We Can’t Rely on Our Memories

I had an experience at work today that nicely illustrates the faultiness of our memories.

Last week I was supposed to mail these letters, and I was 100% sure that I mailed them, there was no doubt in my mind. The people waiting for them had called a few times already and I told them yes I sent them. It was Wednesday afternoon, I was on my way out and I quickly packed them in the inter-office envelopes and popped them in the mail. I remember it so clearly as if I were doing it right now.

Finally today, after my boss asked me about them and I once again asserted that I did send them, I actually checked to make sure they weren’t still sitting on my desk. And lo and behold there they were. I could have checked easily the first time somebody asked if I had sent them, but my memory of sending them was so clear that I didn’t have an ounce of doubt.

I’m pretty sure that what actually happened was that it was the end of the day, I didn’t have time to address the letters, so I put them down on my desk to remind myself to send them the next morning. Somehow that mental note to remember to send them turned into a clear memory of popping them into the mail.

This is why eyewitness accounts of UFOs, hauntings, or anything for that matter are not to be taken as evidence. Our memories can be altered over time to the point where they no longer resemble what actually took place, even with something as mundane as mailing a letter.

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2 Responses to “We Can’t Rely on Our Memories”


  1. 1 Global Villager August 7, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Good point. It is amazing how we can alter reality. Memories are an interesting thing. Do you know anything about deja vu and what that is about? That is always a very strange feeling.

    On a related note, I was listening to the George Noory radio program early this morning on my way to work (very entertaining show about myriad of scientific and current topics, though George has “paranormalphilia”). He had a neurologist on who made a really cool point. When asked why he entered the field he said it has always fascinated him and to understand the outside world it is important to understand the brain because it is what constructs our reality for us. For example, colours are simply our brain’s interpretation of electromagnetic waves. If our brain was set up another way we would see things differently. Everything must go through the filter that is our brain and the way each person perceives identical phenomena can be vastly different based on their core beliefs, education etc. The truth is subjective!

  2. 2 linzeebinzee August 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Deja vu…I was actually listening to a podcast where they talked about deja vu a couple of weeks ago. If I’m remembering correctly, they were saying that deja vu is normally either that you’re actually doing something that you’ve done before but you forgot, or it could be a misfiring in the part of the brain that triggers familiarity. The brain is a cool thing!

    Deja vu…I was actually listening to a podcast where they talked about deja vu a couple of weeks ago. If I’m remembering correctly, they were saying that deja vu is normally either that you’re actually doing something that you’ve done before but you forgot, or it could be a misfiring in the part of the brain that triggers familiarity. The brain is a cool thing!

    Deja vu…I was actually listening to a podcast where they talked about deja vu a couple of weeks ago. If I’m remembering correctly, they were saying that deja vu is normally either that you’re actually doing something that you’ve done before but you forgot, or it could be a misfiring in the part of the brain that triggers familiarity. The brain is a cool thing!


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