Neil deGrasse Tyson did a couple of alarming and disheartening tweets just now –
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Done with Jury Duty. I said I could not convict a person solely on eyewitness testimony. They sent me home. I’m now 0 for 4.
After hearing my skepticism of eyewitness testimony, six other jury candidates promptly agreed. And they got sent home too.
Eyewitness testimony is so crappy – so very unreliable and yet so trusted.
TV trains everyone to think it’s infallible, as if there were a video camera in our brains and all we have to do is roll the tape. We’re bad at noticing stuff even when it’s right in front of us, and then we’re bad all over again at remembering. Put the two together and you get a big “Huh? I dunno. I wasn’t watching.” But noooooo, cop shows always present it as Hidden Photography Inside The Head. The cops ask for detailed descriptions of the suspect, they get impatient when people don’t know, they take the lineup very seriously – as if all this were totally reliable.