A while ago I asked visitors to my blog to sign up for a quick, easy memory experiment and those willing to take part filled in a form that was emailed to me. Read on to find out more about the experiment and the results. Once I’d received an email I would then send the below picture to them with the instructions…
1 – open the attachment in paint or photoshop or something similar
2 – imagine the circle represents the ‘heads’ side of a £1 (GBP)
3 – draw, from memory, what the coin face looks like including as much detail as you can
4 – save the new picture as ‘hayley memory experiment joe bloggs’ – but replace Joe Bloggs with your name (don’t worry, I wont share your name, it’s just for admin)
5 – email it back to this email address by Thursday evening at the latest
(It’s important that you do not cheat by looking at a £1 coin and I trust you to be honest. It’s also important not to share what the test involved.)
If you want to do the experiment yourself to see how accurate you can be then do so now and do not read on…
It was a simple memory test that I wanted to conduct out of curiosity as I had once seen Brian Brushwood use the results of a similar experiment to demonstrate how bad our memories can be in a talk entitled ‘Scams, Sasquatch & the Supernatural’.
Watch the below video until about 1:10 to see what I mean (you can watch further into the interest talk too, the word memory test that Brian goes on to do with his audience is something else I copied when speaking at a paranormal conference once, and I got exactly the same results with my audience. Really interesting stuff.)
Once I had sent out the blank one pound coin image and the instructions I soon began to receive completed one pound coins back from people and it’s pretty fair to say that they were all fairly inaccurate. I only got 23 responses, and of course, this isn’t a controlled experiment in any way, but I still think it is a good demonstration of how our memories really aren’t that reliable at all, and therefore cannot be relied upon alone for evidence or proof when it comes to testimonies.It’s pretty safe to say that the people who took part in this experiment handle £1 coins regularly, and yet when asked to draw what one side of the coin looked like they were unable to do so correctly. I can’t either, by the way, and I’ve purposefully studied a £1 coin to see how accurate other peoples drawings were!
A £1 coin has the queens head facing to the right with a row of tiny dots all around the outer edge of the coin. Beneath the row of small dots and to the left and right of the queens head are the words:
[ELIZABETH II D.G.REG.F.D.’year’]
Out of the 23 participants to my experiment:
10 people got the direction the queens head is facing correct
4 people remembered that the year was on the coin
6 people remembered the row of small dots around the edge
4 people got 1 – 3 (out of six) words correct
8 people incorrectly included of ‘£1’ or ‘one pound’ on the coin
1 person included a picture of a tree or plant instead of the queens head
I don’t know if anything can be taken from this experiment by anyone other than myself, and that’s fine. I decided to put this idea to the test myself to see if I got similar results as others have, and I think the above pictures speak for themselves. This is why I cannot happily rely on eye witness testimony alone when it comes to strange experiences that people have had.