Fake Photos Alter Memories of Real Events

Researchers from UC Irvine and the University of Padua in Italy have found that doctored photos can alter our perceptions and memories of public events. The researchers showed subjects either an actual or an altered photo of one of two historical events, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and the 2003 anti-war protest in Rome. The Tiananmen Square photo was altered to include a crowd, and the Rome photo was altered to show riot police and a masked protester. LiveScience reports:

When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred. Participants who viewed the doctored photos also said they were less inclined to take part in future protests, according to the study.

Elizabeth Loftus, who designed the study (and whom I write about in Elephants on Acid), warns that doctoring photos in this way is "potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes, and we ought to be vigilant about it."

Big Gary says, "The Ministry of Truth already knew this."

Incidentally, I'm sure that everyone who came on the 2006 Museum of Hoaxes Trip to Loch Ness remembers when Nessie suddenly appeared right behind our boat. If you don't, here's a picture to jog your memory:

Photos Psychology

Posted on Mon Nov 26, 2007


Hey, that's a fake--it looks more like Champ!
Posted by Mark  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  12:15 AM
Well, obviously I didn't see it, since I appear to be facing the camera...
Posted by Smerk  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  02:54 AM
I remember quite clearly seeing Nessie on that trip. Yup.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  02:58 AM
What? Nessie was there? Dammit I was too distracted by Mouse's hair to notice...
Posted by Nettie  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  05:07 AM
Oh come on, you could get a better picture of Nessie than that I'm sure. BTW, you do know that Nessie is the only mythical creature protected by law, right? I don't remember if that covers slander or not, but if so, posting such a bad picture might qualify.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Tue Nov 27, 2007  at  05:30 PM
Did these russian photos:

Or this:
Posted by Dan  on  Wed Nov 28, 2007  at  10:17 AM
You'd think I'd remember that, since I seem to be looking straight at her. Oh well, I guess a photo never lies. 😉
Posted by Madmouse  on  Wed Nov 28, 2007  at  12:33 PM
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