Aug. 23, 2013

“Developing a mental tuning fork for the credibility of a claim, gaining an instinct for when to trust and when to doubt a source – these are two critical components of becoming a confident and effective researcher.”

 From “The Devil in the Details: Media Representation of ‘Ritual Abuse’ and Evaluation of Sources” by Barbara Fister in Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education (May 2003

Although Fister’s observation addresses the challenge of fact-finding on the Internet, it applies just as well to the interviewing of child witnesses. The poorly prepared Little Rascals prosecution therapists – and social services investigators – surely had an overabundance of confidence in their “mental tuning forks” and their “instinct for when to trust and when to doubt.” By contrast, social scientists such as Ceci and Bruck proceed with caution, not credulity.