## Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the CourtroomIn the wrong hands, math can be deadly. Even the simplest numbers can become powerful forces when manipulated by politicians or the media, but in the case of the law, your liberty—and your life—can depend on the right calculation. In Math on Trial, mathematicians Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez describe ten trials spanning from the nineteenth century to today, in which mathematical arguments were used—and disastrously misused—as evidence. They tell the stories of Sally Clark, who was accused of murdering her children by a doctor with a faulty sense of calculation; of nineteenth-century tycoon Hetty Green, whose dispute over her aunt’s will became a signal case in the forensic use of mathematics; and of the case of Amanda Knox, in which a judge’s misunderstanding of probability led him to discount critical evidence—which might have kept her in jail. Offering a fresh angle on cases from the nineteenth-century Dreyfus affair to the murder trial of Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk, Schneps and Colmez show how the improper application of mathematical concepts can mean the difference between walking free and life in prison. A colorful narrative of mathematical abuse, Math on Trial blends courtroom drama, history, and math to show that legal expertise isn’t always enough to prove a person innocent. |

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### Contents

MATH ERROR NUMBER 2 UNJUSTIFIED ESTIMATES | 23 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 3 TRYING TO GET SOMETHING FROM NOTHING | 39 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 4 DOUBLE EXPERIMENT | 61 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 5 THE BIRTHDAY PROBLEM | 87 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 6 SIMPSONS PARADOX | 107 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 7 THE INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCE | 121 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 8 UNDERESTIMATION | 147 |

MATH ERROR NUMBER 9 CHOOSING A WRONG MODEL | 167 |

A Battle of Wills 167 MATH ERROR NUMBER 10 MATHEMATICAL MADNESS | 237 |

### Other editions - View all

Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom Leila Schneps,Coralie Colmez Limited preview - 2013 |

Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom Leila Schneps,Coralie Colmez No preview available - 2013 |

### Common terms and phrases

accused actually Alfred Dreyfus Amanda Amber analysis appeared baby Benjamin Peirce Berkeley Bertillon Beverley Allitt birthday birthday problem bordereau calculation Cavaignac chance Charles Ponzi claimed coin Collins convicted couple court crib death crime Cruces database Derksen Diana’s digoxin documents Dreyfus Dreyfus affair electropherogram Elffers Esterhazy event evidence experts fact figure given Guede guilty handwriting happened Hetty Hetty Green Hetty’s hospital identify innocence investigation investors Janet Jenny Joe Sneed judge Juliana Children’s jury knife large number Las Cruces lawyer letter loci Lucia de Berk Malcolm match Math Error Number mathematical Meredith Meredith’s DNA Munchausen Syndrome murder newspaper nurse occur p-value pairs Panizzardi peaks person Picquart police Ponzi Ponzi scheme prison probability problem prosecution Puckett question Raffaele Raffaele’s random result Robert Crosset Roy Meadow Sally Clark Sally’s Serna showed SIDS signatures Sinetar statistics Stefanoni Sylvia tenure testimony Thorp told trial witness words