In a recent interview, the Chief of Defence Staff was asked the question: exactly how many vessels does the Coast Guard now have in operation to help protect the nation’s borders?
He would not give specifics but said, “62 per cent of our assets are working and, within the next week, this will rise to 75 per cent.”
And I wondered why such mathematical obfuscation was necessary. Couldn’t he just give the actual number of working and non-working vessels?
But, interestingly, I think the answer is hidden in the numbers he did give. “Sixty-two” is an unusual percentage; not simple like 25 or 50, or even 60 per cent.
If he had said 50 per cent, we all know it would mean “half” the vessels were working. But would it be one out of two, five out of ten, or some other number?
The percentage does not tell us that.
I knew, in this scenario, “62 per cent” could not mean 62/100 or 31/50 (we have nowhere near that many vessels).
Then it struck me. What if it wasn’t 62, but 62.5 and, in speaking, he just shortened it to “62”? That would be exactly five out of eight (or ten out of 16—which seems implausible).
If he gets one more vessel working “within the next week”, that would be six out of eight, exactly 75 per cent!
I guess a “rise from 62 to 75 per cent” is much more impressive than “one more”?
He could have saved me the time to write this letter, and my speculation, by simply saying, “five of our eight vessels are currently working; we expect another to be available by next week”.
Or something along that line, using the actual numbers.