A brief history of skepticism

EyeID has a fantastic follow-up post to the post discussing the Judge Hoffman editorial, entitled “Stages of denial: The numbers are on our side too“. You must read it. It traces the history of skepticism of wrongful convictions and the shifting arguments employed to counter the growing evidence that wrongful convictions do occur. Here’s a brief glimpse:

In the pre-DNA era, they disdainfully dismissed works like the Radelet study — a pre-DNA study that concluded that 23 innocent capital defendants had been executed in the past 85 years — pointing to its supposed flaws such as its reliance on “one-sided” materials like newspaper articles.Then the DNA exonerations came. And it was good. But not enough for the skeptics. At that point, it obviously became impossible for any rational person to deny that the criminal justice system convicted the wrong person. But when reformers then began to demand that the system take simple steps to fix what was now an identified and undeniable problem — by, for example, reforming demonstrable problems in eyewitness identification procedures — the skeptics began to question the scope of the problem, now demanding that reformers not only demonstrate the existence of the problem and its causes, but also its precise scope.

Read the whole post. Absolutely terrific! Bravo! What a blog!

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