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Memories are our most cherished possessions. We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate records of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting why or suddenly being unable to recall the name of someone we've met dozens of times. But what if we have the potential for more profound errors of memory, even verging on outright fabrication and self-deception?
In The Memory Illusion, forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr Julia Shaw uses the latest research to show the astonishing variety of ways in which our brains can indeed be led astray. She shows why we can sometimes misappropriate other people's memories, subsequently believing them to be our own. She explains how police officers can imprison an innocent man for life on the basis of 300 denials and just one confession. She demonstrates the way radically false memories can be deliberately implanted, leading people to believe that they brutally murdered a loved one or were abducted by aliens. And she reveals how, in spite of all this, we can improve our memory through simple awareness of its fallibility.
Fascinating and unnerving in equal measure, The Memory Illusion offers a unique insight into the human brain, challenging you to question how much you can ever truly know about yourself.
Dr Julia Shaw is a psychology lecturer and memory researcher at the University of Bedfordshire and is one of only a handful of experts in the world who actively conduct research on complex memory errors related to emotional personal events - so-called 'false memories'. Dr Shaw has published research articles in various international academic journals, written textbook chapters, and presented at many international conferences. She is also heavily involved in teaching classes on memory at the undergraduate and graduate levels, for which she has won two teaching excellence awards.
Besides her teaching and research, she has delivered general business and police-training workshops, has given guest lectures at universities around the world, has evaluated offender diversion programs and works with the UK police to advise on historical sexual and physical abuse cases. She has also been featured as an expert on TV and radio and in UK and international newspapers.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jacob on 11-01-16
All over the place but interesting
The Memory Illusion is a fascinating piece on neurology, psychology and, basically, how humans think and remember. Dr. Shaw is a luminary and fully grasps her subject. Unfortunately, what this book had in intriguing science it lacked in structure. All chapters (with the exception, perhaps, of the fourth one, which relates to the biology of memory) all feel the same; I couldn't tell you what each one was about.
Siri Steimo offers a relatively robotic performance (she occasionally sounds like a computer-generated narrator). However, she does provide some interesting nuances and intonations at times.
44 of 45 people found this review helpful
By Mtallis on 09-25-16
it's kind of strange, but knowing so much more about how people can misremember and develop faulty memories (including myself of course) gives me a certain sense of freedom. I have the freedom to react in multiple ways when I interact with someone that may be wrong or lying, and to question myself and seek independent evidence. it's great
26 of 28 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By JR on 06-29-16
An unpleasant listen
What would have made The Memory Illusion better?
I never thought I would actually catch myself saying this about a non-fiction book, but here it is: a less arrogant and less condescending tone of the book would have made it so much better and actually enjoyable! Sine the topic of the book is truly fascinating. However, together with the narrator's voice I found it a thoroughly unpleasant listen. On a plus side (from the few chapters I managed to listen to), the book seems to be convincing and easy to follow. From the negative side, even though I found myself agreeing with everything the author was saying, I kept finding myself wanting to actually disagree just because of the self-righteous tone of the book. I tried to keep listening, but since I was not getting any pleasure out of it - was unable to carry on, even though this was exactly the book I was waiting for - a scientific explanation of how memory and brain work. Such a shame! Will be returning it.
Would you ever listen to anything by Julia Shaw again?
No, absolutely not. The author's writing style is not for me.
Would you be willing to try another one of Siri Steinmo’s performances?
No, absolutely not.
40 of 47 people found this review helpful
By Paul Hinds on 07-08-16
Your past is an illusion
What did you like most about The Memory Illusion?
What a great listen! Dr Shaw presents us with a huge weight of scientific evidence to demonstrate why our cherished memories could well be a work of fiction. I particularly liked the way she goes through the various research providing both a technical but also a lay person's explanation of what it means in the context of current memory research and its implications on both the individual and society, in particular the criminal justice system.
It made me appreciate how much our memories shape who we are and how they define us and influence our decisions. There is some biology in there on how the brain works, but this is explained clearly and succinctly. The bulk of the book focuses on how our brains (and sometimes those around us) can be deceived into thinking we have a clear memory of something when it didn't happen.
I chose this book on a whim, and am glad I did so, or at least I have a memory of enjoying it.........
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Memory Illusion?
Hearing that 'hypnosis' in the sense that most people use it does not exist and coming to the realisation that I may not be the person I think I am!
12 of 15 people found this review helpful