Monthly Archives: March 2016

Erroneous Recognition, Flyfishing and the Honest “Liar”

img_1331An  “disinterested” adverse eyewitness has just testified and has devastated your case.  You know they are wrong, but they were so convincing.  They seemed so sincere.  What if the jury believes the witness is sincere?  If they think the witness is not lying, is all lost?  Eyewitness testimony is inherently dangerous.  In fact, “erroneous recognition” is the primary cause of wrongful criminal convictions.

Erroneous Recognition is described as a phenomenon where a person mistakes one situation or event for another. Th error is the result of a misapprehension of the reality of time. Deja Vu is an example of this. There the viewer realizes the implausibility of the recognition of an event as having happened before and knows that it did not and could not have occurred before. Erroneous recognition happens when the mind is unable to perceive this error.

Man is not alone. Animals make this mistake too. One of my favorite authors, John Gierach, who writes about fly-fishing notes in his book Trout Bum that this is what happens every time a trout strikes an Adams dry fly made from thread and feathers tied to a metal hook. The trout honestly mistakes the fly for a real live insect. The trout is sincerely wrong. In fact, it is dead wrong… And so is the eyewitness in this case, they are sincerely, but most certainly dead wrong.

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