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The idea that "eyewitness testimony is unreliable"

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posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 08:34 AM
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This is definitely one of those sayings that people often don't really think about like, "All publicity is good publicity". They are both absolute in in their claim. The phrase should be "Eyewitness testimony CAN be unreliable", but that doesn't make for (superficailly) good ammo in an argument. A good example is with size.

You can ask a dozen witnesses how big something is and you will get all kinds of answers because the majority of people have little experience with measuring and scale. If you give them a couple of stakes and tell them to put them as far apart as what they saw, they will likely get much closer in their measurements, but the person who said 100 ft will still think that his stakes are 100 ft apart. It is in how you try and extract the info from the witness to some degree. The related issue is that some people are very good and very reliable witnesses.

People with experience in a certain area can be extremely reliable witnesses. Take the measuring example. A carpenter or surveyor may be able to estimate within 1-2% how large something is, making them a great witness. This can be carried over to many other areas. A pilot or air traffic-controller can be a very reliable witness in regard to aircraft look and behavior. A radar operator/analyst makes a very reliable witness with regard to what is on the scope and unusual readings. A car/plane/fill-in-the-blank designer is a great witness for things like "There were three blinking lights and a port coming out of the right side. There were no visible seams" etc. These people's minds are trained to look at things in a certain way that makes them very reliable witnesses for certain things.

The point is that the saying is very flawed and really only came about for legal reasons to show that testimony can't be relied upon all the time. But, it can be relied upon much of the time and the more witnesses, the more likely it can be relied upon. The more unrelated-yet-consistent witness add another layer of reliability.

Ultimately this leads to some eyewitness testimony that is very, very reliable...as well as a whole bunch more that is lacking in the depth of reliability or just plain bad which often drowns out the very good testimony.
edit on 22-3-2014 by Halfswede because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 08:38 AM
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reply to post by MaximRecoil
 




By the way, the guy in the video you posted sounded very much "under the influence" of something, probably a combination of things.


Interesting..you made this thread to try to tell us that we shouldn't call eyewitness statements unreliable but when presented with a single case where someone mis-identifies something you instantly go right to telling us his statement is unreliable because he must be on drink and drugs.



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 09:59 AM
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James McDonald, a university physicist who interviewed several hundred UFO witnesses back in the 1960's, discussed this subject in Congressional testimony and made some good points about eyewitness testimony:


Then, looking at the negative side, all of us who have checked cases are sometimes in near anguish at the typical inability of the scientifically untrained person to estimate angles, to even understand what you are asking for when you ask for an angular estimation. We are all aware of the gross errors in distances, heights, and speeds so estimated.

And I would emphasize to those who cite jury trial experience that the tendency for a group of witnesses to an accident to come in with quite different accounts, must not be overstressed here. Those witnesses don't come in from, say, a street corner accident and claim they saw a giraffe killed by a tiger. They talk about an accident. They are confused about details. There is legally confusing difference of timing and distance, and so on; but all are in agreement that it was an auto accident.

So also when you deal with multiple-witness cases in UFO sightings. There is an impressive core of consistency; everybody is talking about an object that has no wings, all of 10 people may say it was dome shaped or something like that, and then there are minor differences as to how big they thought it was, how far away, and so on. Those latter variations do pose a very real problem. It stands as a negative factor with respect to the anecdotal data, but it does not mean we are not dealing with real sightings of real objects.

full transcript of testimony


I like this case.


On February 4, 1968, from approximately 7:20 to 7:25 P.M., about two hundred residents of Redlands, California, either saw or heard what was apparently the same huge, low-flying, disk-shaped object as it passed overhead. The object apparently came down just west of Columbia Street and north of Colton Avenue, then proceeded slowly in a northwestern direction for about a mile or less, at an altitude of about 300 feet. Coming to a stop, it hovered briefly, jerked forward, hovered again, then shot straight up with a burst of speed. (Total time of the sighting must have been less than five minutes).


And this video:




posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 01:44 PM
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reply to post by MaximRecoil
 


Completely agree.

The fact is, there are many reports of IFOs (explained reports) where the witness describes the IFO (balloon, star, satellite, whatever) with great accuracy, they just weren't aware that what they saw is a satellite... They had never seen one like that.

Debunkers accept testimony that leads them directly to a prosaic explanation, and deem all other testimony "unreliable".

Another thought I had...
Pretend for a moment that all the unexplained UFO sightings are due to unreliable testimony: Why do the witnesses all "misidentify" the object in the same ways, over and over again? How come there are so many patterns in the data?



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 02:07 PM
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Halfswede
This is definitely one of those sayings that people often don't really think about like, "All publicity is good publicity". They are both absolute in in their claim. The phrase should be "Eyewitness testimony CAN be unreliable", but that doesn't make for (superficailly) good ammo in an argument. A good example is with size.


Exactly. It is an oversimplification fallacy / "argument by slogan".


PhoenixOD
reply to post by MaximRecoil
 




By the way, the guy in the video you posted sounded very much "under the influence" of something, probably a combination of things.


Interesting..you made this thread to try to tell us that we shouldn't call eyewitness statements unreliable


I made this thread to say what I actually said in the OP. But it is true that "we shouldn't call eyewitness statements unreliable", because some eyewitness testimony is very reliable, and nearly all eyewitness testimony is very reliable when it comes to reporting the fundamentals of the event (which is the thing that matters most in a UFO sighting) which makes the blanket statement "eyewitness testimony is unreliable" false.

The idea of eyewitness testimony being unreliable mainly comes from the criminal defense side of the legal system, where small details can be incredibly important. A couple of years ago I saw my great-uncle Rodney, who I hadn't seen in about 18 years, in the grocery store parking lot, and talked to him for about 5 minutes ... or so I thought. I later found out that I was actually talking to my great-uncle Harry (who I hadn't seen in about 25 years), Rodney's older brother, who bears a strong resemblance to Rodney and is often mistaken for him.

So, if I were testifying and the important thing to determine was who specifically I talked to in the parking lot, I would be an unreliable witness in that respect. However, if the important thing to find out was simply whether or not I talked to a human in the parking lot, or even whether or not I talked to a relative, or even specifically a great-uncle on my maternal grandmother's side, I would be a reliable witness in that respect.


but when presented with a single case where someone mis-identifies something you instantly go right to telling us his statement is unreliable because he must be on drink and drugs.


Your characterization of my posts is false. I never claimed that eyewitness testimony is 100% reliable, and it goes without saying that people who are significantly under the influence of drugs/alcohol are inherently less reliable witnesses than they would be otherwise. The guy in the video you linked to was flat-out having hallucinations, and you can tell by his speech that he wasn't "all there" at that particular moment in time. I'm not sure what your point was in posting that video; are you suggesting that the moon is mistaken for a UFO often enough that it warrants consideration in the grand scheme of things? Have you ever mistaken the moon for a UFO? Do you personally know anyone who has? Do you personally know anyone who personally knows anyone who has?

Note that even though he was clearly impaired, it only took him 2 minutes to realize his mistake, and even if he hadn't realized it right away, pretty much no one continues to confuse chemical substance-induced hallucinations for reality after they have sobered up.


zazen
James McDonald, a university physicist who interviewed several hundred UFO witnesses back in the 1960's, discussed this subject in Congressional testimony and made some good points about eyewitness testimony:


Thanks for posting that; I'd never read that before. It is interesting that he made some of the same points that I did, and also used an accident scenario as an illustration of those points.
edit on 3/22/2014 by MaximRecoil because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 03:32 PM
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AthlonSavage
reply to post by MaximRecoil
 


The debunkers have promulgated belief the every day joe is unreliable witness. What a bunch of Hokem. Ufos exist and they arnt all flow by humans.


Is that alien ufo's or just ufo's if the answer is the first one PROVE IT!



posted on Mar, 22 2014 @ 05:05 PM
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reply to post by wmd_2008
 


There is no PROOF, at least not any that is available to the public.
Just as in 1990 there was no proof of planets outside our solar system, and in the 1800s there was no proof people could fly in airplanes.

Lack of proof doesn't "prove" anything.



edit on 22-3-2014 by thesearchfortruth because: correct



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 12:42 PM
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Jefferton
No witness is reliable. The human brain is flawed, and can't be trusted.


Ans also: No radar tracks, satellite, camera and some members here are reliable and can't be trusted for their opinions and their recording data....



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 12:57 PM
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reply to post by thesearchfortruth
 


Exactly,

You said:


Debunkers accept testimony that leads them directly to a prosaic explanation, and deem all other testimony "unreliable".


If someone says I saw a UFO but I think it was a chines lantern, that's enough for a debunker to deem this expert eyewitness testimony.

If a person has an eyewitness account and they describe exactly what they saw and investigators find the witnesses credible, it doesn't matter. Every eyewitness account that doesn't conform to their pre-existing beliefs about UFO's and extraterrestrial visitation is deemed unreliable.

It's just a lie. Eyewitness accounts are very important when gathering evidence.



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 06:30 PM
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vivid1975
People have been sentenced to death via witness testimony alone. Fact.

I find it amusing how the rules don't apply to the 300,000 annual reported sightings. Funny that. Still, it won't matter soon, as its all about to change.


Quite the double standard don't ya think?

Wonder what ET might think of such a thing..."someone can "see" a crime and from that "eye-witness" account deprive a fellow Human of his life. But, IF that same man "sees" ET's craft, his account is worthless and "fraudulent" in some respect.

ET may see this as: ...something less than civilized...



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 07:41 PM
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reply to post by MaximRecoil
 



Suppose there is a car accident involving two cars which have both fled the scene, and it was witnessed by a dozen bystanders. The witness' descriptions of the drivers, types and colors of the cars, who was at fault, etc., may (and probably will) vary, and from that sort of thing we have the idea that "eyewitness testimony is unreliable". However, is there any reasonable doubt that a car accident took place? No, because when it comes to the fundamentals of an event, sincere eyewitness testimony is extremely reliable.


The fundamental difference is that people "know" what cars look like right down to the make and model. Present an ambiguous perception to the same group and you get many variations. Take the perceptions that sound more like aliens and ignore the ones that don't and you just created a myth.

Generally, with multiple witnesses, you can say that they saw something that nobody could identify, Although, some witnesses may have identified it but if we ignore them....



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 07:45 PM
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Sorry, I have to...



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 07:50 PM
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reply to post by zazen
 



James McDonald, a university physicist who interviewed several hundred UFO witnesses back in the 1960's, discussed this subject in Congressional testimony and made some good points about eyewitness testimony:



He was one of the more prominent figures of his time who argued in favor of the extraterrestrial hypothesis as a plausible, but not completely proved, model of UFO phenomena

James E McDonald

So, yes, after interviewing over 500 witnesses, he could only say that the ETH was plausible, not provable. I would imagine that many of these witnesses saw alien spaceships. so did McDonald think they were lying? Why wouldn't this "prove" aliens are here then?



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 08:24 PM
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ZetaRediculian
reply to post by MaximRecoil
 



Suppose there is a car accident involving two cars which have both fled the scene, and it was witnessed by a dozen bystanders. The witness' descriptions of the drivers, types and colors of the cars, who was at fault, etc., may (and probably will) vary, and from that sort of thing we have the idea that "eyewitness testimony is unreliable". However, is there any reasonable doubt that a car accident took place? No, because when it comes to the fundamentals of an event, sincere eyewitness testimony is extremely reliable.


The fundamental difference is that people "know" what cars look like right down to the make and model.


Insert never-before-seen concept cars, and it changes nothing.


Present an ambiguous perception to the same group and you get many variations. Take the perceptions that sound more like aliens and ignore the ones that don't and you just created a myth.

Generally, with multiple witnesses, you can say that they saw something that nobody could identify, Although, some witnesses may have identified it but if we ignore them....


The better reports involve useful fundamental details; i.e., they don't consist merely of a single sentence along the lines of "I saw something that I couldn't identify", and the attempted reduction of all UFO sightings to such a vague summary is intellectually dishonest. In the O'Hare siting for example, "United Airlines employees, ranging from pilots to supervisors" saw a "metallic, saucer-shaped craft hovering over Gate C-17" which then rapidly accelerated vertically, punching a hole in the clouds in the process.

This sighting alone proves beyond a reasonable doubt that there exists or existed at least one metallic, saucer-shaped craft on Earth which is capable of hovering and rapid vertical acceleration.
edit on 3/23/2014 by MaximRecoil because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 08:51 PM
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thesearchfortruth
Lack of proof doesn't "prove" anything.

And that is exactly why eyewitness reports are unreliable.

Has anyone ever been convicted of anything on eyewitness testimony alone?
Car crashes leave behind scrap. Murders leave bodies etc. etc.

Show me a crashed UFO and I'll believe without doubt the eyewitness testimony saying he saw it go down in flames.



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 09:26 PM
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Krahzeef_Ukhar

And that is exactly why eyewitness reports are unreliable.


Except, they are not "unreliable, full stop", and I've already explained this. If you just skip the part where you have to refute the explanation and go directly to mere gainsaying, your assertion can legitimately be dismissed out of hand.


Has anyone ever been convicted of anything on eyewitness testimony alone?


Yes, many, many times throughout global history, especially in cases of multiple eyewitnesses and/or notable eyewitnesses (such as when a cop is an eyewitness). Rape and molestation cases are frequent examples of this, especially when a complaint is made long after the fact. For example, a man in my town was convicted of molesting two neighbor girls that were sisters. It happened when they were in middle school, and they didn't even make the accusation until they were in their late teens, about 5 years after the fact. There was obviously no physical evidence; just their testimonies.


Car crashes leave behind scrap.


Not always.


Murders leave bodies etc. etc.


People have been convicted of murder without a body before.

The results of trials are beside the point though, which is, eyewitness testimony is very reliable with regard to the fundamental details of an event.



posted on Mar, 23 2014 @ 11:43 PM
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reply to post by MaximRecoil
 



Insert never-before-seen concept cars, and it changes nothing.

?? I have seen a lot of concept cars and they ALL have a car-ish look to them like with wheels and stuff. Does this concept car hover and go super fast now?


The better reports involve useful fundamental details; i.e., they don't consist merely of a single sentence along the lines of "I saw something that I couldn't identify", and the attempted reduction of all UFO sightings to such a vague summary is intellectually dishonest.

really?


In the O'Hare siting for example, "United Airlines employees, ranging from pilots to supervisors" saw a "metallic, saucer-shaped craft hovering over Gate C-17" which then rapidly accelerated vertically, punching a hole in the clouds in the process.
Is your quoted part a "summary" of what ALL the witnesses saw. Who's version? Were only the coolest testimonies compiled? Please share your source of your "intellectually honest" summation.


edit on 23-3-2014 by ZetaRediculian because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 24 2014 @ 12:25 AM
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ZetaRediculian
reply to post by MaximRecoil
 



Insert never-before-seen concept cars, and it changes nothing.

?? I have seen a lot of concept cars and they ALL have a car-ish look to them like with wheels and stuff.


A disc has an even simpler and more familiar shape than a car, i.e., a circle.


Does this concept car hover and go super fast now?


No, and this is a non sequitur. You said that people know what cars look like right down to the make and model, and by substituting never-before-seen concept cars, it negates the "right down to the make and model" part of your argument. Your argument is irrelevant however, given that a circle is an incredibly simple and familiar shape to anyone; nothing ambiguous about it at all; the same can be said for spheres, cylinders, triangles, and bell shapes. Additionally, "going super fast" and "hovering" are also very simple, familiar, and easy-to-identify actions.


really?


Yes.


Is your quoted part a "summary" of what ALL the witnesses saw. Who's version? Were only the coolest testimonies compiled? Please share your source of your "intellectually honest" summation.



All agreed the object made no noise and it was at a fixed position in the sky, just below the 1,900-foot cloud deck, until shooting off into the clouds.



All the witnesses to the O'Hare event, who included at least several pilots, said they are certain based on the disc's appearance and flight characteristics that it was not an airplane, helicopter, weather balloon or any other craft known to man.


So, they all agreed it was a disc-shaped craft, they all agreed that it hovered, they all agreed that it then shot up through the clouds, and they all agreed it was not any type of craft publicly known to man. They disagreed on the exact size of it, and they disagreed on whether it was "spinning like a Frisbee" or not.

web.archive.org...://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/columnists/chi-0701010141jan01,0,5874175.column?page=1&c oll=chi-newsnationworldiraq-hed

Edit: There doesn't seem to be any way to make that link format correctly with this forum software because it sees it as two URLs, and I don't even see a "code" option here to paste it completely as plain text.
edit on 3/24/2014 by MaximRecoil because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 24 2014 @ 01:36 AM
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reply to post by MaximRecoil
 



No, and this is a non sequitur. You said that people know what cars look like right down to the make and model, and by substituting never-before-seen concept cars, it negates the "right down to the make and model" part of your argument.
People still know what cars are. Your argument is a straw man. by substituting "never-before-seen concept cars", your hypothetical example got more hypothetical. How often are concept cars "witnessed" on the street?


Your argument is irrelevant however, given that a circle is an incredibly simple and familiar shape to anyone; nothing ambiguous about it at all;

If you have several people describing a circle, then they are probably seeing something circular. Something blurry can look circular. Circular shapes are pretty common and occur in a variety of perceptions. however, car shapes are common amongst cars, concept cars or not.


So, they all agreed it was a disc-shaped craft, they all agreed that it hovered, they all agreed that it then shot up through the clouds, and they all agreed it was not any type of craft publicly known to man. They disagreed on the exact size of it, and they disagreed on whether it was "spinning like a Frisbee" or not.



"We thought it was a balloon but we're not sure"

...Because of its small visual size...dismissed it as a bird and walked away

www.narcap.org...
I would have produced more but I cant copy and paste from the document.

Saying that they ALL agreed it was a "disc-shaped craft" is intellectually dishonest. Then there is the pilot that didn't see anything from the air and nothing seen from the control tower either.

My impression is that there was something there that was unidentified. Not convinced that anything poked a hole through the cloud at supersonic speed though. It was "metallic" but not reflective? Its an interesting case but still has some "fuzzy" ambiguity to it. There is no real solid description of it flying through the clouds although, people seem to have that impression because there was a hole. The object - not "craft" - was described as being the same color as the clouds and hard to "find and focus again". pg 139 Only one person said it was spinning.




edit on 24-3-2014 by ZetaRediculian because: (no reason given)

edit on 24-3-2014 by ZetaRediculian because: (no reason given)

edit on 24-3-2014 by ZetaRediculian because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 24 2014 @ 02:56 AM
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ZetaRediculian

Saying that they ALL agreed it was a "disc-shaped craft" is intellectually dishonest.


You're not using the term "intellectually dishonest" correctly. I quoted the news article, which said that they all agreed it was a disc-shaped craft. If you believe this is an error, take it up with the author of the article. Even if you can establish that he made an error, and that it was intentional, that would be a case of ordinary dishonesty. If it was unintentional, it would be an ordinary mistake. Intellectual dishonesty occurs in arguments/debates, when one "massages" or otherwise misrepresents information to suit their purpose; or, as Wikipedia puts it:


Intentionally committed fallacies in debates and reasoning are sometimes called intellectual dishonesty.


In your case, the fallacy was oversimplification, and it can be assumed that it was intentional because some of the "non oversimplified" information is right in my OP and other parts of the thread. In other words, when you read that witnesses saw a metallic saucer-shaped craft hovering and then rapidly accelerating vertically, and then you attempt to reduce that to "you can say that they saw something that nobody could identify", that is an intentional oversimplification for the purpose of making the reports seem drastically more vague and open to interpretation than they actually were.


My impression is that there was something there that was unidentified.


Its shape was identified, its status as a gray metallic craft was identified, and its aerial maneuvers were identified. That's a far cry from "something there that was unidentified", given that it tells us pretty much all we need to know about it aside from make, model, and owner.


Not convinced that anything poked a hole through the cloud at supersonic speed though.


That's fine, but it doesn't constitute a reasonable doubt. The witnesses said that it did just that. If you could, for example, establish that they were all drunk on the job, that would be grounds for reasonable doubt.


It was "metallic" but not reflective?


From your link, page 139:


When I looked up there it was just sitting there, a gray shiny thing pretty high up, more than 1000 feet.


"Shiny" is reflective by definition.


There is no real solid description of it flying through the clouds although, people seem to have that impression because there was a hole.


Again, from your link, page 139:


It hung there moving really slightly from side to side for about another minute when we all felt our hair stand on end, and it just shot straight up into the clouds faster than anything I've ever seen. It disturbed the clouds, like it made a big shockwave and we could see sunlight for a bit.


That is in fact a solid description of it flying through the clouds, and of its high speed.


The object - not "craft"


No, the craft (controlled flight = "craft" by definition), plus, from your link, page 6 and 7:


At about 4:30 pm witness A said that, "...he was compelled to look straight up for some reason and was startled to see the craft hovering silently."



was described as being the same color as the clouds and hard to "find and focus again". pg 139


He said almost the same color as the clouds.


Only one person said it was spinning.


From the Chicago Tribune article:


Some said it looked like a rotating Frisbee, while others said it did not appear to be spinning.


But either way, whether or not it was spinning is not a critical detail.
edit on 3/24/2014 by MaximRecoil because: (no reason given)




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