Sunday, February 15, 2015

Movies and Historical Memory

At The New York Times, Jeffrey Zacks tells how historical inaccuracies in movies shape public beliefs:
Studies show that if you watch a film — even one concerning historical events about which you are informed — your beliefs may be reshaped by “facts” that are not factual.
In one study, published in the journal Psychological Science in 2009, a team of researchers had college students read historical essays and then watch clips from historical movies containing information that was inaccurate and inconsistent with the essays. Despite being warned that the movies might contain factual distortions, the students produced about a third of the fake facts from the movies on a subsequent test.
In another study, published in Applied Cognitive Psychology in 2012, another team of researchers, repeating the experiment, tried to eliminate the “misinformation effect” by explicitly asking the students to monitor the clips for inaccuracies. It didn’t work. If anything, the students were more prone to accept the untruths. The more engaged the students were by the clips, the more their memories were contaminated.
Why do we have such a hard time sorting film “facts” from real facts? One suggestion is that our minds are well equipped to remember things that we see or hear — but not to remember the source of those memories.

Because of the scene below, most people think Deep Throat said "follow the money."  He did not.  The moviemakers made it up.

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