Why Take Math? So Your Ignorance Isn’t Broadcast Nationwide on the AP Wire
November 6, 2009
This is pretty funny. Or horrifying. Depends on how you want to look at it.
Several days ago, I noted on Twitter that there were a lot of “saved” jobs that weren’t saved at all but actually cost of living increases. About 24 hours after I noted this, there was an Associated Press article about that very phenomena.
Coincidence? Almost certainly. But I’ll flatter myself anyway.
But the laugh riot comes several paragraphs into the article as they look into why Southwest Georgia Community Action Council was able to save 935 jobs with a cost of living increase for only 508 people. The director of the action council said:
“she followed the guidelines the Obama administration provided. She said she multiplied the 508 employees by 1.84 — the percentage pay raise they received — and came up with 935 jobs saved.
“I would say it’s confusing at best,” she said. “But we followed the instructions we were given.”
“Confusing at best”? The multiplication of percentages is “confusing at best”? It seems obvious to me she should have multiplied 508 people by the amount the increase (.0184) and gotten 9.3. But she forgot that you have to divide the percentage by 100 before you multiply.
The fact that she had “saved” more jobs than there were people in the organization should have been a tip-off. But this is a pretty common problem with people who don’t have a very good grasp on mathematics… they don’t recognize obvious mathematical errors, they just plug in the numbers and go with whatever comes out.
And this, children, is why you pay attention at school. So you don’t get in the national news for doing something really stupid and then blame it on the instruction manual.