The ARF’s Corrupting Our American Memories

Posted on 03/30/2009


Constructing False Memories for a Nation: HSUS, Media, Money and Memory

By ESaunders

Ever say to yourself, “I remember like it was yesterday”?

Memory is a funny thing.  Its a major field of study in the scientific community since memory forms the very basis of who we believe we are.  Some of the concepts discovered, such as the reconstructive nature of memory, have incredibly powerful implications in law, media, culture and in our everyday lives.  Basically, we don’t store and recall entire memories, we reconstruct memories from memory fragments and related information.  These reconstructed memories are also affected by the misinformation effect.  In the misinformation effect, people view an event but are given misleading information later on, with the end result of the misinformation being recalled instead of the original memory

The misinformation effect is extremely well-known in law, media, advertising, politics and public relations. All these industries know bombarding your target audience with a message related to a common memory makes it possible to distort the recall of the audience and quite literally reshape their memories without their being the wiser.  The more the message engages the emotions, the more effective the process.  Sound creepy? It is, and it is enough to make one look at everything from politics to media in a new light.

So, what does this have to do with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)?  There’s an interesting trend in the news lately. Shortly before HSUS sponsored and written animal legislation bills come up for debate or vote in a state, a facility related to the topic of the bill is ‘raided’ and ‘busted’ with the assistance of the HSUS and/or a partner agency and lots of media coverage.  The recent Nightline ‘undercover expose’ complete with much involvement of HSUS in the production regarding New Iberia primate research lab is a dramatic example and the HSUS announced the next morning partnering with several Senators regarding the re-introduction of a bill to bar primate research.  This pattern repeats state after state.  ‘Animal hoarding’  bill pending, media coverage occurs of an animal hoarding raid where HSUS is involved.  ‘Puppy Mill’ bill pending, media coverage of a ‘puppy mill’ bust occurs where HSUS is involved.  Often HSUS is even involved in providing the video, photos and interview footage. 

All of this combines to create a perception of a problem.  We know animals are used in research but we remember the most recent images provided courtesy of the HSUS.  We know that animals are bred as pets but we remember the most recent images provided by the HSUS.  We know that animals are raised for food purposes but the images we remember … guess where they come from.  With 2007 gross receipts of over $152 million and grants of under $6 million, it leaves a lot of money to create the images to reshape our memories and through them our perceptions of animals in our world.  Through those reconstructions and false memories, HSUS gains an opportunity to also re-shape our reality. 

Copyright 2009 by Erica Saunders
All rights reserved