May 5, 2016
“Psychologists have long recognized that human memory is highly fallible. Hugo Münsterberg taught in one of the first American psychology departments, at Harvard. In a 1908 book called ‘On the Witness Stand,’ he argued that, because people could not know when their memories had deceived them, the legal system’s safeguards against lying – oaths, penalties for perjury, and so on – were ineffective.
“He expected that teachers, doctors, and politicians would all be eager to reform their fields. ‘The lawyer alone is obdurate,’ Münsterberg wrote.”
– From “Recognition: How a travesty led to criminal-justice innovation in Texas” by Paul Kix in the New Yorker (Jan. 18)
Dr. Munsterberg saw clearly the stubbornness of lawyers, even if he may have overestimated the open-mindedness of those other callings.