Many researchers have created false memories in normal individuals; what is more, many of these subjects are certain that the memories are real. In one well-known study, Loftus and her colleague Jacqueline Pickrell gave subjects written accounts of four events, three of which they had actually experienced. The fourth story was fiction; it centered on the subject being lost in a mall or another public place when he or she was between four and six years old. A relative provided realistic details for the false story, such as a description of the mall at which the subject’s parents shopped. After reading each story, subjects were asked to write down what else they remembered about the incident or to indicate that they did not remember it at all. Remarkably about one third of the subjects reported partially or fully remembering the false event. In two follow-up interviews, 25 percent still claimed that they remembered the untrue story, a figure consistent with the findings of similar studies.
The trouble with eye witness testimony
What then can help guarantee a good memory? Notice that events which are traumatic are questionable. Notice that distant, vague events are questionable. Compare that to events which take place over a period of time, events which are witnessed by multiple persons, events subject to objective independent corroboration. And with the case of the Scripture, Jesus speaks of receiving supernatural assistance of the Spirit. John 14:26