Custom Search
*/ body { margin:0px; padding:0px; background:#f6f6f6; color:#000000; font-size: small; } #outer-wrapper { font:normal normal 100% 'Trebuchet MS',Trebuchet,Verdana,Sans-Serif; } a { color:#DE7008; } a:hover { color:#9E5205; } a img { border-width: 0; } #content-wrapper { padding-top: 0; padding-right: 1em; padding-bottom: 0; padding-left: 1em; } @media all { div#main { float:right; width:66%; padding-top:30px; padding-right:0; padding-bottom:10px; padding-left:1em; border-left:dotted 1px #e0ad12; word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */ overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */ } div#sidebar { margin-top:20px; margin-right:0px; margin-bottom:0px; margin-left:0; padding:0px; text-align:left; float: left; width: 31%; word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */ overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */ } } @media handheld { div#main { float:none; width:90%; } div#sidebar { padding-top:30px; padding-right:7%; padding-bottom:10px; padding-left:3%; } } #header { padding-top:0px; padding-right:0px; padding-bottom:0px; padding-left:0px; margin-top:0px; margin-right:0px; margin-bottom:0px; margin-left:0px; border-bottom:dotted 1px #e0ad12; background:#F5E39e; } h1 a:link { text-decoration:none; color:#F5DEB3 } h1 a:visited { text-decoration:none; color:#F5DEB3 } h1,h2,h3 { margin: 0; } h1 { padding-top:25px; padding-right:0px; padding-bottom:10px; padding-left:5%; color:#F5DEB3; background:#DE7008; font:normal bold 300% Verdana,Sans-Serif; letter-spacing:-2px; } { color:#9E5205; font:normal bold 160% Verdana,Sans-Serif; letter-spacing:-1px; } a, a:visited { color: #9E5205; } { margin-top:10px; margin-right:0px; margin-bottom:0px; margin-left:0px; color:#777777; font: normal bold 105% 'Trebuchet MS',Trebuchet,Verdana,Sans-serif; } h4 { color:#aa0033; } #sidebar h2 { color:#B8A80D; margin:0px; padding:0px; font:normal bold 150% Verdana,Sans-serif; } #sidebar .widget { margin-top:0px; margin-right:0px; margin-bottom:33px; margin-left:0px; padding-top:0px; padding-right:0px; padding-bottom:0px; padding-left:0px; font-size:95%; } #sidebar ul { list-style-type:none; padding-left: 0; margin-top: 0; } #sidebar li { margin-top:0px; margin-right:0px; margin-bottom:0px; margin-left:0px; padding-top:0px; padding-right:0px; padding-bottom:0px; padding-left:0px; list-style-type:none; font-size:95%; } .description { padding:0px; margin-top:7px; margin-right:12%; margin-bottom:7px; margin-left:5%; color:#9E5205; background:transparent; font:bold 100% Verdana,Sans-Serif; } .post { margin-top:0px; margin-right:0px; margin-bottom:30px; margin-left:0px; } .post strong { color:#000000; font-weight:bold; } pre,code { color:#999999; } strike { color:#999999; } .post-footer { padding:0px; margin:0px; color:#444444; font-size:80%; } .post-footer a { border:none; color:#968a0a; text-decoration:none; } .post-footer a:hover { text-decoration:underline; } #comments { padding:0px; font-size:110%; font-weight:bold; } .comment-author { margin-top: 10px; } .comment-body { font-size:100%; font-weight:normal; color:black; } .comment-footer { padding-bottom:20px; color:#444444; font-size:80%; font-weight:normal; display:inline; margin-right:10px } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .comment-link { margin-left:.6em; } .profile-textblock { clear: both; margin-left: 0; } .profile-img { float: left; margin-top: 0; margin-right: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 0; border: 2px solid #DE7008; } #sidebar a:link { color:#999999; text-decoration:none; } #sidebar a:active { color:#ff0000; text-decoration:none; } #sidebar a:visited { color:sidebarlinkcolor; text-decoration:none; } #sidebar a:hover { color:#B8A80D; text-decoration:none; } .feed-links { clear: both; line-height: 2.5em; } #blog-pager-newer-link { float: left; } #blog-pager-older-link { float: right; } #blog-pager { text-align: center; } .clear { clear: both; } .widget-content { margin-top: 0.5em; } /** Tweaks for layout editor preview */ body#layout #outer-wrapper { margin-top: 0; } body#layout #main, body#layout #sidebar { margin-top: 10px; padding-top: 0; } -->

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Trouble with Memories

Based on a memory, a person will shout, “I was there. That’s not the way it happened.” In extreme cases, eyewitness testimony can end a person’s life. Yet, careful research shows that memory is a slippery, inaccurate beast that cannot be trusted.

Law school professors delight in showing the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. To make the point, the instructor arranges for confederates to burst into the classroom, shouting, shoving and creating uproar. Just as quickly, the intruders depart. Then the professor begins to question the class. “How many people came into the room? How tall was each one? How many males? How many females? Was the man black or white? Was the woman Hispanic? What was each person wearing? Who said what? Who left the room first? Who left last?”

Invariably, the students can’t agree on what they saw. Some students thought there were three intruders. Other thought two. Still others thought four. There was no agreement about how people were dresses or who said what. Everybody remembered the event, but no two people remembered it in the same way. If you are about to have your fate decided by a jury, this information should scare you. If you are a fiction writer, on the other hand, you should be reassured. Since everyone remembers events differently, there are many “truthful” ways to tell a story, whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction.

Since memory will betray you, don’t pledge fidelity to it when you put words on paper. Rather, treat your memory as well-intentioned but unreliable guide to “what really happened.” Search your recollections, use them for your stories, but also do your legwork to double check your memories.

No comments:

Post a Comment