There Are Mistakes And Then There Are Million Dollar Mistakes

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From our American correspondent, Esteban:

As they say, you can’t make this stuff up – Brian Williams and Mara Gay on MSNBC ran with a tweet that Michael Bloomberg spent $1 million per person (presumably U.S. citizens and residents) on his failed presidential bid. In case you’re not familiar with them, Brian was the anchor (top news reader) for NBC Nightly News for 10 years and is now the top anchor at MSNBC. Mara is a member of the New York Times Editorial Board.

If you have a remote sense of proportion you realize immediately that this number must be wrong. If you’re any good at math you figure it out pretty quickly. The number is ABSURD, it’s off by orders of magnitude. The actual number is $1.53. If Blooms had spent every penny of his vast fortune he could have spent $200 per person. The average person in line at the checkout would probably know something is wrong with this figure PDQ. And these two didn’t just come across a tweet and start discussing it on air. This was a topic on their show – they had graphics prepared, producers and writers were involved, likely hours were devoted to the show’s topics – and NOBODY noticed how absurd this is?

When Dan Rather threw his career on a live grenade for using “fake but accurate” documents, an article at National Review described the story as ”God’s own pinata”. Every time you took a whack at it more goodies fell out. We may have competition here.

Of course, Mara and Brian are among the elites of journalism, the best and brightest who should be planning our lives for us, or at least telling us who among the political class should be planning our lives. Shouldn’t they know at least very roughly how many people live in the U.S., say to the nearest hundred million? One wonders how many times they’ve both fallen for the Nigerian email scam.

As they say in the commercials, “but wait, there’s more”. As they wrapped up the segment Mara noted that this shows there’s too much money in politics. Hmm, Blooms spent $1 million per person and failed spectacularly – seems like this doesn’t support the theory that money is a big deal. So, first we fail to notice that a claim is astronomically absurd, then we get the moral of the story 180 degrees wrong. I’m beginning to see how they think AOC is a sharp one.

Yes, we definitely want to turn over more control of our lives to people like this.

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Nigel Sedgwick
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Nigel Sedgwick

Adding in a bit of English language, it’s worse.

Though I cannot speak personally for the “math” of the USA – here in the UK, their problem is with mere arithmetic, rather than the full panoply of mathematics.

Best regards

Boganboy
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Boganboy

If Blooms had really had that much to spend, his obvious approach would have been to offer every voter a million bucks to vote for him. I’d say there’d have been enough people in the US to whom that would have been a very good bargain to get him in.

Addolff
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Addolff

That sort of thing is illegal in the UK though – a candidate saying
“Vote for me and I’ll give you ten large” will have Plod knocking on their door.
A candidate saying “vote for me and I’ll write off your £50K student debt” is perfectly acceptable though (still didn’t work though did it JC)?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

And that’s why the secret ballot is so important. You can offer me whatever incentive you like to vote a certain way, and I might even accept, but you’ll have no way of verifying whether I actually did vote the way you wanted. Which is also why absentee voting should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Itellyounothing
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Itellyounothing

Time to form a new charity Abacus for journalists……

We send a badly needed abacus to journalists each week until we run out of money…..

Hopefully it will fill their hearts, homes, offices and swimming pools with arithmetic…..

Probably not brains.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Its perhaps the most startling example of confirm bias you will ever see. These people are not stupid, and remove the word Blomberg and this wouldn’t have happened.

But they wanted it to be true and so suspended all critical faculties.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Spike
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Spike

That’s right; they come to the job full of the preconception that the solution to every social problem is to forcibly extract more resources from the rich (especially, from the famously rich) – a preconception that drove (and funded) the extravagant promises of Warren, Sanders, and Yang ($1000/month per citizen). Thus, they really wanted it to be true.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Yes, it’s not a maths problem, it’s a thought problem. Bloomberg has 120 times $500m, so if we took ALL his fortune away, we could give every American $120m…apparently! Is that remotely likely to be true? Of course not. How would Bloomberg ever have got the equivalent of that? Do it to Bezos and Gates as well and every American gets $360m… And that includes Bezos, Gates and Bloomberg, so they couldn’t possibly object to ending up with “only” $360m. They want billionaires to have such vast sum that they are responsible for impoverishing everybody else and for mass redistribution… Read more »

jgh
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jgh

Maybe they suddenly started real numbers, where a billion is a million million. If a person has foo*10^12 dollars and you share it among blah*10^6 people, then yes each person will end up with fizz*10^6 dollars.

We should congratulate the Americans for using proper numbers.

Spike
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Spike

No, that’s not their mistake, but not seeing that hundreds of millions of dollars (Bloomberg’s campaign, not his total wealth), spread over hundreds of millions of people, is a number pretty close to $1 per person.

British “billion” is wrong and confounding over here. But it always seems easier for people to grasp to use the British term “thousand million” than the American billion.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

In the 60s Harold Wilson forced the UK to adopt the hideous US ‘short’ billion (10⁹), for which English had a perfectly good word: ‘milliard’. This term is still used in the rest of Europe, where Gates, Bezos and Bloomberg are described as milliardaires.