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Archive: Peter Donnelly on how stats can fool us

For the next two weeks, we’re presenting some of our favorite TEDTalks from among the 270+ talks and performances we’ve posted since June 2006. Look for brand-new TEDTalks starting August 18. Until then, enjoy these gems — and suggest your own by writing to contact@ted.com or joining the conversation on TED.com.

In the TED tradition of rethinking statistics, Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly talks about the common mistakes we make in interpreting numbers — and the devastating impact these errors can have on the outcome of criminal trials. Viewers who’ve seen this talk have discussed the coin-toss experiment in depth (read the comments to find a simulation); and then there’s this comment: “OMGosh how sexy is this man’s brain?” (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 21:32)

Watch Peter Donnelly’s 2005 talk on TED.com, where you can download it, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances.

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