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We do not necessarily remember our experiences the way they really happened—and what is more, remembering an experience does not necessarily mean it actually happened at all. In little more than a decade, scientists have discovered that people can have detailed, emotion-filled, and utterly false memories.

False memories are memories that are partly or wholly inaccurate. They are the product of second-hand information rather than genuine experience. Although the term false memory can be used to describe a wide range of memory phenomena, in this entry it is used to describe full-blown distortions of our own biographies: wholly false memories of unreal experiences. However, readers should be aware that two large and parallel scientific literatures show that people can misremember aspects of witnessed events, misidentify perpetrators, ...

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