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False memories and the "misinformation effect".

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False memories and the "misinformation effect".

Postby Richard Perle » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:29 pm

I am interested in the psychological studies which can be used to understand the holocaust and its witnesses. I believe that the one area in which the holocaust truly is unique is in the atmosphere that every survivor of the Nazi camp system has found themself in since the war ended - not to mention the effect that the witnesses have consequentially had on the rest of society. No other event has been so ingrained into the minds of generations of people with relentless media coverage as well as a mass cultural trend which has been likened to a new secular religion.

Obviously I am talking here about the ones who aren't lying. This may or may not include some of the characters who claim to have seen gassings take place in detail.

I decided to take a look at what the psychological literature had to say about false memories and how they can take root.

Alan Alda had nothing against hard-boiled eggs until last spring. Then the actor, better known as Hawkeye from M*A*S*H, paid a visit to the University of California, Irvine. In his new guise as host of a science series on American TV, he was exploring the subject of memory. The researchers showed him round, and afterwards took him for a picnic in the park. By the time he came to leave, he had developed a dislike of hard-boiled eggs based on a memory of having made himself sick on them as a child - something that never happened.

Alda was the unwitting guinea pig of Elizabeth Loftus, a UCI psychologist who has been obsessed with the subject of memory and its unreliability since Richard Nixon was sworn in as president. Early on in her research, she would invite people into her lab, show them simulated traffic accidents, feed them false information and leading questions, and find that they subsequently recalled details of the scene differently - a finding that has since been replicated hundreds of times.

More recently, she has come to believe that lab studies may underestimate people's suggestibility because, among other things, real life tends to be more emotionally arousing than simulations of it. So these days she takes her investigations outside the lab. In a study soon to be published, she and colleagues describe how a little misinformation led witnesses of a terrorist attack in Moscow in 1999 to recall seeing wounded animals nearby. Later, they were informed that there had been no animals. But before the debriefing, they even embellished the false memory with make-believe details, in one case testifying to seeing a bleeding cat lying in the dust.

"We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did experience," says Loftus. "And we can also go so far as to plant entirely false memories - we call them rich false memories because they are so detailed and so big."

She has persuaded people to adopt false but plausible memories - for instance, that at the age of five or six they had the distressing experience of being lost in a shopping mall - as well as implausible ones: memories of witnessing demonic possession, or an encounter with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character, and as the Los Angeles Times put it earlier this year, "The wascally Warner Bros. Wabbit would be awwested on sight", at Disney.

Elizabeth Loftus' research has obvious implications for the reliability of eyewitness testimony. And it was as a result of her findings that in 1994 she co-wrote her book, The Myth of Repressed Memory, and took a strong stand in the recovered memory debate of the 90s, for which she was reviled by those who claimed to have uncovered repressed memories of abuse - alien, sexual or otherwise.

The American Psychological Association (APA) now takes the line that most people who were sexually abused as children remember all or part of what happened to them, and that it is rare (though not unheard of) that people forget such emotionally charged events and later recover them. But it states that, "Concerning the issue of a recovered versus a pseudomemory, like many questions in science, the final answer is yet to be known." And the debate simmers on. Several new lines of evidence suggest that the interaction between memory and emotion is more complex than was thought. Powerful emotions, it seems, can both reinforce and weaken real memories. We may be able to actively degrade painful memories. And false memories, once accepted, can themselves elicit strong emotions and thereby mimic real ones.


http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/neuro/f ... ories.html

Any revisionist reading this stuff will see how relevant it is. Think of how the rumours and propaganda circulating in the camp could have effected people who were suffering the trauma of being uprooted from their homes and sent to crowded and uncomfortable camps. In a way the Industry is to blame for the bad 'flashbacks' that we hear are experienced by some former camp inmates.


New studies of false memories show that what happens in the brain when memories are established can be as important to the development of false memories as what happens during memory retrieval. Other research shows that specific parts of the brain are more active when a true memory is being retrieved than when a false memory is being retrieved, potentially providing a neural label by which to understand the differences between true and false memories.

Memories can be fragile and subject to distortion because we literally cannot record and store all of what we learn and experience. People often mistakenly claim to remember having seen a word or object that is similar to something they saw earlier, according to several studies. Such false memories can have an even greater impact when they manifest in such a way that entirely novel events are implanted into an individual’s memory. Such an individual can willingly retrieve these completely false memories, such as being lost in a mall, with surprisingly vivid and specific details.

Neuroimaging techniques can help determine if the neural processes driving this retrieval of inaccurate memories are different from those that drive the retrieval of accurate memories. Several research groups are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to address this question. The hope is that neuroimaging can help determine the various potential sources of false memories.


http://apu.sfn.org/content/AboutSFN1/Ne ... false.html

While today, any psychologist using their knowledge for revisionist work will become an outcast, in the future I'm sure psychology careers will be built on this subject.
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Postby Hannover » Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:04 pm

This is valuable, applicable information, thanks RP.

also see:
'Study: It's Easy to Plant False Memories'
http://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?t=183

'False memories as 'facts' / some examples'
http://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?t=14

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Postby Kobus » Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:57 pm

Franciszek Piper (in “Die Zahl der Opfer von Auschwitz, aufgrund der Quellen und der Erträge der Forschung 1945 bis 1990” Verlag staatliches Museum in Oswiecim, 1993; p.82-91) listed the witnesses who produced declarations concerning the number of people killed at Auschwitz. Here are the data that he collected:

(1) Henryk Tauber
stated number of victims: 4,000,000
source: not mentioned

(2) Szlama Dragon
stated number of victims: more than 4,000,000
source: own calculations, made when member of the Sonderkommando

(3) Henryk Mandelbaum
stated number of victims: 4,500,000
source: not mentioned

(4) Kazimierz Smolen
stated number of victims: 2,800,000
source: own calculations

(5) Erwin Olszowka
stated number of victims: 4,500,000 (at least 4,000,000)
source: the witness could see reports with the numbers of people killed when working at the camp administration

(6) Hans Roth
stated number of victims: about 4,000,000
source: this number was ‘common knowledge’

(7) Kazimierz Czyszewski
stated number of victims: between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000
source: own calculations

(8) Stanislawa Rachwalowa
stated number of victims:between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000
source: the witness could follow conversations among SS-people when working in the camp administration

(9) Witold Kula
stated number of victims: about 4,000,000
source: not mentioned, but according to Piper this witness was very knowledgable concerning the ‘Gesamtkomplex der Fragen des Konzentrationslagers’.

(10) Bernard Czardybon
stated number of victims: 5,000,000 to 5,500,000
source: derived from the number of possessions of the victims, that the witness had to sort in the camp (Canada)

Piper mentions also five SS witnesses:

(11) Wlodzimierz Bilan:
stated number of victims: 5,000,000

(12) Pery Broad:
stated number of victims: 2,000,000 to 3,000,000

(13) Friedrich Entress
stated number of victims: 2,000,000 to 2,500,000

(14) Maximilian Grabner
stated number of victims: (at least) 3,000,000

(15) Wilhelm Boger
stated number of victims: over 4,000,000

So we have 15 independent witnesses, both prisoners and SS people. They used independent and complementary counting methods and arrived at very coherent figures. The mean of the victim totals given by the 15 witnesses is 3,92 million. For the 15 estimates offered by the witnesses, the t-test produces a 95% interval from 3,42 million to 4,41 million. This means that, according to the witnesses, the total number of victims cannot possibly be 1,100,000 or 1,500,000 as is stated in a number of publications.
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Postby Radar » Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:59 pm

Kobus:


That "t-test" is meaningless if you don't qualify it. If you read the original post above the people who were fed false and suggestive information would have scored equally high on your test as they did in the survey. The problem is they scored high in remembering false information and details.

Some of the people you note as being steady and reliable witnesses have been proven to be unreliable and even credulous under further scrutiny. Because people like Tauber say the number "5 million" doesn't mean they accurately arrived at that figure or weren't fed that information from a propaganda source. Anyone who shows a memory accuracy test that just gives a plain number without any detailing of how, why, where, and when that number was determined is simply offering bogus science. If anything, the fact that witnesses who, upon later research, were found to be lying or repeating things they heard all said 5 million reinforces the possibility they were fed that number.

Besides how does some inmate in one small corner of the camp determine that 5 million people were killed? Do you think you could count 5 million over several years? No way! I know I couldn't. This is preposterous. Read your own reference, it says, "no source given" or "own calculations" for the sources. This is classic of how holocaust numbers get taken as real when the source is something like this. Your reference doesn't exclude those people getting a false story together and repeating it. There's no time frame. Nothing there prevents them from formulating a false story then repeating it individually, or from having learned it from false propaganda themselves.


Your argument is with Yad Vashem, who also agree with the 1.5 million number on the new plaque.
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Postby Juan » Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:42 pm

Score high at a "t-test"? did I get it right when I thought Kobus did an statistical interval of confidence using the Student ("t") distribution? I'm sorry but I'm a little confused here.

Please, Kobus, make things clear for me and Radar.
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Postby Kobus » Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:10 am

Two positions are thinkable:
- either the witnesses are reliable, and then the number of 1,100,000 or 1,500,000 Auschwitz victims has to be replaced by about 4,000,000
- or the witnesses are not reliable, and their declarations are infested by false memories and the like (but this is an immoral position, because the witnesses are right, given that they either are victims or freely confessing perpetrators)
Anyway, it is impossible (for statistical reasons) to state at the same time that (a) the witnesses are reliable, and (b) that the number of Auschwitz victims is about 1,100,000 (position of the Auschwitz museum, Hilberg, Shermer and many others).
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Postby Richard Perle » Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:32 am

source: this number was ‘common knowledge’


That says it all, really. A ridiculously high figure of victims was common knowledge in the camp. It is no wonder the figure became fixed into minds.
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Postby Hannover » Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:44 am

While we have consistency in a ca. 4,000,000 figure that even the 'holocau$t' Industry has spun away from, can there be any accounting for this?
Understanding the Auschwitz death toll better

Official Auschwitz figures!

Which figure must we believe by law?
Which figure is considered holocaust denial?
Which figure is not considered anti-Semitic?
Which figure is not considered hate?
Which figure must be compensated?

Date Official sources of information Figures:

31.12.1945 French Investigation Panel on Nazi-War-Crimes 8.000.000
19.08.1998 Chief Rabbi from Poland (Süddeutsche Zeitung) 6.000.000
20.04.1978 Le Monde (French daily paper) 5.000.000
23.01.1995 Die Welt (German daily paper) 5.000.000
20.04.1989 Eugen Kogon, Der SS-Staat (famous book of a holocaust survivor, page 176) 4.500.000
31.12.1952 Der Neue Herder (Enzyclopedia, Germany) 7. edition (page 214) 4.500.000
01.10.1946 IMT-Document 008-USSR (Nuremberg Military Tribunal) 4.000.000
02.05.1997 USA-Today (daily paper USA) 4.000.000
24.11.1989 Head prosecutor Majorowsky, Wuppertal, Germany (indictment 12 Js 1037/89) 4.000.000
26.07.1990 Allgem. Jüdische Wo.Ztg. (Jewish weekly, Bonn) 4.000.000
08.10.1993 ZDF-Nachrichten (German TV) 4.000.000
25.01.1995 Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung (German daily paper) 4.000.000
01.10.1946 IMT-Document 3868-PS (Nuremberg Military Tribunal) 3.000.000
01.01.1995 Damals (official monthly magazine on history, sponsored by the Bonn government) 3.000.000
18.07.1990 The Peninsula Times (daily paper, S.Francisco, USA) 2.000.000
25.07.1990 Hamburger Abendblatt (daily paper Germany) 2.000.000
27.01.1995 Die Welt (German daily paper, quoting Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Minimum of 2 million) 2.000.000
02.05.1997 USA-Today (daily paper USA) 1.500.000
11.06.1992 Allgem. Jüdische Wo.Ztg (Jewish weekly, Bonn) 1.500.000
08.10.1993 ZDF (German TV) 1.500.000
23.01.1995 Die Welt (German daily paper) 1.500.000
01.09.1989 Le Monde (French daily paper) 1.433.000
02.02.1995 BUNTE Illustrierte (German weekly magazine) 1.400.000
22.01.1995 Welt am Sonntag (German daily, sunday edition) 1.200.000
27.01.1995 Die Welt (German daily paper) 1.100.000
27.01.1995 IfZ (Institut for Contemporary History, München, sponsored by the Bonn government) 1.000.000
31.12.1989 Pressac, Auschwitz, Technique ... (official report on Auschwitz, commissioned by the Jewish Beate Klarsfeld Foundation) 928.000
27.09.1993 Die Welt (German daily paper) 800.000
22.01.1995 Welt am Sonntag (German daily, sunday edition) 750.000
01.05.1994 Focus (German weekly magazine) 700.000
23.01.1995 Die Welt (German daily paper) 700.000
31.12.1994 Pressac, Die Krematorien ... (2nd official report on Auschwitz, commissioned by the Jewish Beate Klarsfeld Foundation) 470.000
08.01.1948 Welt im Film (British news reel, nbr. 137) 300.000
06.01.1990 Frankfurter Rundschau (German daily paper) 74.000
31.05.1994 Hoffmann, Stalins Vernichtungskrieg (Book, written by a renowned German historian, p.302 f.) 74.000
17.08.1994 Intern. Red Cross Arolsen - Department of holocaust investigations (Ref. nbr.: 10824) 66.206
2004 Meyer, Ost-Europa journal, 300,000 Jews

Different figures, allocated to one media, for one particular day means, that, i.e. Die Welt and USA-Today, had published on one issue in various articles different death figures.

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Postby Kobus » Sat Apr 16, 2005 11:58 am

Richard Perle wrote: A ridiculously high figure of victims was common knowledge in the camp. It is no wonder the figure became fixed into minds.


In any case, the convergence of the evidence points to the 4,000,000 figure.

Hannover wrote:While we have consistency in a ca. 4,000,000 figure that even the 'holocau$t' Industry has spun away from, can there be any accounting for this? (...)


Of course, some types of evidence are not convergent.
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Postby Richard Perle » Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:23 pm

Kobus wrote:
Richard Perle wrote: A ridiculously high figure of victims was common knowledge in the camp. It is no wonder the figure became fixed into minds.


In any case, the convergence of the evidence points to the 4,000,000 figure.



Witness testimony evidence. Doesn't this shake your faith in the reliability of the evidence? Surely you don't believe in the 4million figure.
The fact that these clearly inflated and variable figures were given by Nazis must also make any thinking person question how valid their testimony was. The bureaucratic Germans would have kept an accurate tally of how many Jews they were exterminating, suggesting that these inflated figures were pulled from thin air.
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Postby Kobus » Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:46 pm

The mode of speech depends on the circumstances.
I'm sorry.
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Postby Radar » Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:34 pm

but this is an immoral position, because the witnesses are right, given that they either are victims or freely confessing perpetrator



Holocaust history is full of victims who have either confessed to making up their claims or been proven wrong. What you wrote above is the reason their claims were accepted as fact.

If you took the post-war Soviet claim of 8 (or was it 4) million Jews killed in Auschwitz you could have applied what you wrote above to them just as easily. After all the Soviets rescued the witnesses and captured the perpetrators and camp records.

Many of the "freely confessing" perpetrators you speak of above were either tortured or hoping to save their lives. In any case, there was no possibility of any witness who said he saw no gas chambers being recorded by those who were doing the recording. There was, however, every likelihood that anyone who dared say such a thing would be taken out and shot.
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