Backwards and forwards

 

 

 

 

 

A modern approach to interviewing witnesses of crimes may make things worse: “People love to tell tales. Indeed, even when someone’s memory is patchy, he will still do his best to spin the information he has into a credible yarn. This is not a matter of deceit. Rather, it is an established psychological phenomenon in which the brain tries to make sense of fragmentary information. Although such behaviour is natural and normal, it is a nuisance for the forces of law and order when they are trying to find out what happened during an incident by taking statements from witnesses. For this reason, psychologists working with the police often advocate asking witnesses of crimes to say what they saw in reverse order, to stop them making things up to help the story run smoothly. It sounds like sensible advice, and police forces in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and Sweden have all adopted it. But a new study suggests that far from improving recall, it makes things worse.” (via The Economist.