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Arts & Culture

Philosophy Talk asks about perception, memory, and justice

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What do Descartes and Perry Mason have in common? They both distrust eyewitness testimony.  

The criminal justice system often relies on the testimony of eyewitnesses to get convictions. Yet more and more, psychological science demonstrates how unreliable eye witness reports can be. Moreover, jurors have all kinds of cognitive biases and unconscious influences, and they rely on dubious folk psychological theories when assessing evidence. So how should psychological science be used to improve our justice system? Is there a way to figure out whether a particular eye witness report is reliable? Or for a truly just system, must we forbid all testimony that depends on the capricious faculty of memory? John and Ken take the stand with Daniel Reisberg from Reed College, author of The Science of Perception and Memory: A Pragmatic Guide for the Justice System. Sunday 11/29 at 10 am and Tuesday 12/1 at 12 noon.