an inconsistent statement by
indicative of unreliability, a consistent statement by itself is NOT
of reliability. And while consistent or inconsistent
are very important, the context in which the statements are made is
important -- absolutely important.
In the November 1998 issue of Psychological Science, in which Memory for Nonevents was a focus, Charles J. Brainerd and V.F. Reyna's article, "When Things That Were Never Experienced Are Easier to `Remember' Than Things That Were" appeared.
Under that provocative title, the University of Arizona authors reported "research on two issues that are often central to the credibility of witnesses' testimony in abuse cases: (1) whether inconsistent testimony is more apt to be false than consistent testimony and (2) whether neutral interviews that are not infected by suggestive questioning may nevertheless induce false memories in children." Brainerd, in email to Johnson (Jan. 10, 1999).
That same article "details three specific conditions that may be the factors that lead to high rates of memory falsification in psycholotherapy and police interviews. It is my belief that the presence of these factors should be explored by both plaintiffs' and defendants' attorneys in connection with testimonial evidence in abuse cases." Brainerd, in email-2 to Johnson (Jan. 10, 1999).
between "therapy" by social workers and "therapy" by psychologists
In a chapter in a book to be published shortly, Brainerd and colleagues detailed "some of the principal ways in which modern memory research challenges four basic assumptions that the courts make about memory." Id..
". . . the scientific evidence supports the claim about the potential unreliability of consistent testimony BUT it challenges the claim that inconsistent testimony has an inherently higher probability of being false," Brainerd clarified. "I've worked on some very interesting cases where the validity of these claims was crucial," he added, "In all instances, it was difficult to get the scientific data into testimony because (naturally) opposing counsel argued that such data infringed on the jury's consistutional responsibility to judge credibility rather than going to the issue of reliability of evidence."