Why this? Do we really need another legal blog? Probably not. So why write this? Well, I’m not a mathematician or a statistician or a scientist of any sort, but I am someone interested in these things. A lot of people get annoyed by misuse of grammar. Most of those people annoy me. What annoys me more is the level of innumeracy in our society.
It is acceptable for people to stand up in Court and state that they have no idea about maths and even take pride in this fact. I haven’t yet had the courage to say “Your Honour, I would read this document I’ve just been handed, but frankly, I was never very good at English. I can barely read and write” but if I did say this, the only thing that would stop me getting taken down for contempt would be that no-one would believe me.
The consequence of this innumeracy is that people are wowed by statistics and swallow bad arguments without thinking (especially, it seems to me, those people who get most upset about the difference between less and fewer). Some of this is annoying but harmless, but in a discipline where the consequences of bad arguments is that someone can get locked up when they shouldn't (or someone who should be locked up walks away) and where logic is supposed to apply, it is depressing how unfamiliar people are with basic maths.
And that’s before even considering the multitude of lies about crime that appear in the newspapers.
What I'm going to try to do in this blog is have a look at where these arise and provide a slight counterbalance to it...