In an article for the New Statesman, Amelia Tait lays out the strange case of ‘Shazaam’, which starred Sinbad, the famous comedian as “an incompetent genie who granted wishes to two young children.” Reddit has become home to hundreds of people with vivid memories of the film, right down to the details of individual scenes, and elaborate personal histories where they recall rewinding the tape to replay favourite scenes over and over again.
There’s just one problem: There never was a movie called ‘Shazaam’, nor has Sinbad ever played a genie.
“Lots of people remember detailed, but utterly false, memories. In fact, we all have them. I have published on what we named ‘the social contagion of memory’ and what others call ‘memory conformity’ – that may be at work here.” Dr Henry Roediger, a professor at the Washington University Memory Lab, explains that frequently one person’s report of a memory influences another’s, and that false memories can spread in this way. “One person’s memory infects another,” he says.