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Eyewitness Testimony: the Facts of Life
Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:24pm

Why Science Tells Us Not to Rely on Eyewitness Accounts

Why Science Tells Us Not to Rely on Eyewitness Accounts

Eyewitness testimony is fickle and, all too often, shockingly inaccurate

IN 1984 KIRK BLOODSWORTH was convicted of the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl and sentenced to the gas chamber—an outcome that rested largely on the testimony of five eyewitnesses. After Bloodsworth served nine years in prison, DNA testing proved him to be innocent. Such devastating mistakes by eyewitnesses are not rare, according to a report by the Innocence Project, an organization affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University that uses DNA testing to exonerate those wrongfully convicted of crimes. Since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases rested on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses. How could so many eyewitnesses be wrong?

My personal opinion is that there are four components of eyewitness testimony:

33% Error
33% Confabulation
33% Mendacity
1% Truth (it does sometimes slip in)

If several witnesses agree in full detail as to what happened at an event, then they are lying in collusion. Disagreement is ALWAYS the case in honest testimony.

Real witnesses almost never agree on much. So when some event happens and somebody disagrees with the official version, that is good evidence that the official have been doing their jobs RIGHT.


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