Elementary Statistics on Trial—The Case of Lucia de Berk

The trial of the Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk, suspected of several murders and attempted murders, was a high-profile case in the Netherlands. The initial suspicion rested mainly on quasi-statistical considerations, which produced (based partly on incorrect calculations) extremely small probabilities. Since the outcomes proved controversial, the court claimed to have dropped the statistical calculations from the verdict, but the verdict still rested on intuitive notions as “very improbable.” That put statistics at center stage.

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