The Worst Math Ever Used In Court

Bitdefender Total Security (Extended Free Trial) – https://www.bitdefender.com/media/html/consumer/new/WIF-S-Bitdefender/?cid=inf%7Cc%7Cyt%7CVS2Q4

Thanks to Bitdefender for supporting Vsauce2.

As math and our minds both become more sophisticated, we can use strategies like probability to fill gaps in the unknown. That’s particularly useful in a court of law, where we almost never have all the facts we need. But what happens when bad math makes an uncertain situation even worse? In this case, people go to prison. And all it took was the misapplication of the product rule.

By inventing a series of probabilities and pretending that they were independent, a Los Angeles prosecutor ruined the lives of Janet and Malcolm Collins. A complex situation involving bad witnesses, racism, and prosecutorial overreach was reduced to a simple multiplication problem that never, ever should’ve been a part of the trial.

If there’s an upside to this catastrophe, it’s that the California Supreme Court used an appeal to the Collins trial to eviscerate bad math in the courtroom and lay the foundation for more appropriate uses of math going forward. From its roots as a “veritable sorcerer” to processing what several newspapers called “Trial By Computer,” the Collins probability trial has extended over 50 years of influence on legal proceeding — and we’re just getting started.

*** SOURCES ***

People v. Malcolm Collins on Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2393563144534950884

Opinion on People v. Collins: https://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/people-v-collins-22583

People v. Collins, Harvard Wiki: https://wiki.harvard.edu/confluence/display/GNME/People+v.+Collins

*** LINKS ***

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@vsaucetwo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VsauceTwo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VsauceTwo
Talk Vsauce2 in The Create Unknown Discord: https://discord.gg/tyh7AVm
Vsauce2 on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/vsauce2/

Hosted and Produced by Kevin Lieber
Instagram: https://instagram.com/kevlieber
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevinlieber
Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/thecreateunknown

Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor

Editing by John Swan

Huge Thanks To Paula Lieber

Vsauce’s Curiosity Box: https://www.curiositybox.com/

#education #vsauce #crime

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

AsapSCIENCE Needs Your Help!
Where are you from and how has it shaped you? | Big Think
You’re Technically HOTTER Than The Sun (with XKCD!)
Why artists get a natural shot of dopamine on stage | Christiani Wetter, Karin Ospelt | TEDxVaduz
How Airplanes Are Made

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.