Can our memories be trusted if they are easily manipulated by suggestions? Where is the line between repressed memories that bubble up to the surface and false memories that never existed?
In this week’s episode, Jim Underdown speaks to Professor Elizabeth Loftus on what happens in the courtroom when a person’s memory of events are a result of suggestion or coercion. Loftus recounts various legal cases she’s been involved with where wrongful convictions resulted from false memories implanted in the mind of a witness by family members, prosecutors, or persons of authority. Work done by Harvard professor, Richard McNally has looked into the likelihood for someone to truly have a repressed or recovered memory in relation to past traumas.
Loftus is a professor of psychology and law at the University of California, Irvine. She has given a TED talk on the manipulation of memories, has published numerous articles and books, and has served as an expert witness or consultant in hundreds of cases including the McMartin preschool molestation case and the trial of Oliver North.