Math on Trial

How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom by Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez

By Janet Raloff, 15:34 PM June 4, 2013

“Torture numbers and they will confess to anything,” author Gregg Easterbrook once wrote in a magazine piece on climate change. But his quip could have been thesubtitle for this new book on the abuse of numbers in the courts.

Its authors, mother-daughter mathematicians, belong to a research group devoted to improving the use of statistics in criminal trials. Each chapter focuses on cases exemplifying a particular class of statistical error. Poignant tales detail exonerations resulting from fau...

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