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Posts Tagged ‘Misinformation’

The Barnum effect- Your horoscope just came in: There really is a sucker born every minute!

April 24th, 2018 No comments

In case there was any confusion…

Hello, and welcome to your reading! While you may have come here looking for some interesting cognitive facts or tidbits, what you’re really in for is a personality profile created specifically for YOU. Through our unique system of assessment, here are your results…

-You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage.

Was it accurate? Do you feel as though you can suddenly trust the powerful abilities of this post to predict your innermost emotions and traits? If you answered yes or felt that the reading uniquely matched you, then you’ve fallen victim to the Barnum effect. Named after the infamous showman P.T. Barnum, this effect refers to the tendency for people to give high accuracy ratings to personality descriptions that, although said to be unique, can apply to the general population. Barnum famously said that there is a sucker born every minute, and this tendency may explain why those “suckers” seem so gullible. From fortune cookies to the Long Island Medium to Buzzfeed personality tests, this effect explains why people are so eager to accept general profiles that have no veridical backing as the truth.

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Eager To Please: Confabulation in healthy and amnesic individuals

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

If we can trust anyone, we should first trust ourselves, right? Not always, as cases of confabulation tell us. Imagine not being able to trust the accuracy of your own memory! And worse, not even knowing that you can’t trust it!

Individuals who confabulate genuinely believe that their memory is accurate, when in fact they are reporting or remembering false things. For example, an amnesic patient might tell a doctor an elaborate story about his weekend, which he says he spent in New York City exploring art museums. In reality, the patient was in the hospital the entire weekend, but has no doubt that the story he’s relaying to his doctor is true.

Confabulation is the unconscious process of producing false memories, and it can affect anyone. Those affected by confabulation range from amnesic patients to an average person participating in a psychological study. Obviously, the severity and consequences of the confabulation vary depending on the individual and the situation.
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Bombers and Plagiarism: How Memory Misattributions can get us in Trouble

February 22nd, 2017 No comments

www.dailymail.co.uk

On April 19 of 1995, 168 people lost their lives in one of the most devastating cases of domestic terrorism on US soil. Although many remember Timothy McVeigh as the primary culprit of this attack, in the days shortly after the attack, a nationwide hunt for an accomplice was underway, based on the recollections of an employee at the garage where McVeigh had rented the van used in the attack. A mug shot of the suspect was widely circulated and rumors about accomplices abounded. However, after an extensive investigation, no such suspect was identified and McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who provided material support, were the only two people held responsible for the bombing. To this date, many a conspiracy theory still suggest a second bomber was involved, even if the authorities declared the case to be closed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_City_bombing_conspiracy_theories). Although many cases of mistaken eyewitness testimony occur (Zaragoza & Lane, 1994), with many innocent people sentenced to jail (https://www.innocenceproject.org/) it is less common for a witness to remember a suspect who never existed. So, where did John Doe 2 come from? And how was he implicated in – and later cleared of – any wrong-doing?

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Do You Remember What Happened? The Power of Memory Distortion

May 1st, 2014 2 comments

A memory is an event we remember from our past. We have memories of the first time we rode a bike, the time we graduated high school, our first boyfriend/girlfriend and even memories of where we were on 9/11. We believe that our memories are true recollections of what happened, and that what we remember is accurate. However, this isn’t always true; memories are fallible even under the best conditions. In fact, false memories, implanted memories and misinformation are very likely to distort our memory.

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