That being said, I was stunned at the amount of misinformation that I had internalized and believed to be true about the killings: the killers weren't part of the Trench Coat Mafia, there was no plan to take out jocks because the shooters were being bullied, this wasn't a spontaneous act of anger and what did happen was only a small part of the plan, most of which failed miserably. A number of the myths are described here in more detail.
As usual in chaotic scenes like this one, the study of memory and eyewitness testimony leaps to the forefront. Cullen was on the scene the day of the shootings and saw a marked difference in the interviews of students that day as opposed to what the students were saying later in the week. When students went home that night and watched the news about the shooting they picked up bits of pieces of information and through confabulation created entirely new memories of what the killers were like and what transpired that day. Even the beloved Columbine principal discovered years later that his memory of being initially told about the kilings was completely wrong; Cullen notes that "Mr. D." understands from two witnesses what he is supposed to have done, but holds on to the wrong memory as well because he can see that one in his mind.
Another major contribution to psychology from the book is the analysis of the shooters. Again, from a distance, I didn't pay attention to any differences, but Cullen does a nice job as an armchair psychologist of diagnosing the boys based on numerous journals, writing assignments and video diaries left behind. Dylan comes off as a depressed loner who was bright but suicidal, and just followed the plan laid out for him. Eric, though, is the prototype of antisocial personality disorder: the manipulation, the ease of lying, the lack of conscience, empathy, remorse, etc.
How about you -- did you mention the shootings at Columbine in your classes last week? Were you a teacher or student in '99 and remember experiencing this? Are you surprised at how the myths have been perpetuated? Should Oprah have canceled her program on Columbine last week -- do we indeed give the killers too much attention by focusing on them at all? Have you read Columbine and have your own opinion? Weigh in below in the comments and share your thoughts.