Innumeracy

INNUMERACY….A New York Times reporter ? and presumably the legion of editors who laid eyes on his story ? passed along a nugget this weekend: if you earn $75,301, your income is in the top 20% worldwide. Andrew Tobias comments:

Ah, the Innumeracy ? or just complete lack of clue. Can a writer or editor at the newspaper of record (who very possibly earns $75,301 himself) actually think that 20% of the world?s 6-plus billion people earn $75,000 or more?

….Actually, of course, the paper was off by a factor a 100….If you are the 49,205,295th richest person in the world, you are richer than 99.18% of your planetary neighbors, not 80%.

….But you get the point, and it is nicely made: you are probably better off than you realize. (Certainly that?s true of the newspaperman who thinks he?s only in the top 20% when in fact he?s in the top eighty-two hundredths of one percent.)

It’s faintly appalling that neither the reporter nor any of his editors were even slightly suspicious of that 20% number, even though there were two separate reasons to think it was fantastically wide of the mark.

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