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Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial
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Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  99 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
"The study of memory had become my specialty, my passion. In the next few years I wrote dozens of papers about how memory works and how it fails, but unlike most researchers studying memory, my work kept reaching out into the real world. To what extent, I wondered, could a person's memory be shaped by suggestion? When people witness a serious automobile accident, how accur ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published July 15th 1992 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1991)
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Jan 11, 2012 Bonsai marked it as gave-up
I wanted straightforward non-fiction about how and WHY eyewitnesses' memories work or fail in a courtroom setting. This had too much dialog and description (which I suspect were invented to give a more fiction-y style) and not enough science for my purposes.
Al Johnson
Mar 25, 2014 Al Johnson rated it really liked it
Dr. Loftus of the University of Seattle has been a pioneer since the 70s of researching and understanding how memory actually works. From breaking commonly held myths to exploring in her later book (The Myth of Repressed Memory), how memories can actually be shaped to appear real, her understanding of this is critical to the Justice System and how we prosecute and defend. Witness for the Defense is an excellent collection of cases Dr. Loftus has been called in to testify on. The scale of innocen ...more
Mar 09, 2008 Christy rated it it was amazing
The most essential book to my undergrad psychology degree.
Jan 17, 2016 Fishface rated it liked it
A very good, interesting and disturbing read. Explains why eyewitness testimony, normally the most trusted type of courtroom evidence, is in fact the least reliable kind. Well worth reading.
Fascinating enough that I read it in just a couple of days. I knew some of it, but parts, such as the fact that many line ups for identification are not only not blinded, but the witness will often have been shown a picture of the suspect before the line up, but won't have seen any of the others before, to be truly appalling.
It also emphasised the extent to which juries seem to ignore the "beyond reasonable doubt" part of their duty, and instead are content to go with "yeah, he probably did it"
Mar 14, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: my psychology professor
Shelves: non-fiction
This was another good book from college. Loftus was my professor, and although she was an excellent professor, I was surprised to find that she is an excellent writer as well. This book tells of her experience testifying as an expert on how the mind works, addressing questions of supressed memories and the accuracy of a person's recollections.
Crystal Swenson
Apr 20, 2015 Crystal Swenson rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Loftus is an interesting person. This book was an eye opener as to the trials and struggles that one can encounter. Also that the mind is a tricky thing and must be viewed as a complex organ. Not all the time can we rely on something we believe has all the answers.
Jul 08, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
I read this for the honors program. It was actually interesting, and made me rethink the whole idea of witness testimony.
Sep 02, 2007 Tiamoyo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who want to know about what it's like to be an expert witness
It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it.
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Elizabeth F. Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory. She has conducted extensive research on the malleability of human memory. As well as her prolific work inside the laboratory, Loftus has been heavily involved in applying her research to legal settings; she has consulted or provided expert witness testimony for hundreds of cases. Loftus has been recognized throug ...more
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“In court the next morning I sat at a table in the judge’s chambers. On the other side of the table, close enough for me to reach across and touch him, sat Ted Bundy. He’s adorable, I thought, surprised at my first impression, because I’d pictured him in my mind as brooding, dark, intense disdain (p. 83).
(Loftus testified as a defense expert for Ted Bundy in 1976, Bundy was found guilty of aggravated kidnapping)”
“The thought had occurred to me as I was flying to Salt Lake City earlier that day that Ted Bundy might offer to let me stay in his apartment” (p. 74).
(Loftus testified as a defense expert for Ted Bundy in 1976)”
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