September 27, 2004

American Amnesia interviews Errol Morris. A fascinating discussion of how unwilling we are to change our negative opinions when new information about the past surfaces.

As those of you familiar with his work might expect, Morris uses the example of David Ray Harris, a man executed in Texas in 1985 for murder (during a botched kidnapping). Harris is, however, far more famous for allegedly killing a traffic policeman. Morris in his acclaimed 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line argued that Harris was innocent of the latter crime, going as far as to obtain a confession from the real killer on tape, but the court, and most Texas policemen, still considered Harris guilty. The meat of the interview concerns his more recent work, The Fog of War (official site), a retrospective on former SecDef Robert S. McNamara that shines some positive light on a pretty uniformly hated figure.

  • Correction: Harris was executed in 2004; he committed the crime in 1985.
  • Yay, a total dud!
  • Start of the week's always quiet. I for one have been busy; haven't had time to read any links.
  • I like the site.
  • Start of the week is also stressful - I would like to read the links, but mostly only have time to glance by before I go on with my reams of reading. This seems fascinating, though, and I hope to come back to it.
  • Don't worry, lots of good and interesting links don't garner large amounts of comments. Even at that other site where the users "play in the big leagues" (aka MeFi). Don't take it personally.
  • I'm currently reading a book called "Why Smart People can be so stupid". Very similar ground.
  • Is it any good? It's been on my reading list because of some of the authors, particularly Ozlem Ayduk. I attended a fascinating seminar she gave on the cognitive basis of emotions when I was interning in Berkeley a few summers back.