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The Rashomon Effect Refers To Conflicting Accounts Of The Same Event

The Rashomon Effect is the phenomenon of different people having contradictory accounts of the same event. It's named after Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon, in which a samurai has been mysteriously killed. Four characters give conflicting reports of what happened: the samurai's wife says she was raped by a bandit, fainted, then awoke to find the samurai dead; the bandit says he seduced the wife and then fought the samurai to an honorable death; the woodcutter says he witnessed the rape and murder but stayed out of it; and the dead samurai's ghost says that he killed himself. The true question of Rashomon isn't whose account is correct, however. Instead, it forces audiences to ask if there even is a correct version of events. While a real-world crime would certainly have a single true explanation—despite the frequency of conflicting eyewitness accounts—this question sometimes pops up in the science of quantum mechanics. In that scientific realm, tiny particles behave in different ways depending on how and whether they're being observed, leading to the possibility that a quantum event happens in multiple ways at once. Explore the many facets of the Rashomon Effect with the videos below.


Is Eyewitness Testimony Reliable?

How much trust should we put in the witnesses of a crime?

Quantum Mechanics Explained

Physicist Brian Cox gives a simple explanation of complex science.

Top 10 Kurosawa Films

The best films by the legendary filmmaker.

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