Zeroes and ones, part three

11 May

One of the occupational hazards of being a journalist is that when a howler appears in the paper, all your friends know exactly who to call. Especially when they’re highly qualified science and maths graduates, and especially when the howler in question is a pretty glaring failure to check the sums.

So when this the first paragraph appeared in an article from the US office:

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.04.07

Followed by this information in the third paragraph:

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.04.25

Followed by this handy graphic as an explainer:

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 10.04.16

It wasn’t long before this appeared on my Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 12.51.30

Fortunately, because they’re all highly qualified science and maths types, when the bumbling former English student has questions, they have the explanations ready to hand:

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 12.51.43

So, for future reference: any percentage increase from 0% to any higher percentage is an infinite increase; but any percentage-point increase from 0% to a higher percentage is as simple a sum as can be: <higher percentage> – 0.

Meanwhile, the web news production editor has just sent this chastening email round to all subs:

Hi
A common error has popped up again so I just wanted to remind everyone that converting differences in temperatures is different to converting actual temperatures.
For example:
A temperature of 2C is 35.6F
but …
a difference in temperature of 2C is 3.6F.
 Thank goodness my friends didn’t see that story before it was corrected.

 

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