Orsam Books

It's a Lottery!


I might just as well top myself.

How is it possible that, without any sense of irony, the Major can respond in #6457 to RJ's hypothetical scenario of how Mike could have telephoned Doreen on the same day as work was being carried out in Battlecrease without the diary having been found under the floorboards, with the comment:

'To ignore Battlecrease provenance because you prefer a different version of events is reasonable if you have evidence that any of your scenario above occurred.  If you don't, it's just more of that  wishful thinking...'.

I mean, seriously?

Can he be unaware that there is no evidence to support his own scenario of the diary being found under the floorboards, which is nothing more than wishful thinking?

I've never seen such a lack of self-awareness in my entire life.


Showing that he knows absolutely nothing about statistics, or coincidence, the Major claims in #6456 that, had Maybrick's old office been knocked down on the same day that Mike contacted Doreen Montgomery about Maybrick's diary, 'Any statistician worth his salt would say "That's almost certainly NOT a coincidence"'.

I can, however, guarantee that no statistician would ever say such a thing.

The reason for this is that a statistician will know that lots and lots (we are talking millions if not billions) of events occur every single day of the week (including floorboards being lifted in old houses and telephone calls being made) and the probability that some of those events can be connected with each other in some way (albeit that there is no actual connection between them in the sense of why they happened on the same day) is extremely high.


Allow me to illustrate the flaw in the Major's thinking with a quick example.

Let's take an old house in England.  I'm going to choose Hatfield House in Hertfordshire which was built in 1611.

Now let's say that on 9 March 1992, in one of the rooms of that house, some floorboards were lifted to allow electrical work to be done (perhaps for the first time since the nineteenth century). 

As far as I can understand what the Major is telling us, a statistician would be compelled to say that it almost certainly could NOT be a coincidence that the floorboards were lifted in that house in Hertfordshire on the same day as Mike telephoned Doreen Montgomery and that there must be a connection.

That just shows how ridiculous what the Major is saying is.

Now, perhaps the Major will say, no, no, the difference with the floorboards being lifted in Maybrick's old house is that Maybrick's supposed diary was the subject of the supposed conversation between Mike and Doreen so that the house in question needs to have been lived in by Maybrick. But, you see, while he doesn't realize it, in doing so, he's setting his own subjective rules of what is supposed to be a strict mathematical formula.  Because, after all, the way he frames it in his #6462 is that it is mere arithmetic, namely that there are circa 37,000 days between Maybrick's death and 9 March 1992 so that the probability is 1 in 37,000 of the floorboards having been lifted (in Battlecrease) on the latter date.  Hells bells he even confirms in #6465 that this would be the exact same almost impossible probability if Maybrick's old office in Liverpool had been demolished on 9 March 1992.  

Where does it end?  

Let's see.  What about the house next door to Maybrick's house?   What if the floorboards had been lifted in that house on 9 March 1992?  Or the house next to that? 

We happen to know that Maybrick spent four days in the Harrogate Hotel in July 1888.  What does the Major think a statistician would say if it was discovered that some work was done in that hotel on 9 March 1992 which involved the lifting of the floorboards?  After all, we would be looking at a hotel which Maybrick had stayed in having work done on the same day that Mike was informing a literary agent of the existence of the diary.  Why wouldn't the probability of those two events be the impossible to explain 1 in 37,000?  And what about work being done on one of the stands at Ascot where Maybrick is known to have visited in 1888.  Or Aintree where Maybrick went in March 1889?  There are connections with Maybrick there but if a statistician were to say that it is almost impossible for it to be a coincidence for work to have been carried out in any property or building connected in some way with Maybrick on 9 March 1992, that statistician would surely lose their job. 

The short point is that it is human perception, specifically the Major's perception after the event, which is driving his view of the improbability of the coincidence, and this has nothing to do with statistics or proper calculations of probability. 


Here's another one for the diary defenders to chew over.

What if electricians had been working in Battlecrease on every single day in March 1992? What if, from 1 March 1992 to 31 March 1992, electricians had been crawling all over the building pulling up floorboards and/or working under floorboards in every single room on every single day over that period including weekends?  

And then Mike happened to make his telephone call to Doreen on 9 March 1992?

In that scenario there would literally be no way Mike, in March 1992, could have avoided making his call to Doreen on a day in March that electricians were under the floorboards!   It would have been impossible. 

That's why you do need to take account of other days in which electricians were working, in order to make calculations of probability or chance.

Yet the Major, consistent with his arguments so far, will presumably say that we should ignore all the other days in March when the electricians were working in Battlecrease!

Sorry, mate, you can't do it. 


Back in 2017 when the Portus & Rhodes 'timesheet' (or daysheet) was first revealed by Robert Smith, there was one person who was not so impressed by the coincidence of the floorboards apparently being lifted on the same day as Mike's telephone call to Doreen on 9 March 1992. 

Step forward: Major Tom!

So unconvinced was he by this now supposedly amazing coincidence that when he came to write his dreadful 'Society's Pillar' in 2018, he still believed Anne's story of having seen the scrapbook in her family home in the 1960s might be true!!!! 

Even though he was fully aware of the claim that the diary had been found under the floorboards by an electrician on 9 March 1992 due to the 'timesheet' evidence, and he thought that this might be the true provenance of the diary, the Major nevertheless spoke of the possibility of Billy Graham's step-grandmother, Elizabeth Formby, having received the diary from Alice Yapp, as 'a perfect lineage for the Victorian scrapbook from Battlecrease in the late 1880s to Goldie Street in the early 1990s'.  He referred to the 'extraordinary' coincidence of Florence Maybrick adopting the surname of 'Graham' upon her release from Aylesbury prison in 1904 and said that this was 'staggeringly unlikely' to have occurred by chance given that the Jack the Ripper scrapbook came to light through a man married to an Anne Graham. 

We were even provided with a visual demonstration of the facial similarity between Florence Maybrick and two of Anne Graham's ancestors:


Of this supposed similarity, the Major told us categorically in 'Society's Pillar' that it 'cannot simply be ascribed once more to chance or happenstance'.  

It was only after my response (Pillar of Sand), in which I said that, by keeping his options open in respect of two entirely incompatible coincidences, whereby at least one of them MUST be a pure coincidence, the Major was demonstrating that neither of them are so compelling that they can't be explained away by chance or happenstance, that he finally plumped for the floorboards story, thus conceding that what he had previously called a 'staggeringly unlikely' coincidence WAS in fact a coincidence!!!  This doesn't give us much confidence in his ability to assess probabilities, does it?


As usual, the Major lazily misrepresents something I've said.  This time it's my factually accurate claim that the chances of electricians working in Battlecrease during 1992 on the same day that Mike made his telephone call were 1 in 18.

The Major gets hopelessly confused and thinks that I was calculating the chances of the floorboards being lifted for the first time on the day that Mike made his call, hence he says in #6462 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread that, 'his [Lord Orsam's] numerator consisted of 13 days which were impossible to factor because the coincidence had already happened and - lo! - on the first opportunity it had to do so!'  This is entirely incorrect because the supposed coincidence of electricians working in Battlecrease, which is what I was dealing with, continued through the year.   

I wasn't calculating anything about the floorboards.  I was only looking at how likely it was that Mike's call was made on the same day as electricians were working in the house (see The False Facts Exposed!, a response to Robert Smith's 2017 book which didn't claim that the floorboards in Battlecrease were being lifted for the first time, or for the only time, and Response to the Muppets under heading 'What are the chances?' and Not True, Funny How it Seems under heading 'Provenance: Part 4 - Probability').  To show how barmy the Major's response would be to what I was actually saying, if you followed his logic, the chances would be exactly the same if electricians had worked in Battlecrease on a single day in 1992 as it would be if they had worked every single day from 9 March 1992 to 31 December 1992.   Thus he would say we should totally ignore the fact that the electricians worked in Battlecrease for 298 days of the year because that is totally irrelevant!!!   And it would still, in his mind, be an impossible coincidence that electricians were working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992, despite them having worked in there for the vast majority of the year.

That's why it's important to ignore idiots when it comes to probability.

His own calculation of 1/37,618 (later corrected to 1/37,557) is fatally flawed bearing in mind that he doesn't know that 9 March 1992 was the first time that the floorboards were lifted in Battlecrease.  The evidence in the case is that it was not the first time at all.  Furthermore, bizarrely, in calculating what he refers to as 'the odds' of Mike making his telephone call to Doreen Montgomery on the same day as the floorboards in Battlecrease being lifted, he factors in a period of time after Maybrick's death but before Mike and Doreen were even born!!!   

The Major's calculation also assumes that the chances of the floorboards being lifted on any one of the 37,557 days is exactly the same as any other day.  This would be false if floorboards of a Victorian house are more likely to have been lifted in the 1990s as opposed to the 1890s.  We are told that the reason the floorboards were lifted on 9 March 1992 were to install electrical wires for a night storage heater or three (which the Major seems to think was the first time they were ever lifted).  So one would need to compare the number of Victorian houses which had electrical wiring installed during the 1890s with the number in the 1990s.  Unless they are the same - and I think we can safely assume they are not - the Major's calculation of probability is an abject failure.  It would be like calculating the odds of the outcome of a coin toss which has been weighted on one side.  The odds of 50/50 suddenly go out of the window. 

The other huge flaw is that the Major is seeing what he wants to see in the apparent fact of the floorboards being lifted on 9 March 1992 (something which remains to be proved by evidence).  I mean, what if gardeners had been digging in the garden on that day for the first time since Maybrick's death?   You could just as easily imagine that the scrapbook had been found buried in a biscuit tin under the lawn.  If work had been done in the attic for the first time since Maybrick's death, the Major would no doubt be telling us that the diary had been found in the attic.  If any one of the rooms in the house had been remodelled, we would have been told that Maybrick secreted his journal in a crevice, only to be discovered during this work.  The floorboards are a red herring.  There is no clear connection between floorboards and diary.

As soon as you introduce any form of bias into an equation of this nature, human or otherwise (just like a loaded roulette table will change the chances of which number the ball will land on, or the weighted coin I mentioned), all notions of probability go out of the window because it will not be true calculation of probability.  


According to the Major in #6482, in explaining his calculation of probability:

'What is the first day they could have happened on the same day?

What is the final day they could have happened on the same day?'

I read his long post but couldn't find any explanation of what 'they' means, other than 'two events'.

I know that one of the two events he is referring to is floorboards being lifted in Battlecrease for the first time.  His mathematical formula immediately fails on this basis because he doesn't know for certain that it was the first time that floorboards were lifted in the house (or in Maybrick's room).  In fact, the owner of the house as at 1992, Paul Dodd, has stated that the floorboards WERE lifted prior to that date, in 1977, when the building was gutted (and quite possibly before that in 1946 when the building was rewired and quite possibly before when it was converted to electricity in the 1920s).  There is literally zero evidence as to whether any floorboards were lifted before the Dodd family acquired the property.  As the Major's entire formula is based on the assumption of 9 March 1992 being the very first time the floorboards were lifted since Maybrick's death, his calculation has no validity if that date was the second time (or more) that the floorboards were lifted.

But, for the purposes of our own amusement, let's assume that there was incontrovertible evidence that 9 March 1992 was the first time of the lifting of the floorboards.  What's the second event?

The Major doesn't describe it in #6482 but, in a subsequent post (#6487), he tells us that it is that:

'someone could have contacted a literary agent with a mooted diary of the Jack the Ripper (aka James Maybrick)'.

There are two immediate problems with this formulation.  The first is that there is no evidence that when Mike first contacted Doreen he told her that the diary was a diary written by James Maybrick.   All we know for sure (from one of Doreen's notes) is that he said it was a diary of Jack the Ripper.

As to that, Caroline Morris herself always tells us that, as at 9 March 1992, Mike hadn't worked out that the diary he was trying to sell Doreen was written by James Maybrick, so when the Major keeps referring to 'someone seeking a literary agent for a Jack the Ripper scrapbook purporting to be written by James Maybrick' there is no evidence that this actually happened and he is, in fact, loading the dice in favour of his theory.  

My own theory is that Mike created the diary from a pre-prepared text which identified James Maybrick as Jack the Ripper but this is no more than a theory of mine. And I don't think my theories can affect arithmetical calculations.  For all I know, when Mike contacted Doreen on 9 March 1992, he hadn't yet worked out whose diary it was going to be so that perhaps James Kelly was, in his mind, going to be Jack the Ripper. 

In other words, the brilliant Major is, in effect, telling us that it is statistically almost impossible that ANYONE could have contacted a literary agent on 9 March 1992 to inform them that they possessed a diary of Jack the Ripper (regardless of the Ripper's identity) without it being connected to the floorboards being lifted in Battlecrease on that day, whereas that is all that might, in fact, have happened on 9 March 1992. 

The other strange bias in the Major's formula is the inclusion of a literary agent.  The first thing here is that we do not know if 9 March 1992 was, in fact, the first time since 1889 that someone had contacted a literary agent about being in possession of a diary of Jack the Ripper.  It is something assumed by the Major but not proven.  The same is true of a diary of Jack the Ripper written by James Maybrick. It is a pure assumption that no-one had ever done so since Maybrick's death.  Has the Major checked the position with every literary agent living during the period 1889 and 1992? 

Then we have to ask ourselves, what is the statistical difference between someone having contacted a literary agent about a diary of Jack the Ripper on 9 March 1992 as against someone having mentioned to anyone, literary agent or not, the existence of such a diary, including to a friend or relative?  Surely from a statistical perspective there can't be any.  Yet, according to Mike's wife, she knew about the diary since 1991.  Their daughter supposedly knew about the diary.  Mike was supposedly researching it in the library.  The short point is that we don't know if the diary of Jack the Ripper was mentioned by Mike to anyone else before 9 March 1992.

Furthermore, what the Major is essentially saying, once we strip off the red herring of the literary agent, is that it was almost impossible for two people to have had a conversation about a Jack the Ripper diary on the same day as the floorboards in Maybrick's house were lifted.  Yet there would have been millions of conversations taking place around the country on 9 March 1992 which will invariably affect the probabilities and, without the data regarding the topics of those conversations, I don't know how a statistician will be able to calculate probabilities in any sensible way.  I mean, does that statistician know that people (including literary agents) aren't privately discussing Jack the Ripper diaries every single day of the week?  If so, how is that knowledge acquired?

Sure, the Major can say that he believes that, because of the work done by the electricians on 9 March 1992, the diary emerged from under the floorboards.  That's a theory.  He can also say that he finds the coincidence of Mike telephoning Doreen on that day so striking that one of the electricians must surely have informed Mike of their find on the same day.  That's a theory.

What he cannot legitimately do is weave his theory into a supposedly objective mathematical calculation into which he is factoring in all sorts of assumptions of his own while pretending it's just pure mathematics.


A remarkably deluded (even for him) Errorbitha (#6486) seems to think that the Major is a statistical genius!

So perhaps the Major will answer this simple question.

If the odds or probability (or whatever he wants to describe it) of the 'two events' happening on the same day are circa 1 in 37,000, how does he calculate the odds of the two events happening 24 hours apart?

I mean, what if the electricians had been working in the house on Sunday 8 March 1992 and had lifted the floorboards of Maybrick's room for the very first time on THAT day and Mike then telephoned Doreen the next day?  I'd be very interested to know from the Major if a statistician would tell us that such an occurrence was also almost impossible to have happened by chance.  While he's at it, perhaps he could also explain how one goes about mathematically calculating 'the odds' of those two things occurring with a 24 hour gap between them.  

And then let's go back to a floorboard lifting on the Saturday but a call on the Monday.  Any difference?

What about a floorboard lifting on Friday 6 March and a telephone call on the Monday?  Can you tell me the odds of those two events happening within three days of each other please Mr Major Misunderstanding?

Because, for me, and perhaps the rest of the world, had the floorboards been lifted on Friday 6 March and Mike telephoned Doreen on Monday 9 March, the coincidence between the two events would have had exactly the same force.  Or rather the theory that the diary was found under the floorboards and then passed over to Mike (say late on Friday afternoon) for Mike to telephone Doreen first thing on Monday morning would have exactly the same force.  Perhaps even more force bearing in mind that we don't actually know what time of day the floorboards were lifted on 9 March (if they were, in fact, lifted, about which there is no direct evidence) nor what time on 9 March Mike actually telephoned Doreen. 

I mean, if it turns out that Mike telephoned Doreen at 9am on 9 March 1992 to inform her of the Maybrick diary while the floorboards were lifted at 10am, the Major, on the basis of the formula he has set out, will tell us that it is almost impossible that this could be a coincidence so that Mike's telephone call must have been caused by the lifting of the floorboards even though the lifting of the floorboards happened AFTER Mike's telephone call!!!!

Seriously, this is what our expert resident statistician IS telling us because that's the way his formula is worded.  The two events cannot have happened by coincidence simply because they happened on the same day even though he doesn't actually know the order in which they happened!  

That aside, I want to know the odds/probability for the floorboards being lifted one day before a literary agent was contacted about Jack the Ripper's diary on 9 March 1992, one week before, one month before, six months before and one year before*.  It should be very easy for the Major to tell us the statistical difference between the two events happening on the same day, two days apart, a week apart, a month apart etc.  Is it almost impossible statistically speaking for the two events to have occurred by chance a full year apart?  If not, why not?  If it is, we can all have a good laugh.

*Some time after I wrote the above, Jeff Hamm asked the same question via RJ in #6631 of the Incontrovertible thread, saying "how long before the publisher event would we accept?  What if the floorboards had come up the day before?  Or the week before? And so forth." Exactly!


Perhaps the great statistical expert could tell us the odds regarding the connection between his 'two events' if the diary wasn't physically completed (and thus didn't exist in its present form) until 11 April 1992.

Bearing in mind the objective and mathematical nature of his numerical formula, it should be a piece of cake.

And presumably, the way he's explained it, the odds must be exactly the same! 

And, if that's the case, his figure of circa 1 in 37,000 doesn't help us at all as to when (and by whom) the diary was created, does it? 


I nearly choked on my own vomit when I read the Major say (#6526):

'mine was a strictly numerical analysis'.

Can he really be so unware?

To the extent that he managed to count the days between 12 May 1889 and 9 March 1992, that certainly was a numerical exercise.  And well done the Major!  He only managed to mess it up by a little bit and calculate the wrong figure by 61 days - for the Major that is a major achievement.

But, of course, his analysis was NOT strictly numerical.  He was factoring in various assumptions.

Let me demonstrate.

On 9 March 1992, Alan Amos MP resigned from Parliament after having been arrested for indecency with a man on Hampstead Heath.

If we follow the 'strictly numerical' analysis of the Major, given that there were 37,557 days between the death of Maybrick on 11 May 1889 and the resignation of Amos on 9 March 1992, which was also the same day as the lifting of floorboards in Battlecrease, it must be numerically almost impossible for the resignation of Amos not to be connected with the lifting of the floorboards.

That must be true mustn't it, given his strictly numerical analysis?

After all, there were 37,557 days between Maybrick's death and the resignation of Alan Amos so the chances of the floorboards being lifted on the day Alan Amos resigned must be 1 in 37,557, according to the Major's strictly numerical analysis because the numbers don't lie. 

And the same is true for every single thing that happened on 9 March 1992 everywhere in the world, including every single conversation between two people that occurred on that day.  They must ALL be connected in some way to the lifting of the floorboards in Battlecrease.

We can see how absurd that would be, yet the numbers are exactly the same. 

So what is different, numerically speaking, about Mike's conversation with Doreen Montgomery?

The answer has to be: nothing.

The Major has assumed there is significance due to  (1) the fact that Mike was talking to her about a diary of Jack the Ripper which would turn out to have been one allegedly written by James Maybrick and (2) the possibility that Maybrick might have hidden the very same diary being discussed under the floorboards.

That is just his assumption.  It may or may not have any validity.  But it is clearly based on an assumption that the two events can be connected. It has nothing to do with being 'strictly numerical'.    


Let's continue the strictly numerical discussion.

The chances of winning the UK lottery by selecting the six numbered balls drawn at random are said to be 1 in 45 million.  That's a much bigger number than 1 in 37,557, so that winning the lottery must also be 'almost impossible', yet people regularly win it!

How come?

The answer is that millions of people are playing the lottery every week so that the chances of someone actually winning the lottery on any particular day are very different to 1 in 45 million. So you need to factor the number of people playing into the calculation in order to work out whether something is impossible or not.

If we translate this to the number of conversations that occurred on 9 March 1992, the chances of someone mentioning Maybrick in conversation that day would need to be factored into the Major's calculations.  But he hasn't done it.

I can't recall what I was doing on 9 March 1992 but if I had happened to have spoken to have someone about the Maybrick case, would that have been almost impossible not to have been connected with the floorboards being lifted in Battlecrease?  

What about anyone else interested in True Crime?  Would any discussion about Maybrick on 9 March 1992 be impossible not to have been connected with the lifting of the floorboards?  Is that what a statistician would seriously tell us? 

To the extent that the Major wants to make the issue about someone mentioning Maybrick's diary, he's just tailoring his calculations to fit an outcome that he knows actually happened.   It's clearly a human judgment, not a strictly numerical calculation.

The fact that the Major can claim with a straight face that he is offering a strictly numerical analysis proves that he knows nothing about probability and, despite impressing his poodle, Errorbitha, is bluffing. 


I don't even know how the Major arrives at a conclusion that a statistician would say that a circa 1 in 37,000 chance results in an outcome that is 'almost impossible'.

And we should note that the precise number doesn't seem to matter to the Major for when he excluded weekends and arrived at a figure of circa 1 in 26,000 it was exactly the same!  I'd like to know at what point the figure moves from 'almost impossible' to possible.  1 in 20,000?  1 in 10,000?  1 in a 1000?  1 in 100?  1 in 18? Perhaps the Major can enlighten us. 

Don't coincidences for which one could say there is a one in a million chance of happening nevertheless happen every day?   

Chances of being killed an aeroplane crash are said to be one in 11 million but people regularly get killed in crashes.  Chances of being struck by lightning are said to be over one in a million but it happens all the time.

If things with chances of over 1 in a million can and do happen, why would a statistician say that odds of 1 in 37,000 are almost impossible?   


One thing I do love about the Major's strictly numerical analysis is that we learn from him that, had the floorboards of Battlecrease been lifted in the year after Maybrick's death, on, say, 9 March 1890, and, on that same day, Mike had telephoned Doreen (some years before they were both born!) the chances of those two events being a coincidence would only be 1 in 300. 

Think about it.  Let's forget the telephones and Mike and Doreen not being alive for moment but let's really think about it.  The floorboards of Battlecrease get lifted on 9 March 1890 and on that same fecking day someone contacts a literary agent (perhaps by letter) to say they are in possession of the diary of Jack the Ripper which turns out to have been written by the recently deceased Mr James Maybrick. 

According to the Major's formula (which is simply based on adding up the number of days) the odds of those two events happening by chance on the same day are about 1/300 (because there are just over 300 days between Maybrick's death and 9 March 1890). 

Think about this.  We are talking about exactly the same two events happening on the same day but for some reason the chances of them happening in one day in 1890 are 1/300 while the chances of them happening in one in 1992 are 1/3700.  But they are essentially describing exactly the same coincidence of events.

We can take it further.  If the floorboards had been lifted in Battlecrease on 13 May 1889 and an enterprising person who, it is known, never had any personal contact with James Maybrick or any of his family, staff or acquaintances but drank in the same public house as one of the workmen involved in lifting the floorboards had contacted a literary agent on that day about a diary of Jack the Ripper (as written by the recently deceased James Maybrick) we are now down to 1/2.  So entirely likely have happened by chance I think the Major would say.  These odds, after all, are the very same odds as flipping a coin to result in it being heads (otherwise expressed as 50/50, or evens).

Yet, according to the Major, the chances of the exact two same fecking events happening on the same day in 1992 are 1/37,557.

1/2 on 13 May 1889 and 1/37,557 on 9 March 1992. 

How utterly insane is that?

After all, wouldn't the argument that the diary had come up from under the floorboards on 13 May 1889 be the same one as the argument that they came up from under the floorboards on 9 March 1992? 

Or, to put it another way, wouldn't the argument that the enterprising person was planning to fake a diary of James Maybrick (assuming it wasn't produced until the middle of June 1889) be the same argument?

Nevertheless you've got to love a numerical analysis which says that it would be much more likely to have been a pure coincidence if Mike had contacted Doreen about the diary fifty years before he was born!!! 


When I first published my response to Robert Smith's book in  The False Facts Exposed! back in September 2017 I was a member of the Forum and Caroline Morris could have raised any objection to anything I said at which time I could have responded.

But those with good memories will recall her petulantly and childishly making clear she wasn't going to read my article.  On 6 October 2017, for example, she posted in JTR Forums to say, 'I've yet to read David's piece, and don't know when I'll get round to it'.  Now, four years later, when I'm no longer a member of the Forum, she wants to challenge my claim about the probability that electricians were working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992!

Well I say that, but despite RJ Palmer having made it clear that my mention of probability had nothing to do with floorboards, certain people keep comparing my simple calculation of what was nothing more than the chances of (Portus & Rhodes) electricians working in Battlecrease on a single week-day in 1992 (1 in 18) with the Major's calculation of the chances of the floorboards being lifted up on the same day as Mike contacted a literary agent of 1 in 37,000.

The two calculations of probability are totally different and cannot be compared with each other.  They relate to different things.

As for my calculation of probability - as I've already stated above - I defended it from challenge in  Response to the Muppets under heading 'What are the chances?' and then further in Not True, Funny How it Seems under heading 'Provenance: Part 4 - Probability') . 

The problem with people like Caroline Morris is that they refuse to educate themselves before stating their uninformed opinions.  No Orsam, No Comment!

Whether the Major reads what I write I have no idea.  The general tenor of his posts suggests he does but, if that's the case, he doesn't seem to comprehend any of it. He certainly never accurately sets out what I write when responding.  

Anyway, if any of the diary defender gang are reading this, I want to set them a simple challenge (similar to one I've already set above).

If it turned out that electricians had been working in Battlecrease every single day in 1992 - and I mean for 366 days (bearing in mind it was a leap year) - would there be any reason to gasp in awe at the fact that, on 9 March 1992, when Mike telephoned Doreen, there were electricians working in that house?

The answer must surely be a resounding NO!

If electricians were in there every day of the year, Mike literally couldn't have avoided telephoning Doreen on a day when electricians were working in Battlecrease when he telephoned her on 9 March 1992!

Now, I wasn't dealing with floorboards but we can ask the same question about the floorboards.  If the floorboards had been lifted every single day of 1992, would there be any real significance to be gleaned from Mike telephoning Doreen on 9 March 1992. After all, in the scenario I'm asking them to imagine, there were floorboards being lifted every day of the year.

I also challenge them to tell me if we would regard it as a staggering event if electricians were working every day in Battlecrease between 1 January and 10 March 1992.

And would they regard it as a staggering event if electricians were working every day in Battlecrease between 9 March and 31 December 1992? 

If they accept that the answer to all these questions is no, perhaps they will understand why I approached the subject as I did.  In the correct manner.

As I've already written, however, whatever number is produced is irrelevant.  When it comes to coincidence, or possible coincidence, numbers are meaningless.  The point I was making in my article is that, if you are considering whether the coincidence of the electricians working in Battlecrease is a remarkable one or not, you MUST consider the fact that electricians were working in Battlecrease on other days in 1992.  If you don't factor that into your considerations you are not truly considering probability.

Now, just to repeat, I wasn't considering floorboard lifting.  Robert Smith's 2017 book (which is what I was writing about) hadn't even proved that the floorboards were lifted on 9 March 1992 and, in fact, this still hasn't been proved, as opposed to assumed, to this day.   But floorboard lifting is another matter.  If you are going to consider what I wrote in my 2017 article you do need to understand that IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH FLOORBOARDS!

To everyone:  Please do check out the Incontrovertible thread to see if a single diary defender - especially the Major - responds to my challenge.  If they fail to do so, you can draw your own conclusions.

Never has the old adage about when you are in a hole stop digging been more appropriate than with the Major's attempt to convince us of a second 'statistical miracle' in #6577.

This second statistical miracle, we are told, is that 'a member of the team', by which he seems to mean an employee of Portus & Rhodes, 'drank in the same pub as the guy who contacted the literary agent'

Leaving aside, for the moment, the Major's point that it was remarkable enough that Eddie and Mike both lived in Liverpool, it is ludicrous for the Major to simply point to the population of Merseyside in 1992, in order to presumably tell us that the odds were 1 in 1.4 million of two individuals in Merseyside drinking in the same pub.

I have no doubt whatsoever that a statistician would say that it is entirely unremarkable for two random people in a large city to discover that they live near each other.  And if two men live near each other, it's entirely possible that they could occasionally drink in the same public house.

The first question is how many public houses in total did each men drink at.  I rather doubt that Mike only drank in the Saddle or that Eddie only drank there.  Once you have the possibility of two men drinking in more than one pub, the probability of them drinking in the same pub changes drastically.

The Saddle is in Fountains Road which is a very long road.   From a modern map, I can only see a couple of other pubs in easy walking distance from Fountains Road.  A lot of the large number of people who lived in Fountains Road probably drank from time to time in the Saddle pub.  

Then the other crucial question which MUST be asked but which the Major entirely omits is how many pubs were there in Merseyside in 1992?  Obviously, if there was only one pub it wouldn't matter if there were 10 million people living in Merseyside, the chances of two people out of 10 million drinking there would be very high! 

It is the fact that the Major simply draws the readers attention to the population of Merseyside but mentions nothing about the number of pubs which shows what an amateur he is when it comes to issues of probability.

Then you have to factor in that there were a number of employees of Portus & Rhodes.   The more people you include in the group the more the odds are changed dramatically.  Yet, the Major in inviting his readers to calculate the probabilities, doesn't even bother to mention how many people were in 'the team' he referred to.

As for the Major's other point being that Mike lived in Liverpool as did Eddie, this would have been the case even if Eddie had only been working in Battlecrease on 9 December 1991 or 9 April 1992.  
The problem is that the starting point is that Mike lived in Liverpool.  Knowing this, a theory was developed by Feldman as long ago as 1993 that electricians working in Battlecrease might have found the diary when the floorboards were lifted. As the Major accepts that the electricians must have been in Liverpool, it means that the very starting point of the theory involves the fact that both men were from Liverpool. 

Now he wants to say, golly isn't amazing that both men lived in Liverpool!!! 
Let us leave him at the bottom of his hole, still digging, ladies and gentlemen. 
'It's no shock that I understand and support Ike's analysis.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that he might be more qualified in the area of statistics than RJ or Lord Orsam.'
           'I've, sadly, never been any good at maths.'
You literally could not make this kind of comedy up. 


We've all seen how selective Miss Information is when it comes to reading articles on this website, or rather pretending not to have read them.   She pulled the same stunt when it came to Jeff Hamm's comments on the Major's nonsensical probability calculation.
After RJ Palmer posted Jeff's comments in #6631, Miss Information, in a desperate attempt to stall having to respond, wrote in #6633:
'I will read your post, RJ, and what Jeff had to say, when I catch up with all the previous posts, but in the meanwhile could I just ask you, for the sake of completeness, to post precisely what information was given to him about the two known events on 9th March 1992.

The thing is, how could she possibly have known that Jeff hadn't already revealed what information he had been given without having read his comments in full?

Seriously, Mike Barrett could have put forward a better attempt at pulling the wool over our eyes.

Then, as usual, the lady doth protest too much when, in the very next post (#6634) she wrote:
'Regardless of what Jeff might have had to say [I've not read it yet and I'll wait to see what he was given]'

LOL! 'Regardless of what Jeff might have had to say'.  Yeah, we got it.  You're pretending not to have read what Jeff had to say.   But best to repeat that to make sure we've understood, hence 'I've not read it yet'!

As if she can't read his comments until she's been given more information.  What utter tosh!

No wonder she always claims to understand Mike Barrett so well! 

As if hit over the head by the hammer of reality, the Major admits in #6640:

'Obviously, if workmen were at Maybrick’s house every single day - not simply for this arbitrary year 1992 but every day since he died or wrote his last entry into the scrapbook (May 3, 1889) then obviously someone ringing a literary agent with the diary of Jack the Ripper authored by James Maybrick would be absolutely guaranteed to happen on the same day as work was being done on Maybrick’s house.'

He MUST therefore agree with me that if workmen were in Maybrick's house every day during 1992 someone ringing a literary agent with the diary of Jack the Ripper authored by James Maybrick during 1992 would be absolutely guaranteed to happen on the same day as work was being done in Maybrick's house.  And it therefore follows that if workmen were in Maybrick's house for 14 week days in 1992, the chances of Mike ringing a literary agent on a day in 1992 that workmen were in Maybrick's house  was 1 in 18.   

I look forward to an apology from the Major for his initial response to my correct statistical calculation.

Well it only took four years before the first diary defender accurately summarised what I was saying about probability in my 2017 article. 

In #6646 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread, Miss Information stated:

'It's all very well for Lord Orsam to have worked  out that in 1992 there was a 1 in 18 chance of  Mike telling Doreen he had Jack the Ripper's diary, and this turning out to be supposedly by Maybrick, on one of the weekdays that year when 'work' [not confined to floorboard lifting in Maybrick's old bedroom] was being done in Battlecrease House.'

She's finally worked out that I wasn't talking about floorboards.  Hurrah!

She then went on to say:

'But either by accident or design he was missing the point that neither was an everyday event [one or both were unique]'

Unfortunately, that is just nonsense.  How was it unique in any way for improvement work to have been done in an old house on 9 March 1992?

And my calculation of 1 in 18 was only in respect of Portus & Rhodes electricians.  The likelihood is that more work was done in the house by other workers during the year.
For her to say that 'neither was an everyday event' is palpable nonsense in circumstances of a house renovation, when work being done in that old house quite possibly WAS an everyday event at the time.

Now it's obvious that if you define the other event as Mike speaking to Doreen about a Jack the Ripper diary which turned out to be by Maybrick that is of course a  unique event (albeit that we are told that such a conversation also occurred on 10 March too!) but the point I was addressing was how surprising was it that this unique event occurred on a day when there were electricians working in the house.  Or, to put it another way, the essence of what I was doing was calculating the chances of electricians working in Battlecrease on any single working day during 1992  (which, in this case, was 9 March 1992 but it could equally have been 11 March or 15 October) so that it didn't even matter what else happened on that day.

My entire point was that if you are attempting to calculate the chances of electricians working in the house on ONE day during the year you absolutely cannot ignore the fact that they were working in Battlecrease for a total of 14 days in the year.  If you do, you lose sight of the chances of them working in there on 9 March 1992 (because, for example, as we know, they were ALSO working in there on 10 March 1992).

The Major followed up his mistress' post by colouring the words 'on a day in 1992' in red and, for sure, I was only considering what  happened during that year.  The event HAD to be in 1992 because it was a day in that year when Mike made his telephone call and, to repeat the point, I was looking at the chances of workmen working in Battlecrease on one particular day in 1992. 

I do have to ask the Major and Miss Information to tell me once again if there would be anything surprising about the electricians working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992 if they were, in fact, working in there for 366 days of the year.  Surely in those circumstances there can't possibly have been anything surprising about it.

And if I told you that electricians were working in Battlecrease for 200 days during the year (but I don't tell you which days) are you really going to come back to me and say you can't believe they were working there on 9 March 1992?

Any rational person would say that if they were working in there for 200 days during the year there really is nothing terribly surprising about them working there on any one of the 366 days of the year including 9 March 1992.
That's why you can't simply ignore the other 13 days during 1992 that they were working in the house if you are considering probabilities. 

And when it comes to loading the dice I keep making the point that the 'coincidence' would have been just as amazing if the electricians had started work on Friday 6 March 1992.  Or frankly ANY day between 1 January 1992 and 9 March 1992.

But what about 31 December 1991 you might say.  And I will agree with you.  Which is why the obsession with the exact day of 9 March 1992 is misleading because there are so many days of floorboard lifting which would support the diary defending argument of the diary being found in the house.  It didn't just have to be on 9 March 1992 or even in 1992.

One more thing about the way the Major highlights 1992 in red in his post.   A year is the amount of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun.  It is period of a little over 365 days which is recognized and understood by human beings as a measurement of time in exactly the same way that a 24 hour period is recognized as being 'a day', being the period of time that the earth rotates around its axis.  But, other than being this period of time, there is nothing more special about a day than there is about a year.

But you will have noticed that the Major calculates his formula of probability based on the number of days between 11 March 1889 and 9 March 1992.  This gives him his 1 in 37,000.  Why does he use this unit of measurement?  He could have used weeks, he could have used months, he could have used years.  But he narrows it down to days.  But why?  Presumably because the information we possess narrows it down only as far as the same day.  But a day can be broken into hours and hours broken into minutes and minutes broken into seconds.  This does prove some interesting results.

Let's just say for the purposes of argument that we find evidence that the floorboards were lifted within the same hour as Mike contacted Doreen Montgomery.  Perhaps the floorboards were lifted at 3.01pm and Mike contacted Doreen at 3.59pm.  Now, from a calculation of probability, in the way the Major does it, that means that because there were some 901,000 hours between Maybrick's death and the floorboards being lifted the chances of those two events happening by chance within the same hour must be a massive 1 in 901,000.

Yet, there is the paradox.  The 'odds' are so much higher but, surely, if it does turn out that the floorboards were lifted within the same hour as Mike contacting Doreen, it would make it far LESS likely that the two events were connected!  After all, how could it have been possible?  Sure, Eddie could have telephoned Mike (from a telephone box presumably) and, without seeing the diary, but just based on what he had been told, Mike then contacted Doreen, but it would, I think, make it far less likely that the events had anything to do with each other on the basis of the narrow period of time available for Eddie to have processed his discovery, contacted Mike and for then Mike to have processed this information and telephoned Doreen.

And we can demonstrate that even better if we assume that the two events happened within the same minute.  There were some 54 million minutes between Maybrick's death and the floorboards being lifted at any time during 9 March 1992 which means that, according to the Major, the chances of the floorboards being lifted and Mike contacting Doreen within the same minute would be 1/54,000,000 against these two events happening by chance.  Yet, the paradox is that if they did happen in the same minute, they MUST have happened by chance!!!!  They couldn't possibly have been connected. There simply wouldn't have been enough time.  So the numbers are telling us one thing and common sense is telling us the exact opposite!
When it comes to seconds, if the floorboards had been lifted at the very same second that Mike was making his telephone call, according to the Major's calculation, that would make the chances 1/3420,000,000 against the two events happening by chance. Yet, even if Mike had been physically present in Battlecrease, it would have been literally impossible according to the known laws of the universe for there to have been a connection between the two events despite the overwhelming numbers that the statistical calculation produces.  Chance would be the ONLY explanation.
The paradox is demonstrated even more clearly if it were to turn out that Mike telephoned Doreen Montgomery at 9.59am on 9 March 1992 and the floorboards were then lifted at 10.01am on the same day.  Again, a physical impossibility for the lifting of the floorboards to have been the cause of Mike's telephone call but the Major's 'odds' of 1/37,000 are exactly the same!  When a calculation of this nature is so badly flawed it must be abandoned.
Even if we assume that floorboard lifting came before the telephone call, how could it all possibly have worked on 9 March?
Arthur Rigby recorded 8 hours on his daysheet for 9 March 1992 which were charged to Paul Dodd.  I was told by Miss Information (without any evidence being provided in support, naturally) that the electricians tended to start work at 8am and work through to about 5pm (or 5.30pm).  8 hours from 8am takes us to 4pm and that is assuming that Rigby didn't take a lunch break, which he must have done.   If he took a standard hour for lunch, he would have finished at 5pm.  Now, we are told that Rigby was in a car when the diary, wrapped up in brown paper, was taken to Liverpool University for examination.  The reason Rigby was in the car was because he was being given a lift into town.
If Eddie sold the diary to Mike on 9 March 1992, as we are usually told he did, the visit to the university could only have taken place at some point during 9 March (because the diary wouldn't have been in Eddie's possession after this date).  There wouldn't have been enough time for this during the working day, so the lift must have occurred during the late afternoon, after Arthur knocked off.  Eddie supposedly had to take the diary to Liverpool University then he had to reach the Saddle pub before young Caroline left school.  But there's no way Eddie could have made a trip from Riversdale Road to the Saddle pub via Liverpool University at any time after 4pm to hand the diary over to Mike before he would have left the pub to pick up his daughter who, we are told by Miss Information herself, left school each day at 3.15pm.  It just doesn't work. 
The only way it works is if the visit to Liverpool University was on 10 March (when Arthur Rigby only recorded 4 hours work at Battlecrease on the daysheet) so that Mike hadn't bought the diary, nor did he have it in his physical possession, when he telephoned Doreen on 9 March, something which funnily enough, I said many years ago must have been the case, in the face of some scepticism that Mike would telephone Doreen without already possessing the diary!  Funny ain't it, that Mike was calling Doreen about a Jack the Ripper diary without even knowing for sure if he would ever own the blooming thing?!
But if the Liverpool University visit was on 10 March this has some earth-shattering consequences because it means that both Eddie Lyons and Jim Bowling were obviously at Battlecrease on 10 March (in order for them to have given Arthur Rigby a lift into town).  We really don't know what Rigby was doing for four hours in the house that day but if he was still lifting floorboards (or even if the floorboards simply remained lifted from the previous day) and he was assisted by Eddie, it could have been THIS day which Eddie supposedly recalled when the floorboards came up in order to install the storage heater.  Suddenly the argument that he was there on 9 March is significantly undermined.
But, of course, all this is based on Mike being in Liverpool.   What if there was proof that he was in London on 9 March 1992 and made the telephone call from that city?  In that case, we would have the exact same probability number of 1/37,557 but suddenly, just with this switch in location, the argument must change from 'almost impossible' to have been by chance to 'highly likely' to have been by chance!!!  After all, Mike couldn't realistically have seen the diary in those circumstances.

And it's funny isn't it that the discovery of the floorboards being lifted on 9 March 1992 could have done one of two things.  Either it could have made the diary defenders whoop with joy at the coincidence (which is what did happen) or it could have made them put their heads in their hands with disappointment if they couldn't work out a story of how Eddie could physically have contacted Mike on the same day.  Yet the number 1/37,557 wouldn't have changed because there would still have been the exact same number of days between the two events.  Even Major Tom should surely be troubled as to how a strictly numerical probability analysis could produce two wildly different outcomes if we do no more than switch Mike Barrett's location.

I hope this is the last word I have to say about the subject but my ultimate point is that attempting to calculate the probability of the two events in question occurring on the same day by numerical calculation is not only impossible (something with the Major's imaginary statistician would confirm in a heartbeat) but utterly pointless. 
We do have a coincidence.  There is no doubt about that.  What we have to decide, based on our life experience, is whether such coincidences do or do not happen, and how significant they are.

But ultimately even THAT doesn't get us anywhere because if the coincidence of these two events is too amazing to have happened by chance, we can find a simple explanation for it which doesn't involve the diary having emerged from under the floorboards.  Perhaps Mike was speaking to the electricians in the pub or he overheard them talking about work at 7 Riversdale Road which either he or the electricians knew was Maybrick's old house.  For all I know, this actually sparked the idea of doing the diary in Mike's head.

I've always thought the idea was an old one cooked up with Tony originally but, for all I know, Mike (and any collaborator) literally wrote the whole thing between 9 March and 13 April.  That was more than enough time for them to have read a few books about Jack the Ripper and James Maybrick and written the text of the diary in that period.  Mike might have initially thought of pretending to have found the diary in Battlecrease but then ditched the idea when he realized that would make it stolen property.  Perhaps that was why he was so annoyed when Eddie tried to claim he had found it. 

You see, I am not deceived by a coincidence of dates.  I do look at this matter scientifically.   Far more so than the Major or Miss Understanding.

I know that the diary cannot possibly have come up from the floorboards on 9 March 1992.  It's impossible because that would mean it must have been buried there since 1889.  I discard all other possibilities, such as it having been placed under the floorboards by a modern tourist, as palpable nonsensical.  Yet the diary cannot possibly have been buried there in 1889 due to the appearance of the expression 'one off instance' (not to mention multiple other anachronisms) which no-one could have written in 1888 or 1889.  Thus I am satisfied that we can discard the idea.

I certainly don't say that it's impossible that the work in Battlecrease was connected with Mike's decision to make his telephone call (although on balance, with the limited information that has been produced by Keith Skinner, James Johnston et al, I don't think it was) but it most certainly was NOT because the diary was found under the floorboards in Battlecrease that day. 
The above turns out not to be my 'last word' on the subject of probability.  This is actually going to be an entry about Errorbitha but be patient.

First, let me tell you something you don't know about Lord Orsam.

I don't normally contact celebrities, they contact me (not actually true!), but fifteen years ago I was reading the first edition of the 2006 book 'Tricks of the Mind' by Derren Brown.  

In that book, Brown was discussing probability and said that he assumed that no-one in their right mind would think of picking as their lottery numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 because that combination being drawn out would be too amazing and was seemingly impossible.  His amusing counter-intuitive point was that there is just as much chance of those six numbers coming up as any other six numbers. 

Now, when, in 2007, Brown published the second (paperback) edition of his book, he wrote in the preface that he was, 'overjoyed to receive communications from people eager to point out perceived mistakes in the hardback incarnation of this volume'.  He explained that, 'Most of these missives were charmless emails from barely literate correspondents who brilliantly missed the point of the counter-intuitive probability problems'.  (On that basis, it's possible that the Major and Errorbitha both contacted Brown).

However, Brown continued, 'Others were more interesting: one chap enlightened me to the fact that the numerical sequence '1,2,3,4,5,6 is a disproportionately popular one chosen by those playing the Lottery, and in fact may even be the most popular choice'.  He added that, as a result of what this chap had told him, 'my presumption turns out to be powerfully and grotesquely wrong'.

I can reveal exclusively that the 'chap' who enlightened Derren Brown about that numerical sequence being the most popular lottery sequence was none other than yours truly, Lord Orsam himself!  How's about that?

And the reason I knew this, as I informed Derren Brown, was because my dad, a retired physics teacher, thinking he was being clever, always chose the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 when playing the lottery (spoiler alert: he never won the lottery!).  He doesn't play it any more but, when he did, he liked to say that there was exactly as much chance of those six numbers being drawn as any other six numbers (which was, of course, true).  But a few years later I read a news report which revealed that this sequence of numbers was actually the most chosen sequence by people playing the lottery (and, from memory, I think it might have been thousands of people who chose those numbers every week). Clearly a lot of people were exactly like my dad, having the same thought and assuming they were the only ones doing it.

The real punchline to this, of course, as I told Derren Brown (although he didn't mention it in his preface) was that if those numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 had, miraculously, been drawn in the lottery one day, those people who had all selected them, despite this unbelievably impossible prediction, and thinking themselves rich beyond dreams of avarice, would have shared only a few quid between them!!!   I mean, essentially they would have won nothing!
I should say by way of confirmation of this story that after I emailed Derren Brown, his assistant replied and asked me if Derren could mention the point in the next edition of his book to which I, of course, agreed.  So that 'chap' was definitely me! 

And it was the only piece of feedback from his first book that Derren mentioned in the preface.

Ta da!

You may now applaud. 

I thank you. 

Now the reason I've mentioned this is not only to demonstrate my credentials on the subject of probability but to lead on to Errorbitha and coin tossing.

When one talks about tossing a coin, if you were to toss it 10 times and the result was this:

H H H H H H H H H H 

You might think that is pretty amazing.  But, of course, the chances of that sequence being flipped (assuming a proper coin toss each time) are exactly the same as this one:


The chances of both those exact sequences occurring are 1/1024.
In other words, if you were going to try to predict the exact outcome of the 10 coin flips, you would have exactly the same chances of predicting one as the other.
(But please note that this is NOT the same as predicting 10 heads being flipped as opposed to 5 heads being flipped, because the chances of those two outcomes are different!)

Now, back in #6576 of the 'Incontrovertible' thread, the Major treated us all to an utterly pointless lecture about coin tossing and the probability of outcomes.  I honestly don't know why he bothered because, even though he asked RJ Palmer to run the calculations he had set out past his bookkeeper, what he had said about coin tossing bore literally no relation to his daft calculations of probability relating to the diary. 
Little Scottie Nelson Esq. who had put himself forward as an expert in probability due to some knowledge of engineering, but ended up contributing nothing of value on the subject to the thread, obviously didn't bother to read the Major's lecture properly for his comment in response in #6578 was:

'Ike, your calculations in #6576 are meaningless. The probability is always going to be 50-50.'

While not a proper response to what the Major had actually said, Little Scottie was of course correct in his statement.  The probability of each coin toss was always going to be 50-50.  Yet, Errorbitha posted in response, dripping with sarcasm, in #6579, to say:

'Only if the toss is once. Did you say you do engineering?'

But, as written, that's utter bollocks.  'Only if the toss is once'.  The probability is always going to be 50-50 whether you toss the coin once or 1,000 times.  Each toss is 50-50.
Errorbitha's response led to one of the best subtle put downs I've ever seen on the board, from Yabs who posted in #6581:

'Do you mean it’s 50/50 if you toss a coin once in your whole lifetime? If not, what does the gap have to be between coin tosses to make it 50/50 again?'

There was literally no response from Errorbitha.  He must have realised he'd made a fool of himself.  If he'd simply expressed himself badly, he had the opportunity to clarify what he'd been saying but he chose not to.
This was on 10 July.  Errorbitha posted again in the thread on 11 July but was, all of sudden, completely silent about the probability of coin tossing.  Funny that!

But then, six days after he had posted on the subject, on 16 July, Errorbitha was offered a lifeline by Caroline Morris who wrote in #6649:

'I thought erobitha merely said that a single one-off toss would be 50/50, not that a theoretical second or subsequent toss would not have the same odds each time.' 

Rather than correct  her - because he hadn't said that at all - Errorbitha grabbed hold of the lifeline and posted, without any sense of shame:

'That's exactly what I said'.

But it wasn't what he said at all.  Let's just remind ourselves.  In response to Little Scottie saying 'The probability is always going to be 50/50', he wrote:

'Only if the toss is once' 
If he had actually been saying what Caroline Morris was now pretending he was saying, he would have said something very different, referring to the outcome of a sequence of tosses.

Because it's not true that the probability is 50/50 only if the toss is once. It's 50/50 however many times you flip it.

There is really no way to spin this (if you'll excuse the pun).  While it's obvious what Errorbitha SHOULD have said, and what he would now LIKE to have said, and perhaps even what he MEANT to say (although, if that's the case, why hadn't he corrected his post?), it's clear what he actually DID say and it certainly wasn't 'merely...that a single one-off toss would be 50/50, not that a theoretical second or subsequent toss would not have the same odds each time' because Little Scottie had been making the very point that a theoretical second or subsequent toss would have the same odds each time but Errorbitha was literally challenging that statement.

After all, what possible meaning can the word 'Only' have in the sentence 'Only if the toss is once'?   Surely that is denying a probability of 50/50 on any additional toss. 
But if there is one thing on the board that's guaranteed it's that Errorbitha's gonna error. 

Let make one thing very clear because I know that what I've written so far will be misunderstood.

When I make the points about repairs being done in old houses every day of the week and the possibility of conversations about Maybrick potentially taking place between two people on any day of the week I'm not attempting to deny the coincidence of the electricians working in Battlecrease (and potentially lifting the floorboards, albeit not for the first time, if that's what they did).  My point on these aspects is SOLELY to refute the Major's claim that he has carried out a 'strictly numerical' analysis to arrive at his 'odds' of circa 1/37,000.  That's the nonsense I'm attempting to address and expose.  His underlying formula of simply counting the days between Maybrick's death and Mike's conversation with Doreen to come up with a precise figure of probability is statistical clownfoolery.

But when it comes to the Major's claim that a statistician would talk about things being impossible or almost impossible the Major has gone wrong in a different way.

The first thing to note is that something which is 'almost impossible' is also something which is 'possible'. The Major with his love of things which are incontrovertible and irrefutable somehow always seems to forget or ignore this.

However, the key mistake made by the Major is that he is taking a known outcome (in this case the convergence of two events) and then attempting to backcalculate the probability from that.

Let me give you two examples to hightlight why this can't be done.
The first is to go back to the lottery.  Take this apparently random sequence of six numbers.
3, 25, 33, 35, 48, 56
It would be FLIPPING AMAZING if those six numbers were drawn in the lottery.  Absolutely amazing to the point of 'almost impossible.'
As I've already mentioned, the chances of those particular six numbers being drawn in a lottery are one in 45 million.   If one in 37,000 is 'almost impossible' the chances of these six numbers being drawn must move into stratospherically impossible.
Yet, and yet.
Those six numbers were the actual six numbers drawn in the last lottery before I wrote this entry (in the draw held on 17 July 2021 if you want to check for yourself).

How is this possible?  How is it possible for a 1/45 million event to actually happen?

It's because we're looking backwards!  After all, when six balls are drawn there MUST be six different numbers.  There has to be an outcome.  If you were to have predicted those numbers before the draw you'd have beaten the odds of 1 in 45 million but afterwards there's nothing special about them.

Here's a similar example.  Toss a coin a thousand times.  The chances of any individual outcome in respect of the sequence of heads and tails (or all heads and all tails) is so large that the numbers defeat a calculator and is something like the sum of trillion multiplied by a trillion 25 times.  If you wanted to predict the outcome of the thousand tosses, the likelihood is that, if you immediately tossed another thousand coins after the first thousand tosses, then did another thousand coin tosses and so on, you wouldn't have correctly predicted the outcome before the end of the universe.

And yet if you toss a coin a thousand times you WILL have an actual sequence of heads/tails, the probability for which was a number so large that humans can't truly comprehend it!   Somehow the odds for that particular sequence have been defeated.

It's very much like the chances of our own existence which is so mind-blowingly improbable, involving, as it does, our parents meeting at the right time and having sex at the right time (if we can imagine such a disgusting thing!) and their parents doing it and so on back down history, yet here we all are - the impossible outcomes - reading this entry about probability!

I hope I have illustrated sufficiently that when you work back from a known outcome, the kind of probability numbers of the type produced by the Major are meaningless.

I need to repeat that coincidences happen all the time.  They happen every day of the week somewhere.   The key fact is that there are so many coincidences happening all the time and this is why the Major's notional statistician would never describe any single coincidence as almost impossible.  How could he or she possibly know whether any one out of the many coincidences which happen in the world is a chance happening or not.

It's very similar to asking a statistician to say whether a certain outcome of six balls from a lottery draw is almost impossible by defeating the odds of one in 45 million.

I'm not going to go on.  I've already said this so many times.  We do have a coincidence in respect of 9th March 1992 although due to the heavily restricted evidence of the diary defenders (are you reading Keith Skinner? are you reading James Johnston?) it's not yet clear exactly what that coincidence entails but we cannot possibly work out whether that coincidence is significant or not by use of a calculator or asking a statistician. 

Back on 21 September 2017, while I was a member of the Censorship Forum, I posted a link to my article 'The False Facts' which was a response to Robert Smith's book (see #1502 and #1507 of thread '25 YEARS OF THE DIARY OF JACK THE RIPPER: THE TRUE FACTS by 'Robert Smith'). 

While the Major, like anyone else, could have read my article and responded to any of the points I made in it, up until May 2018 when I was still posting in the Censorship forum and could have replied to his posts, we have had to wait until almost four years later, in July 2021, for the Major to apparently read it for the first time and then post in #6664:

'I am desperate to quote the first paragraph because it is statistical nonsense of the highest order but I'm not permitted to.'

He is referring here to the bonkers rule created off the top of Jonathan Menges' head that no-one is allowed to quote anything I've written on my website even if it was written at a time when I was a member of the Forum, but the irony of someone who has spent a number of weeks posting statistical nonsense on the Forum now claiming that I've written statistical nonsense, in circumstances where I don't have the right of reply, is astonishing.

For the record, my first paragraph (and the rest of it) is not statistical nonsense and it's a shame that the Major doesn't seem to have read my responses to the criticisms of the article in Response to the Muppets under heading 'What are the chances?' and Not True, Funny How it Seems under heading 'Provenance: Part 4 - Probability'.

One thing is for sure, given that I wasn't talking about floorboards, no-one has been able to show me what the correct statistical calculation is for what I was trying to demonstrate.

Now I don't want to repeat everything I've said in the above responses but let me say a few things.

The two key points I was trying to make in my 2017 article were:
(1) if you are calculating the probability of the electricians working in the house on 9 March 1992, you can't ignore the fact that they did not ONLY work in that house on 9 March 1992 but were working there on other days (in 1992) as well. This must be right unless someone can explain to me why we should ignore that they were working in the house for 366 days of 1992 had that been the case, and;
(2) you cannot ignore that there were plenty of other days (in 1992 and further back) which would have fit the theory of the diary coming up from under the floorboards.

Prior to the discovery of the timesheets, not a single soul would have said that the only way the diary could have come up from under the floorboards would have been if the electricians had been working in there on 9 March 1992. Frankly, ANY day on which Portus & Rhodes electricians were working in the house prior to 9 March 1992 would have been sufficient.  And I'm not sure one even has to narrow it down to Portus & Rhodes electricians because Vinny Dring wasn't a Portus & Rhodes electrician but, at one point, he was suspected of having discovered the diary while working in the house many years earlier (during the 1980s). 
The first paragraph of my 2017 article which the Major claims is statistical nonsense is this:

'What are the chances, do you think, of electricians working at Battlecrease on the very same day that Mike Barrett was telephoning a literary agency in London to inform them he was in possession of Jack the Ripper's Diary which had supposedly been written in 1888/89 by the then resident of Battlecrease?  One in a billion?  One in a million?  One in a hundred thousand?  One in a thousand? '

Now, I think the Major has got himself a little confused (surprise surprise) because in that first paragraph which he claims to be 'statistical nonsense' I haven't actually concluded or stated ANYTHING!
But I do think that the Major and many other people have misunderstood the paragraph because one needs to understand that when I was referring to 'the very same day that Mike was telephoning a literary agency in London' I was referring to the known date of 9 March 1992 in circumstances where Robert Smith's book had revealed for the first time that electricians were working in Battlecrease for 14 days of the year, so that the question could equally have been phrased as: Knowing that electricians were working in Battlecrease for 14 days of the year during 1992, what are the chances that they were working there on the day of Mike's telephone call (9 March 1992), or, in other words, on any single working day of the year?

And frankly I didn't need to say 'electricians'.  I could have asked what are the chances of workmen working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992 (which was the day that Mike Barrett was telephoning a literary agency about Jack the Ripper's diary).   I didn't ask that question because we have literally no information about any other workmen, but if there was modernization going on in the house there is likely to have been other workmen in it during 1992 (and, indeed, in earlier years).

Perhaps one would have to look at the likelihood of workmen being in a Victorian house on any day of the year, particularly one of historical significance which involves tours by members of the public.  Personally, I think a statistician would say that there would be nothing terribly surprising about workmen having been working in Battlecrease on any one day in an any one year.

As for the question I asked.  We always knew that Mike made his telephone call on 9 March 1992.  The question to be answered was how surprising was it that the electricians of Portus & Rhodes (who were the electricians suspected of having found the diary) were working in Battlecrease on that day?   Had the electricians only worked in Battlecrease for one day in 1992 the chances would have been different if they had worked in Battlecrease for two days in 1992, different again if they had worked in there for 14 days in 1992 and different again if they had worked in there for 254 days of the year.  That was a key point I was making and it has never been refuted.

Now I should say that my calculation was based on the electricians not working at weekends.  From the one daysheet reproduced in Robert Smith's book it can be seen that the electricians worked in Battlecrease Friday 17 July, didn't work on Saturday and Sunday, but resumed on Monday 20 July.  Further, for work done in June 2021, Robert Smith tells us that work was done on 10th, 12th, 15th and 16th June.  The 12th was a Friday and the 15th was a Monday so there seemed to me to be a clear pattern of electricians not working on Saturdays and Sundays.

In 2018, from privileged and (still) unpublished information not available to mere mortals like myself, Caroline Morris claimed that the Portus & Rhodes electricians at Skelmersdale worked on Saturdays but that was not information available to me at the time of writing my article.  In any case, on the other side of the equation, Mike's telephone call to a literary agent could only realistically have been made on a working day so that it was appropriate to exclude weekends from the calculation.

As a factual matter, when it comes to calculating the statistical probability of the electricians having worked in Battlecrease on any working day in 1992 (and thus including the day that Mike telephoned a literary agent on 9 March), the answer is categorically one in eighteen, as I stated in my article.

But as I have also said before, the numbers are essentially irrelevant.  A coincidence by definition is some kind of remarkable or improbable corresponding of events so that ANY coincidence involves a superficial improbability, meaning that the numbers simply don't help us.   As I've already said in this article, one in a million coincidences seem to happen all the time, so the Major's pathetic one in thirty-seven thousand tells us nothing.  I did find it amusing that the Major otherwise told us it might have been one in twenty-six thousand as if that's exactly the same.  What would we make of one in ten thousand?   Is that any different?    One in a thousand?  One in one hundred thousand?    THE. NUMBERS. DO. NOT. HELP.  

If you want to see what a broken brain looks like, take a gander at this (from #6670 by Caroline Morris in the Incontrovertible thread):

'What amuses me is that both RJ and Orsam have attempted to get rid of what they argue is not that much of a coincidence, by having Mike and Eddie both at the pub before 9th March, where Eddie talks about the work planned for that day.

There is no more evidence for any of this, of course, than there is for the end of March auction theory.
There is no more evidence for any of this, of course, than there is for the end of March auction theory.
What amuses me is that both RJ and Orsam have attempted to get rid of what they argue is not that much of a coincidence, by having Mike and Eddie both at the pub before 9th March, where Eddie talks about the work planned for that day.

There is no more evidence for any of this, of course, than there is for the end of March auction theory.

But who needs evidence, old or new, when one has lost the ability or the will to question one's own beliefs?'
How anyone with a functioning encephalon can write this is beyond me so it must be proof of severe damage.
Let's leave aside that we have evidence from the Sunday Times in 1993, citing Colin Rhodes, as reproduced above, that two electricians (not necessarily including Eddie Lyons) discussed Battlecrease in the Saddle Inn, which Mike could easily have overheard, and we say that, okay, there is no evidence.

The entire point of what I was saying was that, if it WAS too much of a coincidence that the floorboards were lifted on the same day as Mike telephoned Doreen, and if there WAS a connection between the two events, there could be an explanation other than that the diary came up from under the floorboards.

I didn't really need to say anything further but (as someone would no doubt have asked what other explanation there could be) I gave a possible example of the electricians having discussed their work at Battlecrease in the Saddle which led to Mike deciding to commence a plan to create a forged diary.

It's not the type of argument that requires evidence.  It's not a positive case.  It's simply saying that one shouldn't assume that the connection between the two events was a discovery under the floorboards.  That's it really.  All very simple.  It's got nothing to do with 'beliefs'.

My basic position from the evidence (e.g. those parts of Eddie Lyons' interview transcripts which have been revealed) remains that it's unlikely that there is a connection between the two events but that it's fair to say that it is a coincidence that electrical work was being done in Battlecrease and that floorboards were being lifted (if that is indeed the case).   But coincidences do happen.

What I have always said  - and it is absolutely nothing to do with 'belief' - is that the diary cannot have been written in 1888 or 1889 because 'one off instance' proves that it wasn't.  Therefore, it cannot have been placed under the floorboards at any time in the nineteenth century. That being so, it realistically cannot have been found under the floorboards on 9 March 1992.

The funny thing when it comes to 'beliefs' is that anyone who read the boards between 1999 and 2016 will know that Caroline Morris posted incessantly about the alleged anachronisms in the diary.  She defended each one vigorously as being quite possible to have been written in 1888/89.   Since 2016 she's barely said a word about 'one off  instance'.  Other than being briefly attracted down the mad rabbit hole of the Clanger's barmy equine nonsense, she has no explanation for how a twentieth century expression 'one off instance' came to be in a diary supposedly written in the nineteenth century.  Hence we find her discussing the possibility of the diary having been secreted somewhere in Battlecrease by modern tourists but NOT apparently under the floorboards!

And when it comes to beliefs, how does she explain Mike's urgent and secret attempt to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages immediately (it would seem) after speaking to Doreen Montgomery.  I've lost count of the number of Dizzy Lizzy attempts but she's certainly never managed to explain it.  Just because she doesn't BELIEVE that Mike and Anne could have jointly forged the diary doesn't make it so. 
When one holds beliefs in opposition to evidence that is when we get into religion and it seems to me that the cult of diary defending is a religion for these people who refuse to confront and examine the evidence in this case. 
I remind the lady with the broken brain that I have been calling repeatedly and non-stop for the release of evidence in this case which is in the possession of the diary defenders.  When I asked James Johnston to produce the transcripts of his interviews with the electricians (which could potentially have produced the evidence which Miss Information refers to about the Saddle pub) he refused, and in doing so he was fully supported by none other that Miss Information herself!
We are never going to move forward until all the information is publicly available but some people seem to have an interest in restricting and suppressing it. 


About a hundred entries above this one you might remember how the whole probability thing ended on the Forum with the Major admitting that he's useless at maths.

It dribbled on aimlessly a bit after this but Jeff Hamm, the acknowledged expert, and university lecturer on statistics, confirmed what everyone else already knew, namely that the Major's strictly numerical analysis was strictly a load of bollocks.
As a result, Errorbitha was reduced to commenting that the coincidence was merely 'very strange' (#6677) and wondering 'what the odds of something like that would be' (LOL!) while the Major, from his high of 1 in 37,000, was now reduced to gibbering that odds of 1 in 1,000 would be 'staggeringly implausible' (#6682).  I think he pulls his descriptions of 'almost impossible' and 'staggeringly implausible' out from his Arsebook of Statistical Analysis.   

He reminds me of an East End con artist at the corner of the street: "Now I'm not asking for odds of 1 in 37,000, I'm not asking for odds of 1 in 26,000, I'm not even asking for odds of 1 in 10,000.  No, ladies and gentleman, you can buy this amazing coincidence for ONLY 1 in 1,000! Special summer offer!!!'

The Clanger is so consumed by anger and hatred for me that he ends up making a fool of himself time and time again.

Responding to a post by Jeff Hamm on probability, the Clanger posted;

'All way above my head, but I'm assuming that counter-intuitively, 366/254 could be equally as nefarious as 37,000.
'O' dear'

The 'O' was his way of referring to Lord Orsam but it was completely misplaced because 366/254 was not a probability calculation of mine at all.

366 was the number of days in 1992 and 254 was the number of working days in the same year.
God only knows why the Clanger has taken those two numbers, expressed them as 366/254 then compared them to 37,000.   They are wholly unrelated.
The Clanger is a nincompoop.
Assuming the Clanger was attempting to refer to my calculation of 1 in 18, being the chances that electricians were working in Battlecrease on the day that Mike telephoned Doreen (9 March 1992), AND NOTHING TO DO WITH FLOORBOARDS, that calculation was, and remains, mathematically accurate bearing in mind that electricians were working in Battlecrease for 14 days of the year.
However, what the Clanger has ignored is that I stated in my article  Not True, Funny How it Seems published on 27 October 2019, when dealing with the various calculations of probability that various members of the Forum had attempted in response to mine:
 'whatever number is produced is essentially meaningless'
(see under the heading 'Provenance Part 4 - Probability').
So it's just another self-own from the Clanger. 

Everything I've written above, in this article, was written before Jeff Hamm's post of #6711 and I've been saying exactly what he said, even giving the same example of the impossibility of our own existence (something which I first mentioned on the boards many years ago). 
The short point is that the Major's 1 in 37,000 attempt to show that it was almost impossible for Mike to have spoken to Doreen about a Jack the Ripper diary on 9 March 1992 without that diary having come out from under the floorboards of Battlecrease is mathematical and statistical nonsense of the highest order.

I can't resist exposing the Major's downfall by his own hand.

Here is the little puzzle he sets for his (now snoozing) reader:

'Bob and John both went to the cinema last week (Mon-Sun) but you aren't sure which day they went - it could have been any of those days. It turns out that they both went on the Wednesday. What were the odds that they both went on Wednesday by sheer chance alone? I'm sure everyone has worked it out but it's 1-in-7 for anyone who hasn't. Not a particularly surprising turn of events, I'm sure you'd agree. Quite likely to happen by chance. But what if it had been 1-in-37,557? Would anyone be surprised and start looking for causality? It's the self-same probability, guys, only with different coinciding events to consider. Still not surprised?'
Jeff Hamm has already explained why it's false to conclude that 1 in 7 is correct - because people tend to visit the cinema more at the weekend than during the week - but for the purpose of this entry I'm going to assume that people visit the cinema equally on days when it's open.
Before I analyze the puzzle, I want to make two points.
Firstly, if the cinema was shut on Sunday, or if, during the seven day period, there was a bank holiday which shut the cinema (perhaps Christmas day), won't that change 'the odds' to 1-in-6?
Your answer: Yes, Lord Orsam.
Thus proving I was right to factor in only working days in 1992 in my now famous calculation.
Secondly, if we were told that, while Bob only went to the cinema one day in that week, John made three visits on three different days, that would change the odds again wouldn't it? 
Your answer:  Yes, Lord Orsam. 
In that event, we would now be down to the chances of Bob and John going to the cinema on the same day as being 3 in 6.  Also known as 50/50!
This shows the importance of considering, within MY calculation, that the electricians were working in Battlecrease for 14 days of the year, not just one.
So I must thank the Major for giving such a clear example of proving my point.
Now, that being done, let's look at the Major's punchline.
'What if it had been 1-in-37,557?' he asks.
The amusing thing about this question is that he completely ducks any explanation of how such a figure could possibly have been arrived it.  For, if it's based on the number of available days for Bob and John to be going to the cinema prior to 2021, they'd have had to be going to the cinema since about 1918!!!
Essentially, in other words, to reach 1 in 37,557 (using the Major's strictly numerical probability analysis) you'd have to be factoring in a time before Bob and John were born!!!
This is why it's all crazy talk.
But, hey, let's assume that Bob and John are both men aged 40 who have been going to the cinema since they were each 13 years old.   All we happen to know is that on one day in their respective lives they both went to the Orsam Cinema in South Orsam. So, using the Major's 'Teach Yourself How to Calculate Probability in One Easy Step' handbook, we realize that with 28 years of cinema viewing comprising about 10,000 days,  the chances of Bob and John both going on the same day are 1 in 10,000.

A near miracle?!!

Well hardly.  If we look at those in the audience for the viewing of any film in any cinema on any one day, there is a reasonable chance that two grown men around the age of 40 have happened to visit that cinema for the first time in their lives on that very day.   At least, no-one would be in the slightest bit surprised if that was the case.

You can change that figure from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 37,557 if you think such a thing is possible (clue: it isn't according to the Major's way of thinking) and the result is exactly the same.

No-one would in their right minds would look for causality just because two people happened to visit the cinema on the same day. 
All the Major has ACTUALLY shown is that if you were to PREDICT which of the days in their entire life that Bob and John went to the cinema on the same day, on my example you would have a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting it right (assuming absolute equality for each day of the week).  So we would certainly be amazed if you predicted  the correct day that this occurred, but we would not be at all amazed by the fact of Bob and John actually being there on that day, something which we would simply put down to being a coincidence (if even that).

It's the same thing with a mention of a Jack the Ripper diary involving Maybrick and floorboards of Maybrick's house being lifted.  Sure, if all we know is that the two things happened on one day between 1889 and 1993, a bookie might give huge odds against the two things happening on the same day but that in no way means that it is almost impossible that those two things could have happened by chance on the same day.

I think that is the end of this now. 


Corrected by RJ Palmer that 9 March 1992 was NOT, as had been claimed, the first time ever that floorboards were lifted in Battlecrease, the Major replied:

'I was at pains to remember as often as possible to type on the record'.

This isn't quite true.  I noticed that 'on the record' was a formula he craftily slipped in to his posts during the course of the debate, having omitted it originally, but what does it mean?

What record is there of floorboards being lifted throughout the period of the existence of Battlecrease?  Is there a floorboards lifting log or something?
Even for 9 March 1992 there is NO ACTUAL RECORD of floorboards being lifted.  The belief that they were lifted on that day is a conclusion based on there being floorboard protectors included for the job which was carried out on 9 and 10 March 1992 and on the memories and beliefs of some individuals such as Colin Rhodes, although we've never been allowed to see precisely what he or anyone else actually said on the matter.

So the Major's statement is wrong on that point but truly, either it was the first time floorboards were lifted on 9 March 1992 or it wasn't.  If it either wasn't or there is some doubt about it, the Major's entire premise for his 1 in 37,557 calculation collapses.

Paul Dodd is on record as saying that the floorboards of Battlecrease were lifted prior to 9 March 1992, and, while there is no documentary evidence of that fact, neither is there documentary evidence of the floorboards having been lifted on 9 March 1992 either, as I've said.

It's totally illegitimate for the Major to be introducing such a loaded caveat into his supposedly strictly numerical calculations.
This will (hopefully) be my last word on the now world famous 1/18 calculation.
I only return to it again because the diary defenders seem to be utterly obsessed with it, even though they can't seem to fault the maths. And in #6729 I read this bit of broken brainery from Miss Information:
'I was bending over backwards to be generous towards people like RJ and Orsam, who should at the very least have taken their workmen days back to when they believe the diary, or the concept, first grabbed a piece of Mike's mind. If that was in late 1990, for instance, just before Janet Devereux, according to her own testimony, borrowed Bongo's Tales of Liverpool in January 1991 and never returned it, then every working day in 1991 should have been included in the nefarious/erroneous/downright silly 1 in 18 calculation. If any earlier than that, then the days in 1990 too.'

Apparently, Miss Information thinks it would be appropriate to randomly choose a start date in 1990 on the basis of myself or RJ supposedly believing that this was the year in which the concept of the diary 'first grabbed a piece of Mike's mind' even though she is appears to be inventing our belief (she certainly is in respect of my belief because I've never said any such thing) which is supposed to be based on Janet Devereux borrowing a book from Mike - something which is hard to square with the concept of the diary grabbing a piece of Mike's mind.   At the Cloak & Dagger event, Mike said the idea for a money making scheme popped into his head in 1989, but should we be starting some kind of calculation from 1 January 1989 on the basis of something Mike once said?  

It's strange though that Caroline Morris prefers 1990 rather than 1989.  Is that because Portus & Rhodes are known to have been working in Battlecrease in 1989?

At the risk of heavily repeating myself, the point of me stating in my 2017 article that the chances of the electricians being in Battlecrease on the day Mike telephoned Doreen are 1/18 was essentially to draw attention to the fact that the electricians did not just work in Battlecrease for a single day during 1992.  The more days they worked in Battlecrease the more it affects the odds of electricians being in Battlecrease on the day Mike telephoned Doreen.  As a result, the coincidence is not as amazing as it might otherwise have been.

We already knew that Mike telephoned Doreen on 9 March 1992, so what I was demonstrating was the chances of electricians working in Battlecrease on THAT specific date within the year.

So there was no point imagining another date when Mike might have telephoned Doreen.  We know he made the telephone call on 9 March 1992.

With the electricians working in Battlecrease for 14 days, then, on the basis that they would only have been working on weekdays, my calculation was mathematically correct.
I continually point out that if the electricians had been working in Battlecrease on every (working) day in 1992, we would have been able to predict in advance, before seeing the actual documentation, that the electricians were definitely in Battlecrease on the day that Mike called Doreen.  I never see a response to this.
But I am on record as saying that the numbers are irrelevant.  They don't help as to whether the telephone call did in fact happen by chance. Whether the chances were 1 in 18 or 1 in a million, they literally do not help in determining whether there was a connection between the two events.

The other critical point I wanted to make in my 2017 article was that, in their focus on 9 March 1992, the diary defenders simply ignore that the consequences for their argument would have been exactly the same if the work had occurred in the week before 9 March or the week before that or the week before that.   They are so obsessed with the coincidence of the work happening on 9 March that they lose all sense of reason.  That was not the ONLY day by any means in which it could have been strongly argued that work in Battlecrease led to Mike's telephone call. 

When I raised the danger of falling for coincidence while posting in the Forum, Miss Information came back at me to say that she and the other diary defenders were all acutely aware of the danger of being misled by a coincidence but in everything she writes about the subject she gives no awareness that she appreciates the danger. 
I was bending over backwards to be generous towards people like RJ and Orsam, who should at the very least have taken their workmen days back to when they believe the diary, or the concept, first grabbed a piece of Mike's mind. If that was in late 1990, for instance, just before Janet Devereux, according to her own testimony, borrowed Bongo's Tales of Liverpool in January 1991 and never returned it, then every working day in 1991 should have been included in the nefarious/erroneous/downright silly 1 in 18 calculation. If any earlier than that, then the days in 1990 too
'I don't know who Jeff Hamm is but - if he knows his onions - someone bring him out....Bring on  Jeff Hamm.  Bring on absolutely anyone who understands statistics.' (the Major, 9 July 2021, #6559 of 'Incontrovertible' thread)
'...the improbability you're focused on is irrelevant and presenting it otherwise is a misuse of statistical probabilities with regards to research and investigations.' (Jeff Hamm to the Major, 22 July 2021, #6730 of 'Incontrovertible' thread) 

If not, what does the gap have to be between coin tosses to make it 50/50 again?

Having been told that his strictly statistical approach is a load of utter bollocks, the Major is reduced to crying in #6737, "Bwah, wah, what about Lord Orsam?....Why are you so mean to me but not to him?'  (or words to that effect).

But Jeff Hamm wasn't asked about Lord Orsam's calculations (other than by the Clanger who gave the wrong numbers, to which Jeff said 'equally irrelevant' in #6713). He was asked about the Major's purportedly strictly numerical analysis because it was the Major who was making the big claim that a statistician would say that the coincidence of the two events was "almost impossible".

I wasn't making any such claim.  Nor was I performing the same calculation as the Major was attempting, which had something to do with floorboards being lifted.  All I was doing (for the hundredth time) was noting that with electricians working in Battlecrease for 14 days of the year then, once you exclude weekends and bank holidays, there was a 1 in 18 chance of the electricians working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992.
That is a mathematical certainty which is not in doubt. 
That is the difference between my accurate calculation and the Major's nonsense. 
After a string of posts in which Jeff Hamm had made it crystal clear, in considerable detail, why the Major's probability calculation was totally wrong in principle, up stepped Errorbitha to ask Jeff (#6746):
'Can you not at least give him credit for being correct in principle thus far?'
Dear, oh dear.
Comprehension skills. Lack of. 

I was highly amused to read Jeff Hamm's post #6753. 
After the Clanger and others had scandalously claimed that Lord Orsam's 1 in 18 calculation, based on 14 days of work by the electricians in 1992, was 'nefarious', Mr Hamm wrote:
'That's where the 14 days of work in the past year come in (I think I've seen that said, perhaps I'm misremembering, but again, it's the underlying principle that matters here). So 14/365.25 is about 3.8%. now, that's a bit better....And given the rate of work being done at around the time of interest seems to be 14 days out if a year, then the actual probability is more likely to be in the vicinity of 3.8% further adjusted by the seasonal rate of heater installation.'
Even though Jeff Hamm evidently wasn't aware of it, this is essentially Lord Orsam's calculation before adjustment for working days by removing weekends and bank holidays.
Once that was done, Lord Orsam ended up with 14/254 or 1 in 18 or 5.5%.
The icing on the cake was when Jeff then said (in #6758): 
'...knowing there were 14 repairs within the last year gives us a better of the rate of work at the time in question'. 
Exactly what I've been saying since the publication of Robert Smith's book in 2017!
The Lord Orsam principle has been vindicated by the expert!!!
But, of course, diary defenders do not listen to the experts, they always know better.  Whether professional and highly experienced forensic document examiners, English language experts or experts in statistical analysis, they are all ignored if they don't produce an answer that the diary is old.  So, don't worry, being told he was wrong didn't deter the Major, who followed up with long rambling defensive posts addressed to his 'readers' which no human being alive, now or in the future, will ever read.   

In a state of panic after Jeff Hamm rejected the Major's nonsensical probability calculation (see It's a Lottery! under heading 'Lord Orsam Vindicated (Again)', Miss Information rushed forward to purportedly summarise the history of the diary for Jeff (#6773) while actually telling him a string of falsehoods about Lord Orsam. 

Let's look at them individually:

'Ike and Orsam more recently took it upon themselves to look at the post hoc probabilities relating to this 9th March double event, of Maybrick's floorboards and Mike's phone call.'
Not true.  Absolutely false, in fact! I never considered any probabilities relating to Maybrick's floorboards.  All I looked at was the probability relating to electricians working in Battlecrease on the day of Mike's telephone call to Doreen.

'Now let's consider Orsam's belief that Mike and Eddie first knew of one another's existence around May 1993, when Mike went round to his house, threatening him with solicitors if he said he'd found the diary in Battlecrease.'
I don't know anything about Mike threatening Eddie with solicitors.  All I know about the supposed confrontation between Mike and Eddie in around May 1993 is what Feldman reported in his book, namely that 'Mike accused him of lying and told him he would never do a deal'.  This is also what is stated in Smith's book.  It is Caroline Morris who always bangs on about Mike threatening Eddie with solicitors without producing any evidence that it actually happened.  I know nothing about it.  Further, I don't know when Mike first met Eddie but Eddie has apparently always said that he didn't know Mike prior to around May 1993 and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence to the contrary.

'Orsam's working hypothesis - with no supporting evidence - is that the scrapbook used for the diary came from an auction held by Outhwaite & Litherland on 31st March 1992.'

It's not correct that there is 'no supporting evidence'.  Mike Barrett stated that he purchased the diary at an auction held by Outhwaite & Litherland.  That is evidence!  Given that there was an auction on 31st March 1992 this is the most likely auction for that purchase to have occurred.  The fact that there is no documentary evidence for the purchase means nothing in circumstances where the 1992 records of Outhwaite & Litherland have been destroyed and were never apparently searched by investigators or the company themselves.  In any case, as I have said many times, for all I know Mike might have stolen the scrapbook or bought it from a shady character or anywhere else.   It's not the key part of the story but, nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that there WAS an auction held by Outhwaite & Litherland on 31 March 1992 and we don't know if the scrapbook was sold on that day or not.

'all Orsam has is the appearance of the diary within a fortnight of a random auction at O&L. That's it. '
This is completely untrue.  I simply don't know how Miss Information can write a long post to Jeff Hamm about this case, including setting out my supposed beliefs, without once mentioning that Mike Barrett was secretly and urgently searching for a Victorian diary with blank pages during March 1992.  It's extraordinary.  As everyone who has followed this matter will surely know, THIS is the key evidence in the case.
'In January 1995, Mike himself claimed he had attended one [auction] in January 1990, and this problem is artificially resolved by theorising that his drinking by 1995 had badly impaired his memory for dates.' 
Another untruthful statement.   Mike 'himself' did not claim this.  As I've said many times, the January 1990 date in Mike's affidavit is almost certainly a result of a third party (Alan Gray) drafting that affidavit and making a mistake as to dates.  In fact, the date of 1990 in the affidavit is likely to be a typo (which was subsequently corrected to 1991).  Nothing to do with Mike, in other words.  There is good evidence that in 1994 Mike believed he brought the diary down to London in 1991 so, to the extent the words in Mike's affidavit came from him, he is likely to have intended to have been saying 1991.

'In short, the auction purchase is fundamental to Orsam's Barrett Hoax theory, but remains entirely in the mind of the theorist.'

I've said many times before that the 'auction purchase' is not relevant to my theory as to what happened.  It's quite possible that Mike purchased the scrapbook at the 31 March 1992 auction (as he effectively said he did) but it makes no difference to me if he found it at an old house sale or stole it or obtained it in any way whatsoever, including from an auction on a different date.  It's only Caroline Morris who is obsessed by the 31 March 1992 auction because she was utterly taken aback when I managed to prove that such an auction had, in fact, occurred. 
But just because I proved that the auction occurred doesn't mean that I believe it is 'fundamental' to anything.  I've never said for an absolute fact that Mike acquired the scrapbook at that auction.  All I've shown is that it was possible that this happened but there are still plenty of other possibilities.  What is certain is that the diary did not physically exist as of 9 March 1992 otherwise Mike would not have been seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages.
I can only repeat that it is utterly extraordinary that Caroline Morris attempted to summarize for Jeff Hamm what I've been saying about the diary without mentioning Mike's documented attempt to acquire a Victorian diary with blank pages.  THAT is what is fundamental to my belief about the diary, along with one other thing which Caroline Morris didn't mention, namely the inclusion in the diary of 'one off instance'.
It is the fact that I know 'one off instance' is a twentieth century expression which makes me absolutely certain that the diary did not come from under the floorboards on 9 March 1992, for if that had been the case the diary simply must have been there since the late nineteenth century, which is impossible.
It is why I am able to reject the floorboards theory with certainty, but despite her long essay to Jeff Hamm she failed to mention this critical aspect of the case at all. 
I'm not going to waste time going through the rest of Miss Information's post #6773 sentence by sentence but we can see from the fact that she highlights 'Fountains Road' in bold five times and keeps referring to the 'unbreakable' Fountains Road 'link' that she seems to believe it is of some considerable importance that Tony Devereux and Eddie Lyons both lived on Fountains Road.
What she doesn't mention to Jeff Hamm (because it is a big problem for her) is that the one book we know for a fact that Mike lent to Tony Devereux of Fountains Road was a book containing a chapter about the Maybrick case. 
So, in the world of Miss Information, it must equally be a coincidence for Mike that someone also living in Fountains Road (if that was indeed the case in March 1992, about which there is no evidence) apparently approached him in the Saddle pub about a diary of Jack the Ripper by James Maybrick! 
The fact of the matter is that Fountains Road is a long road.  Many people lived there in March 1992.  No doubt a lot of the people who drank in the Saddle lived in Fountains Road.  What seems to be an amazing coincidence to Caroline Morris is not one.
Oh but hold on, we (and Jeff Hamm) are told by Miss Information in #6773 that:

'Colin Rhodes...confirmed that as EL and JB were not needed at the Skem job that week, for the first time since December 1991, he would have sent them to help Arthur and JC at Battlcrease without including either name on the timesheet used to invoice the customer.'

As I've complained many times, we've never seen Colin Rhodes' own words about this, nor Keith Skinner's note of his interview with Colin Rhodes, and this is critical because what Miss Information is NOW saying conflicts with what she told us in 2018 when she first revealed what Colin Rhodes had said.
Back on 13 March 2018, in the 'Acquiring a Victorian Diary' thread, all we were told by Miss Information was that Colin Rhodes would 'sometimes ask them to help out on other jobs here or there, so he wouldn't be paying them for doing nothing'.  There was no mention there that he WOULD have sent them to Battlecrease on 9 March 1992.  All we can see from the way it was put in 2018 was that he MIGHT have done. 
Had Colin Rhodes said that he thought he had sent Eddie to Battlecrease on 9 March 1992 no doubt we would have been told this in 2018.
Indeed, in #1615 of the Acquiring thread, Miss Information stated that neither Colin Rhodes nor his son was able to tell Keith Skinner what Eddie Lyons was doing on 9 March 1992.   They didn't know if he had gone off on holiday or was sick in bed.  They certainly didn't (according to Miss Information herself) say that because Eddie and Jim weren't needed at Skelmersdale they would have been sent to Battlecrease.  

What it looks to me has happened is that, over time, Colin Rhodes' acceptance that he might have sent Eddie to Battlecrease has now become, in the mind of Miss Information, that he did so.   

This is what I have feared all along and it is why it is so essential that all the evidence about what Colin Rhodes told Keith Skinner in 2004 is released.

We might also note that no evidence has been produced that Eddie Lyons has ever admitted to working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992.  There is a complete absence of information regarding this.

So while Miss Information is happy to mislead Jeff Hamm into thinking that Eddie Lyons was definitely working in Battlecrease on 9 March 1992, we don't need to be misled ourselves. 


When we take a step back and consider Caroline Morris' long post to Jeff Hamm (#6773) we can see how lunatic it actually was.

Jeff Hamm had simply been asked to consider whether the Major's 'strictly numerical' calculation of probability was a correct way to approach the matter.
He did so. 

It wasn't.

Jeff clearly and repeatedly stated that he wasn't getting involved in the issue of whether the diary was genuine or not.  He was just dealing with calculations of probability and statistical issues.

But the mad one was so annoyed by the fact that Jeff had implicitly approved Lord Orsam's probability calculation that she felt the need not only to try and argue with Jeff about whether the diary came up from under the floorboards (due to all the amazing coincidences), something which he wasn't actually addressing, but also to try and put down Lord Orsam's arguments (on a false basis, naturally).

How can anyone be so utterly misguided and, indeed, demented that they would do such a thing?

There was another daft post from Miss Information in #6774:

'If Eddie's DNA had been found on the floorboards, and also the diary, in 1993, would we now be arguing about the pitfalls of calculating post hoc probabilities? Or would Orsam be giving us another hypothesis, involving Eddie having a secret identical twin with a grudge, lodging with the Barretts in Goldie Street in March and April 1992, and handling the scrapbook to drop his brother in it?'

It's utterly absurd isn't it?   Her attempting to anticipate what she think I might say in response to a ludicrous hypothetical scenario, bearing no relation to reality.
What on earth is it that compels her to say such things?
It's almost like if I asked her what she would say if Mike Barrett confessed to forging the diary with his wife and was then discovered to have been seeking a Victorian diary with blank pages at the very same time he was telling a literary agent that he was in possession of Jack the Ripper's diary which contained twentieth century expressions within its text. 
Oh hold on, those things actually did happen.  And how does Caroline Morris explain them?  I have literally no idea! 
If Eddie's DNA had been found on the floorboards, and also the diary, in 1993, would we now be arguing about the pitfalls of calculating post hoc probabilities? Or would Orsam be giving us another hypothesis, involving Eddie having a secret identical twin with a grudge, lodging with the Barretts in Goldie Street in March and April 1992, and handling the scrapbook to drop his brother in it?
If Eddie's DNA had been found on the floorboards, and also the diary, in 1993, would we now be arguing about the pitfalls of calculating post hoc probabilities? Or would Orsam be giving us another hypothesis, involving Eddie having a secret identical twin with a grudge, lodging with the Barretts in Goldie Street in March and April 1992, and handling the scrapbook to drop his brother in it?
18 September 2021