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I have thought about this often and have seen similar comments from time to time. I figured I would start a thread to get some input.

I grew up in the 1960's, in Baltimore City. We were bad dog owners. We broke every rule. Our puppies came home by 6 weeks of age. We fed crap food. Our dogs lived outside. By WE I mean the entire city, not just my family. Dogs were only brought inside during extreme weather. We lived in row homes and our dogs ran up and down the fence line together and barked together. Once in a while someone would yell, "Shut Up!" out their window.

I walked through the alleys to my grandmother's house. I knew every dog in every yard. I knew them by name. I petted each one. They were all friendly - whether I pet them over the fence, under the fence, or through the fence. I don't know if there were obedience classes or behaviorists in the 1960s. If there were, I don't know anyone who ever used them. We didn't have the internet and television had three black and white stations. We had a library and we read books.

Sometimes, dogs got out of their yards. When they did, they didn't run around attacking children and other dogs. I don't remember a single horror story from my childhood of a dog attack. So what has changed? We took pups that were too young to be taken, undersocialized them, underexercised them and yet we didn't see the behavioral issues. Despite their poor quality of care, they also seemed to live longer.

If you are old like me, you may have grown up with similar experiences. Please weigh in. I would love to hear opinions.
 

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When I was a child, I do not remember anybody going to dog training, and yes, there seemed to be no food issues. But we did make our dogs some doggie stews with giblets and vegetables. Having a dog was not very popular as it is today. Our backyards were large, so many people did not get out and walk their dogs so much, unless you lived in a place like NYC.

About behavior: we had a pure bred Beagle (1969) - looked like a show dog, but was not trained well and did get aggressive and bit people including me. I blame this on my clueless parents, they did not put any effort into him. He had a stroke at 12 yrs and we put him down shortly after. When I was 15 yrs old, got a pit, terrier, lab mix. I trained him myself. He was very well socialized, but still had occasional issues with aggression once he got to be about 2 yrs old. Everyone loved him, I moved and left him with my family. He died young, 9 yrs of cancer.

My next door neighbors had a GSD, they were born in Germany. Their 1st GSD looked like it was from Europe, straight back, strong and stocky female. We had lots of quiet time together, just standing next to each other at our common fence. Their next GSD must have been ASL (early 1970's), male with very sloped back. He paced back and forth constantly. I liked the female better. This family did no training, no did they ever walk their dogs. My friend had a Great Dane and another neighbor had a Collie that looked like Lassie that I loved. A block away someone had a Chihuahua that was just as nasty as they are today.

Overall in my experience, the dogs did not behave better, but they certainly seemed healthier - no allergies, diarrhea, physical defects, seldom did we go to the vet other than vaccinations.
 

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I grew up in the 60's and while I did not own any dogs as a child, my best friend had a GSD named "Prince". I think that back then the dogs ate what they were given because that was all they were going to get, no special treats or cookies. They were better behaved because quite frankly they were not given the option not to. We were in a different time frame training wise and did not have the training tools that we have today.

I also think that back then they didn't go out of their way to socialize dogs and have doggie get togethers at "dog parks". I think because of this dogs back then didn't have the opportunity to get aggressive to a certain extent.
The way I see it is that now a days we have come to humanize our beloved dogs and treat them as though they are our children. Don't get me wrong, I love my dog and not having had one when I was a child it is a very special thing for me now, but I just think that in today's society we have elevated them to a different status and spoil them to where it creates misbehaviour problems.

Believe me I think that the way we treat our dogs in terms of training and socialization and food is much better than it was back then. I just think it was a completely different time...look at how our children have evolved, some for the better, some not.
 

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Dog's don't attack people any more than they did back then. We tend not to remember the bad moments or bad events in life unless they were HUGE (assassinations, 9/11). We remember the good times, and the happy moments. I don't believe that there are THAT many dog attacks. You just hear about them faster and louder these days due to facebook and twitter. At the same time...back then...if your dog bit someone, it probably got taken out back and shot, or put down right away. There weren't people willing to put up with those types of behaviors. Any type of aggression was probably generally dealt with in that way, rather than letting a dog live out its life in a kennel.

A local dog attack in New York would never be news in the Midwest...but now due to facebook, everyone knows about it. I get amazed that I have people from Wisconsin sharing "lost dog" posts from California...like...what's the point of that? The dog is NOT in Wisconsin...lol.

The sickness thing...people are sicker than we were 50 years ago...and only because they have a disease for everything now. And they come up with medication to sell you for everything now. Same with pets...more disposable income...more people going to vets to figure out why their pet is itching too much, or pooping too much, or whatever too much. Back in the day...you just had a dog that liked to scratch a lot.

No one went to training because there weren't that many "pet" training places. People didn't have the money to spend on training a dog. Now there is more disposable income and so more people take their dog to training to get it to sit, stay, down. People saw a business opportunity...there was money to be made...and they took advantage of it. They sold a new idea...no longer is pet training only for the "problem" dogs...its now for all dogs. There are probably hundreds of businesses open right now that weren't even an industry 50 years ago.


I'm not old...only been around a couple decades...but that's just the facts of human advancement and psychology.
 

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Well, yeah. Same reason good ol' farm dogs are good ol' farm dogs. If they weren't, they were shot. There wasn't so much 'breeding for looks' or 'breeding for extremes'. "Pet shop puppies" weren't available at every strip mall.
All the 'best' dogs we see at our vet clinic are farm dogs. A guy in overalls who comes in with his mutt using his belt as a leash... that's going to be a good dog. They never give us trouble. Smile at you while you draw blood, lick your hand when you trim their toenails. Don't flinch when you give shots. Almost every single 'show dog' that comes through is a prissy, high-strung pain to deal with. They bite, they carry on in the kennels, and the owners won't let us do our jobs for their pet. And I can say that because I'm part of that group; all my colleagues don't believe I show my dogs because they're not over-pampered pets.

People are trying so hard now a days to force any dog to fit into their lifestyle. When I was a kid, every family had a lab mix or a retriever mix or a shepherd mix that just... was good. Never crate trained but never pottied inside, never chewed up anything, trusted with all the neighborhood kids, never on leash but always stuck around the yard.
I also think training and attitude has changed. In my day, if a dog stole a hotdog at the block party he got a thump from whomever was closest and that was that. Dog dropped hotdog, everybody laughed, party went on. Now people would call animal control on an 'abuser' if a neighbor smacked someone else's dog.

Good post. I'm interested to see how this snowballs, I'd love to hear others views.
 

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Life was much simpler back then. My grandma used to feed the dogs Alpo. I know I was always outside playing, running around with which ever dog she let me have. Kids today sit inside playing video games. You probably didn't hear of all the dog bites because everone wasn't as sue crazy as they are these days.
 

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I don't really trust people's memories as a child because of brain development and children don't have the responsibility of adults and weren't party to a lot of the tough decisions our parents made.

We lived in acreage though it was part of the country that was being turned from farms into large suburban parcels owned by doctors, lawyers, etc. It was also next to several hundred acres of park land. People were constantly dumping unwanted dogs and cats in our property. My whole family were animal lovers and me and my siblings always tried to adopt all the dumped animals, but at some point my parents just had to stop us. To this day, I don't know what tough decisions they had to make.

We also had a small mix adopted by my older sister that got torn to pieces by a neighbor's German Shepherds. Nobody had fenced yards. As kids we knew there were houses in the neighborhood to avoid because they had nasty dogs.

One thing that was different though is that people's expectations of dogs were different. At one point or another, me and my siblings and all the kids in the neighborhood experienced a bite from a dog. No big deal. Dogs bite if you do something stupid. Kids do stupid things. Nobody sued.

My parents didn't march up to the neighbor with the GSDs to complain about their dogs. Dogs could attack and hurt other dogs because they entered their territory. People understood that. Dogs were well socialized because people had no fences and didn't walk their dogs on a leash. Puppies growing up encountered the older dogs in the neighborhood and all the kids just by being out in their yard.

Lots of dogs and cats got run over. A dog that did not learn to become car sure became a Darwinian casualty. People did not spend that much on vets and lots of dogs died young. People remember all the dogs that lived old but tend to forget the ones that didn't.
 

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Dog's don't attack people any more than they did back then. We tend not to remember the bad moments or bad events in life unless they were HUGE (assassinations, 9/11). We remember the good times, and the happy moments. I don't believe that there are THAT many dog attacks. You just hear about them faster and louder these days due to facebook and twitter. At the same time...back then...if your dog bit someone, it probably got taken out back and shot, or put down right away. There weren't people willing to put up with those types of behaviors. Any type of aggression was probably generally dealt with in that way, rather than letting a dog live out its life in a kennel.

A local dog attack in New York would never be news in the Midwest...but now due to facebook, everyone knows about it. I get amazed that I have people from Wisconsin sharing "lost dog" posts from California...like...what's the point of that? The dog is NOT in Wisconsin...lol.

The sickness thing...people are sicker than we were 50 years ago...and only because they have a disease for everything now. And they come up with medication to sell you for everything now. Same with pets...more disposable income...more people going to vets to figure out why their pet is itching too much, or pooping too much, or whatever too much. Back in the day...you just had a dog that liked to scratch a lot.

No one went to training because there weren't that many "pet" training places. People didn't have the money to spend on training a dog. Now there is more disposable income and so more people take their dog to training to get it to sit, stay, down. People saw a business opportunity...there was money to be made...and they took advantage of it. They sold a new idea...no longer is pet training only for the "problem" dogs...its now for all dogs. There are probably hundreds of businesses open right now that weren't even an industry 50 years ago.

I'm not old...only been around a couple decades...but that's just the facts of human advancement and psychology.

It was already obvious to me that you never lived in the 60s. I'm not talking about nationwide dog attacks. I'm talking about where I lived in Baltimore. We sat on our porches and congregated at the neighborhood store. Nothing happened in our community that we didn't know about. If there had been a vicious dog attack, we would know. And even 50 years ago, you couldn't shoot your dog in Baltimore City.

Don't tell me everything was rosy and that's all that I would remember. I remember just fine. I remember when I was 6 and my best friend was killed by a drunk driver. I remember every detail right down to the exact words spoken by her brother and the look of anguish on the face of the drunk mans' young son. Likewise, I still remember the names and breeds of my old neighborhood dogs. The only troublemaker was Beetle. He was a large mix, escaped his yard frequently and bullied the other dogs. I remember that he was hit by a car and I remember his teenage owner crying. I am quite certain I would remember a vicious dog attack.

Baltimore City today - same neighborhood, there are vicious dog attacks. I'm not talking about a single bite or a nip. I'm talking about attacks. I can still get this information the same way I did in the 1960s. It's called a newspaper.

It wasn't lack of money that kept people from training. We weren't poor. It would never have occurred to us to go to obedience class, even if there was such a thing. Of course there are new industries today. My point is that in my day they did NOT exist and we did quite fine without them. Vet care was not as expensive as today. We took our pets when they needed to go. If anything, I would expect dogs to live longer now than they did in the 60s. Are you saying people are sicker and do not live as long? That has also not been my experience.
 

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Well I grew up a bit later than the 1960s but…..

First dog I remember as a child was a big white Samoyed. We use to climb all over her and she was the calmest most patient dog. You can’t do that now-a-days or people scream what an awful parent and irresponsible dog owner you are but it was common back then. Dogs were expected back then to be good around small children.

I remember feeding dogs Purina or some other cheap grocery store dog food (Gaines Burgers, Gravy Train, Kibbles n Bits, Ol’Roy, Alpo etc.) before we moved on to the high-quality stuff, IAMs. We gave milk bones as treats and to help clean teeth. We also regularly fed table scraps. It was not common to bring our dogs to the vet for annual check-ups or annual vaccines. You just vaccinated when they were young and made vet appointments when there was something wrong. There was no such thing as heartworm preventatives. We used flea/tick “collars” not frontline. We never owned a crate. The dogs played with tennis balls and sticks. Our dogs did live in the house. The dog park was our back yard. We had a lot of land when I was young and we kids did spend many hours outside with our dogs. My mom’s poodle (Mitzy) was a “retired” circus dog she adopted from the Humane Society (so yes there were animal shelters back then and unwanted pets being dumped). Mitzy did have a lot of formal training and knew a lot of fun tricks that my mom liked to entertain her guests with when she’d have a social party. My dad’s GSD (Satin) was also very well trained. I believe my father trained her but I’m not sure if he took her to any formal training classes. My dad was an old horse trainer and I think he just knew how to train. Of course today people would place his methods of training in the dreaded “compulsion” training classification.

Mom and Dad always had at least 2 dogs when I was growing up. Mom always picked up her dogs from the Humane Society and I remember going with her to pick out a dog. I remember one poodle she adopted that had terrible seizures and was PTS shortly after mom brought her home. Today, they probably wouldn't do that. There's medicine for seizures now. Dad’s dog Satin lived to be almost 16 (maybe over 16) so he always had her while I was growing up.

I don’t know if I think owners are any better/worse than back then. Times have changed we have learned more about our canine companions. Like we have learned we can’t feed our dogs as if they are livestock. Some things are improvements some are not. Some things are more geared towards someone else making money at the dog’s expense. Those things are not better IMO.
 

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It was already obvious to me that you never lived in the 60s. I'm not talking about nationwide dog attacks. I'm talking about where I lived in Baltimore. We sat on our porches and congregated at the neighborhood store. Nothing happened in our community that we didn't know about. If there had been a vicious dog attack, we would know. And even 50 years ago, you couldn't shoot your dog in Baltimore City.

Don't tell me everything was rosy and that's all that I would remember. I remember just fine. I remember when I was 6 and my best friend was killed by a drunk driver. I remember every detail right down to the exact words spoken by her brother and the look of anguish on the face of the drunk mans' young son. Likewise, I still remember the names and breeds of my old neighborhood dogs. The only troublemaker was Beetle. He was a large mix, escaped his yard frequently and bullied the other dogs. I remember that he was hit by a car and I remember his teenage owner crying. I am quite certain I would remember a vicious dog attack.

Baltimore City today - same neighborhood, there are vicious dog attacks. I'm not talking about a single bite or a nip. I'm talking about attacks. I can still get this information the same way I did in the 1960s. It's called a newspaper.

It wasn't lack of money that kept people from training. We weren't poor. It would never have occurred to us to go to obedience class, even if there was such a thing. Of course there are new industries today. My point is that in my day they did NOT exist and we did quite fine without them. Vet care was not as expensive as today. We took our pets when they needed to go. If anything, I would expect dogs to live longer now than they did in the 60s. Are you saying people are sicker and do not live as long? That has also not been my experience.
Well where I live in Milwaukee...we don't have any vicious dog attacks that I hear of on the news. The only dog attacks I hear about are on Facebook where people over react to a small, one sided, terribly biased, article that leaves out 75% of the information.

Your friend getting killed by a drunk driver...is considered a HUGE event by most people's standards, so you'll remember it. You'll remember names of dogs because they were good dogs, you remember the bad dog BECAUSE it got hit by a car and you have a story to remember about that dog. If you just had a non-stop barking dog that looked vicious, you probably wouldn't remember it. If you had more than one of those dogs in your neighborhood they'd all roll together into one and you wouldn't remember them individually. You might've remembered a vicious dog attack if it happened to one of your friends...the likelihood of you remembered a dog attack that happened to a stranger, on the other side of the city, or even in the next neighborhood over, is very small. It's human nature, why do you get so defensive about it?

I'm only 24 and I don't remember any of the bad things that happened to me from 6-14. I only remember the happy times, playing sports in the field with my friends, playing video games, having fun. I don't remember any of the times I fell off a bike, or scraped a knee.

Sorry that it upsets you...but its proven and tested theory that humans have a much easier time remembering good memories over bad ones (unless they're extreme). Like I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on 9/11...but I don't remember much about the rest of the year as nothing else really happened in my life then.

I was also not calling you poor...I was talking about having more DISPOSABLE income. Money to spend on things that aren't as important. This is why we have better dog food now, and better training...people are willing to spend money on these things. In the 60s they weren't. Just think of how much more crap the average American family has today that they didn't have in the 60s. Things are also much much cheaper with regards to salary and inflation than they were back then. If I compare myself/my salary to a college educated 24 year old from the 60s...I have a lot more today than they did back then.

We've had more than a few threads like this..."I remember when I was younger I had the perfect GSD...blah blah blah" Well when you're a kid, you really don't remember or realize what your parents do when it comes to true responsibilities. Chances are...they trained the dogs much more than we realize.

Also...people aren't sicker...they just have names and medications for more diseases than there were in the 60s. The magic purple pill is one that comes to mind...I'm pretty sure that in the 60s that wasn't considered a medical problem and was just ignored...just like many other diseases or problems. ADD/ADHD just to name a couple more. These days there are medicines for more things because more is understood about issues, rather than ignored and swept under the table.
 

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I was born in 1976 so am too young to have personal experience in this, but I have read opinions on this exact topic. What the author (and forgive me, I don't recall the name or the book so you will just have to trust my recollection) said was that back in the day, the dog was let out in the morning to roam. He got his exercise, his social interaction with other dogs and people, he sniffed stuff, he marked wherever, he pooped where he wanted to, he ate whatever appealed to that he came across. In other words he had a very full and enriching day that satisfied his physical and mental needs.

Fast forward to today where we have a lot more laws restricting the natural behavior of dogs (roaming, foraging, eliminating bodily wastes). Now normal dog behaviors are "problems". We restrict them more and more and wonder why they find other outlets, which are also problems, this time with more negative consequences (in house destruction, barking, obsessive behaviors, short tempers).

The fault lies, I believe, with trying to turn dogs into small humans in hair suits. It is completely selfish of us to try to stuff these animals into little boxes that conveniently fit into our lifestyles, which are increasingly busy with work or screen time or raising children.
 

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Sorry that it upsets you...but its proven and tested theory that humans have a much easier time remembering good memories over bad ones (unless they're extreme). Like I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on 9/11...but I don't remember much about the rest of the year as nothing else really happened in my life then.

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I have to disagree. I mostly remember the bad and have had to force myself to remember the good to get a balanced perspective of my childhood. If you talk to my mother, her childhood is all negative. Here is some evidence from the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/your-money/why-people-remember-negative-events-more-than-positive-ones.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
 

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I grew up in the 60's and have good and bad dog memories. As a toddler climbing over the fence to pet my grandparents coon dogs - I remember my uncle pulling me off the fence once, saying, Boy, those dogs will eat you up. But they didn't, they were so happy for some attention. It was all wagging tails and happy faces. They were in a pen out in the yard with nothing but half buried 55 gallon barrels and a little straw inside for them to sleep on. I'm sure if I had been a raccoon it would have been another story.
Another time I was in grade school and found a stray dog after school. While I waited for my mom to pick me up, we became best pals, or so I thought, until I tried to hug the dog. He struggled and bit me in the lip, I still have the scar. When I explained my bloody lip to my mom when she arrived, there was a worried conversation with the school teacher. Animal control was called and the dog was picked up and tested for rabies (negative). I still feel guilty about that. When I was 15 I remember having to carry our 16 year old blind and incontinent terrier in my arms to the vet to be put down because no one else in the family could handle it. In the 70's I remember our purebred poodle almost losing his leg from a dog attack over a female dog in heat because we did not have a fence and he was not fixed. He regained almost total use of his leg and lived to be 17, after a lifetime of chocolate treats and cheap supermarket dog food.
 

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My experience was almost identical to Stevenzachsmom.

I grew up in Pasadena Calif., so the experiences were not just east coast.

The dogs that survived Distemper, Parvo, and automobiles were vastly more stable than the pampered brats ( dogs or kids) you see today.

I am aware that anyone under thirty will think we only remember the good stuff and forget the not so good. Not so. You'll know that if you live long enough.
When my kids were in their twenties they thought I didn't know anything. When they hit their thirties they started telling me, thanks dad, I just didn't understand until now.
 

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I have to disagree. I mostly remember the bad and have had to force myself to remember the good to get a balanced perspective of my childhood. If you talk to my mother, her childhood is all negative. Here is some evidence from the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/your-money/why-people-remember-negative-events-more-than-positive-ones.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I'll agree that its easier to remember the "bad singular events" because overall life was and still is pretty good. Day to day...things were just fine. You remember bad events that happened to you, close friends, family. But you don't really remember terrible news stories that happened to strangers half way around the world, or even things that happened in your own city. Some people do...but in general, if someone asks you about an even that happened in your city 10+ years ago...you wouldn't even be able to figure out the year it happened unless it directly affected you in some way.

If I think about "dog attacks" right now...I can't remember any that have happened in my life. No neighbors ever had a vicious dog, the city I grew up in never had any issues, my current city doesn't really have any issues. Maybe a 2 minute news blip here or there, a smaller town just outside of Milwaukee just tried to have a pitbull ban that was struck down, but overall I can't remember any dog attack in the last year or two.
 

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By no means have am I anywhere near having lived in the 60s. But, I can only say that dogs are man's best friend, for many decades, centuries, eras, lifetimes. We have done just fine with them as they were, and the recent events are just another product of the times (rotten times, if you ask me) whether you look at the good or the bad. Dogs are always around, and will always be man's best friend, no matter how we treat them or train them or feed them.
I just think this is a wonderful topic, and would like to say, that the only thing I know of dogs of history are in books. To name a few...

Zhuhcka in Dostoevesky's "Brothers Karamazov", a boy's rescued, extremely trained, and best friend of a dog. No different than many stories I hear of nowadays.

Historical non-fiction, namely, Stephanitz' The GSD in Word and Picture. Many things remain unchanged from what he spells out.

And of Mark Twain's "A Dog's Tale" just a great story about the wonders of a dog.

"..but its proven and tested theory that humans have a much easier time remembering good memories over bad ones" Some would argue this is called repressing your memories. But that's not what we're discussing.
 

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Dog's don't attack people any more than they did back then. We tend not to remember the bad moments or bad events in life unless they were HUGE (assassinations, 9/11). We remember the good times, and the happy moments.
Nope. I remember. I remember our dogs, most of our neighbor's dogs, friend's dogs...hec, I can even recall some of their names. I remember the good, and the bad. It was my youth that forged my love for dogs.

My childhood was much like what the OP stated. The biggest difference that I see now when looking 'back then' is breeding.

We didn't have designer dogs. Mutts weren't sold, they were always free. Nobody wanted their dogs to have puppies. It was too difficult to get rid of mutt dogs. Nobody wanted to bare the cost of raising puppies since there was no money to be had.

There was no social media to market your pets. If you had puppies, you put an ad in the paper. That cost money.

Anybody and go on CL now and mutt dogs are being sold for as much as the owner can get for them. If the dog is small or deemed 'tiny' - they'll ask for more.

It's sad.
 

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I am from that era. Dogs pretty much roamed free in my village (read: Merle's Door from Ted Kerasote), had their own social life and weren't locked up in apartments all day. Problem dogs were shot, weak puppies didn't survive. And we didn't call them "our babies" or had to wear clothes. Most of them were intact, lived outside and didn't have many privileges.
 

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A proven and tested theory like hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women or that cholesterol causes heart attacks.

My opinion which is not at all scientific is that we tend to remember major events or experiences whether good or negative.


Quote Jae"..but its proven and tested theory that humans have a much easier time remembering good memories over bad ones" Some would argue this is called repressing your memories. But that's not what we're discussing.[/quote]
 
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