Have you ever had your memory's fallibility proved to you?

I was in NYC in November. I had been there a couple of times before, the previous time being in 2001 when I spent a lot of time wandering around Lower Manhattan. While on a tour we passed the famous Gridiron Building. But it had moved a number of blocks :confused:. Prior to my latest visit I would have sworn an affidavit that the Gridiron building was at the bottom of Broadway at Bowling Green, across from the National Museum Of The American Indian. It actually still confuses me, looking at that area on Google Streetview that the Gridiron building is nowhere to be seen, as the memory is still intact. Most of the other things I recalled about NYC were correct, and I was able to find my way around with ease, but that one building going walkies made me wonder how many other memories has my brain scrambled!

So have you ever had an experience like this that confirms your memory is mush?

And of course I meant Flatiron not Gridiron! :smack:

There was a collision between a car and a bicycle in front of my house a few years ago. I was standing right there and saw the entire thing happen. After calling 911 and tending to the injured cyclist until the paramedics arrived, I gave a description of the events to the police officer who responded to the scene first. I was absolutely sure about where the cyclist had been riding until I looked over and noticed that he could not have been where I said he was. I had to take a minute to “replay” the events in my head and compare what I remembered seeing with what was physically possible in order to give an accurate account. Memory is a funny thing.

Every single day. I’d think I was losing my mind if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m pretty sure (thanks to documentation and witness testimony) that my memory has been this bad my entire life.

I don’t remember. What was the question again?

It’s weird, some things I remember very specifically and some just fly out of my ears. A very common scenario for lately is that I’ll strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, and they’ll start asking me personal questions that are anything but random. Like how may Vineyard vacation was, or if I’ve been playing my guitar a lot. Apparently I had a detailed conversation with this person and have absolutely no memory of it.

No, not that I recall.


Sure. I was at the game where Roger Maris hit home run #61. For years, I remembered that the Yankees pitcher was Roland Sheldon. Then I saw a box score for the game, and discovered the pitcher was Bill Stafford. I had somehow conflated the two.

When you see some movie that you particularly recalled a line in from years back, and then find you got it wrong.

Happens to me all the time. There’s a new pair of dress shoes in my closet that I have absolutely no memory of buying.

This also reminds about the unreliability of eye witness testimony. Short anecdote: I saw a video of this situation. Teacher walks in to one of those stadium-type seating classes. The front door is right next to the teacher’s table. She puts her purse on the corner of the table. A few seconds later someone steps in to the classroom, stands there for 3 or 4 seconds, then grabs her purse and runs out of the class. Teacher stopped anyone from trying to chase the thief. She then had the entire class right down exactly what happened, including the thief’s description. The range of descriptions was remarkable and greatly emphasized how unreliable eye witness accounts are.


I lost a bet with my sister about who was my third grade teacher. This was about 30 years after I was in the third grade.

It was a trick question – I actually had the same teacher for first grade and third grade.

Still, it’s probably something I should have remembered.

Yep. I fear aging.

Thanks to a concussion I have no memory of wiping out on my bike halfway home on my commute one evening in Atlanta, or of calling 911 from my cell phone and requesting an ambulance, or of talking to the people who lived in the house near where I crashed while waiting for the ambulance, or telling the EMTs where I worked over and over again while I was transported to an ER. I remember walking out the office door with my bike while talking to a co-worker, and then waking up in a CAT scan machine many hours later.

When recalling memorable scenes in film and TV, what I remember is sometimes inverted left to right from what is actually in the show. Even if I’ve seen it dozens of times.

The first time I meet a complete stranger (as opposed to someone that I’ve heard things about before I meet them) I will forget what their name is before I even finish hearing it. I’ll remember the context that they’re so-and-so’s boss/sister/neighbor, but their name instantly vanishes.

It’s not an aging thing. You are very susceptible to false memories. MUCH more so that you believe. Think of what you were doing when something memorable happened when you were young - maybe you were a kid when the Challenger exploded, or something like that. Pretty vivid memory, right? In fact, quite a lot of you are just completely, totally wrong. And there’s a good chance you’ve been wrong since not long after it happened. I use the Challenger disaster because studies have used it as an example to demonstate that upwards of a third or more of people have vivid, clear recollections of where they were when it happened that are, in fact, complete fantasy. And not this year, but just five to ten years after it happened. Studied have shown that people will often remember seeing things that NOBODY saw; many people have claimed to see events on TV that were never broadcast.

Every person reading this post has scores of very strong memories that are partly or almost wholly fictional.

However, it’s rare that you would ever be in a position to have such a memory conclusively falsified.

Yes, this for me as well. My memory is very good for some things, not so good on others and has been deteriorating. I remember many things very clearly, mostly bad experiences, but much takes a long time to ‘retrieve’, often coming back when I’ve given up and gone on to other things. Even actors names that I used to be so good at remembering. (Thank goodness for the IMDB.) I’m getting older, my Mom has started showing early signs of dementia, so the future is a little bit scary at this point.

I actually learned in this thread that I’d been carrying around a false memory for decades. I have an incredibly vivid memory of hearing our car’s windshield burst and then going outside to see it shattered. Turns out it just cracked, probably from a ding in the glass. But, dangit, I can see the shattered glass clear as day!