On the Validity of “Eye Witness” Testimony

Christians like to cite as evidence for the “truth” of the bible, the fact that Matthew and Luke and John were eye-witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

The Truth Is

Even IF the gospels had been written by their alleged authors, they are most likely wrong.
This would-be “eyewitness” testimony is, at a minimum, 30 years after the events it purports to describe and the authors were in or nearing their dotage.
In addition, recent research has found that eyewitness testimony is not reliable. Here is an excerpt from an article entitled “34 Years Later, Supreme Court Will Revisit Eyewitness IDs” By ADAM LIPTAK Published: August 22, 2011, NY Times

WASHINGTON – Every year, more than 75,000 eyewitnesses identify suspects in criminal investigations. Those identifications are wrong about a third of the time, a pile of studies suggest. Mistaken identifications lead to wrongful convictions. Of the first 250 DNA exonerations, 190 involved eyewitnesses who were wrong, as documented in “Convicting the Innocent,” a recent book by Brandon L. Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia

See the whole story here

With new knowledge of human brain functioning, there have been numerous studies of the validity of eye witness testimony. The findings of these studies is summarized in a report developed by Mr Geoffery Gaulkin for the Supreme Court of New Jersey which can be found here. Mr. Gaulkin reviewed three decades of research on witness reliability, took testimony from experts and heard arguments last year from the state attorney general’s office and from groups representing defendants. There have been more than 2,000 studies on the topic, he wrote, and on the whole, they indicate that about one-third of the witnesses who pick out suspects choose the wrong person. He called the research “sound, definitive and unquestionably fit for use in the courtroom.

The point here is that eye witness testimony should be viewed with skepticism.

One comment on “On the Validity of “Eye Witness” Testimony

  1. […] has found that eyewitness testimony is not reliable. Read an excerpt from an article entitled “34 Years Later, Supreme Court Will Revisit Eyewitness IDs” By Adam Liptak Published: August 22, 2011, NY […]

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