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Old 23rd October 2006, 03:43 PM   #1
Tanja
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Misuse of percentages

I saw a poster today on the London tube advertising property in Corby (a town about an hour and twenty minutes from London). The tag line was 156% cheaper than in London.
A bit of googling revealed that such misuse is common.
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Old 23rd October 2006, 03:57 PM   #2
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At work we have an online learning tool that we use it to stay current on company policies. The modules take about fifteen minutes to read through then have five questions at the end. The highest possible score is 101%.

Makes me wonder if one of the correct answers is just a little bit more correct than all of the other correct answers.

Humm.
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Old 23rd October 2006, 03:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tanja View Post
I saw a poster today on the London tube advertising property in Corby (a town about an hour and twenty minutes from London). The tag line was 156% cheaper than in London.
A bit of googling revealed that such misuse is common.
So they give you money if you buy a property in Corby? Where do I sign?
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Old 23rd October 2006, 03:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kittykatkarma View Post
At work we have an online learning tool that we use it to stay current on company policies. The modules take about fifteen minutes to read through then have five questions at the end. The highest possible score is 101%.

Makes me wonder if one of the correct answers is just a little bit more correct than all of the other correct answers.

Humm.
Great avatar, kat!

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Old 23rd October 2006, 04:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Katana View Post
Great avatar, kat!

Thanks!
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Old 23rd October 2006, 04:12 PM   #6
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According to this, dry ice is more than three times colder than water ice.

http://www.linde-gas.com/internation...haracteristics
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Old 23rd October 2006, 05:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tanja
156% cheaper than in London.
Maybe they meant that it was 156% cheaper than whatever the cheapness level is in London.

~~ Paul
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Old 23rd October 2006, 05:26 PM   #8
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I run into this problem with freelancers on a regular basis.

Invariably, the problem is that they reason backward from a positive percentage without recalculating the math.

For example, let's say that smoking raises your risk of death by heart attack, and that by stopping smoking you can completely nullify this increased risk.

Ok, let's say a non-smoker's risk of death by heart attack is 1/5, and a smoker's risk is 3/5.

Then if you start smoking, your risk goes from 20 (out of 100) to 60 (out of 100). That's 300% your previous risk (a 200% increase).

However, if you stop smoking and your risk goes from 60 (out of 100) to 20 (out of 100), you've reduced your risk by roughly 67%.

Yet you would not believe the number of marketers who are willing to claim, based on reading a report of the 300% number together with reports that quitting can return you to non-smoker risk levels, that you can reduce your risk by 300%.

I'd be willing to bet that London is just over half-again as expensive as Corby. Which means Corby is about 34% or 35% cheaper than London.
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Old 23rd October 2006, 05:48 PM   #9
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If they mean Corby in Northamptonshire, the average house price is £125,037. The average house price for Greater London is £317,790.

I've edited this post 2 million times. I just edited it again.
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Old 23rd October 2006, 06:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by tkingdoll View Post
If they mean Corby in Northamptonshire, the average house price is £125,037. The average house price for Greater London is £317,790.

I've edited this post 2 million times. I just edited it again.
Well, that would put the figure at 139%, so they were probably working with a slightly older or newer set of figures, or ones based on somewhat different parameters.
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Old 24th October 2006, 06:23 AM   #11
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Use of percentages in reporting generally is a pet peeve at Bad Science, especially with regard to medical risk.
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Old 24th October 2006, 06:32 AM   #12
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i blame the footballers for popularising the "we done what the gaffer told us and gave it 110%" speak....
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Old 24th October 2006, 06:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by kittykatkarma View Post
At work we have an online learning tool that we use it to stay current on company policies. The modules take about fifteen minutes to read through then have five questions at the end. The highest possible score is 101%.

Makes me wonder if one of the correct answers is just a little bit more correct than all of the other correct answers.

Humm.
In one of my A-levels it was possible to get 120% because for some reason they marked it out of 120 and then just gave the mark as a percentage. This led to at least one person I know getting over 100%. What subject was this? Yep, maths.
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Old 25th October 2006, 06:52 AM   #14
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90% of people just pull numbers out of their ass. Including me.
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Old 25th October 2006, 07:17 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
i blame the footballers for popularising the "we done what the gaffer told us and gave it 110%" speak....
The whole "give it 110%" thing really irks me. And once I'm irked, I'm irked!

I figure, hey, once you cross that 100% line into magic land, why stop at 110%? What if the opposing team or player gave 120%? Your 110% doesn't sound so flash now, does it mister "I hated maths at school".*


*Not directed at anyone I know. Especially Peter.
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Old 25th October 2006, 07:20 AM   #16
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My favorite accolade by football announcers is that "this team came to play football".

Uh. Yeh...
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Old 25th October 2006, 07:25 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
My favorite accolade by football announcers is that "this team came to play football".

Uh. Yeh...
If it's Spurs they may just have come for a bite to eat.
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Old 26th October 2006, 01:29 AM   #18
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In any case, Corby is way over-priced.



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Old 26th October 2006, 01:52 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Blue Bubble View Post
In any case, Corby is way over-priced.



yeah, if it was 257% cheaper than London I would maybe even think about moving there...
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Old 26th October 2006, 08:56 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by phildonnia View Post
According to this, dry ice is more than three times colder than water ice.

http://www.linde-gas.com/internation...haracteristics
from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:
Quote:
'Which reminds me--' the White Queen said, looking down and nervously clasping and unclasping her hands, 'we had SUCH a thunderstorm last Tuesday--I mean one of the last set of Tuesdays, you know.'

Alice was puzzled. 'In OUR country,' she remarked, 'there's only one day at a time.'

The Red Queen said, 'That's a poor thin way of doing things. Now HERE, we mostly have days and nights two or three at a time, and sometimes in the winter we take as many as five nights together--for warmth, you know.'

'Are five nights warmer than one night, then?' Alice ventured to ask.

'Five times as warm, of course.'

'But they should be five times as COLD, by the same rule--'

'Just so!' cried the Red Queen. 'Five times as warm, AND five times as cold--just as I'm five times as rich as you are, AND five times as clever!'

Alice sighed and gave it up. 'It's exactly like a riddle with no answer!' she thought.
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:32 AM   #21
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If someone, on a scale of 1 to 10 initially rates their wellbeing at 2, then six months later at 6, how do you work out how much percentage wise they have increased?
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:50 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
i blame the footballers for popularising the "we done what the gaffer told us and gave it 110%" speak....
That can be made to make sense if we look at what it's 110% of. Is it 110% of the maximum that they could possibly give? Well, then of course it doesn't make any sense at all. Alas, I suspect that's also what they intend it to mean...

But if it were, for instance, 110% of their effort on an average day, well, it would be a meaningful and entirely possible number.
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:52 AM   #23
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Aaarrrggghhhhh! The zombies!!!!!!!
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:54 AM   #24
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Roboramma,

I'm insulted you reply to a six year old post rather than me.
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:59 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
Roboramma,

I'm insulted you reply to a six year old post rather than me.
I don't know the answer to your question, but felt it better to not reply rather than say I don't know the answer.

On the other hand, I thought the little comment I did make about "give it 110%" was interesting, though I admit I may be the only one.

Your question, though is implicitly answered upthread by Piggy when he said:
Quote:
Ok, let's say a non-smoker's risk of death by heart attack is 1/5, and a smoker's risk is 3/5.

Then if you start smoking, your risk goes from 20 (out of 100) to 60 (out of 100). That's 300% your previous risk (a 200% increase).
I'm not sure that's the only consistent way to do it, which I why I reserved comment.
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:59 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
If someone, on a scale of 1 to 10 initially rates their wellbeing at 2, then six months later at 6, how do you work out how much percentage wise they have increased?
It depends if we can treat the scale as a ratio scale, with a true 0 and equal intervals between the numbers. If not, percentage increase would be meaningless. Like saying that 30C is twice as hot as 15C.

If it is a ratio scale, they would have increased by 200%. 2 is your starting number, a 100% increase would take you to 4, so 200% is 6.

Last edited by Professor Yaffle; 29th September 2011 at 05:00 AM.
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Old 29th September 2011, 04:59 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
If someone, on a scale of 1 to 10 initially rates their wellbeing at 2, then six months later at 6, how do you work out how much percentage wise they have increased?
woah - a 2006 dinosaur thread resurrected!

one possibility:

% increase = difference/original x 100% - so 4/2 x 100% = 200%

Another possibility if you take their initial rating as 20% and their new rating as 60%, you could say it's increased by 40%.

Trouble is both methods are used at different times....lies, damn lies and percentages
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Old 29th September 2011, 05:00 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
i blame the footballers for popularising the "we done what the gaffer told us and gave it 110%" speak....
wow

it's me from the past! Hello!
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Old 29th September 2011, 05:03 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
woah - a 2006 dinosaur thread resurrected!

one possibility:

% increase = difference/original x 100% - so 4/2 x 100% = 200%

Another possibility if you take their initial rating as 20% and their new rating as 60%, you could say it's increased by 40%.

Trouble is both methods are used at different times....lies, damn lies and percentages
To differentiate, if using this sense, I would say increased by 40 percentage points.
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Old 29th September 2011, 05:32 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
To differentiate, if using this sense, I would say increased by 40 percentage points.
This. It's an increase of 200% or 40 percentage points. It should be obvious which is being used by seeing if the word "points" is used, but as andyandy says, lies, damned lies, and percentages. I'm sure people try to conflate the two often enough.
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Old 29th September 2011, 06:18 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
If someone, on a scale of 1 to 10 initially rates their wellbeing at 2, then six months later at 6, how do you work out how much percentage wise they have increased?
Yaffles has it. A 1-10 scale for wellbeing is an interval measurement. As such it makes no sense to consider a person rating his or her wellbeing at 6 to be three times / 200% more well than when they rated it at 2.

For more info on scales and what it makes sense to do with them see here
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Old 29th September 2011, 01:40 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Ivor the Engineer View Post
Yaffles has it. A 1-10 scale for wellbeing is an interval measurement. As such it makes no sense to consider a person rating his or her wellbeing at 6 to be three times / 200% more well than when they rated it at 2.

For more info on scales and what it makes sense to do with them see here
I'd bet well-being is ordinal at best (as are most variables in social science!).
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Old 29th September 2011, 03:59 PM   #33
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Garrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Ran into this again just today.

In one of our books, they'd written "four times less mental decline".

And we've been over this more than once.

Now not too long ago, I read an article defending this construction, and citing writers from Ben Franklin to Samuel Pepys.

But I don't care who's used it, the problem is, the construction is inherently incorrect because you cannot deduce the actual numbers from the statement.

Since you can't have 400% less of anything (in situations where having negative amounts is impossible), then the writer must mean some sort of fraction. But you can't be sure exactly what.

For example, if they simply tried to reverse the math, the actual amount may be 20% or 25%, depending on what the math looked like going the right way (did the worse-off group show 400% additional decline, or was their decline equal to 400% of the other group's decline?).

So it's always wrong to state figures that way unless you really intend to reach a negative value, because there's no way to be sure what it means.
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Old 29th September 2011, 07:45 PM   #34
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What Makes 100%?

What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

Then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

and

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But ,

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And,

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing will take you.

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while Hard work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, its the ******** andAss Kissing that will put you over the top.

Now you know why some people are where they are!

Phil
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Old 30th September 2011, 07:02 AM   #35
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Ok, urgently. Here are the numbers of verifed rough sleepers in London over the last few years:

2007/08 base: 4077
2008/09 base: 4692
2009/10 base: 4904
2010/11 base: 5343

How much has it increased each year?
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Old 30th September 2011, 07:10 AM   #36
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Posts: 9,911
Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
Ok, urgently. Here are the numbers of verifed rough sleepers in London over the last few years:

2007/08 base: 4077
2008/09 base: 4692
2009/10 base: 4904
2010/11 base: 5343

How much has it increased each year?
07-08: 15%
08-09: 4.5%
09-10: 9%

07-09: 20.3%
07-10: 31.1%

08-10: 13.9%

Average annual increase: 9.5%

Assuming you wanted answers in percentages I'm also assuming that the number you gave represented the count for that year (so 4077 was the 2007 number).
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