Researchers knew they could up that 20 percent figure. In another test, an unsuspecting group of people who had visited Disneyland in the past were placed in a room with a cardboard cutout of Bugs Bunny and/or were shown fake ads for Disneyland featuring Bugs. Afterwards, 40 percent claimed they vividly remembered seeing a guy in a Bugs Bunny costume when they were at Disneyland. They didn't, of course (Bugs isn't a Disney character).
Another study took it a step further, and actually Photoshopped a picture of each subject riding in a hot air balloon. When asked if they recalled this non-event, 50 percent said they did. Other experiments successfully convinced people they had at one time nearly drowned, been hospitalized or been attacked by a wild animal.
How Does It Work?
Your brain kind of plays it fast and loose when it stores memories, and for good reason: Usually the details don't matter. You remember your best friend's phone number but don't remember exactly where and when he told you. You remember that you hate zucchini, but don't remember what day of the week you tried it. Your brain breaks up memories into a stew of general lessons learned and important stuff you'll need later.
The problem is that same process makes it very difficult to distinguish real memories from fake ones since the source of a memory is so often discarded in the stew. A fact you think you read in a newspaper might in reality have been read in a fictional novel, or heard from a friend, or dreamed, or implanted by somebody who's fucking with you.
So not only could somebody do this for you (though it would have to be set up so that you don't know where and when) but it seems like you could run a pretty successful business just implanting happy childhoods for people.
You know, like that time you found out you were adopted, and that your real parents were the Thundercats.
Read more from Joe at For Us... By Other People.
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Discover what other powers your mind is withholding from you, in 5 Superpowers You Didn't Know Your Body Was Hiding From You. Or discover whether or not science is trying to turn your crippling obesity into awesome super strength (hint: they aren't), in 5 Technologies That Turn Handicaps Into Super Powers.
And stop by our Top Picks to see Brockway's decent into madness as he tries to sleep only two hours a day.
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