Friday Distraction 5.6.11: Marisa Tomei on Automotive Care

*This post ought to pump up the ‘ol Burque Babble page views…

As regular readers know, my classroom explores the world of “mock trial” quite a bit.  Every May we head over to the UNM School o’ Law and conduct some “trials” involving very well-dressed, highly nervous 7th and 8th graders.  It’s kind of a big deal in our own little, little world.

Anyway, we’re always looking to make the world of “mock” as “real” as possible, and this year we’re going to teach kids about the process of conducting voir dire on expert witnesses.

As you can see/read here, this is kinda complicated.  That’s where Hollywood comes in.  The movie that made Marisa Tomei a star, “My Cousin Vinnie”, has an example of voir dire that is close enough to reality for our purposes.  It also tells kids that if their acting is good enough as a witness they can win an Academy Award.

Marisa Tomei did..pretty much for this. (Note: there’s a tiny bit of NFSW here…I kill the sound for a second or two in class, mostly at the correct juncture.)

Have a good weekend, everybody.

*Not that Burque Babble cares in anyway whatsoever about page views, popularity or anything.


One thought on “Friday Distraction 5.6.11: Marisa Tomei on Automotive Care

  1. “… an example of voir dire that is close enough to reality for our purposes.”

    That says something truly appalling about either your purposes or your beliefs.

    We’ve got a problem with epistemology in this country. From the birthers to the climate science deniers to the anti-evolutionists, we’ve got a lot of people who can’t tell fact from fiction. Far too many Americans – perhaps 50%, or even more – are simply unable to rationally evaluate the truth of a claim.

    Part of this pervasive ignorance and stupidity involves evaluating expertise. The story of the “Climategate” emails is a story of people who seized on a few phrases taken out of contact (hide the decline!!!) and misinterpreted to support a belief in the inauthenticity of experts. Similarly, young earth creationists are always going on about why biologists can’t be believed. On the other side we have people who still believe in the truth of Colin Powell’s claims to the UN about Iraq’s wmds, based on his expertise and special knowledge, despite the repeated refutations over the years.

    Trials are, of course, one formal method of socially constructing knowledge. The whole point of a trial is to determine whether certain specific facts exist. That’s what juries (and judges acting in place of juries, where allowed) do: they find facts.

    One of the pervasive and pernicious American myths about epistemology, about fact finding, is that it involves the “Gotcha!” question or answer (see, e.g. Climategate, supra). It’s a myth enshrined in our hero stories. Perry Mason was famous for the Gotcha! witness, as was Ironsides a few decades later. Maybe it goes back to Portia and Shylock, I don’t know.

    That’s the myth your film clip celebrates, endorses, and re-inscribes (I don’t know whether it’s representative of the movie – I haven’t seen the movie).

    It’s a truly bad way to figure out what’s true. Figuring out what’s true is a very important life skill, whether as a juror, a voter, or worker. And if your purpose is not to help your students figure out what’s true, you’re doin it rong.

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