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Approximately about . . .

T
oo often, reporters trying to use numbers hedge so much as to make those numbers utterly meaningless. I'm talking about sentences like this:

An average caseworker might handle up to 100 cases a month or more.
OK, let's see: up to 100 cases a month, meaning it could be anything from zero to 100, but the upper limit is 100. But wait: "or more"! So the sentence says 100 is the most it could possibly be -- but it could be more. And that's just the "average" caseworker. And it only "might" be true. In other words, the sentence says nothing; it just wastes valuable newsprint.

Once my head stops spinning, I try to get the reporter to be more specific. If that fails, I usually change the sentence to something like this:

It's not unusual for a caseworker to handle 100 cases a month.
Not great (though I do like the sly Tom Jones reference), but it's safe and it conveys at least some information.


Now what?

Move on to COME OUT AND SAY IT

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