Look forward to seeing what you come up with.
Do you mean more unreliable than UFO sightings? I'm not sure how you could quantify that.
Well that's not exactly what I meant although I was implying that yes. Some types of memories are naturally more unreliable than others, simply because our brains store and recall different types of things in different ways. Crimes typically involve people and other things and details that our brains sometimes selectively discard. For example the typical person may see hundreds or even thousands of people, many strangers, on any given day. Now a person might remember what a stranger looks like and was wearing for a little bit, but when that short term memory wears off these memories are discarded and naturally not committed to long term memory. This is the sort of thing that a witness to a crime has to overcome, they might jumble who was wearing what clothes or forget altogether and their minds have to make up something like the color of a shirt being red as opposed to blue. A UFO sighting is fundamentally different in that it is unique to the person and more or less celestial in nature; an event that has drawn the persons attention to the sky which isn't where people focus most of their attention. The uniqueness of such a UFO sighting makes the memory exactly the type of thing a person would naturally commit to long term memory.
Get where I'm going here? Many of the studies that look at memory are discussing involuntary witnesses to crimes, we can't just then juxtapose those results to all other types of memories. We really need to do studies on specific types of memories to really understand how unreliable memories of UFO sightings are or are not.
My problem is the bit in bold.. For any *simple* UFO sighting, eg a strange light in the sky, we really have't got anything of much use - it's just a light in the sky we can't easily explain. Maybe the speed/angles might be important, but without knowing distance, those aren't much use either. So you're comparing a simple apple with the theft of a truckload of oranges..
No I don't think that is the case. If simple "lights in the sky" were the metaphorical "meat" of the UFO Phenomena then I wouldn't be here. I guess my use of the word "simple" should have been "basic" instead. I really wasn't talking about just "lights in the sky" or just "Alien" encounters I just meant UFO sighting memories in general.
If however it is a Rendlesham-type incident where a witness reports a light in the sky, then the landing, then he goes up and touches it or watches the alien come out.. - it's a whole different ball game and of course lots of other issues like motivations for falsifying the story need to be considered. In exactly the same way as happens with a major publicised crime - the authorities may have to deal with more than one person saying "I did it!"...
Right, but I didn't have Rendalsham in mind while I was talking about UFO reports. I don't disagree that some of these other issues are important, but those are not memory related.