I couldn’t help thinking of the Ministry of Information when I read this piece from Science Daily today:
Memory Can Be Manipulated By Photos
…When presented with digitally altered images depicting the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and a 2003 anti-war protest in Rome, participants in a new study by American and Italian researchers recalled the events as being bigger and more violent than they really were, suggesting that viewing doctored photographs might affect people’s memories of past public events.
The study was designed by UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus and conducted by University of Padua researchers Franca Agnoli and Dario Sacchi.
Internet photo hoaxes are well known, but reputable media outlets such as the LA Times and USA Today recently published digitally altered photos, and subsequently issued retractions and apologies. When media use digitally doctored photographs, they may ultimately change the way we recall history, Loftus said.
There is no question that this works. I have sometimes wondered how many of my so-called “memories” are actually just images in my mind that I recall from pictures I have seen.
The last paragraph quoted above is particularly disturbing. My goodness, are we already there? Is the Ministry of Information already in charge? How much have our memories already been engineered?
Here are some relevant Orwell Quotes from this site:
“If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.”
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”
“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.”