[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]
My point is that we can convince ourselves of things, then imagine those things and add details based upon our own desires and the encouragement of others, and the imaginings themselves become our memories. We are then convinced that what we imagined is true. I suspect that memes propagate in much the same way. A particular idea is introduced and communicated, then it is reinforced by experts, then people take it as gospel and begin to imagine that they have experienced it themselves, or that others certainly have experienced it. It becomes part of the social psyche. That is why individual religious experiences (such as mine) must continually be subjected to objective analysis, to prevent the believer from having “false memory syndrome”. The same is true for the collective religious consciousness.
The question, though, is to discover what it is about the way that the brain/mind are structured and function that leads to being vulnerable to this sort of thing. If you do a websearch on the term “cognitive illusions” you will find all sorts of ways that we mislead ourselves.