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    IDENTIFICATION BY RECOGNITION.—In a pamphlet called “Mistaken Identity”(London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1925, 6d. net), Mr. Clifford Sully discusses the psychology of recognition. A recent famous case has demonstrated only too clearly that to identify a person as a particular person is neither an easy nor a trustworthy process. Because we so frequently in ordinary life see people in their usual setting, we fail to realise how little we actually observe at the moment, as against the amount we bring to bear from memories of previous occasions. Perception and accurate observation are not the simple processes they are rashly assumed to be, nor can honesty of purpose guarantee accuracy of observation. Reference to any text-book of psychology will give the reader evidence of the complicated and personal nature of ordinary perceptions, and this can be easily demonstrated by studying some of the well-known illusions. If errors are frequently made when the mind is critical and unperturbed, how much more likely are they to be made when emotion forms the background, which would naturally be the case in connexion with police trials. Complicate the problem still further with the effect of the newspapers on witnesses, and we have a state of affairs when the probability of unbiassed judgment is exceedingly low. No experimental psychologist would accept evidence given under such conditions, and yet it forms no insignificant part of police court evidence. Nor is a feeling of certainty any proof of the truth of the judgment. The author pleads that more attention should be paid to the psychology of human testimony.

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