Bugs Bunny Study Reveals Memory's Malleability

That's one of the reasons for those black and white commercials that have been dredged up from the past, Loftus says. Just maybe they will conjure up fond memories. And if the memories aren't there, maybe … .

Traumatized Minds More Vulnerable

The fact that our memories are faulty is not exactly astonishing. Those of us in the news business frequently encounter people who remember the same event in such different ways that it's hard to believe they were witnessing the same thing. That's especially true in the case of a violent crime, or a heartbreaking tragedy. Such events can traumatize us to the point that our memory becomes very selective.

But the research suggests that it doesn't take a traumatic event to twist our memory. And that will probably be troubling to many people. Especially if it can be done by someone else.

"You can truly implant a memory for an entire event that never happened," Pickrell says.

Still, as someone noted a long time ago (my memory fails me on who, but I think his first name was Abe) you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

At least 10 percent of the persons who were expected to participate in the Pickrell-Loftus study saw through the scheme as quick as a bunny. They noted that Bugs had no business in Disneyland. His heart, or at least his image, belonged elsewhere.

These folks knew they had never shaken paws with Bugs in Disneyland, so the researchers kicked them out of the study because they knew they couldn't trick them.

The disappointment is something they will remember for a long time, no doubt.

Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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