Monday, June 6, 2011

Today might be the wrong day to start re-reading PKD ...

NeuroLogica Blog » Implanting False Memory

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Memory is just one aspect of this picture – memories are living evolving things, not static recordings. We all experience and can understand memory fade – the older a memory, the more faded the details tend to be. We intuitively get that just from our own experience. But that is not the extent of the problems with human memory. Each time we remember something, we reinvent the memory – it changes, updates to account for our current knowledge, details can be added or altered, two or more memories can fuse, and false memories can be fabricated out of whole cloth.

That last bit is the part that most people have a hard time accepting – that a clear and confident memory can be a complete fabrication – a false memory. We tend to equate vividness and details with high confidence in the accuracy of a memory. Yet, high confidence is not a predictor of accuracy.
"High confidence is not a predictor of accuracy." We've all heard about, and probably felt, existential dread at some point in our lives. But it's the epistemological dread that always gets me.

Related: Sam Harris on Free Will.

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