20  Mind, Memory and Justice


How good is your memory? If you had seen a crime being committed, would you make a good witness in trial?

Explain to students that for many people, the best kind of evidence is that which you have ‘seen for yourself’. But can you believe your own eyes?


Show students the TEDx talk by Elizabeth Loftus at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmkzwxdula4

You can show the whole talk if you have time or just from 0’05” to 6’18” and from 14’22” to 18’20”.

Ask the students to respond to such questions as:


Show students http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html and stop the film after 56 seconds when the information about the gorilla is revealed. Then ask the students:

Then play the rest of the film. Ask the students to respond to such questions as:


Suggest to students that they try keeping a diary in the coming week. Can they write down observations in an honest, unbiased way? Advise them to try to record the actual emotions they were feeling at the time of events that occur, no matter how positive or negative. Challenge them to do this before the passing of time allows the subconscious to ‘tweak’ those feelings.

At the start of the next session, ask students how successful they think they have been in this exercise and to offer some reflections on the experience.

A printable (pdf) version of this session can be found here

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