It’s like buses: you wait ages and then two come at once! There were two news items from Europe on the BBC webpage today that involved statistics.

Story I: De Berk acquitted of murder

In a story reminiscent of the Sally Clark case in the UK 10y ago, the Netherlandish nurse, Lucy De Berk, was acquitted of killing seven patients. She’d spent 6y in prison after being found guilty, and was dubbed the Angel of Death. The original prosecution had made much of the “probability” that so many suspicious deaths would occur around her if she were innocent as 1/300 million. Of course, this is not the same as the probability she was innocent given all those deaths.  There’s a nice story on Andrew Gelman’s blog describing this in more detail.  I can’t work out what the url for that particular post is, so here‘s the article in the NYT he links to.

Let’s hope things work out for De Berk better than they did for Sally Clark, who died a few years ago from alcohol poisoning.

Story II: “Useful for climatologists to work with statisticians in future”

After climategate, namely the hacking and subsequent leaking of emails relating to how the University of East Anglia climatic research unit created its predictions of future climate, an independent panel was set up to investigate. The president of the RSS, David Hand, was one member of the panel.  They concluded:

We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians.

The beeb quote Prof Hand as saying the CRU had been “a little naïve” in not working more closely with statisticians.