If you haven’t yet encountered them, there are two recent theories floating around the internet involving alleged evidence of alterations to our timeline: the missing Shazaam movie, and the Curious Case of the Berenstxxn Bears. Both purport to show that segments of the population remember specific details from the past that have inexplicably changed into something else, the first a genie movie starring the comedian Sinbad that now doesn’t exist, and the second, a shift in the spelling of the last name of a family of bears in a series of children’s books.

What these phenomena more likely represent is how our minds can play tricks on us through false memories. The video below from AsapSCIENCE gives an entertaining explanation of the concept.

And for the record, the Sinbad movie never existed, those are false memories, but the Bears’ last name has clearly changed, so I’m pretty sure I’ve been shifted off of the true timeline into this alternate darker reality.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


4 Thoughts on "I’m Pretty Sure I Remember That — False Memories"

I think Maurice Chevalier experienced this phenomenon some 60 years ago……

Cute video and junk science. Ending includes reference to child memories which was actually the motivation of the false memory proponents to discredit reports of sexual abuse in childhood. Very serious stuff! Research used to discredit testimony and create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors that memories of abuse were implanted by therapists. This science was created and used to support paid expert court testimony in these cases by the very same researchers. Remembering word lists equated with the trauma of memories of childhood sexual abuse. The video is propaganda. Now you know the rest of the story.

Elliot Siegel’s account of the issue of memory in what he globally calls “child sexual abuse” is rather confused and incorrect; perhaps he has misremembered the early history of the child sex abuse hysteria. The “recovered memory” syndrome he refers to has been thoroughly and empirically debunked and refuted by the use of conventional and peer-reviewed scientific methods and theoretical applications. And, actually, the “rest of the story” of this moral panic involves an on-going development of criticism of such concepts as “pedophilia”, a line of professional research present from the very beginnings of the hysteria as it coalesced in the mid-1970s. This critique is not so much forgotten as it ignored by those with simplistic and skewed notions of history and behavior.

False memories are real until you replay them to former participants. At each of my high school reunions, it seems at least one of my recollections is met with strong denial. For example, all my life I remembered a certain classmate having been a terrific piano player, but it turned out a random dream that became a memory: He denied ever playing the piano even once. I think false memories are simply old dreams that are misfiled in the brain.

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