“I’m bad at math” is a really terrible excuse for making mistakes. I usually translate that “I am just lazy and didn’t want to put a lot of effort into what I did.” I’m not trying to be mean, this is just how I feel. I’m not alone. Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander agrees:
A review of published corrections for the past three months shows that few days passed without a numbers error. I regularly hear complaints that numbers in Post stories don’t add up.
Some involve faulty statistics. Others result from math errors. Many are inexplicable, such as last Tuesday’s A-section story that said new industry-wide health-care rules, “will affect about 180 Americans with private insurance” (it should have been 180 million). All damage credibility
I’ve briefly written about how bad science journalism is, and it is a very easy topic to write about. I’m wondering if the lack of basic math skills in news room is related to poor science journalism.