Out in the Open·Full Episode

If Memory Serves

We tend to be more confident in our memories than we should be. And yet, memory is still held to be such an important decider in the criminal justice system, social conversations and everyday life. This weekend, Piya explores just how much you can really trust your memory.

This week, Piya explores just how much you can really trust your memory

When Christine Blasey Ford accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party more than three decades ago, her memory of that day's events were put under heavy scrutiny. (The Associated Press)
Listen to the full episode54:00

This episode was originally published on January 4, 2019.

We tend to be more confident in our memories than we should be. And yet, memory is still held to be such an important decider in the criminal justice system, social conversations and everyday life. This week, Piya explores just how much you can really trust your memory.

Here are the stories from this week's episode:

'It's the dementia, it's not me': How this woman finds resilience in the face of memory loss

Wendy Mitchell says she won't likely remember her conversation with Piya. She doesn't even remember what she ate for breakfast. At 58, Mitchell was diagnosed with early onset dementia. She describes coping strategies she's developed to deal with her memory loss, and explains why she thinks dementia shouldn't be seen as an ending, but as the start of a new life that's defined by adaptation.

How police convinced a woman that her bad dream was an actual murder

When Erla Bolladóttir was a teenager in Reykjavík in the 1970s, she and her boyfriend Sævar were detained by police for running an embezzlement scam through her employer. But the questioning that ensued soon veered toward two totally unrelated murder cases. Bolladóttir walks Piya through her complex tale of forming false memories under police pressure, and giving testimony that helped put some of her friends behind bars. Decades later, the case is widely seen as a vast miscarriage of justice.

Once he sees your face, this 'super-recognizer' will never forget it

Eyewitness identifications are notoriously unreliable. But not so for so-called "super-recognizers", who have the innate ability to see a face once and then recognize it again later. Kenny Long tells Piya how he discovered he had this power when he was working as an officer for London's Metropolitan Police Service, which has created a whole unit of "super-recognizers" to help tackle crime.

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