The Safety Doc Podcast #2, 11-18-2016: Human Memory Recall Is Alarming Low – and how that fact should change the ways we approach school safety.

Podcast Key Words: Forgetting Curve, Time-Stamping, Memory Distortion, Safe Schools, Tolerance & Acceptance

How well do you ACTUALLY remember things? Research reveals that most of us forget HALF of what we’ve encoded within only one hour!  This is startling in many regards and it calls into question the reliability of eye witness accounts.  For safety, it also means that we must pay close attention to immediate documentation of threats or incidents.  Safety apps, such as those provided by ISS 24/7, now include options to take photos of scenes and to record interviews along with time-stamping.  Why is time-stamping important, well, it’s that “Forgetting Curve”.


In this podcast, I focus on a research study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) titled: The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Courtroom.  I discuss stunning revelations about humans memory recall and suggest how such knowledge about our memories should inform the ways in which we approach safety.  Points discussed include:

  • People are unable to retrieve roughly 50% of information one hour after encoding it. This is known as the “Forgetting Curve”.
  • In studies of college students, 54% accurately identified various factors that influenced memory (such as stress). The general population was below 50% in accurately identifying memory-influencing variables.
  • If we think an event should have happened in a certain way on the basis of our previous experiences, we are likely to think that the event did happen this way.
  • Research that specifically examines eyewitness testimony or the memory of traumatic events has shown weak or even negative correlations between a person’s confidence in the accuracy of a memory and the actual accuracy of that memory. Submitting a person to an ultra-realistic situation isn’t an effective way of imprinting that experience upon the person relative to having that person then use that single experience as a learning event. This is very important in how schools seemingly use dramatic inter-agency active shooter simulations as a “teaching experience” for staff and students.
  • Memory distortions can also occur simply with the passage of time and the repeated recounting of an event(s). Both mundane and “flashbulb” memories become weaker and more susceptible to distortion over time. Example: U.S. citizens recalling where they first heard about the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks experienced memory distortion as their memories of the details changed 43% after 3 years.


You can’t marginalize youth without realizing the ramifications of such actions upon maintaining a safe school environment. However, that’s exactly what’s happening in Tasmania, Australia.  Taken from the November 5, 2016 Mercury Newspaper in Tasmania, Australia, Safe Schools program disgusting, says former MP Brett Whiteley.

Wow! I share how this article describes the undermining of tolerance and acceptance for students, and anyone, identifying as LGBTI Tasmanians.  A shattered gender pledge has severed school connectedness and certainly evaporates students’ perception that they can approach school administrators to report bullying, harassment or other threats.

Fixable Mess? I outline a way to mend the damage that was done by abolishing a program which specifically teaches kids about gender and diversity.  I also fact-checked this article as it seemed unlikely that such as blatant attack on student rights (pupil nondiscrimination) were possible in a modernized society such as Australia.  Additional sources validated this article’s frightening content.

Listen to this episode on PodBean

Sources referenced in this podcast:

The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Courtroom by Joyce Lacy & Craig Stark. National Institute of Health.  September, 2013.

Safe Schools program disgusting, says former MP Brett Whiteley by Nick Clark. Sunday Tasmanian – The Mercury.  November 5, 2016.