Nipping innumeracy in the bud
Ed Zotti, who may or may not be the same person as Cecil Adams, published an article in The Straight Dope earlier this month. An avid reader of this column, I immediately spotted a big problem and wrote to Ed. He asked me—through an intermediary—to post it on the Straight Dope message board under the Questions, Comments for SD Chicago/Paulina St. Journal Columns section, which I did this morning:
The article, "One in a trillion", shows two graphs, one of hard disk drive capacity and the other of the national debt. In inviting comparison of the two ("Need I say more?"), you commit the grave mathematical sin of intimating that graphs on logarithmic and arithmetic scales can be visually compared by the mathematically unsophisticated. I'm sure you know this is NOT TRUE! I invite you to clarify and amend.
Hugh D. Hyatt
Willow Grove, PA
~ Afflictions are the good man's shining times. — Edward Young ~
Ed responded this afternoon:
This is a dagger to the heart of my analysis.
One nice thing about both(?) Ed and Cecil: they own up to their mistakes.
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