Livestream for Nate Silver

Nate and I will be chatting at 3:30p.m., as part of Conversations with Tyler.  You can find the LiveStream here, here are the questions you all have been suggesting, and the Twitter hashtag is #CowenSilver.


This discussion covered an amazing amount of material. Early, Tyler asked whether law was a field where greater use of statistics could create advances, and Nate thought not.

I agree. Statistical reasoning works well in science with an unbiased researcher seeking the truth. It works terribly in an advocacy system because it’s so easy to pick and choose the particular model and data mine for the desired results. This is why, in my view, courts often don’t admit statistical evidence and people ignore the statistics that politicians present.

The classic legal hypothetical we covered in law school is the “blue bus” case. An unidentified bus causes an accident. The injured party sues, but presents no direct evidence of which bus company’s bus caused the injury. He seeks to present statistical evidence that the blue bus company runs 80% of the busses on that route and is therefore 80% likely to be the company at fault.

One reason to reject this statistical evidence is that the failure to present direct evidence is itself suspicious. For example, perhaps the blue bus company has deeper pockets and perhaps the plaintiff’s failure to present a bus schedule is intentional.

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I've missed the live stream but I'm looking forward to the video and the transcripts.

In the meantime I've just enjoyed the conversation with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The "powers of observation" indeed.

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Comments for this post are closed