Scott's Random Thought for the Day (The Circus is Back in Town)

Just when you thought it was over, here it comes again. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the sad case of Terri Schiavo. I imagine that most people probably heard about her autopsy results. That's where this should have ended, but Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, has decided that isn't enough. He's "expressed concern" over a completely trivial aspect of the autopsy: Michael Schiavo told the coroner in recent testimony that his wife collapsed at about 4:30 in the morning on that night some 15 years ago, while the 911 records show he made the initial call at about 5:40. Not enough to make a federal case over? Maybe not, but Mr. Bush is making a state case out of it.

Obviously, Michael Shiavo was merely mistaken in his recent testimony. The above linked article outlines a bunch of reasons why this is a ridiculous and cynical political ploy on Bush's part. I'd like to point out a couple more.

- If Michael Schiavo delayed an hour before calling, Terri Schiavo's family, the Schindlers, has been mysteriously quiet on the subject. How would they know? Look at the autopsy report. Right there in black and white, Terri's brother was with his sister when she collapsed. The Schindlers have not been shy about accusing Michael Schiavo of all sorts of awful things, why do they need the alleged time gap explained to them? Just ask Bobby.

- If there's one person who should know that memory can be faulty, even on those kinds of memorable occasions we really should remember every detail of what happened, it should be George W. Bush's brother. The President has given various contradictory and often logistically impossible stories about what he knew and when he knew it on the morning of 9/11. I'm not saying this is part of a conspiracy, or that the President is dumb, but I use it as an obvious example of what researchers call a "false flashbulb memory." Basically, strong memories are not the most accurate. In fact, stressful memories of important events are the most likely to be wrong. Add time to the equation, and memories become even more muddled even as they seem more accurate to the person who is doing the remembering. That's obviously what's happened to Mr. Schiavo, and Gov. Jeb Bush need only to consult his brother to find out how possible that is.

Posted: Sun - June 19, 2005 at