“We need to understand where our competence is and isn’t.”

by expoƒunction

“We are not good at reasoning with uncertainty. … At the very least we should recognise that and we tend not to.”

[Talking about Sally Clark’s wrongful conviction for murdering her two baby sons.] “At the Sally Clark trial, all of the lawyers just accepted what the expert said. So if a paediatrician had of come out and said to a jury: “I know how to build bridges. I’ve built one down the road. Please drive your car home over it.” They would have said: “Well paediatricians don’t know how to build bridges; that’s what engineers do.” On the other hand he [the paediatrician] came out and effectively said or implied: “I know how to reason with uncertainty; I know how to do statistics” and everyone said: “Well that’s fine; he’s an expert.“”

“We need to understand where our competence is and isn’t.”

Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals – in his Ted Talk – the common mistakes humans make in reasoning with uncertainty, and the devastating impact these errors can have in court. [If you’re pressed for time, start viewing the talk from 13:35]