Chance News 10

Quotation

The weather man is never wrong. Suppose he says that there's an 80% chance of rain. If it rains, the 80% chance came up; if it doesn't, the 20% chance came up! - Saul Barron .

From: Stastical Quotations

Forsooth

"'Four million ... heard it. Ten percent remember it. One percent of those matter. One percent of those do something about it. That's still' - he does the math - 'four people.'" From: _The Betrayal_, by Sabin Willett, NY: Villard (Random House), 1998.

Submitted by Margaret Cibes

Logarithmetic behavior as metaphor

For many years Ed Barbeau has edited a wonderful column in the College Mathematics Journal called Fallacies, Flaws, and Flimflam. In Ed's column in the November 2005 issue of the College Math Journal Norton Starr provides a contribution called "Logarithmic behaviour as metaphor". Norton provides examples from a wide variety of writers saying that something is growing Logarithmically when they meant it is growing exponentially.

Norton says that he became interested in this when a convocation speaker at his college (Amherst) said:

As opposed to all other appetites which are stimulated by deprivation and satisfied by food, good education stimulates with plenty so that appetite for knowledge and understanding escalate logarithmically to insatiability.

Norton finds examples among faculty, newspapers, television and of course on the web. Norton writes:

Here are three examples of metaphorical growth from the New York Times, with the third suggesting an improved understanding on the part of this newspaper:

• from a review of Harlow' Shapley's autobiography: "if the autobiographer opts for a method he believes will grant him immortality without industry, his risks rise logarithmically."
• from a story about corruption and drugs:"' The drug situation is a horror story, increasing logarithmically.'"
• from a more recent story: "Street crime, fed by an explosion of drug abuse, has risen exponentially."