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Adding Memory

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We start this section off with a question from writer Andrei Codrescu: "where do computers get their extra memory from?" And then we take it literally. Can you add memories? Dr. Elizabeth Loftus says yes. She’s a psychologist in the department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California at Irvine, and her research shows that you can implant memories—wholly false memories—pretty easily into the brains of humans. Her work challenges the reliability of eye-witness testimony, and is so controversial that she once had to call the bomb squad. Then, producer Neda Pourang brings us the story of finding a lost memory. Painter Joe Andoe incessantly paints huge canvasses of seemingly random images: horses, pastures, and - more recently - a girl with a particular about-to-say-something look on her face. He didn't realize until recently that he'd been painting a day from his past, a fragment of an afternoon 30 years earlier.

Copyright Joe Andoe, 2002
Copyright Joe Andoe, 1999
Copyright Joe Andoe, 2003
Copyright Joe Andoe, 2004
Copyright Joe Andoe, 1991
Learn more about Joe Andoe's story in his memoir, JUBILEE CITY: A Memoir At Full Speed, on sale July 24, 2007, from William Morrow.


Painter Joe Andoe, Andrei Codrescu, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Neda Pourang

Comments [19]

Nyle from Sac, CA

@ogrim There it is! You are awesome, thanks so much. I was driving myself nuts trying to find this song. I actually tried using Shazam and Soundhound and got no hits, glad you were able to though. I had actually started to just accept that I was never going to find this song, but just when you think all hope is lost...Thanks again ogrim, and great work finding it! Downloading it as I type this out...

Apr. 12 2014 09:23 AM

I found the song at 35:20! It's actually by the band "ee" on the album "For 100 We Try Harder". It's the 3rd cut: "Thomas Sleeps Beneath an El Paso Tree". It's on Spotify and itunes :) Found it using a music recognition app!

Apr. 07 2014 03:10 PM
Nyle from Sac, CA

Thanks again Evan for your help but I sorted through all of Explosion In The Sky's tracks prior to 2008 [Season 3 was produced in 2007] and I could not find this track. If anyone is able to identify this track it would be AWESOME! I've become slightly obsessed with finding it.

Oh and thanks Evan for introducing me to Explosions in the Sky, actually really dig their music and grabbed one of their albums.

Mar. 24 2014 04:49 PM
Nyle from Sac, CA

Thanks Evan! Much appreciated.

Feb. 21 2014 06:54 PM
Evan from NC

@Nyle, I'm not sure the exact song, but I know the band is Explosions in the Sky. Amazing work, check all of it out.

Jun. 25 2013 10:49 AM

Oops, my fault. Not the 24:00 mark but the 35:20 mark.

May. 20 2013 05:29 PM
Nyle from Sac, CA

I really enjoyed this story. Does anyone know the instrumental track that was playing while they were describing the paintings around 24:00 time. Beautiful track, sounds like recalling a cherished long forgotten moment in time.

May. 20 2013 05:16 PM
Helene from Uniondale, New York

A question regarding the piece about students in the classroom believing the "thief" the professor described had curly hair. Could it be that the collective memory was only forged because a figure of authority pointed out what he "described" as a fact? Could it be that some students disagreed with the professor but didn't dare contradict him? I'd certainly like to know more.

Nov. 10 2012 01:15 PM
Ashley from New Jersey

This piece began with facts on memory. I found myself wondering where the story is. Then it transitioned beautifully into a story of love, loss, and art. It was beautifully done. It used the associative structure perfectly.

Dec. 19 2011 10:58 PM
paul barbera from nyc

This is the link to joes studio, not sure if its appropriate to post here, but it was thanks of radio lab that was inspired.

Oct. 25 2011 10:33 AM
paul barbera from nyc

I love your show, thank you.. I was so compelled by Joes story that i shot him for my blog.
"where they create"

Oct. 25 2011 10:31 AM
neil jendon from Chicago

Just heard this podcast. (Yes, I'm late to the party.) It's great, except for the segment with Andrei Codrescu. I'm sorry, his glib, superficial characterizations of "Americans" make me nauseous.

Why give this guy air time? He's not funny or insightful. Minus the accent and all the authority that accompanies it, he's barely worthy a column in Parade.

Nov. 03 2010 12:55 AM
Felix Herbst

I think someone seems to have stolen YOUR ideas. And used them in Inception.

Sep. 19 2010 12:01 AM
becky n. from los angeles

The Joe Andoe story is one of the most romantic things I've ever heard. Gutting and magical. Now to remember it...

May. 04 2010 08:57 PM
Joe Manning from Brooklyn

Can anyone tell me what the name of the musician is for that beautiful song that follows the piece about Joe Andoe?

Mar. 26 2010 08:06 PM
Katherine from Texas

My concern lies in the validity of the painter's memory of the girl and the time they were in the pasture. Since Doctor Loftus proves how easily it is to manipulate memories, cannot Andoe's memories be just as faulty? Is he just trying to find false correlations of the things he paints? The girl has obviously passed and cannot be asked, and no one else is around to verify.

I love the radiolabs and listen to them all the time. Thank you for providing nonbiased material to get a young college student, as myself, thinking outside the box.

Mar. 21 2010 09:56 PM from

good radio
Loved the editing and presentation of this most important topic. Downloaded the audio file. However, I don't believe that the entire show was included in the nice audio provided.

Nov. 05 2009 09:07 AM

Not to mention the fact that I'd love to download all of my memories into a computer. More permanence than my actual brain!

Aug. 03 2007 03:32 PM

A tiny bit less metaphorically than computer companies stealing our thoughts, you could argue that corporate culture and commodification/consumerist culture really does short circuit our memories, recycling cultural ideas so fast and mixing them up so much that they wipe our brains of any sort of historical context.

Aug. 03 2007 03:31 PM

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