Sunday, August 20, 2006

Brainwashing, Really

Decades after scientologists turned to using brainwashing techniques, American and Australian scientists are looking for useful applications of implanting false memories.

In July, Dr Dan Bernstein presented an unpublished research, conducted over the past year, at the 4th International Conference on Memory in Sydney: "In the study 142 people aged 18-20 were told they had had a bad past experience with alcoholic drinks including rum. ... When they were asked to rate how much they liked rum they rated it less highly than before their memories were manipulated."

So THAT'S useful?

"If we showed that it had a lasting behavioural effect then it could possibly have some preventative utility, but that's a long way off," Dr. Bernstein elaborates.
Bernstein has experimented with batteling overeating in the past, but has made bad experiences ... people he got to cut back on icecream would compensate with potato chips ...

Professor Mike Toglia, an expert in false memories from the State University of New York, acknowledges there are ethical issues about brainwashing: "There's always been the concern that implanting false memories is a form of brainwashing and some people believe that maybe this kind or research should be stopped for that reason ... But I think the good that can be done can outweigh the risks."


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