Eyewitness Evidence

Well, one of my readers may be a dick but he DID have a valid point. In my last post I got my facts wrong. Eyewitness accounts ARE admissible as evidence in court cases. The fault here lies with my memory.. I saw something on a reply to a Skepchicks post that I *remembered* as saying that it was inadmissible. In actuality the poster was saying that it SHOULD be inadmissible since human memory is so fallible.

This is a good example of that, I think.

Human memory is fallible according to studies cited in this article in the Stanford Journal of Legal Studies: http://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky.htm

The article discusses a study in which false information was injected at an accident scene by a third party. Another article discussed the human memory’s vulnerability to bias. “

“Memory is affected by retelling, and we rarely tell a story in a neutral fashion. By tailoring our stories to our listeners, our bias distorts the very formation of memory—even without the introduction of misinformation by a third party”.

A telling quote and one, I think, is an excellent example of what happened when I made my previous error is: “ Bias creeps into memory without our knowledge, without our awareness. While confidence and accuracy are generally correlated, when misleading information is given, witness confidence is often higher for the incorrect information than for the correct information”.

I could have sworn that what I originally posted was correct until my reader pointed out my error in memory.

Please understand. I DO want to know when I make an error. I would just like you all to remember that there IS a human being at the other end of this blog. I’m new to this skepticism thing and something I’m going to get things wrong. So please bear with me and have a little patience and tact when helping me to correct my errors.


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