If a tree falls in the forest but no one from the liberal media is there to blame Bush, then how did the Yankees do last night?
Sorry. The WaPo has a laugh-out-loud attempt to evaluate the Zimmerman 911 'Scream' tape which includes this headscratcher:
If you can’t hear the 45 seconds, how do you hear the 45 seconds?
Nobody can really hear anything on that tape, it's too loud. But you can observe a lot just by watching, so maybe Yogi Berra can take over the prosecution.
Legal experts say the recording could be enormously important or disastrous for either side, depending on what a jury determines it can hear.
But what happens when a potentially crucial piece of evidence in one of the most explosive court cases in recent memory is a poor-quality recording of overlapping voices and unintelligible yells, essentially a wilderness of sound?
I think that expert testimony will confirm a juror's common sense - if the background screaming on the tape is unintelligible (my experience) and we don't have samples of Zimmerman, Martin and the 13 year old dogwalker screaming (we don't) then any attempt to draw a conclusion from that tape is unreasonable speculation and should not be admissible. The FBI experts brought in by the state prosecutors couldn't draw any conclusions, and plenty of voice experts explain why at their websites.
The WaPo finds one expert who hears Martin begging for his life. No scenario leading up to that is suggested; given Zimmerman's injuries I guess the theory would be that Zimmerman let Martin beat him for a while, then drew his gun, taunted him for nearly a minute, and executed him. I don't think that timing works with what witness 'John' saw (Zimmerman on bottom getting beaten ad screaming for help, and a gunshot very shortly thereafter), but who knows?
The WaPo also talks with the former head of the FBI audio lab:
Ryan is the retired head of the FBI forensic audio, video and image analysis unit. He said even the best audio forensic expert in the world using the most sophisticated equipment available would have a difficult time determining much at all from a recording of such degraded quality.
“I think it’s hard to scientifically say anything definitive with audio like this,” Ryan said. “. . . One person will come up with one scenario, one speech, one sentence, and some other well-meaning person, trying hard, unbiased in a controlled environment with headphones, will come up with another one.”
Ryan also questioned the basic idea that the age of the person or persons screaming during the 45 seconds — and thus whether it was 17-year-old Martin or 28-year-old Zimmerman or both — can be determined by measuring frequency, or pitch.
“To my knowledge, there are no scientific studies of pitch as an indicator or anything else in a scream that would give someone confidence to say how old somebody was,” Ryan said.
When it comes to emotionally charged situations, especially a life-or death situation, the range of the human voice is simply too wide and varied to correlate it accurately to age, Ryan said.
A 28-year-old might scream like a 17-year old. A 17-year old might yell like a 28-year-old.
“The science doesn’t help with a recording like this,” Ryan said. “There isn’t anything to hang your hat on.”
The WaPo concludes with a bit of broadly applicable wisdom:
Ultimately, the only answer to that question that will really matter, if the case goes to trial, is the jury’s. How it hears the 45 seconds, said Stephen A. Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University, will depend partly on the machinations and strategies deployed during the trial.
“Most trial lawyers believe, and most psychologists who study the way that people process information believe, that once people interpret something in a certain way, once they begin to believe something, they become committed to that,” he said. “And if they become committed, it’s hard to change their minds.”
That certainly explains the media coverage.