IS MEMORY RELIABLE???

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Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 07:04 pm
How do I know I can trust my memories? :eek: :eek: :eek:

Even if I establish that it is possible to know something, how can I be certain that the process of storing and accessing memories is reliable?

Senility and Alzheimer's are a couple obvious examples of the unreliability of memory, but what about the simple process of growing up. As I revisit places from my youth, they are often very different from my memories. This shows the long term memory can be unreliable.

As for the short term and working memory, factors like stress, emotion and misinterpretation of events can cause false memories to occur.

I am faced daily with realizations of my false memories. Sometimes they mutate into sustainable "correct" memories, and sometimes they just change into another false memory that will alter again in the future. It is such a common process that it doesn't disrupt my daily routine, but just because Its a functional state of existence doesn't necessarily mean I know anything, does it?
 
nameless
 
Reply Tue 27 May, 2008 09:49 pm
@infinidream,
Then, perhaps, there won't be as much 'conflict' if someone has 'differing' memories of the 'same' event. You won't want to argue 'rightness'. Where to go from there?
 
infinidream
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 12:12 am
@nameless,
Can you Know something and not be right about it? For there to be knowlege, there must be rightness (objective truth). If you concede that our memories are not connected to objective truth (that we each just have our own interpretation) then you are also conceding that knowledge doesn't exist.

Unless you define knowledge subjectively. We each just know what we know but our knowledge doesn't say anything about the world objectively. Is that how you define it?
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 06:11 am
@infinidream,
Quote:

Unless you define knowledge subjectively. We each just know what we know but our knowledge doesn't say anything about the world objectively. Is that how you define it?


Seems a little rash; we all have the same sensory equipment and nervous equipment which controls interaction and memory/experience. It is subjective in that when me and you look at something we have differing angles of perception, different light, maybe slightly different eyes- I could be color blind and see a blue flower while you see red. But this doesn't render things completely useless, it is still a flower to both of us, and science can still determine how it lives and develops.

The problems of memory are a different kettle of fish, sensory experience- thought objects- language seem to deal with meaning and experience, while memory works outside of experience in the before and after.

But is this memory reliable? I guess not considering things like memory repression resulting in neurosis, the problems of revision, content retention and commitment of short term memory to long term memory. Plus as humans we are inclined to hight light 'the now' more so than 'the before' or 'the after'- often resulting in exagurated pasts like nostalgia, tings that seemed normal and tame at the time are later in life, huge events that shaped ones life. And simple events of the future become dreaded or anticipated for no real reason other than irrational might's and maybe's.

Dan.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 09:58 am
@de budding,
:)One of the most outstanding examples of the unreliablity of memory is eye witness testimony, eye witness testimony is terriably unreliable. It is a least, recognized as such now, though not entirely discredited.
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 28 May, 2008 10:28 am
@boagie,
"our memory capacities are often disappointing. Faulty memories have been known to lead to erroneous eyewitness testimony (and false imprisonment), to marital friction (in the form of overlooked anniversaries) and even death (sky divers have been known to forget to pull their ripcords - accounting, by one estimate, for approximately 6 percent of sky-diving fatalities)." - NY Times (April, 2008)

Dan.
 
nameless
 
Reply Thu 29 May, 2008 04:30 pm
@infinidream,
infinidream wrote:
Can you Know something and not be right about it?

Accepting, for a moment, that 'knowledge' = 'memory' (without the arbitrary egoic value judgements of 'right' and 'wrong'), I say 'yes', memory need not be 'right', nor 'knowledge'. It is all 'correct' for you (momentary perspective).

Quote:
For there to be knowlege, there must be rightness (objective truth).

Nope, see my definition above, of 'knowledge'. It is a very supportable definition, by evidence, logic, etc.. So, from 'this' perspective, two perspectives can be diametrically 'oppositional' and both remain 'correct' (to one extent or another) for the observing Perspective.

Quote:
If you concede that our memories are not connected to objective truth

No need to obfuscate the discussion with such 'meaningless' terms as "objective truth'..

Quote:
(that we each just have our own interpretation) then you are also conceding that knowledge doesn't exist.

"Everything exists. Existence is contextual. Everything exists in its context." -Book of Fudd

Quote:
Unless you define knowledge subjectively.

All definitions are subjective. Definitions exist solely as a product of individual 'thoughts'/concepts.

Quote:
We each just know what we know

I pay no serious attention (do not 'believe'), as 'memory/knowledge is different from moment to moment. What I 'knew' one day, I 'know' differently today, a new perspective, new memories...

Quote:
but our knowledge doesn't say anything about the world objectively.

What gives you the impression that there is a world beyond your nose? There has never been evidence (nor can there be) of any 'out there world'. Nor is the concept of 'objectivity' meaningful, as it is by subjective thought alone that you can even think about it.

Your 'knowledge' says much about YOUR world, at the moment of observation. And no one can say that is 'false' or 'wrong', for that is your true experience and knowledge. Every Perspective is unique! And as so, 'correct' (even 'right') for you. Sometimes other perspectives see things similarly (and off they go to form a society) and many don't. Not 'right' not 'wrong' just different.
Peace
 
infinidream
 
Reply Sat 7 Jun, 2008 08:46 am
@nameless,
nameless wrote:

What gives you the impression that there is a world beyond your nose?


So in other words you do define knowledge subjectively. We each just know what we know based on our own, unique perspective. I may be color blind and see green as red, and I might be a brain in a vat, and it all might be the matrix.

Therefore, you are writing to yourself on this forum. You aren't responding to what people write, you are resonding to what you read and how your unique consciousness interprets it. Under these circumstances do you think it would be possible for you to change my mind?

Interesting. I can't really refute your point of view, but I think it does discredit the word 'know'. What distinguishes the word 'know' from word 'belief'? What would be the value in telling somebody I know something?

I did not post this topic to establish an objective view of reality. It was to invite someone to establish the credibility of the concept of knowledge in the face of my proposed unreliability of memory.
 
urangutan
 
Reply Tue 10 Jun, 2008 05:58 am
@infinidream,
It is odd how some peoples memory works from a different origin. I can probably collate about an hour of memories from my childhood at pre school age ( that is before school not early school). I don't remember eating nor waking, let alone being put too bed. Yet from the first day of school, I can remember that each and every day forth I woke, took lunch to school, entered the class room and so on. I am not saying that I can recall each moment and sensation but I can place myself within the vicinity of recognizing it.

Was I hotwired (conditioned) for the purpose of learning at school, I can assure you that I did not forget my childhood before school, I either did not have it entered into memory or through the lack of sensory perception did not recognise anything other than what I can remember. I can wonder about those first five years but I cannot trace them.

I wonder if I can put it down to a regime of coincidences, that each day into school, the repetitive nature of activity, triggers senses that activate memory use and pre school was a jumble of activity that set no point for memory to access.
 
infinidream
 
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2008 09:25 pm
@urangutan,
urangutan wrote:
I can remember that each and every day forth I woke, took lunch to school, entered the class room and so on.


would you go as far as to say you 'know' that you woke, took lunch to school, and entered the class room, and what would be the justification of that knowledge?
 
urangutan
 
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2008 09:48 pm
@infinidream,
The proof of remembering, is knowing that at the time you are participating you are aware that this is existing. That is the difference between the two eras of what was till then my life.
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Tue 17 Jun, 2008 04:37 pm
@urangutan,
I have a slightly different slant on this issue:

For the past x number of years (I forget) I've suffered from psychosis; in the psychosis I envisage conversations which I feel as if totally real, conversations which I have had in the past and am now 'remembering', in fact (so far as I am concerned) they are simply figments of my mind.

It is a good question as to whether these memories are real occurances recounted or whether they could be fictional tales I've told myself recounted, or whether they are completely alien to what I have experienced previously.

I'd like to believe that I have had these conversations, so I choose that these memories are in fact 'real' memories of past events.

This all leads me to my point: that the mind figures imaginative perceptions of objective circumstance in order to pass reliably through testing circumstance - let's say you're in a maths exam and you decide that a quadratic equation should be calculated like this (x), yet in fact this x is simply a total delusion; I'm sure this happens to a lot of people, whether consciously guessing or not. Thus I premise that memory and delusion are two peas in a pod, they are one in the same thing. A delusion/memory, or in fact a psychosis/mood swing is entirely normal to human kind, they occur in order to aid our excursion into reality.
 
infinidream
 
Reply Sun 22 Jun, 2008 11:45 pm
@urangutan,
urangutan wrote:
The proof of remembering, is knowing that at the time you are participating you are aware that this is existing. That is the difference between the two eras of what was till then my life.


I don't see how that addresses memory. At the time you are participating (the present) you may be aware that this is existing, but if your memory is unreliable then you can't be sure of the past. For example, I may have a false memory, and since I am having the memory in the present I impose the present sense of existing into the false memory, thus making it seem even more real.

Do you have any justification for knowing that your memory is reliable?
 
infinidream
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 12:00 am
@Doobah47,
Doobah47 wrote:

Thus I premise that memory and delusion are two peas in a pod, they are one in the same thing.


Thanks for the fresh point of view.

That is an interesting thought, that we could define knowledge as including delusion as part of its foundation. Could you expand upon it more?

What is your definition of knowledge and what (if anything) is truly knowable?

According to your definition, can knowledge be shared? If someone says they know something, could they ever be taken seriousely it it were known that their own delusion were necessarily part of the equation? would I have to share their delusion in order to know what they know (like everyone thinking the earth is flat)?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 07:35 am
@infinidream,
infinidream wrote:
How do I know I can trust my memories? :eek: :eek: :eek:

Even if I establish that it is possible to know something, how can I be certain that the process of storing and accessing memories is reliable?

Senility and Alzheimer's are a couple obvious examples of the unreliability of memory, but what about the simple process of growing up. As I revisit places from my youth, they are often very different from my memories. This shows the long term memory can be unreliable.

As for the short term and working memory, factors like stress, emotion and misinterpretation of events can cause false memories to occur.

I am faced daily with realizations of my false memories. Sometimes they mutate into sustainable "correct" memories, and sometimes they just change into another false memory that will alter again in the future. It is such a common process that it doesn't disrupt my daily routine, but just because Its a functional state of existence doesn't necessarily mean I know anything, does it?


You can be certain of very little if anything at all, so it is unlikely that you can be certain that memory (in general, or in particular) is reliable. But reliable as compared with what? Perception? Intuition? Of course, it will depend on the recollection. Who remembers? How long ago? What sort of memory?
 
infinidream
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 10:48 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
You can be certain of very little if anything at all, so it is unlikely that you can be certain that memory (in general, or in particular) is reliable. But reliable as compared with what? Perception? Intuition? Of course, it will depend on the recollection. Who remembers? How long ago? What sort of memory?


I mean reliable as in a reliable component of knowledge.

If you say you know something, that means you are certain of it, and it also means your memories that are involved in that knowledge are also certain.

I'm talking about memory as a whole. The proccess of receiving data, storing it in the brain and body, and then accessing it. You tell me, are there any types of memory that you think are a reliable source for knowledge? Do you define knowledgedifferently? What do you think is knowable and what type of memory can be relied on for that knowledge?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 07:28 am
@infinidream,
infinidream wrote:
I mean reliable as in a reliable component of knowledge.

If you say you know something, that means you are certain of it, and it also means your memories that are involved in that knowledge are also certain.

I'm talking about memory as a whole. The proccess of receiving data, storing it in the brain and body, and then accessing it. You tell me, are there any types of memory that you think are a reliable source for knowledge? Do you define knowledgedifferently? What do you think is knowable and what type of memory can be relied on for that knowledge?


But I still ask, reliable as compared with what, even as a component of knowledge? After all, perception is also a component of knowledge. I memory reliable (as a component of knowledge) as is perception? I suppose not. But is it reliable as compared with intuition? I suppose so.

I don't think that knowing something means you are certain of it, although I think that saying you know something may mean that. But you may think that you know something, and say that you do, and you may be mistaken about it. After all, thinking you know and knowing are very different. The first is subjective, the latter, objective. So does knowing something mean that you are certain of it. By "certain" I mean, the impossibility of error-infallibility. Well, since I think that we are nearly never certain of anything, but since I think we do know lots of things, I don't think that knowledge implies certainty (although saying you know may imply the feeling of certainty-but as we all know, feeling certain and being certain are quite different.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 11:18 pm
@kennethamy,
I think that memory relies on perceivance, because would we have memory without emotion, without the 'excitement' that stimulates the neurons?
Then we would access the memory, to bring back the perceivance moment.

I find that my memory is bad short term and excellent long term... ... This would imply that neurons will strengthen due to recalling upon it's potential, like working out, strengthening the muscle by repeatedly using it's potential.

There are a lot more memories that can be attained from the past ten minutes than from ten years ago, but it would seen right for those few memories to be more accurate as long as they have been remembered or recalled enough. As time progresses, more and more memories are not accessed and the brain discards them, I'm only speculating.

Then there has to be a way of filtering moments so that people can actually have memories and so that people aren't overloaded with them.

This filter would seem prudent to me to be 'dreams', hopefully I'm right by saying that their purpose is to analyse.
:rolleyes:
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 04:32 am
@Holiday20310401,
Good discussion, if I may impose some input...

Holiday20310401 wrote:
I think that memory relies on perceivance, because would we have memory without emotion, without the 'excitement' that stimulates the neurons?


This is an important implication on the accuracy of emotion. In reminiscing, for example, a lot of my childhood experiences with my brothers and sister, I've found that emotion has clouded my memories in many instances. Things I thought happened (indeed I'd have sworn!) did not. It *appears* that memories that carry high emotion (dire/self-actualizing) are tainted through that emotional looking-glass. As such, I've concluded that the more 'charged' a memory is, the less reliable (although this could speak volumes on the mindset in which I perceived it).

Holiday20310401 wrote:
As time progresses, more and more memories are not accessed and the brain discards them, I'm only speculating.


I discovered this a while ago while in a rather self-absorbed bout of melancholy. After trying to think it through and writing just a bit about it, I came to the conclusion that memories, over the long term, pile up and fade as a result of the deluge of fresh input. I too am not sure how accurate this is, but it sure feels that way.
 
infinidream
 
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 07:40 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

I don't think that knowing something means you are certain of it.


Be careful of how you define certainty. Wink If you look it up in the dictionary you will find that certainty pertains to the subjective state of mind, whereas knowledge implies objective truth. I challenge you to find a definition of certainty that implies objective truth. The first definition in Webster's New world dictionary states: "without doubt".

You can think you know something, not really knowing it, and still be certain that you know it. Example: people thinking the earth was flat. They were certain the earth was flat, there was no doubt in most of their minds, but they obviously didn't really know the earth was flat.

Back to the original question-- "reliable compared to what"--I don't think comparison enters into it. If you rely on something for knowledge, you have to rely on it 100 percent, whether it is memory, intuition, perception, etc. If any of these things come into doubt then your knowledge comes into doubt as well.

The focus of this chain is on one element of knowledge: Memory. If memory is not 100 percent reliable, how can we justify to ourselves and to each other that we really know anything? It doesn't seem right to define knowledge as: "I think its true but I could be wrong". Do you disagree? Smile
 
 

 
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