History Main / ProsecutorsFallacy

24th Sep '16 11:00:29 AM Josef5678
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* This is also a favorite for conspiracy theorists when some (apparently) unlikely coincidence becomes part of the event in question. To use a WorldWar2 example, one radar site picked up the Japanese aircraft headed toward Pearl Harbor and reported the contact but were dismissed because entirely coincidentally a flight of aircraft from mainland was due to arrive at roughly the same time. This has been used by conspiracy freaks to argue the Japanese were allowed to attack because the odds of that sort of coincidence seem so remote.

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* This is also a favorite for conspiracy theorists when some (apparently) unlikely coincidence becomes part of the event in question. To use a WorldWar2 UsefulNotes/WorldWarII example, one radar site picked up the Japanese aircraft headed toward Pearl Harbor and reported the contact but were dismissed because entirely coincidentally a flight of aircraft from mainland was due to arrive at roughly the same time. This has been used by conspiracy freaks to argue the Japanese were allowed to attack because the odds of that sort of coincidence seem so remote.
29th Jul '16 12:17:24 PM john_e
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* The implicit assumption behind the ''Series/JudgeJudy''-ism "If it doesn't make sense, it isn't true."

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* The implicit assumption behind the ''Series/JudgeJudy''-ism "If it doesn't make sense, it isn't true.""
* In ''The Poisoned Chocolates Case'' by Anthony Berkeley, Mr Bradley makes a list of twelve statements about the murderer, and declares that the odds against a random person meeting all the conditions are 4,790,000,516,458 to 1 against. But what he should be calculating is "What are the chances that, given that a particular person fulfills all the conditions, that person is the criminal?" -- which isn't the same thing at all. As Bradley goes on to points out that he himself meets all twelve conditions and is therefore, logically, the murderer, it's clear that he's only using the fallacy to {{troll}} his audience.
15th Aug '14 1:58:20 PM lucy24
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* This is also a favorite for conspiracy theorists when some (apparently) unlikely coincidence becomes part of the event in question. To use a WorldWar2 example, one radar site picked up the Japanese aircraft headed toward Pearl Harbor and reported the contact but were dismissed because entirely coincidentally a flight of aircraft from mainland was due to arrive at roughly the same time. This has been used by conspiracy freaks to argue the Japanese were allowed to attack because the odds of that sort of coincidence seem so remote.

to:

* This is also a favorite for conspiracy theorists when some (apparently) unlikely coincidence becomes part of the event in question. To use a WorldWar2 example, one radar site picked up the Japanese aircraft headed toward Pearl Harbor and reported the contact but were dismissed because entirely coincidentally a flight of aircraft from mainland was due to arrive at roughly the same time. This has been used by conspiracy freaks to argue the Japanese were allowed to attack because the odds of that sort of coincidence seem so remote.remote.
* The implicit assumption behind the ''Series/JudgeJudy''-ism "If it doesn't make sense, it isn't true."
13th Sep '13 12:02:23 PM BrendanDRizzo
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** And this is when their statistics are even valid, instead of recognizing that the naturalistic explanation is ''not'' due to random chance. (For instance, creationists will claim that the odds of a peptide chain folding into precisely the dimensions of a functional protein is absurdly low, completely ignoring [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anfinsen%27s_dogma that it has been demonstrated]] that the natural state of proteins is the one that is thermodynamically most stable, and so will always fold that way.

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** And this is when their statistics are even valid, instead of recognizing that the naturalistic explanation is ''not'' due to random chance. (For instance, creationists will claim that the odds of a peptide chain folding into precisely the dimensions of a functional protein is absurdly low, completely ignoring [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anfinsen%27s_dogma that it has been demonstrated]] that the natural state of proteins is the one that is thermodynamically most stable, and so will always fold that way.)
13th Sep '13 12:02:02 PM BrendanDRizzo
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Added DiffLines:

** And this is when their statistics are even valid, instead of recognizing that the naturalistic explanation is ''not'' due to random chance. (For instance, creationists will claim that the odds of a peptide chain folding into precisely the dimensions of a functional protein is absurdly low, completely ignoring [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anfinsen%27s_dogma that it has been demonstrated]] that the natural state of proteins is the one that is thermodynamically most stable, and so will always fold that way.
1st Feb '13 3:27:25 PM infraredshirt
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Rejecting an explanation for a particular event on the grounds that it requires a rare or unlikely event to have occurred, while ignoring that the favoured explanation might actually be even less likely. This fallacy ignores the fact that 'statistically improbable' doesn't mean 'impossible'.

As the name implies, this fallacy is a favorite of prosecutors in legal cases -- it can be quite convincing to argue, "How likely is it that this really happened the way the defendant said it did, if the odds of it happening that way are 1 in 10 million? Which is more believable -- that he's lying or that something that improbable really happened?" It also lends itself well to CassandraTruth plots.

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Rejecting an explanation for a particular event on the grounds that it requires a rare or unlikely event to have occurred, while ignoring that the favoured explanation might actually be even less likely. This fallacy ignores the fact that 'statistically improbable' 'improbable' doesn't mean 'impossible'.

'impossible'. Like the Gambler's Fallacy, this is also a statistical error.

As the name implies, this fallacy is a favorite of prosecutors in legal cases and sometimes in procedural shows like CSI -- it can be quite convincing tempting to argue, "How likely is it that this really happened the way the defendant said it did, if the odds of it happening that way are 1 in 10 million? Which is more believable -- that he's lying or that something that improbable really happened?" It also lends itself well to CassandraTruth plots.



* Occurred twice in a [[RealLife real life]] case from the UK: Sally Clark was accused of murdering her two children (both of whom had actually died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). An expert witness asserted incorrectly that the probability of two cases of SIDS in one family was 1 in 73 million (this figure came from a separate error -- treating the two cot deaths as independent events when there was evidence to suggest that that wasn't the case). Sally was convicted, but eventually cleared, although it took two appeals -- the first, based on the 1 in 73 million figure, failed when judges argued that while the quoted figure was much worse than it should have been, it still illustrated that double cot death (SIDS) was very unlikely.

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* Occurred twice This was one of two errors in a [[RealLife real life]] case from statistical reasoning that contributed to the UK: result of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Clark Sally Clark]] trial in the UK. Sally Clark was accused arrested, charged, and wrongfully convicted of murdering killing her two children (both of whom sons, who had actually died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). An sudden infant death syndrome, on the basis that two cot deaths in one family was extremely unlikely (an example of the prosecutor's fallacy -- double homicide isn't likely either). This error was compounded by an expert witness witness, who asserted incorrectly that the probability of two cases of SIDS in one family a double cot death was 1 in 73 million (this (a figure came from a separate error -- treating the two cot which assumed, without evidence, that both deaths as were independent events when there was evidence to suggest that that wasn't the case). Sally was convicted, but eventually cleared, although it took two appeals of each other -- the first, based on the 1 in 73 million figure, failed when judges argued that while the quoted figure was much worse than it should have been, it still illustrated that double ignoring possibilities such as a family with a genetic predisposition towards cot death (SIDS) was very unlikely.deaths).
1st Feb '13 2:10:46 PM infraredshirt
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While there is some value to this (OccamsRazor exists for a reason), it often ignores that unusual cases are, well, [[ShapedLikeItself unusual.]] We tend to notice unusual events more than common events, and by the very fact that the issue is being argued over guarantees that it is likely an unusual event. For instance, if a practiced hunter accidently shoots his friend, one could argue that the odds of him making such a serious error is very small. But then, the alternative explanation is that the hunter ''purposefully'' shot his friend, which is also somewhat unlikely. In the end, the event itself can ''only'' be explained by one of several improbable explanations, and so the fact that they ''are'' improbable ceases to be relevant.

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While there is some value to An argument of this (OccamsRazor exists for a reason), it form often ignores that unusual cases are, well, [[ShapedLikeItself unusual.]] unusual. We tend to notice unusual events more than common events, and by the very fact that the issue is being argued over guarantees that it is likely an unusual event. For instance, if a practiced practised hunter accidently shoots his friend, one could argue that the odds of him making such a serious error is very small. But then, the alternative explanation is that the hunter ''purposefully'' shot his friend, which is also somewhat unlikely. In the end, the event itself can ''only'' be explained by one of several improbable explanations, and so the fact that they ''are'' improbable ceases to be relevant.
28th Nov '12 3:10:54 PM infraredshirt
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* Occurred twice in a [[RealLife real life]] case from the UK: Sally Clark was accused of murdering her two children (both of whom had actually died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). An expert witness asserted incorrectly that the probability of two cases of SIDS in one family was 1 in 73 million (this figure came from a separate error -- treating the two cot deaths as independent events when there was evidence to suggest that that wasn't the case). Sally was convicted, but eventually cleared, although it took two appeals -- the first, based on the 1 in 73 million figure, was quashed on the grounds that while the quoted figure was much worse than it should have been, it still illustrated that double cot death (SIDS) was very unlikely.

to:

* Occurred twice in a [[RealLife real life]] case from the UK: Sally Clark was accused of murdering her two children (both of whom had actually died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). An expert witness asserted incorrectly that the probability of two cases of SIDS in one family was 1 in 73 million (this figure came from a separate error -- treating the two cot deaths as independent events when there was evidence to suggest that that wasn't the case). Sally was convicted, but eventually cleared, although it took two appeals -- the first, based on the 1 in 73 million figure, was quashed on the grounds failed when judges argued that while the quoted figure was much worse than it should have been, it still illustrated that double cot death (SIDS) was very unlikely.
28th Nov '12 1:49:27 PM infraredshirt
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!! '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecutor%27s_fallacy Prosecutor's Fallacy]]''':
::Rejecting an explanation for a particular event on the grounds that it requires a rare or unlikely event to have occurred, while ignoring that the favoured explanation might actually be even less likely. This fallacy ignores the fact that 'statistically improbable' doesn't mean 'impossible'.

to:

!! '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecutor%27s_fallacy Prosecutor's Fallacy]]''':
::Rejecting
Rejecting an explanation for a particular event on the grounds that it requires a rare or unlikely event to have occurred, while ignoring that the favoured explanation might actually be even less likely. This fallacy ignores the fact that 'statistically improbable' doesn't mean 'impossible'.



{{Wikipedia}} has an article on the subject [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecutor%27s_fallacy here]].



* Occurred twice in a [[RealLife real life]] case from the UK: Sally Clark was accused of murdering her two children (both of whom had actually died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). An expert witness asserted that the probability of two cases of SIDS in one family was 1 in 73 million. Sally was convicted, but eventually cleared, although it took two appeals -- the first, based on the incorrect 1 in 73 million figure, was quashed on the grounds that while the quoted figure was much worse than it should have been, it still illustrated that double cot death (SIDS) was very unlikely (with about 130 million births each year, one would expect one or two double SIDS death every year).
** Note that this is also YouFailStatisticsForever, since the number was calculated by merely squaring the probability of one SIDS death, ignoring the possibility that they might possibly not be independent events.

to:

* Occurred twice in a [[RealLife real life]] case from the UK: Sally Clark was accused of murdering her two children (both of whom had actually died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). An expert witness asserted incorrectly that the probability of two cases of SIDS in one family was 1 in 73 million. million (this figure came from a separate error -- treating the two cot deaths as independent events when there was evidence to suggest that that wasn't the case). Sally was convicted, but eventually cleared, although it took two appeals -- the first, based on the incorrect 1 in 73 million figure, was quashed on the grounds that while the quoted figure was much worse than it should have been, it still illustrated that double cot death (SIDS) was very unlikely (with about 130 million births each year, one would expect one or two double SIDS death every year).
** Note that this is also YouFailStatisticsForever, since the number was calculated by merely squaring the probability of one SIDS death, ignoring the possibility that they might possibly not be independent events.
unlikely.
20th Nov '12 10:16:37 PM slvstrChung
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As the name implies, this fallacy is a favorite of prosecutors in legal cases -- it can be quite convincing to argue "How likely is it that this really happened the way the defendant said it did, if the odds of it happening that way are 1 in 10 million? Which is more believable -- that he's lying or that something that improbable really happened?" [[hottip:*:You can see why the fallacy is used liberally in CassandraTruth plots.]]

While there is some value to this (OccamsRazor exists for a reason) it often ignores that unusual cases are, well, [[ShapedLikeItself unusual.]] We tend to notice unusual events more than common events, and by the very fact that the issue is being argued over guarantees that it is likely an unusual event. If one practiced hunter accidently shoots his friend, one could argue that the odds of him making such a serious error is very small. But then, if the alternative explanation is that the hunter purposefully shot his friend, then both options up for consideration, accident vs. intentional, are already very unlikely events. As such the highly unlikely probability of one explanation is irrelevant, as the event itself can only be explained by one of several improbable explanations.

to:

As the name implies, this fallacy is a favorite of prosecutors in legal cases -- it can be quite convincing to argue argue, "How likely is it that this really happened the way the defendant said it did, if the odds of it happening that way are 1 in 10 million? Which is more believable -- that he's lying or that something that improbable really happened?" [[hottip:*:You can see why the fallacy is used liberally in It also lends itself well to CassandraTruth plots.]]

plots.

While there is some value to this (OccamsRazor exists for a reason) reason), it often ignores that unusual cases are, well, [[ShapedLikeItself unusual.]] We tend to notice unusual events more than common events, and by the very fact that the issue is being argued over guarantees that it is likely an unusual event. If one For instance, if a practiced hunter accidently shoots his friend, one could argue that the odds of him making such a serious error is very small. But then, if the alternative explanation is that the hunter purposefully ''purposefully'' shot his friend, then both options up for consideration, accident vs. intentional, are already very unlikely events. As such which is also somewhat unlikely. In the highly unlikely probability of one explanation is irrelevant, as end, the event itself can only ''only'' be explained by one of several improbable explanations.
explanations, and so the fact that they ''are'' improbable ceases to be relevant.
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