The Nature Of Memory And How On The Existence Of Human Memory

1665 Words Nov 21st, 2016 7 Pages
Witness testimonies are often unreliable due to the nature of human memory. For this discussion, 'testimony ' will be used loosely to represent a statement, written or spoken, made by any person claiming to have seen or experienced anything relating to their respective case. The chosen scope for this discussion is cases of sexual assault because very often in such cases the only evidence presented is a testimony, either by the victim or a witness. Aside from the aforementioned, DNA evidence has been used very frequently in sexual assault cases, however, the only fact that DNA evidence can prove is that some sort of sexual activity took place. In cases where the act itself is not illegal, for instance when both parties are fully capable legal adults, the issue of consent can only be settled with witness or victim testimonies. That is, of course, provided that video evidence is not presented, which it often is not and will therefore not be discussed. This paper will address the nature of memory and how that leads to unreliable testimonies using Canadian cases of sexual assault as examples, as well as the repercussions of unreliable testimonies.

Frederic Bartlett coined the theory of constructive memory. In short, the theory suggests that memory is not a direct recording of the events that can later be accessed for an accurate representation of what transpired. Rather, human memory is constructed, as the name would suggest. Only certain key moments are ever transcribed…

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