Originally created 03/18/03

Childhood memories - now open to suggestion

If all the world's a stage, where does the audience sit?

- George Carlin

The shortest member of our family brought home his report card last week.

//In preparation for whatever lecture I needed to give, I had gone to the cedar chest and retrieved my own elementary school record.

I quickly put it back.

Apparently, my memory of third grade is more glowing than the reality. But then, I'm not alone.

A recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science heard the results of a California study on false memories - events we swear we remember but did not actually happen.

Psychologists said some people appear very suggestible and can even be convinced that they might have witnessed or committed a crime, when they didn't.

Cited was last fall's Washington, D.C., sniper case and the number of witnesses who linked the snipers to a mysterious white van. It turned out there never was a white van.

A common trick in the California test was to suggest to someone the happy memory of meeting Bugs Bunny during a visit to Disneyland.

Many people "remembered" such a meeting, even though they later admitted having never made the trip to the Disney theme park.

The situation was further complicated by the fact that Bugs Bunny is not a Disney character and wouldn't have been there, anyway.

* * *

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

* * *

TODAY'S JOKE: This one is passed along by Sylvia:

A policeman was writing a parking ticket when a man walked up to him to protest.

"Come on, buddy," the man said, "how about giving a guy a break?"

The cop said nothing, ignoring the request and continuing to write the ticket.

"You know," the man said, "you're really being a jerk."

The policeman glared at him briefly, then began writing another ticket, still not saying a word. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.

"Man," said the guy watching him, "You're really a piece of work. I hope you enjoy what you do."

The policeman smiled, then began writing a third ticket. Completed it, then turned to the guy and said, "There, I hope you're happy."

"Relieved, mostly," the fellow said, turning to walk away. "I'm parked across the street."

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or bkirby@augustachronicle.com.


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