I'm An Obama Supporter But Hillary is NOT Lying About Tuzla, She is Confabulating.
Edited on Sun Mar-23-08 11:23 AM by Dems Will Win
FROM DAILY KOS:
Hillary Did NOT Lie About Bosnia by plover Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 06:58:03 AM PDT How do I know? Well, I don't know for sure. But there is a good scientific explanation for what she said which I believe is more plausible than either that she lied or that she's engaged Walter Mitty-esque romanticization.
What the story told by HRC most resembles to me is what social psychologists and neuroscientists call a false memory or confabulation. These terms refer to an inaccurate memory generated by the human brain which appears completely real to the individual who has it.
Memory research shows that this phenomenon is endemic to the way human memory works. It could happen to anyone selected to be President. It could happen to you. And the chances are that -- at least in a minor fashion -- at some point it has.
For anyone unfamiliar with the story of Hillary's Bosnian escapade, a good place to start is here.
This should not be necessary for me to say, but if it will help anyone take me seriously: I support Obama for the nomination.
First of all, I submit that it is unlikely on logical grounds that Clinton was telling a knowing falsehood. If she has an accurate memory of the occasion in Bosnia, then she would most likely know that she was filmed, and thus would know if she told a story as inaccurate as the one she did, it would most likely be debunked by the tape. Now, even if the Clinton campaign may be getting sloppy at this point, they're not that sloppy. It seems far more plausible to believe that she could tell that story because she actually believed it to be the case, and that any video that might exist would support her story.
The following comes from Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me (2007) by social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, a book on how well the human mind is wired for self-justification (p 71):
One of us (co-author Carol Tavris) had a favorite children's book, James Thurber's The Wonderful O, which she remembers her father giving her when she was a child. "A band of pirates takes over an island and forbids the locals to speak any word or use any object containing the letter O," Carol recalls. "I have a vivid memory of my father reading The Wonderful O and our laughing together at the thought of shy Ophelia Oliver saying her name without its O's. I remember trying valiantly, along with the invaded islanders, to guess the fourth O word that must never be lost (after love, hope, and valor), and my father's teasing guesses: Oregon? Orangutan? Ophthalmologist? And then, not long ago, I found my first edition of The Wonderful O. It had been published in 1957, one year after my father's death. I stared at the date in disbelief and shock. Obviously, someone else gave me that book, someone else read it to me, someone else laughed with me about Phelia Liver, someone else wanted me to understand that the fourth O was freedom. Someone lost to my recollection."
This small story illustrates three important things about memory: how disorienting it is to realize that a vivid memory, one full of emotion and detail, is indisputably wrong; that even being absolutely, positively sure a memory is accurate does not mean that it is; and how errors in memory support our current feelings and beliefs.
Psychologists and neuroscientists have shown over and over again that, notwithstanding the impressive amount of time our memories are valid, human memory can easily become wildly inaccurate, and that the smallest of suggestions suffices to introduce vivid details that are completely false. As a hypothetical example: if in a court trial, a witness were asked, "What color hat was the person you saw wearing?" instead of "Was the person you saw wearing a hat?" it is not uncommon for the witness to "recall" a detailed visual memory of the person in question wearing a hat -- even if they weren't. These kinds of effects are very easy to produce.
The book quoted above is a good source for more details on these ideas as is The Seven Sins of Memory (2001) (also at Google Books) by memory researcher Daniel Schacter. Here's an example from that book (p 112):
Shortly after an El Al cargo plane took off from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on October 4, 1992, two engines failed and the pilots attempted to return to the airport. They never made it back: the plane crashed into an eleven-story apartment building in a southern suburb, killing thirty-nine residents and all four members of the airline crew. Reporters and television cameras descended on the chaotic scene, and the tragedy dominated news in the Netherlands for days. People throughout the country saw, read, heard, and talked about the catastrophe.
Ten months later, a group of Dutch psychologists probed what members of their university communities remembered about the crash. The researchers asked a simple question: "Did you see the television film of the moment the plane hit the apartment building?" Fifty-five percent of respondents said "yes". In a follow up study, two-thirds of the participants responded affirmatively. They also recalled details concerning the speed and angle of the plane as it hit the building, whether it was on fire prior to impact, and happened to the body of the plane right after the collision. These findings are remarkable because there was no television film of the moment when the plane actually crashed.
Another Kossack, boojieboy, who apparently works in cognitive science, also had the same reaction to the story I did. In one comment, he(?) writes:
There's a good explanation for why she may have honestly misremembered the incident: she's formed a false memory of the event.
Don't go getting distracted by the specificity and richness of the claim (e.g. Chelsea having to duck and run). False memories can be very rich and specific.
Usually they involve adult recall of childhood events, but given enough time, and perhaps some underling's apparent confirmation of her recall prior to her stating it to the press, she could easily have formed a false memory that would sound like the story she told about the Tuzla airport.
He also links to this article by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus: Creating False Memories.
There are around a dozen diaries from the past few days with titles like "Hillary's Campaign-ending Lie" and "Hillary LIED about Bosnia trip", plus DHinMI's front page post asserting that she was having a "Walter Mitty moment".
In the first of the diaries listed above, nitpicker asserts:
For all of Clinton's arguments about Obama's lack of experience, this lie shows her supposed foreign policy advantage for what it is: The misty water-colored memories of an egotist.
Diarist francny writes, in "Clinton lie about Bosnia Trip exposed on Good Friday":
I submit that this is a telling and revealing insight into the candidate who would do "anything to win" and I suggest would also SAY anything <...> This and her "whopper" of a tale that she didn't support NAFTA ... are just two of the multitude of lies she has perpetuated in her unending zeal to win.
Now, I have no interest in denying that Clinton is an egotist, neither that her misrepresentation of her record has the appearance of deceit. There is plenty of evidence for both claims. However, it is my contention that this incident is not part of that evidence -- at least not in a direct fashion.
I think it is mostly evidence of simple humanness -- a quality some of her detractors often seem little inclined to acknowledge. Based on the information I've seen, the kind of memory distortion that is suggested by the surface details of this incident is far too common to demand a further level of explanation.
While the situation at Tuzla may have ultimately turned out not to be dangerous, the possibility that it would be was taken seriously enough to move Hillary and Chelsea to the armored cockpit. This may have been accompanied by a Secret Service briefing of some sort on what procedure to follow if there was violence at the airfield. Parts of the flight may have been somewhat tense because of this. The best current evidence available on human memory implies that it is in no way necessary for a person to be a Walter Mitty or to have the "misty water-colored memories of an egotist" in order to turn a situation of the type that Clinton most likely experienced into the type of memory she described.
That Clinton reached the point of telling this story in public without the mistake being realized, may, however, be evidence for a different assertion made recently by DHinMI: that Hillary (and Bill too) are no longer are surrounded by staff that is sufficiently confrontational to serve as an effective reality check. (Did anyone think to even ask Chelsea about how accurate the story was?)
And that is one of the insights given new force by memory research: no one, no matter how competent, is immune to memory's tricks. Reality checks are always required. As usual, being human proves to be a humble business.
I believe the kinds of research I have referenced in this diary ought to play a far greater role in our political conversations. Concrete -- and often surprising -- knowledge about the vagaries of the human brain and mind has grown greatly in the past few decades, but little of it seems to diffuse into public awareness. I find it sad that apparently only one other person on dKos has tried to add the perspective of this knowledge to the discussion of this incident.
I can claim no particular expertise in any of the fields I've mentioned here, just an interested layperson's knowledge. So, please, don't take my word for this stuff -- go learn about it from someone who knows what they're talking about! I've only scratched the surface of what's out there on even this one limited topic of false memories.
Some commenters have implied that I'm simply saying Clinton is "confabulator" rather than a "liar". My point is that she's human. Anyone can do this.
If I'm correct, and I may or may not be, then the memory lapse is not something to draw conclusions from. It's not as one commenter said "a senior moment". It doesn't make her Mr. Magoo. And it could happen to Obama or Edwards or anyone else.
And the more important thing here is what these considerations say about any leader, not just Hillary.
If you are unfamiliar with the research, then this stuff is not intuitive. But the science is real. Check it out.
This is not about "making up memories" as some commenters seem to be saying. That's the whole point. It's not something she or anyone else could control.
I'm not, however, saying that the incident shouldn't hurt her. If her staff isn't enough of a reality check, and she's too isolated, then that is a problem. And the comparisons to McCain and Bush that people are making are even somewhat justified on that score.
Also, the fact that she would insist on her story in the face of the evidence, and continue to make claims based on something proven false is a further problem. Although, if I'm right about what, and she really does believe in this memory, then figuring out what do with that belief can't be easy for her.
We have no political model for this, but it is a human reality. And because these concerns arising out of this research are not a part of the political conversation, we have no instincts about who this might have happened to and who is a liar. And the politicians themselves don't know how to respond. Whatever may have happened in this particular incident, the science remains important.
The Problem for Hillary is: if she is confabulating, the media will "Gore" her as she has already confabulated on Ireland, NAFTA, and other issues, she will be tagged as a SERIAL CONFABULATOR. Also SicXitGM noted that George Constanza once explained:
"It's not a lie... if you believe it."
PLEASE RECOMMEND IF YOU ARE A CLINTON SUPPORTER WHO REALIZES YOUR CANDIDATE IS NOT PERFECT OR AN OBAMA SUPPORTER WHO REALIZES THE PRIMARIES MAY END FOR HILLARY OVER TUZLA
10. Exactly...Presidents who cannot reconcile reality with false memories
Edited on Sun Mar-23-08 11:07 AM by dkf
are not good commander in chief material.
When confronted with the truth, a person has to make a judgment as to what really happened. If she is having false memories she choose to believe them in contrast to the documentation of what happened on that trip.
She needs to review the you tube footage. Maybe then she will realize what happened.
11. good post.. but still doesn't settle the Ready on Day 1 argument
Edited on Sun Mar-23-08 11:09 AM by futureliveshere
Do we really need a prez who has wrong memories on such important matters? and the argument is a bit TOO convenient for me. She messes up the one memory that helps show her enormous courage and foreign policy expertise? Oh PUHLEESE!!
It would seem to me that if someone was suffering from "confabulation" that it would be natural the recollections be both positive and negative for the person in question. However, all the confabulations that she concocts mysteriously always end up painting her in the most heroic or victimized or whatever light will work best for her for the particular argument.
This indicates that instead of a CONFABULATION complex she has more of a PATHOLOGICAL LYING COMPLEX. Pathological liars often don't realize they are changing facts either. All lies become part of the larger lie that makes up who they are. It defines their ego.
I agree that, much like Brittney Spears or Michael Jackson, they have surrounded themselves with cronies and yes-men that won't tell them the TRUTH. Won't tell them what they NEED to hear. Won't tell her when she's making shit up or is going too far. But feed in fact, give credibility in her own mind to the lies she concocts. They are complicit in her lying and enabling what I believe is borderline mental illness.
Either way, pathological lying or concocting of false memories remind me of W. He's constantly in denial or recreating facts and events to prove he's always right. He's the decider.
CONFABULATION IS THE LAST THING WE NEED FROM THE NEXT PRESIDENT.
at least according to the American-Heritage dictionary, to lie is; "INTRANSITIVE VERB: 1. To present false information with the intention of deceiving. 2. To convey a false image or impression: Appearances often lie."
So while the first definition seems to require intent, the second,arguably, suggests that "intent" may not be necessary, but whether the statement itself was true or not (which can and is being debated).
Again in websters dictionary one definition of the verb lie is; 5. Tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive; "Don't lie to your parents"; "She lied when she told me she was only 29". So if she simply told something that's not true, that could be considered a lie (assuming that a semi colon means separate thoughts/definitions as is my understanding for it's usage in the English language by many)
Similary in the noun form, ie to TELL a lie, websters defines it as; "A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth."
So again the question here is (according to websters), did she tell a lie, if she told a "statement that deviates from or perverts the truth"?
And even ifeverything I said above is bullshit, you've still only provided an alternate explanation for the motivation behind her statement. Which shows that she MAY not be lying, not that she IS NOT lying (or that she is lying), just that you don't believe there is not enough evidence to eliminate your alternative hypothesis. If SHE wants to continue to use this episode as a justification of her experience, in order to prove this to the public, in the light of evidence that suggests otherwise, I think SHE will have to eliminate these conflicting reports or give a rationale for them.
19. Ya know, I think the DSM has a category for this syndrome - delusional whacko w/secondary arrogance
They refer to it as the George W. Bush syndrome.
Your post was very interesting and no doubt scientifically valid. One small problem - who wants such an arrogant AND delusional person answering the phone at 3 a.m.? No staff around to confront her with realities, and likely no staff she would listen to even if they DID have the opportunity.
Look, as in probably all families, when we sit around and recall family history, we get varying recollections. However, the future of the national economy, the peace of the world, and the lives of soldiers and civilians do not rely on the delusional memory of one or all of us.
And I submit that it is an EXTREME form of this delusion to believe you were actually shot at/under fire, and/or that you had brought your child into a situation where they were fired upon.
I think HRC's mind is crumbling under the immediate stress of this campaign, and even more the stress of realizing that all the public humiliation and personal compromises she has made to stay in her sham of her marriage were for nought, and all her dreams of "winning" in the long run, are lost.
What's worse, a delusional liar or a deliberate liar? Bush has probably been some blend of the two. Whatever. I don't want either kind of liar in the White House.
20. it's one thing to imagine a false memory of a real event, such as the plane crash...
It's another to invent a story about something that didn't happen at all, such as getting shot at in Tuzla. Especially if you've already recorded your original, accurate recollection of the real, mundane event in your journal.
And this is coming from someone with some expertise in the issue.
First, emotionally laden memories can, indeed, become distorted. But to claim that an intelligent, otherwise apparently together woman's memory was distorted to the degree that a peaceful landing & meet/greet with those who welcomed her has become twisted in her mind to arriving under sniper fire requires one to take a cognitive leap that, IMO, is implausible. Despite what the cognitive psychologist says above, to claim her memory is "confabulated" goes beyond what most unbiased psychologists would agree with. To make this claim, one would have to claim that Hillary was so traumatized by the possibility of coming under fire that she became temporarily delusional and has maintained that delusion. Obviously, this would point to her being unfit to be a senator much less president. As much as I'm not crazy about HRC, I most certainly wouldn't assert or agree with a claim that she's not mentally fit to hold office.
Second, this violates a couple of psychological principles. One is the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. As you yourself noted, HRC has been known to, um, not always be the most truthful of people. Her past behavior: inflating her record and telling what some consider lies about her record predict her telling a falsehood about the sniper fire (non)incident. Second, Ockham's razor. The best explanations are almost invariably the simplest that make the fewest assumptions. Ockham's razor is the principle behind most scientific principles, theories & hypotheses.
Third, making this claim means that Hillary Clinton would be unfit to be president based on her inability to distinguish fact from fiction in her mind. Do you really want a president who arrives in a foreign country under peaceful circumstances to confabulate that into arriving in a country under sniper fire? I think HRC shouldn't be our next president for many reasons, but this isn't one of them. She's a bright woman who, to all appearances, is very much cognitively together. She may be a little power hungry for my taste, but nothing I've seen takes that to a level that would qualify as mental illness (unlike GWB). Confabulating about childhood memories is one thing; for a commander-in-chief to confabulate about an event such as the one under question here is quite another, one that would (again) point to her being unfit for the position Again, I don't think HRC should be president for many reasons but this isn't one of them.
The example of misidentifying the clothes a person was wearing when allegedly committing a crime bears absolutely no resemblance to the instance of arriving in a country while under fire vs peacefully. You're comparing an individual's ability to observe, store and later recall details of an instance in which they were not anticipating anything to happen, were likely in a busy environment (e.g., other people around, traffic, etc) and have other cognitive ad psychological variables involved vs being in a plane and knowing whether or not it was under fire. Both cognitively and psychologically, these are apples and oranges.
In short, making this claim doesn't do anything to help HRC's cause (which I realize you're not trying to do). She's frankly better off leaving it at she lied about the event. To go the route you suggest above means that she's cognitively, emotionally & psychologically unfit to be president.
38. DING DING DING! Tpsbmam, you're our grand prize winner!
Edited on Sun Mar-23-08 01:32 PM by rocknation
...Ockham's razor. The best explanations are almost invariably the simplest... She impulsively made up the story in response to the Obama camp belittling the danger quotient of her First Lady duties, that's all. But she should have kept in mind that things are recorded and can be double-check.
She's frankly better off leaving it that she lied about the event...(T)he route you suggest above means that she's...unfit to be president. Yep--just admit you misspoke, Hillary, before you start looking about as stable as Bush is!
I was involved in a hit and run accident. I actually had the presence of mind to stare at the retreating truck's rear end and recite the license plate number over and over again until I could reach for a pen and write it down. Then I pulled over and called 911. I told them the license plate number and that it was a red truck. I would have sworn in court it was a red truck.
They caught the guy, within 20 minutes, at an intersection not too far away. He had my paint on his bumper and it was the correct license plate number. BUT ---
It was a blue truck.
The mind is a weird thing. I guess I was looking at the tail-lights. But still ..... ???!
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