“Exactly one hundred years ago, Hugo Munsterberg, William James’s hand-picked successor as the director of Harvard’s Psychology Laboratory, rattled the gates of the criminal justice system, and announced that the social sciences wanted in.”
Indeed. And one hundred years later, the battle still rages.
We’ll be attending the “Off the Witness Stand Conference” at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which runs Thursday through Saturday. The conference is named for Dr. Munsterberg’s collection of essays, “On the Witness Stand,” which urged the courts to open their doors to a plethora of social science findings that cast serious doubt on assumptions commonly relied on in criminal proceedings.
Our hope is to provide semi-live blogs from the road, with reports on what looks like a great collection of presentations from a long list of heavy-hitting psychologists and lawyers with their fingers on the pulse of the intersection of the social sciences and the law, with significant focus on eyewitness issues. Scheduled speakers include Janet Reno, Steven Penrod, Gary Wells, James Doyle, Saul Kassin, Tim O’Toole, and many others. If you can’t make the conference, check back here for updates.
The conference agenda is here (PDF).