Past lives and alien abductions tied to memory error.

Vastet
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Past lives and alien abductions tied to memory error.

This obviously works for theism(eg, miracles) as well, though it wasn't specifically singled out.

Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com
Fri Apr 6, 9:25 AM ET

People who believe they have lived past lives as, say, Indian princesses or battlefield commanders are more likely to make certain types of memory errors, according to a new study.

The propensity to make these mistakes could, in part, explain why people cling to implausible reincarnation claims in the first place.

Researchers recruited people who, after undergoing hypnotic therapy, had come to believe that they had past lives.

Subjects were asked to read aloud a list of 40 non-famous names, and then, after a two-hour wait, told that they were going to see a list consisting of three types of names: non-famous names they had already seen (from the earlier list), famous names, and names of non-famous people that they had not previously seen. Their task was to identify which names were famous.

The researchers found that, compared to control subjects who dismissed the idea of reincarnation, past-life believers were almost twice as likely to misidentify names. In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from.

Power of suggestion

People who are likely to make these kinds of errors might end up convincing themselves of things that aren’t true, said lead researcher Maarten Peters of Maastricht University in The Netherlands. When people who are prone to making these mistakes undergo hypnosis and are repeatedly asked to talk about a potential idea—like a past life—they might, as they grow more familiar with it, eventually convert the idea into a full-blown false memory.

This is because they can’t distinguish between things that have really happened and things that have been suggested to them, Peters told LiveScience.

Past life memories are not the only type of implausible memories that have been studied in this manner. Richard McNally, a clinical psychologist at Harvard University, has found that self-proclaimed alien abductees are also twice as likely to commit source monitoring errors.

Creative minds

As for what might make people more prone to committing such errors to begin with, McNally says that it could be the byproduct of especially vivid imagery skills. He has found that people who commonly make source-monitoring errors respond to and imagine experiences more strongly than the average person, and they also tend to be more creative.

“It might be harder to discriminate between a vivid image that you’d generated yourself and the memory of a perception of something you actually saw,” he said in a telephone interview.

Peters also found in his study, detailed in the March issue of Consciousness and Cognition, that people with implausible memories are also more likely to be depressed and to experience sleep problems, and this could also make them more prone to memory mistakes.

And once people make this kind of mistake, they might be inclined to stick to their guns for spiritual reasons, McNally said. “It may be a variant expression of certain religious impulses,” he said. “We suspect that this might be kind of a psychological buffering mechanism against the fear of death.”

http://www.livescience.com/othernews/070406_past_lives.html

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Wonderist
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Vastet wrote:

Vastet wrote:
In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from.

Mappers and packers. What is happening here is that these people are packers. They pack fact after fact into their memories without considering so much the coherence and significance of the facts. They store 'Joe Smith' as 'A name I recognize'. Then, they come to the next portion and <bing bing bing> the alarm goes off, "Ah! Joe Smith, I recognize that name!" Now here's what happens: They allow their intuition to take control to REBUILD how Joe Smith fits in with everything else they remember. The brain does this naturally, via intuition. So, they think (without being aware of it) "Well, I can't remember how Joe Smith fits in, but I do recognize the name. Therefore, he must be one of those 'famous people I forgot'."

Mappers thinks differently. Instead of just packing away fact after fact, they instead build a 'map' of inter-woven ideas. They are more concerned with how an idea fits into their worldview than they are with simply memorizing it. So, when they see Joe Smith, they think, "Is he famous? No." So, they store Joe Smith as 'a name I recognize', but they also store 'Joe Smith' as 'not famous'. They will read the list while thinking, "These are all names that are nor famous."

In contrast, the packer will read the same list while thinking, "Here's a list of names to remember." They don't think so much about *why* they are remembering the names. They don't try to remember reasons for remembering things, they just pack them in along with everything else. Their memories are mostly unstructured, and they rely on intuition to rebuild 'reasons'.

The mapper remembers the reasons primarily. In fact, a mapper may remember ONLY the reasons, and allow intuition to rebuild the facts which can be derived from the reasons.

I remember most of my maths and sciences not because I remembered a bunch of facts, but because I remember the reasons why things work the way they do. There is a small foundation of memorization (like multiplication tables), but other concepts are built upon existing ones, rather than freshly memorized, and the map is continually revised to eliminate contradictions.

So, i can reconstruct Newton's formulas from understanding how forces, masses, velocity, and acceleration all interact with each other. I don't need to actually memorize the formulas.

But a packer is stuck. If they don't have the formulas memorized, there is no way for them to derive them, because they don't remember how it was derived (the reasons), they only tried to memorize the formulas (the facts), and maybe they missed that lesson on a sick day. Oh well, sorry you flunked the Physics exam, too bad you didn't have a map to help guide you through the problem solving.

Anyway, I think this is a very important concept for atheists to understand. People think in different ways, REALLY different ways. They have different strategies for managing their information stores.

Why is it important? Because theists/packers/intuitives rely on their intuitions to take accepted facts and generate whatever theory fits the 'facts'. You will see this ALL the time with creationists and anyone else who is good at ad hoc rationalizing.

If you understand this thought process, you can use it to your advantage. Instead of trying to communicate your *reasons* for believing what you do, try to get the theist to agree to well-known intuitive facts that their packer minds can soak up. Then, when you've planted enough ideas in their heads, they will naturally use their intuition to create the theory/reasons you were trying to communicate in the first place.

It's hard to explain because intuition is hard to explain. Hopefully I'm getting the idea across to some of you guys.

Anyway, I just saw a connection between this past-lives study and the 'packer' way of thinking that most theists use. Thought I would try to elucidate the connection.

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Vastet wrote: People who

Vastet wrote:
People who are likely to make these kinds of errors might end up convincing themselves of things that aren’t true, said lead researcher Maarten Peters of Maastricht University in The Netherlands. When people who are prone to making these mistakes undergo hypnosis and are repeatedly asked to talk about a potential idea—like a past life—they might, as they grow more familiar with it, eventually convert the idea into a full-blown false memory. This is because they can’t distinguish between things that have really happened and things that have been suggested to them, Peters told LiveScience.

See my comments (as wonderist) on this video. I explain how I think it is that false ideas can be 'made real' to a person. Again, talking about intuitive thinking. vs. rational thinking.

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You notice people who

You notice people who "Know" of their past lives, tend to have past lives of:

1)Famous people

or

2) People who lived through an extraordinary event

Note, it's also people. I've never heard anyone say they were an animal, or a plant.

Nothing ever like "I was a blade of grass once, dreadfully boring. But then again, I was just grass, so I paid little mind to it." 

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Ophios wrote: You notice

Ophios wrote:

You notice people who "Know" of their past lives, tend to have past lives of:

1)Famous people

or

2) People who lived through an extraordinary event

Note, it's also people. I've never heard anyone say they were an animal, or a plant.

Nothing ever like "I was a blade of grass once, dreadfully boring. But then again, I was just grass, so I paid little mind to it."

Back when I believed that sort of stuff, I was convinced I was a Greek slave in Egypt, helping build the pyramids.  (Boring and quite sweaty)

I also believed that at one time I was a sad, lonely spinster that took in sewing to pay the rent. 

I wish I had realized what a bunch of silliness all that was because I could have convinced myself that I had been someone important! 

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