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Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

Can you listen as well as you read?

Eye and ear
A top judge has warned that today's young, online generation may have trouble acting as jurors because they can't listen for long stretches. But is it easier to pick up information from a written passage or a spoken version? Try this unscientific test.

The influence of the internet is threatening one of the cornerstones of British justice - the jury trial, according to the most senior judge in England and Wales. Lord Judge of Draycote, the Lord Chief Justice, says when it comes to information gathering, the net promotes reading at the expense of listening.

We've decided to put his theory to the test by inviting readers to try our reading v listening test. At the heart of it is a short piece of testimony by the infamous murderer Dr Crippen from his trial in 1910.

  • Click on the audio console below to hear it being read
  • Then answer five questions about what you've just heard
  • Then read the same passage in text and answer five different questions

The whole thing should take no more than 10 minutes.


How much do you remember? Find out yourself by answering the five questions in this, first quiz.

Once you've taken the quiz, note down your score and proceed directly to the written transcript and the second quiz.

Dr Crippen quiz

You've heard Neil Sleat recite Dr Hawley Crippen's testimony. Now see how much you remember of the details by answering these questions.

Dr Crippen

1.) Multiple Choice Question

How old was Dr Crippen when he stood trial for his wife's murder?

Dr Crippen under arrest
  1. 38
  2. 48
  3. 58

2.) Multiple Choice Question

Where was South Crescent?

Dr Crippen's house in Hilltop Crescent
  1. Just off Hilldrop Road
  2. Just off Guilford Street
  3. Just off Tottenham Court Road

3.) Multiple Choice Question

What was the date of the Crippens' dinner party with the Martinettis?

Mr and Mrs Martinetti at the Crippen inquest
  1. 2 January
  2. 31 January
  3. 2 February

4.) Missing Word Question

She had always been talking to me about Bruce *

  1. Miller
  2. Martin
  3. Mitchell

5.) Multiple Choice Question

What did Dr Crippen say his wife told him he should do after she left him?

Dr Crippen's second wife Cora
  1. Not bother to look for her
  2. Divorce her and remarry
  3. Cover up the scandal


  1. It's 48. After the murder, Crippen fled to Canada to avoid arrest, but he was eventually caught and brought back to Britain in handcuffs on the SS Megantic.
  2. It was Tottenham Court Road. The couple later moved to Hilldrop Crescent where the brutal murder was committed. Police carried out four searches of the house before finally discovering human remains under the brick floor in the cellar.
  3. It's 31 January. Large crowds gathered outside Crippen's Old Bailey trial where the jury found him guilty after just 27 minutes of deliberation. He was later hanged at Pentonville Prison.
  4. It was Miller. An estate agent and former music hall star, Miller met the victim in 1899 when she was known as Belle Elmore.
  5. It was to cover things up. Crippen claimed in court that he was "very sensitive to any censure or any scandal". He told people his wife had gone to America where she had later died and been cremated.

Your Score

0 - 1 : Court napping

2 - 3 : Jury's out

4 - 5 : Juror aura


I am 48 years of age: I am an American, and a doctor of medicine of the Cleveland Homoeopathic Hospital in America; I have not been through a practical course of surgery but a theoretical course. I have never performed a post-mortem examination in my life. I have made certain organs of the body my special study, the eye especially, and also the nose.

I have been married twice. I met my second wife in New York: Cora Turner was the name she gave me, but her real name was Clara Mackamotski. Our first apartments were in South Crescent, just off Tottenham Court Road. In 1905 we went to live at Hilldrop Crescent. I paid a visit to America while I was living in Guilford Street; I left my wife at a boarding house in Guilford Street; I was away from November to the middle of April or 1 May. Up to that visit to America I had lived on friendly terms with my wife, but she was always rather hasty in her temper. When I came back I did not notice any change in her manner at first, but very soon after that I began to notice it; she was always finding fault with me, and every night took the opportunity of quarrelling with me. A little later on, and she apparently did not wish to be familiar with me, I asked her what the matter was, and she told me that she had met Bruce Miller and that she had got very fond of him and did not care for me any more.

On 31 January Mr and Mrs Martinetti came to dinner. While they were there she picked a quarrel with me upon a most trivial incident. During the evening Mr Martinetti wanted to go upstairs; when he came down he seemed to have caught a chill. When the Martinettis had left, my wife got into a great rage about this. She abused me; she said that if I could not be a gentleman she had had enough of it and could not stand it any longer and she was going to leave. That was similar to her former threats, but she said besides something she had not said before; she said that after she had gone it would be necessary for me to cover up any scandal there might be by her leaving me, and I might do it in the very best way I could.

On the early morning of 1 February I was left alone in my house with my wife, then alive and well; I know of no person in the world who has seen her alive since, no person who has ever had a letter from her since, no person who can prove any fact to show that she ever left that house alive. The last I saw of her would be between two and three in the morning. When I went home between five and six pm, I found she had gone. As she had always been talking to me about Bruce Miller, I thought she had gone to him in America. I did not take any steps to find out where she had gone, because she had so often threatened to go.

Up to that time I had not thought about what charge would be made against me. Dew said, "Good morning, Dr Crippen, I am Inspector Dew". If he then said, "You will be arrested for the murder and mutilation of your wife, Cora Crippen, in London on or about 2 February," I did not pay much attention to what he said, because I was in such a confusion; I was so very much surprised and confused that I did not quite have my right senses. I realised that I was being arrested for the murder of my wife; I remember hearing that.

How much do you remember? Find out yourself by answering the five questions in this, second quiz.

Dr Crippen's testimony - reading quiz

You've read the transcript of the evidence Dr Hawley Crippen gave at his trial. Now see how much you remember of the details by answering these questions.

Waxwork of Crippen

1.) Multiple Choice Question

Where did Dr Crippen and his second wife meet?

  1. Cleveland
  2. London
  3. New York
    New York

2.) Multiple Choice Question

When they first met, what did Crippen's wife tell him her name was?

Cora Crippen in her days as a performer
  1. Cora Turner
  2. Cora Mackamotski
  3. Cora Miller

3.) Multiple Choice Question

What got Mrs Crippen so upset after the Martinettis came to dinner?

The house where the murder took place
  1. That the Martinettis knew about her secret lover
  2. That Mr Martinetti caught a chill while upstairs
  3. That her husband did not shake Mr Martinetti's hand

4.) Missing Word Question

Good morning, Dr Crippen, I am Inspector *

  1. Dew
  2. Dewey
  3. Dove

5.) Multiple Choice Question

What time did Dr Crippen say he last saw his wife alive?

  1. Between 5pm and 6pm
  2. Between 8am and 9am
  3. Between 2am and 3am


  1. It was New York. Crippen's qualification was from Cleveland Homoeopathic Hospital. The couple moved to London.
  2. It was Turner. Crippen gave evidence that her real name was Mackamotski. Her actual first name was either Kunigunde or Kunugunde. She was of German and Polish ancestry.
  3. Mrs Crippen was outraged because Mr Martinetti had caught a chill. Dr Crippen said: "My wife got into a great rage about this."
  4. It was Inspector Walter Dew, later immortalised in a popular ditty about the case.
  5. Dr Crippen's precised words were that "the last I saw of her would be between two and three in the morning". He came home between 5pm and 6pm and she was gone.

Your Score

0 - 1 : Court napping

2 - 3 : Jury's out

4 - 5 : Juror aura

How did you do? Below are a selection of your comments.

I got 4/5 listening, and only 3/5 reading. But with written material, it ought to be possible to refer back to it (though I didn't, or I would have had 5/5). A more realistic test would require many more points to be recalled.
Dave, Manchester UK

The second test is influenced by repetition.
Rob S, Edinburgh

Um, you cannot score 5/5 on the reading quiz.... Even if you get all the Q's correct, you are only ever presented with a score of 4... Did I spot the deliberate mistake? :-)
Simon Farnfield, Birmingham, UK

5/5 for both tests. I thought they were quite easy and would be alarmed if I was on trial and the jury couldn't remember such basic facts from my testimony.
Andy Barkley, Woodbridge

My score improved by 1 point in the second test, but this isn't really surprising as by that point you have taken in the testimony twice.. Not just unscientific, this appears to be fundamentally flawed!?
Andy, London

Although I scored better in the 2nd test I am not sure that it is a direct comparison as I remembered some answers from hearing them?
Andrea O'Neill, Liverpool United Kingdom

Why not give the jurors a transcript to read after they have heard the evidence but before they make their verdict?
Paul, Derry

I scored 3/5 for both auditory and reading transcripts of the information. I'm not sure there is a greater increase in ability with reading now, than listening to information. I think reading is easier because you can look at and see where the information is and re-read it faster. Listening takes longer to get to the correct place if you're looking for a specific piece of knowledge.
Peter, Dundee Scotland

It is well known that what we hear we forget, what we see we remember, and what we do we understand - that is a basic tenet of teaching. Also, this test means one has covered the same material twice, and indeed, the text is still there to check back on. Of course the second time through anyone would remember more. A more useful test would be to have two separate and unrelated statements, and to remove the text before asking the questions.
Lesley Coton, Ashtead, Surrey

4/5 on the listening test, 5/5 on the written test. But then, I have always found myself to be one of those people who find it easier to absorb written material - I don't really spend that much time reading things online; I think it's just a matter of which way one's mind works.
Eleanor Cramphorn, Howden, UK

That was hardly a fair test. After reading it, I'd heard the information twice so I would obviously remember it better. I did do better. 4 on the listening, and 5 on the reading.
Sarah, Oxon

This is clearly not an accurate test. By reading the text the second time after having listened to it, you are undoubtedly more likely to remember the text anyway so you are more likely to answer the questions.
Nick, London

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