Posted Sep 25, 2018 by Michael L. Brown

In light of the accusations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, I asked this question on my personal and ministry Facebook page:

I have an honest question for those of you who used to get drunk. Would you swear under oath about the foggy details of a drinking party more than 30 years ago? Would you trust your memory to become CLEARER 30 years after the fact? As most of you know, I partied heavily from ages 14-16, mainly with drugs, but with some heavy drinking too. I certainly remember a few aspects of those sinful times, but especially when drunk, I believe I forgot far more than I can remember. What's your recollection? How would you respond to my questions here?

Without a doubt, it’s possible to be very drunk and yet have vivid memories of something traumatic that happened while drunk. But how confident would you be about piecing together details you had forgotten for years? How confident would you be in your memory if you had not immediately shared the story with others after it happened?

Putting aside the very important questions raised by the allegations against Justice Kavanaugh (see here for my most recent article), I couldn’t help but smile when reading some of the responses to my question. The responses also reminded me of just how much mercy God had on so many of us. What fools some of us were before He redeemed us!

So, here’s a sampling of some of the comments posted:

  • Jamie: “I would give you a specific example but I honestly can't remember!”
  • Clyde: “I was so drunk one time I was driving like a demon. My friend in the car was screaming at me to slow down. The next thing I knew, I saw the police lights. I was pulled over, stepped out of the vehicle, the police officer said something to me and then I threatened to kill him. Out of the hundreds of times I was drunk or stoned out of my mind, that is probably one of three or four times I remember anything. All the other times me and my crazy friends would just boast about getting so high and not remembering what we did the day before...” (FYI, Clyde is a pastor today!)
  • Jarrod: “I have a hard time remembering clear details from 30 days ago sober...memories I have from 30 years ago are vague at best.”
  • Caroline: “Not only the foggy memory from partying 30 years ago, but just the low inhibitions from drinking that allows one to do things they wouldn’t normally do while sober is a whole other thing to think about.”
  • Darcy: “Would a prosecuting or defending attorney really want my foggy details during a time that I was drunk? If I admitted to being under the influence would my testimony even hold weight and be able to be used to declare someone innocent or guilty? I hope not. I would not want to swear under oath to anything I wasn't sure of regardless of alcohol being involved.”
  • Bob: “Never been drunk and still have a hard time remembering 36 years ago.”
  • Christopher: “I remember MAYBE 20% of my heavy partying days. And that 20% is foggy at best.”
  • Steven: “I remember being so drunk I can’t remember a single detail of that night. If someone had claimed I exposed myself while drunk I would believe them. If I know I wasn’t drunk then that would be a different story.”
  • Jackson: “No especially when I blacked out.”
  • Abbie: “Black outs, which were the norm for me, meant that I lost large chunks of time. There are a very few pieces (moments, not hours) of those periods that may have resurfaced, but in general I have no recollection.”
  • Clifton: “I would not ever swear under oath under such conditions.”
  • Steffanie: “I was a drunken train wreck in my teens and early twenties. I had almost no memories of those parties the morning after they happened, much less decades later. People would regularly ask me if I remembered this or that thing I'd done, or had happened, and all I could do was laugh and say no. It's taken me years of pressing into Jesus and what HE says is true of me to wash away the shame and guilt from the few things I do remember. I don't care what repressed memory would come back to me today, there is no way I would ever do to another human being, not even my worst enemy, what these ladies are doing to Judge Kavanaugh. It's unjust on so many levels.”
  • Celine: “No testimony should be taken seriously if people are drunk, stoned or high in anyway. They are not in their right mind. Their thinking is skewed. That’s why they are taken to jail if there’s alcohol content while driving. People should stay sober!”
  • Greg: “When I was drunk, I forgot far more than I remembered, add in 30 years? Maybe a couple of details I might remember.”
  • Maritza: “I can not, would I even swear under oath my recollections is or was clear after heavy drink? No! Things become fuzzy, as the saying goes, the more you drink, The prettier the women get - and when you awake you can not believe that you saw anything attractive at all. That is why I have a hard time with this story. It can not be accurate in anybody’s present mind, we all see, hear and feel things differently, just like the gossip game - what starts out doesn’t remotely resemble the ending story.”
  • Dale: “I could never answer honestly what happened on so many occasions. ..a miracle I am alive. .but I would be unsure on many details, sometimes a whole day!”
  • Chris: “Maybe it's just my age, but I can't recall much of what I did 30 days ago, much less 30 years ago! But 30 years ago while in high school I didn't drink very often, but when I did I usually drank so much that I blacked out. No memory whatsoever of the stupid things I did. Just the testimony of friends and relatives who were almost just as drunk as I was.”
  • Joyce: “Sad thing is at 56 I can’t remember hardly anything I did 30 years ago and I never did drink or party!!”

Well, I think you get the point!

To repeat: It’s common that people do remember specific details of a significant or traumatic event that took place even while drunk. But again, to sketch in the missing details years later is highly suspect (to say the least). And to risk affecting the direction of a whole country, not to mention potentially defaming someone for life, based on fragmentary, drunken memories, is beyond dangerous. Caution. Caution. Caution.


Sign Up or Login to post comments.


user profile
words2yz posted a comment · Sep 28, 2018
Brett Kavanaugh has been credible, forthright, and deserves to be confirmed ❗
user profile
PeterL posted a comment · Sep 27, 2018
The late Dutch professor in psychology prof. Wagenaar, was an internationally recognized expert on the human memory. He has assisted in many court procedures to shed light on the reliability of witness testimonies. The results of his research has been confirmed by a lot of later research by other, also in the field of brain neurology. In general, memories that are that old are not very reliable. Memories are blurred, mixed up with later experiences and it is even quite easy to tell people stories they will later report as genuine memories. The exceptions are impressive events. It is very well possible for a girl to keep the memory of a shocking event of a young man showing his private parts at a party, especially if it was the first time for her to see anything like that. The problem is, was it really this guy? Does she remember well, does he remember well? Was either of the two drunk? Given the generic results of the professor's research, it is questionable whether it's responsible to hear people under oath about events that allegedly took place so long ago. I doubt whether humans are capable to be exact enough to make such a declaration under oath anyway, even if they were sober at that time. After all, no error is allowed under oath and it's impossible to guarantee correctness of memories in this situation.