Eyewitness testimonies, like student-self reports, are useless

Of all the tools at an investigator’s disposal — DNA analysis, forensic evidence, witness testimony — by far the least reliable are the recollections of witnesses, studies suggest. More often than not, they raise more questions than they answer and sometimes produce deeply flawed cases.

“Surveys show that large proportions of people, at least in the United States, think that human memory works like a video tape or a DVD,” Scott Lilienfeld, an Emory University professor who has studied the shortcomings of such testimony, told New York Magazine. “And we know of decades of psychological research that human memory, including eyewitness memory, doesn’t work that way.”


Stephen By Stephen

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Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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