Newspaper flubs probability calculation

February 19, 2010

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

That headline’s right up there with "Dog Bites Man" for shock value, but the Daily Express in the UK isn’t one to let mere probability stand in the way of a sensational headline like "Mum beats odds of 50 million to one to have 3 babies on same date". As Ben Goldacre helpfully explains, the probability is actually a modest 133,000-to-one (50M-to-one is the probability of having four babies all on the same date, or three babies all on a prespecified date). The article was published over a week ago, but there’s no correction in the online content, other than a comment from an observant reader. Another one for the "Film at 11" vault, like the Bulgarian Lottery coincidence.

Bad Science: Guns don’t kill people, puppies do

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