Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Bizarre secret cult ripping families apart

Posted in News by Skepdude on January 18, 2009

SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: WA families are being ripped apart by a self-styled cult leader whose followers believe they have repressed memories of rape.

About 20 people have become devotees of a New Age “healer”, Matthew Meinck, who owns a retreat property in Chittering Valley.

Meinck, an Australian-born former monk, believes that people retain in their bodies memories of abuse that can be retrieved during intense deep-tissue massage, regressive therapy and gruelling meditation sessions lasting up to two weeks.

The Sunday Times has interviewed eight people who were under the influence of Meinck from about 2003.

During long retreats at the property, they became convinced they had been sexually abused by parents, extended families, workmates and – eventually – each other.


False Memories Can Influence Behaviour

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on October 22, 2008

Even when human memory is working normally, it is still frequently unfaithful. Instead of the total recall of, say, a video camera we get something more like a symbolist, or even abstract painting. Sights, sounds and smells are refracted by our minds into memories that often tell more about us than the original events they apparently record.

Psychologists have found many processes that act like lenses, creating distorted memories of original events. These processes include things like cognitive dissonance, the consistency bias and misattribution. But what power do these distorted or false memories hold over the mind? How far are they able to weave themselves into the tapestry of our lives? In short: can false memories affect our everyday thought and behaviour?

According to the results of a new experiment reported in Psychological Science, false memories could have many and varied behavioural consequences: just like ‘real’ memories, they may well be able to reach forward to the present and dramatically change how we think and behave.