A wild blog appears. I have been busy and neglected my poor blog. I had some time over the weekend and wanted to say something about the Brian Williams controversy.
The story broke a couple of weeks ago that Brian Williams had misremembered his experiences in Iraq, notably that the helicopter he was on was never fired upon. Many are calling into question Mr. William’s credentials as a long time host of NBC Nightly News and accusing him of him intentionally misleading, even lying to, the public about his Iraq War experience. While I do not know the whole story, no one probably does, I do not hold anything against Mr. Williams.
The brain is not infallible. Scientists have completed numerous studies that show that a person’s memory can fade and distort from reality. Once the false memory is planted, it is remembered and equal to other memories. A recent study conducted by Julia Shaw, even went as far as to get innocent students to confess to a fake crime. The study showed that “With a little misinformation, encouragement and three hours, researchers were able to convince 70 percent of the study’s participants that they’d committed a crime.” (Link)
It is scary that detectives use similar tactics in criminal cases and that innocent people have confessed to committing the crime. (Link) It is easy for jurors to hear that someone confessed or that a witness remembers something and convict based on that information. But this information is not always the truth and is not the fault of the defendant or the witness.
Only Mr. Williams will know whether he lied or not. I hope that this conversation will lead to a larger discussion on what it means to remember something vs. truth. I know I will be let down.
old wine, and an old friend, are good provisions. ~george herbert, jacula prudentum