False memory

One of my favorite undergraduate courses dealt with folktales, and a major topic was urban legends. We read Jan Harold Brunvand, who’s renowned in part for demonstrating that folk tales aren’t limited to centuries past or primitive cultures. Internet warning spam is an example — the FCC’s going to tax email, telemarkers will get everyone’s cell phone number, that sort of thing. (Thank goodness for Snopes.)

I’ve run into one internet urban legend three times in the past week, which is why the topic’s on my mind. That in turn reminded me of this video from This American Life (found at Jonah Lehrer’s The Frontal Cortex) so compelling — an examination of how we can manufacture details about events that never happened to us.

…Ah, yes, it’s all coming back to me.