People are right to be skeptical of anything and everything on the Internet, even (or especially) videos. Whether it’s an eagle snatching a Canadian baby or a hilarious twerk fail, there’s always a possibility that even the most real-seeming videos are staged. So it was only natural that yesterday’s clip of a man waking from surgery and complimenting the hot lady next to him, and then only later discovering that she was his wife, would have its doubters. But, from what we’re seeing, the case for a hoax is not very compelling.
Slate had one of the more popular pieces analyzing the hoax possibility. They talked to a doctor who questioned whether the kind of memory loss exhibited by Jason Mortensen in the video is even possible:
According to Dr. Larry Squire, a psychologist at the University of California-San Diego who specializes in memory impairment, there are basically two types of “amnesia”: The first type, psychogenic amnesia, is a psychiatric condition that can involve retrograde memory loss, but isn’t associated with surgery. The second, which is similar to Alzheimer’s, can be caused by a loss of oxygen during surgery, but mainly leads to difficulty learning new information. Anaesthesia or oxygen deprivation can cause some retrograde memory loss, but it wouldn’t wipe out six years of marriage. “It would not affect something so salient in a person’s life,” Squire says.
Well, that’s one doctor. The Today show spoke to the surgeon who actually performed Mortensen’s hernia surgery, and he said that such reactions are unusual but not impossible.
A Reddit thread about the video is also full of people claiming similar experiences. "I’ve been where he is coming out of surgery. I’d bet good money he has no clue what he is saying," says one. "It’s not uncommon to have amnesia after coming to. I did, and it was weird," says another.
Just because such a reaction could be real doesn’t prove that the Mortensens didn’t fake it anyway. So let’s look at the rest of the evidence against the video’s veracity. Here’s Slate again:
Other circumstantial evidence raises the BS factor on the video. One Reddit user found an old headshot of Mortensen from an audition website.
Look at this photo. He’s what, like, 16 years old? You try to break into acting when you’re a kid and everything you do from then on is a lie?
This is the only video uploaded to Mortensen’s YouTube channel, which employs the easy-to-remember username “UCx-PiDcTqvNUoyNHY5R7RIA”.
It seems entirely plausible that the Mortensens didn’t have a video they felt was worth posting to YouTube until now with this video, which, if real, is objectively amazing.
The video itself raises two questions: why would someone’s wife be at the ready to film her husband’s first moments of consciousness post-op?
Because people film everything, all the time? Things vastly less memorable than your husband waking up from surgery? Look through your phone right now, and we guarantee there’s a video of a dog or a squirrel doing nothing at all.
And would Mortensen really be wearing a hospital gown with a paw print on its front after recovering from hernia surgery?
We don’t even know what this means. The “hospital gown with a paw print” is 3M’s Bair Paws system. It’s a real thing that people wear in hospitals sometimes to keep themselves “warm and comfortable before, during and after surgery.”
And that’s it. That’s the case against the video being real. We’ll probably never know the truth with certainty. But personally, we choose to believe.