Monday, March 28, 2005

Bad math

I cannot read a story with figures and percentages without figuring out if the numbers match up. I blame a mathematically obsessed former copy editor friend (that is, she's a former copy editor, not a former friend) for this.

This Salon article is not guilty of bad math. The pyschologist interviewed for the article posits that 4% of people are sociopaths. The interviewer writes, correctly, that this translates to one in every 25 people.

1/25 = .04, or 4%

So far, so good.

However, in one of the letters to the editor, an angry reader expresses disbelief that "25 out of every 100 people are clinically sociopathic." I feel like contacting the letter-writer and saying, "You're absolutely right--and the psychologist in question would agree with you!"

Sorry, it's the little things that piss me off. And the big things, too.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Blogbelle said...

The post started off with math, and the rest turned into mumbo jumbo. Good thing I'm a law student, I guess.

11:20 PM, March 28, 2005  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I feel your pain.

9:42 AM, March 29, 2005  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Do you have to link to the big things, Angry Pregnant Lawyer? It gets me all angried up before bedtime.

I bet none of those pharmacists are refusing to fill Viagra prescriptions.

10:21 PM, March 29, 2005  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

(Still angry about it the next morning. Grrrrr.)

9:06 AM, March 30, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

I like a woman that won't let go of the anger. :-)

9:10 AM, March 30, 2005  

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