Memory & Justice Links

One Web Site Explains Memory Mechanics

For those interested in learning more about the perils of relying on human memory, the Web has a host of resources. Visit these sites, and chances are you'll be much less sure of your own recollections.

Elizabeth Loftus' site: A psychology professor at the University of Washington, Elizabeth Loftus has spent her career cataloguing the fragility and unreliability of human memory.

Her site has writings she's done on the subject, including a chapter from her book, The Myth of Repressed Memory. Also here is a profile of her from Psychology Today, which provides a good introduction to the subject.

Gary Wells' home page: Gary Wells, a psychology professor at Iowa State University, is also a specialist in eyewitness accounts. His site has texts of papers he's written on the subject, as well as a quiz, in which you must pick out the perpetrator from a lineup of five similar-looking men. It's not as easy as it sounds.

The site also covers his work as an expert witness on eyewitness identification. You'll also find some funny eyewitness-related cartoons that he's gathered.

Who Done It?: This is another eyewitness quiz site. Here you watch a clip from a bank robbery, then try to identify the man who did it.

Created by a New Zealander, this site has an explanation of various police identification techniques as well as a look at their advantages and disadvantages. You'll also find a list of recommendations for improving the system.

Convicted by Juries, Exonerated By Science: This article, written under the aegis of the National Institute of Justice, examines cases where DNA evidence has been used to establish innocence after conviction.

Official FBI Site: If you feel like looking at some mug shots, check out this site, a crime-fighting junkie's dream. Find out about the Ten Most Wanted. Are any of these criminals living next door to you?

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Written by David Kohn