Skeptical Salon: Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial

Thursday, October 20
7:30 PM

Location: Jennifer and Jeff’s Place

For October, we’ll be reading Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham.

From amazon.com:
“The study of memory had become my specialty, my passion. In the next few years I wrote dozens of papers about how memory works and how it fails, but unlike most researchers studying memory, my work kept reaching out into the real world. To what extent, I wondered, could a person’s memory be shaped by suggestion? When people witness a serious automobile accident, how accurate is their recollection of the facts? If a witness is questioned by a police officer, will the manner of questioning alter the representation of the memory? Can memories be supplemented with additional, false information?”

The “passion” Loftus describes in the lines above led her to a teaching career at the University of Washington and, perhaps more importantly, into hundreds of courtrooms as an expert witness on the fallibility of eyewitness accounts. As she has explained in numerous trials, and as she convincingly argues in this absorbing book, eyewitness accounts can be and often are so distorted that they no longer resemble the truth.

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