributor
Not so young, black, conservative. Believe in the grace of marriage and balance of family. Life has purpose. Finding and maintaining it is the challenge.
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