Friday, March 5, 2010

Strange math

The December 7th, 2009 blog entry 'Math and science' linked to some examples of bad math skills, while the October 8th, 2009 'Health care reform XIII (bad math)' blog entry took Keith Olberman to task for his math-challenged flights of fancy... Examples of strange math abound, here are two recently noticed ones:

In the article 'Right-wing blogger talks revolution over reconciliation' you find (as part of the rebuttal), "... senators who'd vote for reconciliation represent roughly 70 percent of the country. On the other hand, the senators who'd vote to sustain a Republican filibuster represent 49 percent of the country..." OK, now this blogger is the first to acknowledge that our Senators are a very special species and capable of various antics (e.g. see here, here, or here...), but, assuming that all Senators vote either for or against, you would think they could only represent 100% of the country (and not 70 + 49 = 119%)... Digging in further it turns out that the author of the piece is using another source for his numbers.

Looking at the source it turns out that in states where one Senator is a Republican and the other is a Democrat they assume that both represent 100% of the people in their state, thus allowing for greater than 100% representation... Ah idealists! (Quick side note: one wonders why, per the chart, Arkansas has no position on the issue...)

A shooting sports web site, creatively named Ammoland, celebrates that approximately 14 million firearms were purchased in the U.S. in 2009. This apparently is "... more Than 21 of the Worlds Standing Armies Combined..." and "... In a year were crime has reached an all time record low what is plainly clear is that more guns equal LESS CRIME!" Hmm, perhaps not all would agree.

However, putting aside discussion re if this is something positive or negative, the following math howler then appears: "... Assuming each gun buyer bought 1000 rounds of ammo for each purchase, and you and I know that it is way, way more than that, that would be easily 14,033,824,000+ billions rounds of ammo fired by USA gun owners..."

Wow - so approximately fourteen million times one thousand does not come to fourteen billion but to fourteen billion billion! Fourteen quadrillion! Who knew?

Yup, we should certainly be safe, assuming that we have space to store all this ammo (let's see, that comes to over 45 million rounds for each and every one of 310 million people living in the U.S.)! And if these rounds have all been fired that certainly would account for global warming...

1 comment:

  1. What are you talking about?

    14,033,824 x 1000 = 14,033,824,000 ...the math in the article is right?

    And as a shooter I agree it is probably low as I just bought 2000 rounds last weekend for like the 11th time in less than a year.

    You need to check your own math...LOL