The Limits of Bayesian Thinking in Court

Ronald Meester*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We comment on the contributions of Dahlman and of Fenton et al., who both suggested a Bayesian approach to analyze the Simonshaven case. We argue that analyzing a full case with a Bayesian approach is not feasible, and that there are serious problems with assigning actual numbers to probabilities and priors. We also discuss the nature of Bayesian thinking in court, and the nature and interpretation of the likelihood ratio. In particular, we discuss what it could mean that a likelihood ratio is in some sense uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1205-1212
Number of pages8
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number4
Early online date31 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Models of Rational Proof in Criminal Law, Editors: Henry Prakken, Floris Bex and Anne Ruth Mackor ‐ Levels of Explanation in Cognitive Science: From Molecules to Cultures Editors: Matteo Colombo and Markus Knauff.


  • Bayesian networks
  • Evidence
  • Legal case
  • Likelihood ratios
  • Modeling


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