False Memory Syndrome

Published: 2003-11-01

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Assessing the reliability and accuracy of witness testimony is probably one of the most difficult tasks both in jurisprudence as well as in historiography. Although it is generally acknowledged by experts that witness testimony is the least reliable type of evidence and must be critically and carefully scrutinized before any of its contents can be accepted as facts, most people are unaware of this. For them, witness statements carry enormous weight, in particular if seemingly corroborated by other witness statements of similar content.

Prof. Elizabeth Loftus is one of the most prominent scholars in the field of human memory and the way it can be manipulated and distorted. Although her field of expertise is mainly the court of law, where witness testimony can decide the fate of defendants, the relevance for historiography is all to obvious, since many historians seem to rely primarily on witness accounts to write history.

John Cobden was the first to make revisionist scholars aware of Prof. Loftus' research on the unreliability of human memory in his review[1] of her book Witness for the Defense.[2] Although Cobden focused on those parts of Loftus' book where she describes her experiences with a court case involving an alleged event of the 'Holocaust' - the infamous Demjanjuk case[3] - there is much more to Loftus' work that is of enormous importance to revisionist scholarship. The following contributions inform about the progressing research results of Prof. Loftus and her co-workers during the past ten years and highlight the relevance of these results for revisionism. The Editor


[1] J. Cobden, Journal of Historical Review, 11(2) (1991) pp. 238-249 (online: vho.org/GB/Journals/JHR/11/2/Cobden238-249.html).
[2] E. Loftus, K. Ketcham, Witness for the Defense, St. Martin's Press, New York 1991.
[3] See Arnulf Neumaier, "The Treblinka Holocaust", in: G. Rudolf, Dissecting the Holocaust, 2nd ed., Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago, IL, 2003, pp. 471-500; cf. also Yoram Sheftel, The Demjanjuk Affair. The Rise and Fall of the Show Trial, Victor Gollancz, London 1994.

Source: The Revisionist 1(4) (2003), p. 455.

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Author(s): Germar Rudolf
Title: False Memory Syndrome
Published: 2003-11-01
First posted on CODOH: June 24, 2012, 7 p.m.
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