The Recovered Memory Project began in 1995 with a letter to PBS objecting to false statements made by Ms. Ofra Bikel, producer of the program “Divided Memories.” That letter described how an undergraduate Research Assistant at Brown University found half a dozen corroborated cases of recovered memory in just a few hours of electronic database searching, disproving Ms. Bikel’s claim to the contrary (Cheit, 1995). PBS did not defend Ms. Bikel’s claim that “she could not find any” corroborated cases of recovered memory in her allegedly extensive search. Ms. Bikel’s program was later described in an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “U-Turn on Memory Lane” (July/Aug 1997) as “a four-hour polemic” that only “purported to be balanced”.
This website was launched in conjunction with a presentation at the American Psychological Association meetings in Chicago, August 18, 1997. For a more detailed discussion of the criteria for including cases in the archive, along with some reflections on the science and politics of recovered memory, see Ross E. Cheit, “Consider This, Skeptics of Recovered Memory,” Ethics and Behavior, 8(2), 141-160 (1998).
While the evidence demonstrating the existence of recovered memory has increased over time, the need for this website remains clear as various journalists (and academics) continue to fail to acknowledge this evidence. The New York Times, for example, made this mistake in its Science section on April 25, 2000. More recently, in July 2003, Bruce Grierson’s article on Susan Clancy in the Sunday Magazine contained the false claim that “cognitive psychologists” as a group had rejected the concept of recovered memory. In fact, three prominent cognitive psychologists co-authored a chapter on Recovered Memories in the 2002 Encyclopedia of the Human Brain, Volume 4. (pp. 169-184). San Diego, California and London: Academic Press. For a full-text version of this chapter on Professor Jennifer Freyd’s site, read Silvers, Scholler & Freyd (2002) on this page.