0
$\begingroup$

So, let's say an international secret research institute is trying to prepare for if/when the worst happens and some individual happens upon some bit of information or stumbles into a location that reveals the existence of the institute to them. They really need to get them out of the picture before they let someone in the public know exactly what it is the institute is doing. As long as there aren't too many people involved with this lapse in information (which for our purposes, there aren't), the fix shouldn't theoretically be that bad. They could have said person conveniently disappear and never return, but you can only pull that stunt so many times before the public notices or the government of the area (which knows the institute exists and generally is cooperative with it) steps in and interferes. Fortunately for the institute, they've developed a very specific type of drug that (as long as you get the proper dosage in a person within just under a day of their encounter that created this situation) will theoretically do the trick in terms of getting rid of any real memory of their encounter. So, the question here is this; is this really the most feasible way to deal with this person (drug them and send them on their merry way)?

I feel like paying them off only goes so far if you're really adamant on keeping the organization as much of a secret as possible, and keeping the staff completely quiet would be a hard enough job as it is without someone running around with the information that's only keeping their mouth shut for now because you payed or blackmailed them. If anyone can think of alternate solutions to these types of small information breaches, feel free to list them!

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Amnestic procedures like the drugs invoked in the SCP Foundation pages or the devices used by the Men in Black in the movies are pure fiction. There is nothing that exists which works that way. You can prevent a person from laying down memories by drugging them during that time (example: date rape drugs) but once the memories are in they are tangled in there good.

Memories are interpreted in the present, and memories can change over time according to new thinking and new information obtained by an individual. This has been made clear in studies of people providing eyewitness testimony.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/

Reconstructing Memories

The uncritical acceptance of eyewitness accounts may stem from a popular misconception of how memory works. Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is “more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall.

Memories cannot be erased but they can be molded into things which are no longer a threat. Persons who learn things which could lead to the exposure of the organization in question are provided (using a variety of means) additional information which causes them to interpret their experience in ways that lead to other conclusions - perhaps what they saw was really a front for Chinese organized crime gangs, or developers paying off political figures, or a New Age cult.

The other approach appropriate for weirder stuff: persons are lead to doubt what they experienced because they have no hooks in their mental architecture to hang these bizarre memories on. I once saw a man walking down an alley and suddenly he was at the other end of the alley. It was so weird I figured I must have fallen asleep for a second then woke up when he was at the end of the alley. Or maybe I looked away and he broke into a run, then slowed down again right before I look back. It must have been one of those, right? This is the Xfiles / Men in Black / Jesse Ventura / Alex Trebek approach. Watch and learn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7SgRpaWpNM

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think I like these types of solutions a bit better than a plain old "Handwavium" drug. They're much more creative, grounded, and make the institute in question seem all the more powerful if they've basically mastered the art of memory reconstruction. $\endgroup$ – TheTimeVoyager Dec 31 '17 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. I have zero memory of going to the dentist to have my wisdom teeth out. I was home, then I was home with them out. The anesthesia must have zapped some memory from before it was applied. (Not all anesthetics--for my colonoscopy I remember trying to tell the doc that the tube he put in my mouth was crooked, but I went under before communicating that.) $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Jan 1 '18 at 2:02
0
$\begingroup$

I think it may be more effective to perpetuate a global conspiracy theory involving several websites, viral videos, etc. seemingly originating from different but very unreliable witnesses who "reveal" what this secret research institute is doing - truth and exaggerations and not quite fitting theories - and if someone finds out for real and comes forward with it, they will be chalked up as a conspiracy theorist and not quite right in the head. For one, you don't need to deal with everyone individually, for another, there is no guarantee you catch every accidental witness before they could do anything with their information.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.