Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

November 25, 2014

How confirmatory bias taints the law – a must read for all attorneys


There is a concept in psychology and psychiatry termed confirmatory bias, which often adversely influences the judgment of officers, attorneys, judges, and juries, resulting in biased, unfair or unlawful arrests, decisions and convictions. It is the unfortunate human tendency for each individual to become part of a position, to hold that position regardless and to hear only that which supports that position, a phenomenon known as “confirmatory bias”. Dr. Richard Rappaport, a nationally renowned member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law concluded in an editorial in a leading Journal for the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, in 2006, that AZ, a civil rights activist, had been abused by the courts and police due to this principle, when they falsely labeled her as psychotic and treated her as an escaped mental patient, disregarding everything she said, withholding medication needed for medical illnesses that threatened her life, and even beat her.[1] In the 2013 murder trial of David Camm, the defense argued that Camm was charged for the murders of his wife and two children solely because of confirmation bias within the investigation.[2] Confirmatory bias is pervasive in law. It is an area which is ripe for increased efforts to recognize it, as well as for legislation and rules that incorporate methods to reduce it.  To see the rest of this article click here: HOW CONFIRMATORY BIAS TAINTS THE LAW

[1] Editorial:  Losing Your Rights: Complications of Misdiagnosis,  written by Dr. Richard Rappaport, J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 34:436-8, 2006

[2] “David Camm Blog: Investigation under fire”. WDRB. October 10, 2013.

 

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