Science behind False Confessions

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In summary, the tester found a race condition in the developer's code and the developer fixed it. The tester was typing furiously while thinking of a joke and boom, the code broke again. A day later, the new design fixed it. No customer was harmed that day.
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  • #2
As a software engineer, I often need to elicit information from others: Requirements, technical specs, how something failed, etc.
Sometimes it's easy. More often it is not. Even the most careful, cooperative conversation can be misleading. The fact that the Reid Technique is used by law enforcement to collect such critical information is scary.
The best confessions are the ones that reveal "guilty information" - information that is to available to people not involved in the crime.

The Science Mag story talks about tracking down a potential problem with a computer crash. I have certainly been there. It is possible for some people to accurately reproduce exactly what they have mistakenly done (assuming they ever discovered it), but it's not common. In the best of cases, the person can, through experimentation, reproduce the problem. But failing that, the best I can do is understand and capture exactly what they are saying and know that in all probability, what they are saying is basically substantive - but from the point of view of someone that was caught off guard by the situation.
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  • #3
I got to see first hand a pro tester and developer duke it out in a friendly way.

The tester found a race condition when keys were hit in a certain order. The developer confidently fixed it but the tester typed a little faster and it occurred again.

The last battle before it was finally fixed.

The developer brought in his code and the tester was typing furiously think ” Flight of the Bumblebee “ and after a few minutes boom it broke again.

A day later and a new design fixed it once and for all never to reappear.

No customer was harmed that day but the tester and and developer found great reasons to really respect each others profession.

The tester moved on to become a manager of managers and the developer moved on to other software ventures.

1. What is the science behind false confessions?

The science behind false confessions is a complex and multi-faceted topic that involves the intersection of psychology, sociology, and the legal system. It refers to the study of why innocent individuals sometimes confess to crimes they did not commit, and the various factors that can influence the likelihood of a false confession.

2. What are some common reasons for false confessions?

There are several reasons why an innocent person may falsely confess to a crime. These include police pressure or coercion, the desire to end a stressful or uncomfortable interrogation, mental health issues, or a lack of understanding about the consequences of confessing.

3. How prevalent are false confessions?

The exact prevalence of false confessions is difficult to determine, as it is often underreported and can be difficult to identify. However, studies estimate that false confessions occur in 15-25% of wrongful conviction cases in the United States.

4. What are the potential consequences of a false confession?

The consequences of a false confession can be severe for the individual who falsely confesses. They may face criminal charges, imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record. In some cases, they may even be sentenced to death. Additionally, the real perpetrator may still be free and able to commit more crimes.

5. How can science help prevent false confessions?

Scientists and researchers continue to study the phenomenon of false confessions in order to better understand the underlying factors and develop ways to prevent them. This may include implementing better interrogation techniques, providing education and awareness to law enforcement and legal professionals, and improving the use of forensic evidence in criminal investigations.

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