Eyewitness Testimony

From Ben Goldacre’s excellent ‘Bad Science’ column for the Guardian a while back:

“Some researchers in Bologna demonstrate the spectacular hopelessness of memory. One morning in 1980, a bomb exploded in Bologna station: 85 people died, and the clock stopped ominously showing 10.25, the time of the explosion. This image became a famous symbol for the event, but the clock was repaired soon after, and worked perfectly for the next 16 years. When it broke again in 1996, it was decided to leave the clock showing 10.25 permanently, as a memorial. The researchers asked 180 people familiar with the station, or working there, with an average age of 55, about the clock: 173 knew it was stopped, and 160 said it always had been, ever since 1980. What’s more, 127 claimed they had always seen it stuck on 10.25, ever since the explosion, including – fairly excellently – all 21 railway employees. In a similar study published last year, 40% of 150 UK participants claimed to remember seeing closed circuit television footage of the moment of the explosion on the bus in Tavistock Square on July 7th 2005. No such footage exists”.

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