Memory and Guilty Verdicts

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

400px-Elizabeth_Loftus-TAM_9-July_2011I’d only planned to write one guest blog this weekend, but this morning on Huffington Post I saw a video from a TED lecture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TED_%28conference%29  The lecture was from Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Loftus  who has been studying false memories since the 1970’s. She links what she discovered with one of the failings of our Criminal Justice System, with the false memories reported in court. This is an 18 minute lecture but it is well worth your time and bears directly on the topics we discuss here on the Law Blog. I must note that in it she is critical of certain psychotherapy techniques and I am a psychotherapist. Despite my training and profession I believe her critiques are on point and illustrate one of the problems inherent in some psychotherapies. For any readers that are interested in our legal system and who care about its problems, viewing this will represent time well spent.  My technical skills are such that I don’t know how to properly make the video appear in WordPress but if you click on the following link you will be able to see it:     Mystery of Memory 

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

75 thoughts on “Memory and Guilty Verdicts”

  1. I watched/listened to the full video. Mike Spindell’s link worked fine. I have to say a few things here that will not be popular with the original blogger or many of his commenters; nevertheless they would do well to shut up & read/listen for a brief moment in the interests of truth, a very key concept in this blog. You should all certainly read & study what has already been done by that very busy author L Ron Hubbard. Put aside your biases & false memories on the man courtesy of the internet or media vested interest. Read what he has to say about memory, hypnosis, the three minds & the brain. You will get this from Dianetics & Scientology; two broad discoveries on the mind & spirit. If you have trouble with the science of the spirit, you can stick to Dianetics as in one of three main books on the subject & simply learn about the mind.
    Most of what Elizabeth Loftus has to say in the video has been covered & expanded on in these subjects by Hubbard. Of course, Ms Loftus’ take on relating to law enforcement is noted & approved. Before completing the science of the mind that is Dianetics in 1950, Hubbard had tried hypnotism as part of his research & concluded that it was NOT a good idea to continue with that. Once you get this subject under your belt, a relatively short & easy cycle for you studious lawyer types, you will see why. Once you grasp what the Reactive Mind is & how it works, this will also become clear. Now there IS a way to get to the truth of almost anything from an undrugged subject who is not completely psychotic. Ms Loftus thought there was not, but she has obviously not mastered Dianetic or Scientology auditing (guided questioning with an emphasis on listening, understanding & acknowledging, and always getting an answer to questions) as I & many others have.
    I will probably not follow on the ridiculous refusal of any one of you to read Dianetics with an open=&-willing-to-learn mind; lets give others a chance to do exactly that.

    1. “You should all certainly read & study what has already been done by that very busy author L Ron Hubbard. Put aside your biases & false memories on the man courtesy of the internet or media vested interest. Read what he has to say about memory, hypnosis, the three minds & the brain. You will get this from Dianetics & Scientology; two broad discoveries on the mind & spirit. If you have trouble with the science of the spirit, you can stick to Dianetics as in one of three main books on the subject & simply learn about the mind.”

      Travelling Limey,

      As I’ve told you before I have read many of Hubbard’s books and unlike you I actually heard Hubbard talk about Dianetics in the 50’s. Good Science Fiction writer of the space opera variety. Bad psychologist and worse philosopher. If his work has made a difference in your life more power to you. However, from my perspective when it came to Scientology the man was a con man with a great money making idea. At my age, with my education, training and life experience I don’t need Scientology, but if you do….go for it.

  2. OS — that observation you describe is also very much about choosing audience members who are, not only suggestible, but willing to play along and able do it well.

    One never wants to get a poor performer on stage.

    As an (extremely) amateur conjurer myself, I am ethically restricted from commenting further.

  3. Mike,
    I noticed that too. As a lifetime student of nuanced language, that is a typical textbook passive-aggressive response. Starts out fine, but the passive-aggressive can’t seem to help doing that. I got a similar “apology” from a long time friend yesterday. A similar last line with a subtle dig was just enough to make me never trust that friend again. Too bad. Reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the fox.

    Certainly not as obvious as one of those, “If I offended anyone…” non-apology apologies, but bad enough.

  4. Nick,
    I appreciate your apology. My biggest hope is that something broken here can mend. And, that we on this blog are ‘adversaries’ only in mind and opinion but not in heart.

    My mom said to me and my siblings over and over again, “Take the high road.” It may take two to tangle but only one to take the high road.

    Have a good evening. May tomorrow be a brighter day. 🙂

  5. Prairie Rose, I apologize specifically to you also. You’re correct, the vitriol has increased and I accept my responsibility. I doubt you will see anyone else do so. But being a wise person, you know it takes 2, or in this case about 10, to tangle. C’est la vie.

    1. “I doubt you will see anyone else do so. But being a wise person, you know it takes 2, or in this case about 10, to tangle. C’est la vie.”

      That is not a sincere apology Nick and you know it. It sets up the false equivalency that you were not the only person to create this vitriolic atmosphere. I’ve apologized twice to David in this past week and my apologies were unequivocal. This “apology” of yours carried within it an element that exculpated your behavior. That is the classic example of an insincere false apology.

  6. Elaine,
    “He’s made snide/nasty comments before this thread.”

    Yes, I have noticed that recently. I meant in the past few weeks or months versus a year ago. The vitriol seems to have ramped up rather swiftly. I do not recall it from much earlier. Perhaps my memory is poor (ah, the irony on this thread), or, I missed long previous cantankerous threads, which is also possible.

    Either way it makes me sad.

  7. That was over the line and I sincerely apologize. I am a donor. I tried to be a bone marrow donor for my sister but did not match. But, I kept my name on the donor list and will be one for an anonymous person. This is a list that REALLY needs donors, particularly black and Hispanic people. I say this to show just how callous and hurtful it was. It was not done out of ignorance, but our of anger. My apologies again to MikeS and everyone on this blog. I have no excuse. My explanation was to show how wrong I knew it was.

  8. Prairie Rose,
    The data show that about one in five persons is highly suggestible. They make excellent hypnotic subjects. The other end of the spectrum is that about 20% of the general population is quite resistant to suggestion. What I have found among those people is psychological rigidity, tendency to be suspicious of the motives of others and an almost pathological need to be in control. They are often passive-aggressive.

    The 20% of the population that are suggestible are usually eager to please, don’t mind letting others suggest things to them, and are trusting. The middle 60% of the general population falls along the spectrum between those two extremes.

    Stage hypnotists select ‘volunteers’ from the audience by warming them up, as do many other entertainers. They may ask the audience to imagine they have the world’s biggest lemon on the table in front of them. They proceed to act out preparing the lemon for cutting, sharpening the imaginary knife and so forth. Then making a cutting motion, describe the juice squirting out into the audience. While doing this, the hypnotist watches the audience to see who reacts by dodging and squinching their eyes as if they actually feel the lemon juice. After several more imagination exercises, the magician will have been able to select the half dozen or so audience members who are most suggestible. Those are the ones invited to the stage. Of course, by that time the suggestible persons find it almost impossible to resist the instruction to come up on the stage.

    Even when I was in high school, I was fascinated by the power of suggestion. My grandfather had taught me a number of stage hypnotist tricks by the time I was fourteen. In my lectures when I was teaching postgraduate classes in psychology, I demonstrated some of the ways false memories can not only be planted, but removed from memory as well. There was this one student who had been a fighter pilot in Vietnam. He is now a practicing lawyer. He volunteered in class and I got him to forget the number seven. The expression on his face was priceless when I asked him a few simple arithmetic problems and then asked him to add five and two.

  9. Gee, I’d really like to take part in this discussion…but I’m getting drowsy now. Nick was right when he said “Old ladies need naps” on another thread.

  10. Nick,

    For goodness sakes….. Must you piss on everyone at once? I’ve been reading these exchanges and they usually start with nick being dismissive of someone….. You might want to change stragetys….. Why go after LK, what did she do other than speak her truth…..

  11. Nick,
    I generally enjoy the posts you have written. They offered a different perspective on the topics. And, I have found I have agreed with you on a variety things.

    However, “And, the donor family called, they want their heart back.” that is just mean and uncalled for.

    What’s going on? You didn’t used to comment like that! I may not have been posting for long, but I’ve been reading for awhile and something seems to have changed…

    1. “However, “And, the donor family called, they want their heart back.” that is just mean and uncalled for.”

      Prairie Rose,

      He really wrote that? I must have missed it in the flurry of E mails I’ve gotten today. Knowing I had a heart transplant just three years ago that was a despicable thing to say. You know I loathe Dick Cheney, who has also had a heart transplant, but having gone through the experience of almost dying only to be reborn, I could never wish that on Cheney or complain that he had one. You’ve been here only a short while but this has been how Nick has behaved since his first time on the blog. He has been warned on a number of occasions by Professor Turley. However, this is a “free speech” blog and knowing that Nick has tested the limits because of his hatred for about half of the guest bloggers. Their crime……..disagreeing with him. Anyway, you can make your own judgments.

  12. What makes people more suggestible?

    Are highly imaginative people more suggestible?

    Otteray Scribe, you talked about “highly suggestible people” and then later say that “anyone and everyone is susceptible to having false memories implanted.” To what degree?

    I think there are some nuances that I’m missing. 🙂

  13. Just finish the back nine Mr. Paternalistic. Get over to the toxic thread, they need more venom. And, the donor family called, they want their heart back.

  14. I was taught the following in college:

    Our brains are designed to “construct” all manner of memories in order for us to make sense of our everyday world. If our brains captured memories as photographs or movies do, as unchanging exact images, we might have trouble with simple tasks like reading because every possible font-type we might encounter of the capital letter “A” would have to be “photographed” by our brains to be learned as another version of the letter “A.” Because we have constructive memory ability, we are able to instantly understand many different fonts of the capital letter “A” even in fonts we have not encountered before. Thus, we are able to recognize that that large plant is a “tree” even if we have never seen that type of tree before. This is an incredibly useful ability, but very detrimental when it comes to eye witness memory.

  15. Mike Appleton, et al.:

    “This is a great topic, Mike. I recall a case out of California some years ago involving allegations of sexual abuse at a child care center.”

    I remember that also, I think that was in the Bakersfield or Fresno area. Here’s a link to a documentary (I haven’t watched it yet) that I belive is about this incident.

    http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/witch_hunt?autoplay=true

    Here’s the synopsis:

    “WITCH HUNT is a documentary about punishment without crime. It’s John Stoll’s story, and the story of hundreds of other men and women who found themselves ensnared in a spiral of fear, ignorance and hysteria — an eerie echo of the tragic events that unfolded in Salem, Massachusetts more than 300 years ago.

    WITCH HUNT tell John’s story, but the focus goes far beyond one man. The film also travels through the lives of other men, women and children whose worlds were suddenly shattered by events that can only be described as surreal. The film examines the unraveling of one town’s justice system. In Bakersfield, California in the mid 1980s, it didn’t take much to be charged, arrested and convicted for the heinous crime of child molestation. All of those involved have a tale to tell, but John has a distinction that makes his story particularly compelling. He spent more years behind bars than any of the others…twenty long years.”

  16. Sexism..that’s a first! My feminist wife would be SHOCKED! So would my daughter and sister. We’ve been married for 37 years and Leslyn never knew she was married to a sexist. I’ll be sure to tell her when she returns from a book signing.

    1. “We’ve been married for 37 years and Leslyn never knew she was married to a sexist. I’ll be sure to tell her when she returns from a book signing.”

      Aside from your wife, who you brought into this, being a Saint for tolerating you I don’t think she has been reading your sexists posts directed at Elaine, SwM, Juliet and others. You unerringly patronize women on this site and the sad part about it is that is that they are all smarter than you. Then again, after 37 years of marriage to someone much smarter than you, you probably take out your verbal aggression on women here, because when you’ve tried arguing with her she puts you in your place. BTW whatever happened to Europe? You were supposed to be there by now.

  17. The comment about not welcoming Mespo back was directed @ the golf course shrink.

    1. “The comment about not welcoming Mespo back was directed @ the golf course shrink.”

      Instigating again Nick. What happened to your apologizing to JT and promising to stop doing your agitating. Lying again?

Comments are closed.