Humans Are the Worst Witnesses Ever Witnessed!
Let’s pretend you’re watching a movie. There’s an action scene where the bank is getting robbed or a man is escaping through his lover’s window. Someone will need to identify the culprit and one of two things will generally happen: 1) a line-up of bad guys behind the one-way glass or 2) man-on-the-street, typically minding his own business, gives a description.
Now whether this witness is reliable or not is also part of the plot, but in real life, the witness is not to be trusted. Human beings are unreliable and our recollection is often false. If it weren’t flawed, organizations like The Innocence Project wouldn’t exist. Did you know that 78% of eyewitness testimony played a part in wrongful convictions? Wow! So, why are humans so deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to memory, especially when an event is noticeably extraordinary?
A scientist who recently conducted an “exciting” new study on witness reliability with a person running from the park after taking a kid’s juice box, explains.
“First of all, the mom was involved, so get off my back about that. Otherwise, it’s fascinating how gullible people are when adrenaline is introduced. You see, we also had a plant who suggested the male running from the scene was wearing a blue-striped shirt when in fact it was green-striped. The witnesses all concurred the shirt was green. Think of the possibilities if I were an evil scientist.”
So how does this happen? According to Julia Shaw author of The Memory Illusion there are three components to this clouded mystery:
- People can recall events that never happened – Especially if you deprive them of sleep, freedom, fresh air, and limit food, after 12 to 14 hours, it’s amazing what people will confess to.
- All memories are inaccurate to some degree – Remember the time you sneaked out of your parent’s home and egged your ex-boyfriend’s house for cheating on you? Good times, right? Wrong! What you aren’t recalling is the fine Mom & Dad had to pay after the cheating ex’s parent’s filed a police report.
- Identifying false memories may be next to impossible – It’s called memory corruption, people. And it’s real. When you recall something incorrectly and no one corrects it, the memory is now correct. For example: when you asked about your dog Lucky’s trip to the retirement farm, and no one told you the truth about Lucky, that became the new, and often times, complex memory of Lucky.
So what can you do about this? Scientists recommend mastering a new skill or limiting excessive alcohol intake, but at the end of the…umm, what’s the word…never mind because nothing really can be done about it. It’s human nature and we are flawed individuals.