Monday, February 8, 2010


Well, there are really no ‘light notes’ in matters relating to the SO mania.

But I just had to pass this on. In today’s (February 8th) newspaper cartoon “Pooch Café”* there is a marvelous send-up of the dynamics underlying ‘recovered memory’.

The ‘hero’ of the strip, a talking dog, has just returned from a week-long series of re-visitation of past lives.

He had just revealed to a neighborhood dog that in one of his re-visitations he had seen his caveman master in a past life being eaten by a dinosaur.

The neighborhood dog interjects that such a thing is impossible since humans and dinosaurs existed eons apart from each other and were never on earth at the same time.

The ‘hero’ is dumbfounded – what did he see then? It seemed so real.

In the final box of today’s strip the neighborhood dog provides the answer: the hero’s former master must have been the guy on the toilet eaten by a dinosaur in “Jurassic Park”.

The hero dog simply goes “Gasp!”.

Well, now.

Having been on the planet for more than a couple of decades now, and not maintaining video files of my ‘significant experiences’ on Facebook or a cell-phone or anywhere else, I can vouch for the experience of not quite recalling which ‘memories’ that I can see in my mind’s eye as clear as day are intact and which are actually composites of a whole bunch of things I’d experienced – or just ‘seen somewhere’.

And did I see both friends A and B that night at the baseball game in ’65, or am I blending two memories – and maybe it was a football game, and maybe ’64. And maybe it was C and D, not A and B.

Cute and mostly insignificant problems that just everybody is prone to. But not so if somehow I am claiming to give absolutely accurate evidence in a court case – civil or criminal.

And of course I am not even going near the far-too-underrated possibility that one could simply make up a ‘memory’ perfectly suited to a situation that’s going to get me some nice cash or other benny (as I’ve said in other Posts, perhaps the psychological benny of getting to have somebody else officially declared as the cause of all my failures in life).

The preconscious mind – not under our conscious control – is recognized as an active ‘film-maker’ in the memory process, and as a result courts should be very careful in considering even memories that are assumed to be valid and honestly related.

But the human self – especially for the purpose of acquiring some ‘gain’ – is quite capable of being a very conscious and purposeful film-maker. And that’s a whole other situation.
The deliberate manipulation of memory – and of a judge and/or jury – is a form of predation that cannot be lightly or too-quickly dismissed, especially in cases where little other evidence supports the charge.

Yes, as one legal wag once put it (I’m quoting this from memory here, so make allowances): there are times when circumstantial evidence can be very persuasive, as when one finds a trout in the milk. But you don’t often find a fully-grown fish in a milk carton in this type of case.

As we saw in the Shanley case, lacking a trout in the milk, an enterprising attorney has other options. As Cicero once said (again, from memory here): When you don’t have enough evidence, you can always abuse the defendant. If Cicero only knew …

One of the great enablers of the SO mania in regard to court cases has been the shrewd tainting of the jury pool before the fact – indeed so far before the fact, before the jurors even get into the court room, or before they even know they might be a juror.

I refer of course to the miasmic skein of untruths pushed as ‘Findings’ by legislators**, trumpeted by a sensationalist media with an eye to laying the groundwork for future civic melodramas where ‘good’ triumphs over ‘evil’, and thus saturating the public in a slimy fog of inaccuracy before anybody is actually called for jury duty. Throw in a couple of made-for-TV movies or TV series episodes and you’ve tainted the pool without anybody being indictable.

Just some thoughts from looking at the comics this morning.


*Sorry, but I have no way of figuring out how to display it to you or even link to it.

**I note again how curious – and suspect – it is that so many of these SO laws are passed by voice-vote, so that nobody except the actual official sponsor of the Bill is vulnerable to public opprobrium if things should go wrong with the law. This is on top of such often illicit schemes as sidestepping Committee consideration and placing the Bill directly on the Floor, which of course chills any dissent from legislators who suddenly don’t want to be publicly seen trying to stop the ‘good and sensitive stampede’.



  2. Many thanks for the tech assist. Let us continyuh!