A Remarkable Horse: An Inquiry into the Accuracy of Medical Predictions

Visual Revelations

A psychiatrist who knows a little statistics may be a remarkable psychiatrist, but is not a remarkable statistician. Hence, it is not remarkable that when we look at statistical reasoning applied by psychiatrists, we find mysteries. One especially dramatic mystery manifests itself in the expert testimony surrounding the court case Barefoot v. Estelle (decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on July 6, 1983). We shall use it to illustrate the problem. What follows is a lightly edited version of an amicus curiae brief prepared by the American Psychiatric Association.

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