Salaam Sr. Ume Aimon,
Some scientific research done in the area of “False Memory” might be on interest to you. It helped explain to me why one of my aunts practically swears that as a child, she saw a "flying pot"* encircling their home. It kept going in circles until an uncle drove it away after reciting some "Wazeefas"
*A flying pot is considered the surest sign of black magic in many parts of India
Cognitive psychologists have long debated the issue of false memory, with some arguing that recall is subject to distortion and decay and others stating that false memories are rare. A recent study found that suggestive interviewing techniques prompt individuals to report false memories, thus lending credence to the former camp.
Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., an expert on memory and professor of social ecology at the University of California at Irvine, planted false memories in subjects' minds, causing them to later recall having kissed frogs or witnessed a demonic possession, among other unlikely events.
Loftus asked subjects to perform ordinary actions, such as flipping a coin, as well as unusual actions, such as crushing chocolate with a dental floss container. The next day, subjects were asked to imagine performing additional actions, such as kissing a frog, and were prompted to imagine the color and feel of the animal. After later asking if they remembered kissing the frog or performing other imagined acts, Loftus and her team found that 15 percent of volunteers said they did.
"You can get people to have false beliefs," says Loftus. "In the case of kissing a frog, we know they didn't do that, but they'll tell you they did."
In a separate study, Loftus showed how false memories can be implanted with a visual cue. She exposed subjects to a fake print advertisement describing a visit to Disneyland where they would meet Bugs Bunny -- an impossible scenario because the popular cartoon rabbit is an icon of Warner Brothers, not Disney, and has never appeared at Disneyland. But when asked, 33 percent of subjects said they remembered encountering Bugs at the California theme park. Multiple exposures to the advertisement increased the rate of false memory.
The findings were presented February 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science