The following videos
illustrate the fallibility of human memory
– Even "memories" that are
"fresh in our mind" are subject to involuntary embellishment by our own
cognitive processes. A FALSE memory; and
even a false memory that has been
purposely implanted can seem as
real as if it really happened, and it can be experienced and articulated
as if it really happened. Children are particularly suggestible
intelligent adults can also be "brainwashed" into believing, and in fact
experiencing and re-living something that is in its entirety, completely
false and completely fabricated. These videos would be great tools for a
defense attorney to use in court, to defend a client who is confronted
with "eyewitness testimony", or the testimony or statement of
a child who falsely claims to have been sexually abused
if there is a lack of medical evidence indicative of the alleged abuse.
You think that you remember things like a Video Camera
does. Get a pencil & paper handy and try this simple experiment. You'll
Here is another quick little experiment
for you to try.
The video to the left is a crime simulation. You hear a noise and go to
the door. You see someone on the ground, and someone running away. You
get a glimpse of the face of the person who is running away. In real
life, you don't get an "instant replay"
– so watch carefully, and watch
the video to the left ONLY ONCE.
Now click the link below to go to a
"line-up". Remember... it was LESS THAN A MINUTE AGO that you saw what
happened, so the face should be "fresh in your mind". See if you can
pick the person out of the line-up:
Lost in a shopping mall
- Elizabeth Loftus
Boy was NEVER lost in a shopping mall,
but remembers the event in VIVID DETAIL when a story is suggested to him
in this experiment.
Memory expert Elizabeth Loftus shows
Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes how memories can be manipulated.
UCI Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Loftus is a pioneer in false
memory research, and has proven that memory is highly susceptible to
distortion and suggestion. Loftus has examined numerous claims of
repressed memory in court that have turned out to be dubious or false.
Video by Kerrin Piche Serna, University Communications.
How difficult is it to manufacture someone else's memory? Psychology
professor Elizabeth Loftus says it's a whole lot easier than you might
Experiment has children
construct stories about meeting Bugs Bunny at Disney Land.... but there
is one problem; Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character and Disney
Land doesn't have any "Bugs Bunnies" running around. If you didn't know
that, the children's stories about meeting the Wascally Wabbit
there, would be thoroughly convincing.
Eyewitness Testimony convicts innocent people that DNA evidence later
false convictions due to FALSE MEMORY of
eyewitnesses. Rape victim pulls innocent man out of line-up. The legal
system can't differentiate between the truth, and someone
– who is genuinely mistaken. A reinforcement by police has
been proven to alter a witness' memory.
When Ronald Cotton was in
prison for a
rape he didn't commit, he met the real rapist and decided to kill him,
A man falsely accused
and imprisoned for rape on the strength of victim's testimony, goes free
on DNA evidence, and befriends and forgives his accuser.
us lie on a fairly regular basis, and on some level it may not be a bad
thing. Paul Root Wolpe asks do we want to eliminate lies, even those
that may be necessary?
A staged purse snatching in a Brooklyn Law School Classroom demonstrates the
fallibility of eyewitness testimony. Discovery Channel: "When Eyes
A casual comment by the Professor /
Victim about the perpetrator's nose is unconsciously (mentally)
processed by one of the witnesses who said that there was something
wrong with the perpetrator's nose. The witness did not even remember the
Professor making that comment.
and Palmer's (1974) study of how language used in a question influenced
the narrative of subjects who were shown films of a car crash. This
proves that the way a question is asked will influence the answer, and
leaves the debate for "leading questions"
– such as are asked by Social
workers to children in schools about physical and sexual abuse
Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus discusses studying the power of
suggestion, including implanting false memories in test subjects. After
three suggestive interviews, Loftus found she was able to convince
subjects they had been lost in a shopping mall as a small child.
10 volunteers taking part a TV
documentary about memory were filmed doing experiments in a TV studio.
But how do they cope when they're having lunch at a local pub, they
think the cameras have stopped rolling and a fight breaks out in front
of them? Will they make good eyewitnesses? Would you?
After the stabbing the police interviewed our
volunteers (now eyewitnesses) to discover as much as they could about
the crime. The Greater Manchester Police treated this scenario as they
would a real crime. How helpful will our eyewitnesses be?
Never forget a face? Eyewitnesses
to crimes routinely have to remember faces that they've only seen for a
few seconds. How well would you do?
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