10 August 2008

Big numbers confuse the New York Times

From Chinese basketball builds towards podium (August 9):

"With 300,000 million people playing basketball across the country — roughly the same number as the population of the United States..."

Really? I mean, it's almost a cliche by this point that There Are Lots Of People In China -- but I didn't know there were quite that many.

2 comments:

michaeldcassidy said...

and they are all playing basketball. Every single one of them; no body is doing gymnastics or swimming or reading.

Pablo said...

First: I'm sorry for my English.

Now, on the subject:

Some languages (e.g. Spanish, my native) use ',' instead of '.' when writing decimal numbers.
So, the journalist probably took some data written in, say, Spanish (Chinese?), and didn't check.

"300,000 million" equals to "300.000" million, which has sense.

Well... perhaps the journalist just screwed it up.