We judge things to be true based on how often we hear them. We like familiarity, and repeating a lie often enough makes it familiar to us – the repetition making it fall right in with all of the things our memory tells us are true about the world. Politicians and advertisers are aware of this. Humans, being social animals, have a primal part of us that still says, “If other members of the tribe who I feel close to believe this, there must be something to it.”

Scientists have actually found that your memory is basically full of pathological lies. It’s not just a matter of mistaken identity, it’s full blown, bold-faced, and you won’t even want to admit you made a mistake – no matter how much proof you are presented with. And, the more you hear the same lies or gossip the more you will tend to believe it is real.

If anyone ever told you that your memory couldn’t be trusted, you had better believe it. Usually, though, they mean YOUR memory, and not theirs! No one wants to believe that what he or she has stored in his or her memory is flawed information, but it is not uncommon.

Take for example the recent controversy concerning the President of the United States and his being a Muslim. Despite the video clips of him drinking alcohol, eating pork, swearing on the Bible and attending a Christian Church, those who want to believe he is a Muslim will not let go of this fallacy.

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, almost 20% of people polled maintain their belief, especially after they continue to hear the false statements over and over again. They call it the “Illusion of Truth” effect. The illusion-of-truth effect states that a person is more likely to believe a familiar statement than an unfamiliar one.

Participants in a 1977 study were asked to read 60 plausible statements every two weeks and to rate them based on their validity. A few of those statements (some of them true, others false) were presented more than once in different sessions. Results showed that participants were more likely to rate as true the statements they had heard previously despite knowing whether the statements were true or not, and even if they didn’t consciously remember having heard them.

The illusion-of-truth effect is a direct result of implicit memory, where previous experiences aids in the performance of a task without conscious awareness of these previous experiences. Some participants in the Pew study rated previously heard sentences as true even when they had been told the information was false. The illusion-of-truth effect shows in some ways the potential dangers of implicit memory as it can lead to unconscious decisions based on perceived truths and not actual truth.

Although none of us would like to think of themselves as open to advertisements, propaganda, or lies, it is all part of human nature – when we hear a statement often enough we’ll start to believe it. It’s part of our brain’s mechanism.

And, if you think this craziness is something OTHER people do, and that you would never pass on information knowingly false after presented with proof – think again. We all can be victims to what they call “Bias Blind Spot.” The bias you have, for whatever reason, cripples your ability to identify your own biases.

As you can see above, showing proof that we are wrong doesn’t change our mind. Research shows that once we’ve taken hold of inaccurate information, exposure to the facts won’t change our minds, and actually it makes if more likely we will continue to cling to the idea. It’s basically a matter of ego, because no one wants to look foolish, but this is the reason people continue to pass along known hoaxes in emails.

Really the only full proof way to avoid tricking your memory is having memory training. Using perhaps the method of loci or some other form of memory training.

This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , memory training expert, and memory keynote speaker.




Cracked.com:  5 Mind Blowing Ways Your Memory Plays Tricks On You: http://www.cracked.com/article_18704_5-mind-blowing-ways-your-memory-plays-tricks-you.html#ixzz1aEXpmLY7

Wikipedia – Illusion of Truth Effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicit_memory#Illusion-of-truth_effect