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JRMayne comments on The Amanda Knox Test: How an Hour on the Internet Beats a Year in the Courtroom - Less Wrong

42 Post author: komponisto 13 December 2009 04:16AM

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Comment author: JRMayne 16 December 2009 03:19:21AM 4 points [-]

The error here is even asking a question about Amanda's motivations when you >haven't established an evidentiary (and that means physical) trail leading from >Meredith's body to Amanda's brain.

Indeed, that's counterintuitive. I believe it to be counterintuitive because it is incorrect. Amanda Knox was a roommate of Meredith Knox's; the initial likelihood of her being responsible is raised by that fact alone. It is normal for police to question motives of people close to the decedent, and it is good practice.

Suppose Hubby ends up shot a few dozen times as he is bicycling home from work. Wife has an alibi - she was 30 miles away, on film, at the time. But wife, after 20 minutes of questioning, confesses to giving $3,000 in cash she had squirreled away to someone (a description, but no name and he's gone) to shoot Hubby, that she gave him Hubby's route, and she was mad at Hubby for his affairs, affairs investigators later confirm.

Is the confession noise? We have no physical evidence. That's somewhat dissimilar to your assertion, I understand. Let's take it back a step:

Let's keep Hubby shot dead, but Wife does not confess. However, she has a $45,000 withdrawal the day before. She says it was for "baking supplies," but she lost it somewhere and can't find the cash. She says that she dearly loved Hubby, but she has dates from match.com that she set up the week before. When the cops get there to tell her about Hubby 15 minutes after the shooting, all of Hubby's clothes and property are being placed in a Goodwill truck, and Hubby's car is on sale at E-bay and there's champagne on ice.

I don't think that's noise.

And I don't think Amanda Knox's behavior is valueless noise. The argument made that the lack of physical evidence is far more telling may be sound (depending on the actual evidence), but the behavior is evidence.

Potential Bias Alerts: I'm a prosecutor. I have had my cases dissected in the press (one case may end up on TV) and not always accurately. Circumstantial cases with a high degree of detail are often difficult for the press to get right, in my experience. Highly-charged sex cases are often difficult for the press to get right, in my view. I have no experience with Italian authorities, and probably impute similarities to American justice that do not exist. I do give some value to the jury's verdict, because I do not believe that the time I've spent looking at the evidence is anywhere near sufficient.

Comment author: AnnaGilmour 16 December 2009 05:00:26PM *  1 point [-]

micio quoted:

"while Knox's defenders have no trouble complaining that jurors judged her unfairly based on her behavior in the days after the murder (purchasing sexy lingerie, frolicking around town and making out with her boyfriend), they don't mind pointing out her gentle appearance - or arguing that she has a reputation for being "sweet and generous and kind" etc. In other words - they're fine with exploiting Knox's image only to the extent it lines up with the idea that she's "not the type" who could kill another human being in connection with an act of sexual violence"


After a while people will be accountable for the evidence they choose to acknowledge or not. Things like this are inconsequential and incidental. Stick to the evidence. Talk about that. You will be voting for civilization and the rule of law or rule by thugs.

What I am finding is that a few people who are commenting here are consistently making the mistake that komponisto described. They are not leaving their perceptual fallacies.

For instance this statement:

"Amanda Knox was a roommate of Meredith Knox's; the initial likelihood of her being responsible is raised by that fact alone. It is normal for police to question motives of people close to the decedent, and it is good practice."

First of all, if the roommate question is enough to bring her in for questioning, then it should be on the same level as the inquiry toward the other two roommates, and this also puts Raffaele further out on the proximity scale. But these checks should be quick and cleared by the lack of physical evidence.

And this statement:

"Wife...confesses to giving $3,000 in cash she had squirreled away to someone (a description, but no name and he's gone) to shoot Hubby... Is the confession noise? We have no physical evidence. That's somewhat dissimilar to your assertion, I understand. Let's take it back a step..."

This has been checked as well. Given the lack of physical evidence, then evidence of conspiracy or collusion gets checked. There was no evidence of this either.

And the following statement:

"...but the behavior is evidence."

Not when there is no evidence of conspiracy, collusion, or physical evidence because then you are going back to the mistakes described by komponisto in the post.

Comment author: wedrifid 16 December 2009 08:48:47PM 2 points [-]

Use a '>' at the start of a paragraph that is a quotation

so it will look like this.