Numbers: Jul. 16, 2001

MISUSED STATS In his new book The Sum of Our Discontent (Texere), David Boyle suggests that our demand for precision often leads to misleading or silly numbers. For example:

$100,000 What Dartmouth says a good marriage is worth per year. (It's calculated from the money we would spend on other things to be equally happy without marrying. What's love got to do with it?)

$245 billion How much world imports exceed world exports. (Calculated by adding every nation's stats together. But barring extraplanetary trade, the difference should be zero.)

$800,000,000 How much Los Angeles drivers contribute to the GDP by burning...

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