I received a sobering email today about the UK “supposed serial killer nurse” Ben Geen, of which a description is given in this weblog page. Naturally, I don’t know whether Ben Geen is innocent or not, I just was informed about that weblink, and pass it on.
The good news though is that Holland succeeded in getting a release and acquittal for Lucia de Berk. She had also been accused of being a serial killing nurse, and somewhat close to being a witch with her Tarot card reading. Key roles for her eventual release were for Metta de Noo – Derksen MD for analysing the medical data, her brother Ton Derksen, professor of methodology of science, who wrote the eye-opening book on the case, and professors of econometrics Aart de Vos and, crucially, mathematical statistics Richard Gill who broke the statistics of the case and who showed that the courts had been misinformed by their “statistical experts” (who still haven’t offered apologies). In this case I joined in the statistical effort to clarify the issue, see here at arXiv. Whatever the statistics, it are the medical data that are crucial here, since it is the expertise of MDs to decide about issues of life or death. Thus, the greatest heroin in this issue remains Metta de Noo MD. People in the sector should be aware of the legal settings though, see for the USA e.g. the LNC Educational Center with another heroin, Donna Rooney.
Thus, while I overall advise the world to boycott Holland, just now: Three cheers for Holland !
Overall, I hope you agree that it is better to aspire for improvement of the country that you boycott, to ever greater perfection. It is no use to boycott a country that is rather worthless to boycott anyhow. It isn’t quite clear what the EU intends to achieve by boycotting Russia over the Ukraine for example. If the goal is to insult people and a nation, yes, go ahead, and boycott all shops and nations of the world, and be happy with all the insult and misunderstanding that you spread around. But if your objective is some noble goal, like the freedom of economic science, then you should focus on Holland, notwithstanding that wonderful great result with respect to Lucia, that hopefully inspires confused residents in the UK.
PM. A point remains that while Lucia now is free and acquitted, none of the originally responsible MDs, directors, lawyers, experts and judges have apologized or met with some disciplinary measure. If I am correctly informed some continue to believe that Lucia was guilty or at least that they themselves didn’t make any error. See this tv broadcast how director Paul Smits argues that he would do the same: when such suspicion arises, call the police. His defence is that it is bizarre that other agencies simply adopt that suspicion instead of looking into it critically. The critique however is that he didn’t treat Lucia in the manner of “innocent until proven guilty” but rather conversely, while it is difficult for the police to be critical about “medical evidence” (that isn’t really such). Smits later moved on to become director of Maasstad Ziekenhuis, where he mismanaged a klebsiella infection that caused the death of some patients. After that he was given a “second chance” (in which Lucia was forgotten, well, she was acquitted) for the Medical Center Leeuwarden. At least we can say that as science progresses and society becomes increasingly complex, there are ever more ways to make statistical errors of type I and type II.