EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY….Via Jim Miller, here’s a short Washington Post article on one of my favorite hobby horses, the unreliability of eyewitness testimony:

The researchers prepared a 60-second videotape purportedly showing a man on a roof dropping what appears to be a bomb down an air shaft. They showed the tape to 253 volunteers, who were then asked to pick out the bomber from six photographs. Unknown to the volunteer witnesses, a picture of the actor playing the bomber was not in the array. Nevertheless, every volunteer picked a suspect.

After making their choice, some were told they made the right choice, some told they made the wrong one, and some were told nothing. They were then asked how well they remembered what they saw in the video.

The people who were told they picked the right suspect had much greater confidence in virtually all aspects of their recollection, and 23 percent said they were at least 90 percent sure of details. Those given no feedback were much less confident, with only 2 percent saying they were at least 90 percent sure.

It is simply astounding the faith we put in things that we’ve “seen with our own eyes,” despite mountains of evidence that eyewitness identification has an accuracy rate barely better than chance. Reforms in the criminal justice system ? wider use of videotape, double blind lineups, warnings to juries ? can’t come soon enough. It is a travesty of justice that we continue to rely so heavily on eyewitness testimony even though everyone involved in the process, including cops, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, knows better.