The women who had been actually assaulted were later interviewed by the police, but I was not. Had I been, my information would have been quite useless, in spite of the singularity and vividness of those few moments. I could not recreate anything more than a generic description of any of the four young men, nor describe their clothes. I think I could've picked out the gun if there was such a thing as a gun lineup, but that is about it. I learned later that my colleagues and I did not even agree on the number of young men.That's pretty typical. Because so much of what we "see" is actually generated from our memory - as opposed to depicted like a camera shot through the eyeballs - eyewitnesses are much more reliable identifying people they knew previously than in situations like Carl's involving strangers.
BTW, the headline was in jest; love ya, Carl! ;)
See related Grits posts:
- How much do eyewitnesses really see?
- Eyewitnesses and the 'feeling of knowing'
- Eyewitnesses in staged test only 8% accurate
- More on the fallibility of eyewitness testimony
- Eyewitnesses miss big changes in their environment, like the person in front of them
- Study: 88% of police and sheriffs have no written policy on eyewitness ID procedures, even fewer follow best practices