Friday, 5 August 2011

New paper on memory has important implications for cryptozoology

Finally, a blog update. Only a quick one, but it’s a start nevertheless. A really important psychology paper was recently published by Simons & Chabris (2011) in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. It shows, basically, that the public’s perception of memory is pretty much at odds with what is actually known about memory. Ed Young at Not Exactly Rocket Science has, as usual, written a very good review of the paper, which you can read here:

But this paper has a huge number of applications in cryptozoology. Irrespective of what some people say, it really doesn’t matter how certain eyewitnesses are about the accuracy of their statement, the fact of the matter is that the mind plays tricks on you (not literally). Eyewitness evidence can basically be ignored, unless there is a large enough pool of data with which to analyze it scientifically, and to tease out the most commonly reported characteristics which are thus the most likely to be on the animal itself. The authors are not cryptozoologists, and have not written a paper designed to help cryptozoologists, but the findings of said paper should be of real interest to everyone. And yes, by everyone I do mean the 10 people who are actually going to read this blog entry. So, in order to see this paper get more hits from Googlers in the future, I will now pepper this with key words:

Psychology; Cryptozoology; Big Cats; Memory; Evolution; Cryptozoology; Simons & Chabris; Psychology; Loch Ness Monster; Eyewitness; Cryptozoology; Montauk Monster; Memory; Gable Film; Cryptozoology; Psychology.

That’ll do. So, to reiterate, the paper is open access, which means that everyone with an internet connection can download it and read it. The more hysterical people within the cryptozoological community who claim that somehow mainstream science is trying to exclude outsiders from sharing in the latest discoveries shouls take note. The cryptozoological community (and indeed the police) and anyone else reliant on eyewitness testimony? should consider these findings closely.