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Mon, Dec 01
Eyewitness testimony isn’t perfect
Twenty eyewitnesses testified before the grand jury investigating the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. None of these accounts is fully consistent with any other. Moreover, eyewitnesses even gave accounts that do not agree with their own earlier versions. To the public and the media, these discrepancies have been startling.
But psychological scientists who study human perception and memory are not surprised at all. In fact, had there been good agreement among the various witnesses, psychological scientists would have been very suspicious and speculated that something was amiss. Those of us who study eyewitness memory have long observed that these accounts are far less reliable than people – including the eyewitnesses themselves – tend to believe.