In December 1983, US President Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the Congressional Medal of Honor. He said that he wants to tell a real story, a story he has said many times before.
The story took place during the Second World War. A B-17 bomber was hit hard by ground-based anti-aircraft fire. The turret below it had been hit, the artillery inside was wounded, and the turret door was stuck and could not be opened. When the plane returned to the airport with heavy smoke, it could not even land safely. At this time, the commander ordered everyone to skydiving. But the artillery was desperate to find that he could not parachute and could only crash with the plane.
The last person who left the plane later described what he saw: the commander quietly sat outside the turret and said to the artillery who was frightened inside: Children, don’t worry, we will land together.
This is a very infectious speech. Reagan said that it was this heroic feat that allowed the commander to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor after his death. When the speech was over, everyone was in tears, and thunderous applause sounded in the venue.
But this great and great story is a little bit short: it never really happened. The reporters looked at the records of all 434 congressional medals of honor issued during the Second World War, but found that they did not mention anything similar to this touching story.
Undoubtedly, as a public figure, Reagan did not intend to fabricate such a story to attract attention. It was not until later that it was discovered that this story is very similar to the climax of the war movie “Flying Wings and Prayer”. In the movie, the plane was also hit hard, but the person who could not move was not a gunner but a radio operator.
Obviously, when did Reagan watch the movie, and then confuse the wonderful plot with the actual situation. Or, by suggesting, let him believe that this is a true story.
In fact, this situation is not uncommon. Deceiving memories through hints has sometimes become a potential instinct for people. When people are confused about the lack of certain memories, or when a “foreign person” implants a powerful memory, they will use hints to coordinate their own cognition. Professor Wade at Victoria University in Wellington did this experiment. She asked 20 people to convince one of their family members to participate in the experiment. On the surface, the experiment is to study why people remember what happened in childhood, but there is a mystery inside. The researchers asked the recruiter to secretly provide a photo of the child as a child, then process the photo, “post” the child to a hot air balloon, and make a bird’s eye view.
This photo is mixed with three other photos at an amusement park or birthday party. Please refer to the photo scene. This description has been carried out three times in total. For the first time, almost all of the participants remembered the interesting things that really happened, but one in three said: They also remember the hot air balloon trip, and some people even said when they traveled. detail. Later, the researchers asked all the participants to think about it later. By the time of the last visit, half of them said they remembered the hot air balloon trip. The most exaggerated thing is that one participant clearly stated on the first visit that “there has never been a hot air balloon trip”, but on his last trip, he not only made up his own time, place and weather for his travels. Even the photographer was fictionalized by him.
The researchers conducted a number of similar trials, including asking participants to describe the encounter with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland (Bunny Bugs are not Disney characters, so it is unlikely to appear in Disneyland), describing their feelings of hospitalization due to high fever, and describing themselves Inadvertently sprinkling wine when attending other people’s weddings, etc. Of course, these are all fictitious, but almost half of the participants can describe it.
The results of the study show that the plasticity of human memory is far more amazing than we think. Once an authoritative person pointed out that we had some experience, most people could not directly deny it at the time. Then they began to use ideas to fill the gaps in memory. After a period of time, the line between facts and fiction becomes blurred, and even we will actively confuse this line.