I belong to a group of people who, inter alia, (try to) apply Bayesian Theory to miscarriages of justice eg the recent spate of medical staff arrested when rare (but to be expected eventually) clusters of deaths occur in hospitals. A somewhat opposite case has recently arisen which has generated statistical questions that are beyond our ken but may be within some of yours.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The problem has a number of stages but the first, and perhaps easiest, question is this: what is the probability that a ship that has been hijacked will subsequently sink from an unconnected misadventure?

To save time, here are the assumptions we are working with (but feel free to vary them if you prefer):

'ships' : means all vessels over 1000 tons

'hijack' : means in the last hundred years (and includes modern pirates)

'misadventure' : means accident, insurance scam etc but not for instance a ship captured by the British in the war and subsequently sunk by a German U-boat.

We have been working with a figure of 100,000 ships that qualify (but feel free to vary this if the figure is unrealsitic). You are invited to use either gut feeling or available statistics to judge hijacking and sinking rates.

As a mathematical ignoramus myself I'd very much appreciate answers that are mainly in English rather than integers, Greek letters and suchlike. Anybody who thinks they recognise the source of the problem (it has had some publicity recently) is kindly requested not to blurt it out at this stage since such knowledge may interfere with the science.

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# Ships With Multiple Fates

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