Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that all of you are figments of my imagination. I just want to point out a few scientific facts that may make you think about your life.
If you think about it, majority of our life is our memories. I mean what you are seeing or experiencing right now is very real. But for how long?
Seven seconds, that is how long it is estimated that our short term memory lasts. about five to seven pieces of information from the past seven seconds are exactly as you recall them. Everything else is a reconstruction of memories, hence subject to inaccuracies.
In fact, it is proven that our memories can change entirely while talking about it with someone after the events in the memories have occurred. We can imagine new scenarios that never happened and pass them as fact as a result of the information provided to us while reconstructed the memories. So called leading questions are part of this kind of information (see Loftus and Palmer, effect of leading questions for more on this).
And it is not just our memories that are unreliable. Our present self is at fault too. You see, we have these things called schema, our mental representations. They are what we process new information through. It is a vague concept but it contains our biases, our stereotypes and our beliefs along with a lot of other things. These are based on our experiences, our memories, the unreliable thing. Because of the schema, all the information we take in isn’t as accurate as possible. It is always twisted by our beliefs and biases. This biased information then goes into our already unreliable memories, which then backs up or changes our schema. This reinforcement cycle is why we have scientific debates, religious wars or any argument ever for that fact, because every argument we experience further solidifies our point of view, belief and bias.
So if our memories and our processing of memories is so unreliable, is anything real? Or are we all living in an illusion that our mind made up?