It may be a dream afraid of waking up, or it may be a dream coming to realization in the next morning.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vulnerability of Memory

First, watch this video,

Although I think this is made by Jimmy Kimmel for entertainment, it shows us how vulnerable memory is. With a little push and manipulation, you can have a totally new memory of things that you thought happened, but actually didn't.

In the video, Jimmy set up a "polygraph" by which if the kid in the video was caught lying, the machine would detect it and give an alert. But the twist was, the kid might not even lie, and the machine might still give an alert just to see the effect the alert had on the kid's statement. After several alerts given by the machine, the kid started to say anything that he thought was true, because "truth" as gradually defined throughout the session was if and when the machine did not give the alert. So, Jimmy would ask a question, and the kid answered, the machine gave an alert, then the kid knew/thought that he was lying so he changed his statement.

So, what does this mean? When applied into the context of forensic psychology, how reliable is eyewitness testimony in giving statements about a particular crime that happens? How do you know if what is reported is what actually happens? How do you know if the report is based on the personal interpretation from the limited angle of the witness' experience? Or even worse, how can you be sure that the memory is not a made up memory at all?

This phenomenon should be studied well because it gives impact on how investigation can be done when it comes to collecting evidence from eyewitnesses. This is why, in Islam, the number and conditions of eyewitnesses are important to determine the truthfulness and reliability of the account reported. I think there are a lot that are still in need of being uncovered by researchers of the field.

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