Eyewitness: How Accurate Is Visual Memory? Video
(Top Posts - Social/Legal - 030809)

Someone wrote:

> [some bible tales, something the poster
> believes in, something told to the poster
> and reinforced in church, something the
> poster, once he chose to believe it was
> true, steadfastly committed to that for life,
> with unshakable faith, firm belief, and
> something akin to remembering the events
> as if he had actually witnessed them]

See the following for a strong example
of how your 'memory' has been shaped
by peers, and how once you decided
that the tales you were told were true,
you made a commitment to stick to that
assessment that was so strong, it has pre-
vailed for your entire life, regardless of
evidence to the contrary and regardless
of moments of doubt or of disbelief that
most, even the most devoted 'believers',
experience at times:

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Shocking, absolutely shocking, the report
on a particular case that was based on
some evidence, but primarily on the strong
testimony of a 'certain' eyewitness who,
while being raped, says she made a dedi-
cated effort to remember the face of the
rapist, who then picked the rapist out of
a photo line-up, who then chose the rapist
out of a live line-up, who then, in -2- trials,
reaffirmed her memory of who the rapist
was, with firm conviction, with 'certainty'.

Then, 11 years later, she and the 'rapist'
discovered that there was the slightest
of evidence still remaining, a snippet of
DNA, and that DNA not only exonerated
the 'rapist', but pointed to another guy,
a guy who was in court sitting in front
of the rape victim, of the crime.

The accuser and the 'rapist' who had
spent 11 years in prison, later met, at
a church, and he offered her forgive-

This story brings tears to my eyes, not
only in the malleable way in which the
brain works, something I'd been aware
of regarding the way most children are
influenced to believe in religious tales,
but also in the way the brain is so mal-
leable, that even in strongly remembered
recent events, one can easily be misled
to believe something happened that did
not, in fact, happen.

A human is influenced to believe some-
thing is true, and even when contradic-
tory evidence is present, once that truth
decision has been committed to, most
cling to it as if it was real.

I urge those with video capability to view
each of the following 60 minute videos,
one at a time, to grasp and to remember
how fragile human memory is, and how
malleable it is, and how it can be influ-
enced in a manner differing from truth:

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60 Minutes -- Introduction to stories
in the 3/8/2009 version of the show,
includes entire show

- - -

Eyewitness Testimony -- Part 1 of 2

A woman was raped, and during the rape, made a con-
certed effort to remember what the rapist looked like so,
were she to survive, she could help the police catch and
imprison the rapist.

Later, from a line-up, she picked the person who she
thought was the rapist out of a line-up. It was the same
person she had previously seen in a photo line-up. He
was convicted.

While in prison, the convicted rapist met the real rapist
in prison, the real rapist who was convicted on another
rape charge. On a re-trial, the woman who had originally
picked the non-rapist stayed with her false memory, and
sent the non-rapist back to prison, and didn't recognize
the real rapist who was at the trial.

Later, DNA evidence revealed that the convicted rapist
was innocent of the crime. The convicted rapist eventually
met the woman who had falsely accused him of the crime,
and forgave her.

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Eyewitness Testimony -- Part 2 of 2

DNA evidence has exonerated over 230 men who
were previously convicted -- the number one culprit,
erroneous eyewitness testimony in 75% of the cases.
In all the cases where the eyewitness was wrong,
the real culprit was not in the original line-up. Eye-
witness testimony is often wrong, but is often very
convincing to juries.

Once a wrong person is picked from a line-up, the
person selecting the wrong person becomes oblivious
to the real culprit, even when they see the real culprit,
choosing instead to stick with the incorrect selection
regardless of evidence to the contrary.

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Follow-up -- Link to 6-part text version of
the Eyewitness story:

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Eyewitness: How Accurate Is Visual Memory?

Lesley Stahl Reports On Flaws In Eyewitness
Testimony That Lead To Wrong Convictions

March 8, 2009
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Follow-up -- Link to a story posted the day
before the 9-11 disaster, a story which supports
the way memory is described in this article:

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Eyewitness Testimony Often Flawed
September 10, 2001
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In 20 percent of eyewitness identifications of
the culprit, as chosen via a selection amongst
innocents, an individual known to be an innocent
is selected by the eyewitness as the culprit.

Incorrect eyewitness testimony turns out to be
the number one cause of wrongful conviction.
Most of the high-profile convictions that were
overturned due to DNA tests in recent years
were a result of inaccurate eyewitness testimony.

Why is there so much inaccurate eyewitness
testimony? Individuals tend to "fill the gaps" in
memory with any information they have at their
disposal, whether it be claims by others or
memories of innocent bystanders at a criminal

False memories can be planted from scratch.
If adults are provided a selection of childhood
memories, 3 true and 1 false, many adults develop
a strong impression that all of the experiences
were real.

Put another way, "assisted" memories are increas-
ingly unreliable, relative to the amount of "influ-
ences" directed to elicit the memories.

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