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Thursday, May 11, 2006


Return to an old subject: innumeracy

I haven't written about innumeracy in more than a year, so it's overdue. Consider this from The New York Times:
Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike demanded answers from the Bush administration on Thursday about a report that the National Security Agency had collected records of millions of domestic phone calls.
But, as the article continues, the records of "tens of millions" of customers were involved. Now, I don't know about you, but I probably make a thousand phone calls a year, easily. Some people make more than that, obviously, and others fewer, but let's go with a thousand, and let's be generous and say there were only ten million customers' records turned over (it quite likely was a hundred million). That adds up to billions of domestic phone calls, not "millions." Only three orders of magnitude off. At a minimum. It could well be more.

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