Julia Manor: September 2011 Archives

Executing the Wrong Man?

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troy_davis11-04-2008.jpgThe recent execution of Troy Davis, an African American man convicted of murdering a police officer, brings into question the accuracy and procedures of our current justice system. Our justice system bases its convictions on expert and eye-witness testimony rather than on empirical data.

In the case of Troy Davis, his conviction and subsequent execution were based almost entirely on eye-witness testimony. Unfortunately for Troy Davis, Psychology has long known the fallibility of eye-witness testimony. Eye-witness testimony can be swayed by subtle cues from interrogators, the way the line-ups were presented, and subsequent discussions and recall of the events.

It has been reported in the news media that in the case of Troy Davis that the eye-witness accounts were subject to all kinds of problems that could easily have altered people's memory of the event. For example, it was reported that police placed wanted posters of Troy Davis in the neighborhood, cued witnesses as to who they expected the witness to pick from the line-up, and creating a mock-up of the event. These factors could have easily produced false memories of Troy Davis' role in the shooting of the police officer. Out of the nine eye-witnesses who identified Troy Davis as the killer, seven individuals have subsequently retracted their testimony. They are no longer confident that he was the real killer.

How can we execute a man based solely on eye-witness testimony when we know that such testimony can be so flawed? What if we just killed the wrong man? Perhaps, we should rethink how our justice system uses information to convict individuals. I believe we should focus more on verifiable evidence and focus less on eye-witness testimony which is so often intrinsically flawed.

For some good news articles on the Troy Davis case (and my inspiration for writing this post) check out CNN and Slate News.

For a good review of our knowledge of eyewitness testimony and its flaws see this article.

Blog It

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Welcome class! This is your new blog site.

You can find more specifics about your assignment in your syllabus, but I wanted to point out a few things that make a good blog post.

1. Pick a good topic that is relevant to Psychology. Make sure you clearly show in your post how it is relevant to Psychology.

2. Connect it to every day life. This could be your own life or another person's life.
Blog Cartoon.jpg
3. Be creative in your posts. You are encouraged to include media (photos, videos, and links) to improve the quality and content of your post (and to make it eye catching!).

4. Read each other's blogs. Commenting on each other's blogs is strongly encouraged. This is particularly true if you are writing on the same topic.

5. Use appropriate writing mechanics and styles to clearly communicate your topic and points.

Thanks to Jhon Wlashin for ideas on the key points for blogs (see his tips here).

You can also check out more tips on good blogging by reading:
The 4 pillars of exceptional blogs

For Topics (from your syllabus):
1) Identify one important concept, research finding, theory or idea from Psy 1001 lectures or the Lilienfeld text from the past two weeks. Summarize the concept in your own words and explain why you believe this concept research finding, theory or idea is important. Apply this to some aspect of your life (real life example are an excellent way to learn. Photos, You-tube videos, etc. are encouraged.) As you reflect on this concept, research finding, theory or other idea, what other questions occur to you? What are you still wondering about?

2) Provide a link to an article, hoax or claim that has been made in the media and evaluate the claim using one or more of the six principles of critical thinking. (You can find a rich source of urban legends at Snopes.com.)

Apply a concept, research finding, theory or idea that you have learned about in Psychology to provide an alternative explanation. Which principle is most useful for evaluating this particular claim? Remember to cite your sources.

3) If you can think of a different explanation or want to support something one of your classmates has posted, you can respond to a classmates post with a post of your own. Be sure to provide evidence to support your response.

Good luck and have fun!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Julia Manor in September 2011.

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