Did you see that?
You might remember this dress when it's picture first appeared in february of 2015. The debate about whether the colour was white and gold or black and blue has kept a lot of people wondering. How could someone else see different colours for the same dress than you did? It turned out to be dependent on the lighting conditions and the optical illusion our brain delivers. That our senses, in this case specifically our eyesight, can deceive us, is not something that should come as a surprise.
Another fine example of this is when we set our focus on to something and forget about the events taking place in our surrounding. At SimonsLab you can take a selective attention test. We won't spoil the fun here, so watch the video closely!
While such an expirement is remarkable, it is completely innocent. But what happens when you are confronted with criminal actions, suspects and a statement by a witness? How certain can we rely on our basic senses in such a situation? Well, it's not getting any better. In 1902 Franz von Liszt (a German jurist, criminologist and international law reformer) did an experiment during a lecture, where he was shot when he tried to intervene in an argument that got out of hand between two students. The whole scene was a set up. All the other students were taken outside and their experience of the crime scene was noted. The results were shocking: 88% were wrong on the details and even the best witness were 25% of.
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