Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Court-ordered coffee for witnesses?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-10-25


Many would say having to be a witness in court can lead to anxiety, and sometimes sleeplessness the night before.  A recent PLoS paper (Diekelmann S, Landolt H-P, Lahl O, Born J, Wagner U (2008) Sleep Loss Produces False Memories. PLoS ONE 3(10): e3512. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003512) contains a by-the-way factoid that suggests maybe witnesses should be force-fed coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cola – and, being facetious, that weirdos who don’t take caffeine (like mormons) are unreliable witnesses.  (Bolding in the quote is mine).

Sleep deprivation at retrieval, but not sleep following learning, critically enhanced false memories of theme words. This effect was abolished by caffeine administration prior to retrieval.

Ok, ok, ok… my tongue is almost putting stretchmarks in my cheek, and while courts might not be justified shoving caffeine down every witness’ throat as a precautionary measure, it does suggest that it might be useful to ensure decent coffee is available inside court buildings, and provided free to witnesses.

But none of it would be decaf!

The only problem is… half way through giving evidence, witnesses are more likely to say "Aaaah, sorry, your honor, but all of a sudden I’m busting for a leak!"

Mind you, I’ve gotta wonder how long it will be before a lawyer, casting doubt on what a witness says, comes out with "But are you sure?  You’ve been in this court for a few hours without a coffee break, so you could well be mistaken!"


See Also / Notes

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Court-ordered coffee for witnesses?”

  1. Tee hee, I love it. Certainly I always used to make sure I had a coffee before going into court, despite the adverse possible effects on the bladder. But that was more to keep myself awake! :)

  2. […] Dave over at Balneus alerted me to an interesting article which looks at sleep deprivation and false memories. In passing, the article says: Sleep deprivation at retrieval, but not sleep following learning, critically enhanced false memories of theme words. This effect was abolished by caffeine administration prior to retrieval. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: