Edward K. Cheng

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Title

Michigan Law Review

Publication Date




Page Number



statistics, forecasting, human behavior evidence


Evidence | Law | Statistics and Probability


Professor Ian Ayres, in his new book, Super Crunchers, details the brave new world of statistical prediction and how it has already begun to affect our lives. For years, academic researchers have known about the considerable and at times surprising advantages of statistical models over the considered judgments of experienced clinicians and experts. Today, these models are emerging all over the landscape. Whether the field is wine, baseball, medicine, or consumer relations, they are vying against traditional experts for control over how we make decisions. For the legal system, the take-home of Ayres's book and the examples he describes is clear. Courts should be using more statistical decision rules, not only because they promise greater accuracy, but also because they provide the consistency and transparency to which the law often aspires. In line with the Supreme Court's contemporary pronouncements on scientific evidence,' courts should be skeptical of traditional experts who testify from personal experience and intuition without quantified empirical data, and be more accepting of statistical evidence.



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