Opinion: Convictions based on the pseudoscience of hypnosis allow for the miscarriage of justice

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 19, 2020

Holly Bowen, assistant psychology professor at SMU Dallas who specializes in memory issues, for a piece challenging the legitimacy of testimony from interviews conducted while the subject is under hypnosis.

Since the inception of criminal investigations, the techniques and procedures used in these inquests have been plagued by pseudoscientific claims.

From spectral evidence allowed at the Salem witch trials and phrenologists interpreting bumps on the skulls of criminals, to modern-day polygraphs to detect lying and hypnosis to unlock repressed or forgotten memories, the justice system, and ultimately people’s lives, have too often been dictated by “junk” science.

While spectral evidence, phrenology and polygraphs are no longer admissible in court cases, hypnosis continues to be used by law enforcement. A recent yearlong exploration by The Dallas Morning News detailed how hypnosis is used in Texas courts and highlighted the case of Charles Don Flores, who was convicted and sits on death row after the key eyewitness “remembered” seeing him at the scene of the crime only after undergoing hypnosis. Flores could be executed unless his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is approved and his 1998 conviction overturned. The ability to use testimony collected under hypnosis would be on trial, too. READ MORE

By | 2020-09-21T19:17:21-07:00 September 22nd, 2020|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Faculty News, Psychology|Comments Off on Opinion: Convictions based on the pseudoscience of hypnosis allow for the miscarriage of justice