Hello, fellow true crime lovers! This is the second installment of my CSI: IRL article series. Rather than boring you all to pieces with a dry academic text, here are a bunch of videos and shows that do a great job of explaining why eyewitness testimony isn't all its made out to be.
As always, these topics are heavy and can contain disturbing material. Please be aware before proceeeding.
The start of it all. Dr. Loftus' research has looked into how flimsy a construct our memroy for details is, and how malleable it really is to outside manipulations. This is a chilling field of study, but hopefully you'll come out of this talk with a better understanding of how your brain works.
This docuseries was shot with the help of The Innocence Project, a nonprofit that works to overturn wrongful convictions by using DNA evidence. Each episode explores a different case where a wrongful conviction (usually prosecuted using eyewitness testimony) was eventually overturned.
Another Netflix series, this one explores how a combination of fakeout interrogation techniques and coercion can lead suspects to give false confessions.
Less true crime, more true science. We are all harried college students, many of us running on caffeine and adrenaline (despite all the self-care and mindfulness memes floating around, how many of us really adhere to those ideas?). But sleep deprivation can cause issues with memory consolidation and recall, making our sleepless nights less conducive to academic achievement and general recall than we might like.
Now, memory is a funny thing. How many of us can remember what we had for breakfast a week ago, let alone all the teensy specifics of things that happened decades ago?
The idea that memory is faulty has been used to discredit dozens of people who have come forward with allegations of sexual violence. But it is the idea that memory works like a camera that is wrong. The human brain is not a full-HD, 1080-pixel video recorder. If course, small gaps and inconsistencies do not detract from the bigger event that is burned into your synapses. We might remember what kind of cake we had at our last birthday and what we were wearing, but do you remember every song in background, or what every single one of your friends was wearing? You might remember how you felt, what you did and where you went, but can you remember every single person you spoke to that day?
What I am trying to get across is the idea that when witnesses admit to not remembering all the details, that can be a sign of honesty. Because let's be real, we don't always remember every detail of everything we have ever done.