Richard Gill, born in Redhill, UK, in 1951. Ph.D. from the VU University Amsterdam. Professor of Mathematical Statistics at Leiden University.
Distinguished Lorentz Fellow (1 September 2010 – 30 June 2011)
SCIENCE MEETS JUSTICE: FORENSIC STATISTICS AT THE INTERFACE
My project concerned communication between the humanities on the one hand and the exact sciences on the other. The year was a fantastic opportunity to practice that very communication in daily exchanges with other scholars. A number of the most exciting exchanges concerned topics without direct connection to my NIAS project, e.g. a lecture by my successor Distinguished Lorentz Fellow (working in neuro-linguistics) on “systems of core knowledge” provided ideas concerning the impasse in the foundations of physics concerning the role or meaning of randomness in quantum physics. I spent much time gathering material for a book-writing project concerning the cases of Lucia de Berk, Kevin Sweeney, José Booij, and observing book-writing progress in the humanities. Part of the common sociology of these particular miscarriages of justice involves professional reticence to admit mistakes, extending from personal mistakes, through professional solidarity, to mistakes made by colleagues. The common sociology also involves hidden personal connections across professional boundaries, for instance, long-time connections between a medical specialist and a public prosecutor. Institutionalized blockages to flow of ‘hard’ information, while hidden channels allow ‘soft’ information to flow secretly, lies, I believe, behind all three miscarriages of justice. Yet other hidden channels, operating later in time, finally allowed the Lucia case to be overturned; their lack, blocks the cases of Sweeney and Booij.