Inception

I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time, but this is a really great opportunity for me to kill two birds with one stone.

First, the word inception has nothing to do with things inside of things.  If you want properly express that there is something within another thing, you can say “yo, dawg,” “recursion,” or liken the situation to a Matryoshka doll.  The first makes you seem like a bit of a dolt. The second makes you sound scientific.  The third makes you sound cultured.  If you say “inception,” you sound like a huge idiot.

Inception means the beginning in of a project, undertaking, or idea.  You can also use it to mean “planting an idea.”  Yes, the film was that popular.

Speaking of the film, entering someone’s dreams seems like an unnecessarily complicated way to plant an idea.  A good writer wields the same power.

Read this passage: Remember that wedding you went to when you were very young?  You got bored and wandered off at the reception.  You found yourself in a patch of tall grass where you found a ball.  Remember the ball?  You ran back with it.  At some point you ended up playing with that puppy.  What was it? A golden retriever with those needle teeth.

Without looking back at the passage, what kind of ball did you find?  If you have a vague memory of a wedding your mind will fill in the gaps to form a coherent account between what I just told you and what actually happened.  You had to imagine the ball to satisfy the reading, but I never told you what kind of ball it was. Most people just fill in the blank and keep reading without even noticing.

Not only does inception happen all the time, it’s so easy people do it by mistake.

Here is where is gets scary, in the early 1980s, police investigators and clinical psychologists were called in to talk to kids about alleged abuse.  After some dodgy questioning, kids began recalling not only sexual abuse but prostitution, drug use, cannibalism, murders, and demonic possessions.  Using the techniques laid down by one particular psychologist, investigators and mental health professionals identified thousands of victims of “Satanic ritual abuse” in the United States.

In 1983 a child having a painful bowel movement led to a 3 year court trail.  Over 360 kids claimed abuse.  Some were dunked in toilets, others sodomized. Much of it took place in an elaborate underground tunnel built by witches.  Except that despite 360 victims, no physical evidence existed.  No child had any kinds of scars.  No underground tunnels were ever found.  And no one’s stories lined up.  Because none of it happened.  Well-meaning psychologists and parents, terrified by media reports on abuse all over the country, accidentally implanted memories of abuse in the children. (McMartin preschool trial)

In 1984 another daycare was shut down after a parent who had been sexually abused as a child became suspicious of a particular caregiver.  After a lengthy evaluation, the child began to talk about being attacked with knives and sodomized by a clown.  However, no other evidence was ever found.  When the case went to trial, jurors were shown videos of the children denying over and over again that no such thing had happened.  Psychologists then asked the children to imagine oddly specific scenarios.  After a long interrogation, children would spit back exactly what the psychologist had said as if it were fact. (Fells Acre Day Care Center)

In 1997, Scientific American published a series of articles on the implantation of memories through the “lost-in-the-mall” technique.  You can read about that here: http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/sciam.htm.

Posted in General, Language, Writing, YKWRGMG.

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