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What is "reality" for one person is not necessary the same for another.

maht91's picture

 I really enjoyed watching The Thin Blue Line. I think it brings out a lot of good points about truth, reality, and facts in any court case and how the "reality" for one person might be a "lie" for another person. The first thing I noticed is how the testimonies of witnesses are not always reliable because many of the people who testified seeing the face of the person who was driving had doubts about what they saw. One lady said that it was dark and foggy and she was not sure if she actually saw Adam's face or rather hair. This relates back to Shields in terms of memory fooling you, as Shields said: "When memory is called to answer, it often answers back with deception." This is a strong statement suggesting that the testimonies of the witnesses should not be taken as a reliable source of "facts" since the witnesses themselves did change their stories two times or so. Another witness also suggested that Adam "in court he sure looked different" from what he saw passing in his car. He also added that "no one has perfect sight." I think it is absurd how one of the officials said that "We had to rely on witnesses" which, combined with memory testimonies, make me doubt the decision they made about Adam. 

 What is truth or reality: Adam and Harris both said different facts. They mentioned different names, places, events sequences, and specifically times "everything was two hours later." Who's testimony was truthful, was real! How can you decide, since again as Shields said "Anything processed by memory is fiction," that either testimony is true? 

 They used hypnosis with the woman police officer and after the hypnosis, she remembered something different. Then how reliable is her previous and new testimony. They (the officers) made her change her testimony. The woman police officer was in panic, as they said that she did not even follow the right procedure, so in my opinion, I think she would have a distorted memory. Also, with the officers pressuring her to remember, she might have said different things than what actually happened. They do even do say in the documentary, "she goes in saying one thing, she comes out saying something else." 

 Going back to the definition of documentary, the World English Dictionary defines documentary as: "presenting factual material with little or no fictional additions." It is true that the Thin Blue Line presented the facts of the case, but the testimonies of the witnesses and Harris were not factual . This makes me think that how inside a documentary, individual testimonies could be not factual. 

 The last testimony of Harris kind of scared me. It just made me discredit people's testimonies in courts. Harris said something along the lines of: you should have believed Adam was he said he was innocent...I hoped the police officers will believe me...I blamed Adam, the police did not blame Adam...I wanted the police officers to believe what I wanted. Also, when he said: "I am going to stop bragging. I did not do it, but I witnessed who did it. I am going to tell you what really happened." Combining what he said in the beginning of the testimony and his last testimony, I am confused as to what to believe. However, it was clear during his last testimony that Adam was not guilty. I was confused throughout his testimonies. I trusted Adam more though because of the way he presented his case and the consistency of his narration. 


rachelr's picture

back to psychology

 I too am always struck by the discrepancy between different individuals' accounts of the same events, no matter how many 48 Hour Mysteries, Law & Orders, and movies that I watch. And how many of us have trouble identifying our first memories as children? I still struggle to decide if I can actually remember my grandmother putting me into my parents' car and giving me a present for every hour of the car trip when we moved from VA to NJ, or if that is just a false memory from the stories my parents told me and the photographs I have seen. 

And the fact that we can convince ourselves of the validity of something AND that others can convince us is both amazing and terrifying. It all ties into Inception- that was part of the brilliance of the movie. It was in a way completely plausible, and left you sitting in the theater as the lights came on, questioning reality. 

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