Probability was described as a number between 0 and 1 which represented the likelihood of an event happening. A probability of 0 suggested no chance of that event occurring, while a probability of 1 stated the event would happen. In 1763, Richard Price found Thomas Bayes' 'An Essay Toward Solving A Problem Is The Doctrine of Chances'. He showed the essay to the Royal Society.
The essay paved the way for the establishment of Bayes's Theorem (or Bayes' rule) which today provided "a useful tool for calculating conditional probabilities." Conditional probability took into consideration additional conditions. As explained by one mathematician, "Let A be the event 'all 3 tosses are heads'. Let B be the event 'the first toss is heads'. The probability that event A occurs, given that event B has occurred, is called a conditional probability."
Probability was discussed in the episode 'The Girl With The Gift For Disaster' on the TV series 'Wonder Woman', first went on air in March 1979. Written by Alan Brennert and directed by Alan Crosland, Raymond St. Jacques played William Mayfield, who specialized in white-collar crime. As an expert statistician, Mayfield was obsessed with the law of probability.
Ina Balin played research psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Koren. Gaming was one her special fields of interest. She also did graduate work in probability theory at Duke University. Mayfield was hell-bent on stealing American historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution Treaty of Paris and the Bill of Rights. Jane Actman played Bonnie Murphy - a jinx. Bonnie had a talent for disaster, "I always seem to be in the middle when something awful happens."
Relying on the theory of probability, Mayfield would use Bonnie as a diversionary weapon, to make everything around her go haywire, to keep the army, the National Guards and the local enforcement tied up, and to cut all communications so Mayfield's henchmen could loot the rare, one-of-a-kind documents. The documents had been transferred from public exhibitions at the National Archives to a depository for checking on deterioration and any other damages.
In separate scenes, Dr Koren said, "I have never seen anyone exert such influence over the odds as your friend. One school of thought might describe Bonnie's gift to the same unnatural forces that produced poltergeist - and still another, to electrical brain impulses. Whichever it is, she brings out the more remote possibility of a given situation - in Ms Murphy's presence, all the line of probabilities tend to converge. It means she's a jinx ... Bonnie Murphy can bend the probability curve."
Mathematics and the justice clashed in 2011 when a judge ruled against a mathematical formula. A convicted murderer took his case to the court of appeal in 2010 disputing the evidence against him. Mathematicians worried about future cases could lead to miscarriages of justice if given such statistical analysis had been thrown out of court because forensic experts could not rely on the maths needed.
The maths needed, Angela Saini of 'The Guardian' reported in October 2011, "Specifically, a statistical tool called Bayes' theorem which calculates the odds of one event happening given the odds of other related events. Some mathematicians refer to it simply as logical thinking, because Bayesian reasoning is something we do naturally. If a husband tells his wife he didn't eat the leftover cake in the fridge, but she spots chocolate on his face, her estimate of his guilt goes up.
"But when lots of factors are involved, a Bayesian calculation is a more precise way for forensic scientists to measure the shift in guilt or innocence. The judge decided that Bayes' theorem shouldn't again be used unless the underlying statistics are 'firm'. Lawyers call this type of mistake the prosecutor's fallacy, when people confuse the odds associated with a piece of evidence with the odds of guilt.
"Professor Norman Fenton, a mathematician and barrister Amber Marks begun assembling a group of 37 members comprised statisticians, forensic scientists and legal scholars and legal advisers to research a solution to bad statistics. Their first job is to find out how often trials depend on Bayesian calculations. Fenton believes that the potential for mathematics to improve the justice system is huge. But the real dilemma is finding a way to help people make sense of the calculations."
After reviewing the 6-part program, 'The Jinx' on HBO in 2015, Mary McNamara of 'The Los Angeles Times' made the point to readers, "Robert Durst reminded us why crime dramas remain the most popular narrative in virtually any genre: They reassure us that no matter how complicated the crime, how clever or powerful the criminal, the truth will eventually make itself known. It is this belief, in the supremacy and almost supernatural power of truth, that fuels the various forces of civilization.
"Politics, religion, philosophy, psychology all depend on the existence of, and search for, some essential nature of things. In art, illumination comes in many guises: the soaring strings, the poetic monologue, the soul bared suddenly in a glance. Or as happened during the final moments of the 6-part series by Andrew Jarecki, the off-camera mutterings of an old man using the bathroom. No other art form worships at the altar of truth as devotedly as the detective tale.
"The crime procedural, whether starring Hercule Poirot, Temperance Brennan or a goateed, hoodie-wearing documentarian, is the morality play of the modern age. Social attitudes regarding mendacity, adultery, embezzlement or even assault may shift, but the thousands of detectives, fictional and otherwise we embrace, are there to assure us that there is an ultimate standard of behavior. Murder is always wrong, and, with enough dedication and insight, it will be found out; justice will trump greed, chaos, power, pathology and evil."