Ear-witness testimony is unreliable…

You heard me correctly, ear-witness testimony.  I know you are familiar with eye-witness testimony.  That is when you see something and as a witness to what you saw testify to your recollection.  You do this under oath and swear what you saw is accurate and true, so help you God.  But do you have a good memory?  Can your memory be influenced?

Based on my  experience in interviewing and interrogating thousands of people I can tell you that people have a very hard time remembering things.  Our brains are fascinating and break up your memories in to three categories: visual (what you saw), auditory (what you heard) and kinesthetic (what you felt).

When you experience something, such as a car accident, you will recall that memory with a distinct picture or short movie clip of the event; will typically remember a short sound clip (maybe what you said or the sound of the tires screeching or the car crashing) and a specific feeling of the event.  It is very rare for you to have a clear movie of the event (with all the audio and feeling) after time has passed and the memory is stored long term.

It is because of this memory process that the large majority of people give unreliable and often inaccurate testimonies when recalling an event that they witnessed.  What most often happens is they are testifying to what they experienced  up to a year or more after it happened.  Before they get to testify they are interviewed and sometimes interrogated by the police and attorneys who have forced them to commit to an exact version of the event.

When it comes time to tell your story under oath you are in performance mode.  You know your script, you know how to answer questions and you remember the version of the story that you have solidified in your head by telling it so many times.  It is very similar to memorizing the words to a song or watching a movie enough that you know what will happen next.

Now let’s erase that movie from your brain and just leave the audio.   Could you remember what you heard?  I’m confident that like memorizing the words to a song you could remember what you told the police or the attorneys, but could you remember what you really heard?  My contention is that ear-witness testimony is not only unreliable, but more unreliable than eye-witness testimony.  The obvious reason is that you have taken out a major segment of your memory.  When doing so, the visual memory remains, but is replaced with your constructed visual memory based on what your brain imagined.  This is very similar to reading a book and imagining the visual images of the characters in the scene.  For each reader this visual image is unique and can impact your auditory memory.

Hopefully you found this interesting and are curious of how this relates to your life.  This concept is very relevant when it comes to identifying deception.  In my book, Is He Lying To You?, I provide over 101 examples of deceptive behaviors divided into visual and auditory examples. This book has been highly praised and last month became a bestseller.  Check out a recent review of this book.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, “how will I know if someone is lying to me when I can’t see them?”  Instead of providing a brief answer here, I wrote a fantastic e-book that covers this topic in great detail.  Check out, The Faceless Liar -Is He Lying To You On The Phone, E-mail, Text, or Chat?

To learn more about me and my various programs, check out my website.