Looks like I jumped the gun when I said we don’t remember lessons. I was reading more of Errol Morris’ blog when I found this post: Photography as a Weapon. Morris interviews Dartmouth Professor Hany Farid about the faked photo of the fourth missile, and it turns out we remember mistakes in the worst way. Farid says:
When you put out a fake… you start putting it out there and saying, “Oh look, this picture? It’s a fake. This picture? It’s a fake.” But you know what people remember? They don’t remember, “It’s a fake.” They remember the picture. And there are psychology studies, when you tell people that information is incorrect, they forget that it is incorrect. They only remember the misinformation. They forget the tag associated with it.
They did these great studies, especially with older people. They give them information about health, Medicare, Medicaid, that kind of stuff. And they say, “this information that you heard? It’s wrong.” And what ends up happening is, that information gets ingrained into their brains, and even if they are subsequently told it’s wrong, they end up believing it.
Bad news in our world of soundbyte reportage!