Justices Averse to Numbers

I don’t have a great math background, despite my years in the financial services industry. My late husband Jerry could look at a page of complex numerical projections and tell immediately that something was amiss, before he even picked up his calculator to figure out what it was. I can figure out what’s off kilter with a page of writing with just a quick look, but never with numbers.

Quantitative evidence-based data can be gathered in most fields, and illuminates aspects of complex problems. Now we have computers to churn the data, but understanding what’s been churned is critical in overall decision making.

Turns out that most judges, including the very smart Harvard and Yale graduates that sit on the Supreme Court, are either not very good at applying quantitative data in their decisions, or are resistant to doing so for ideological reasons.


I was startled when I read this article, as I’d assumed the justices use all the available information in making their far-reaching decisions. That they do not, either because they lack the mental tools to employ quantitative data or prefer to be guided by their own core beliefs and assumptions, is yet another blow to the credibility of the nation’s highest court.

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