I’m bad with numbers
, but there are a few basics I can figure out. For example, that a percentage can be expressed as a fraction. I bring this up because I hate it when people who should know better fall into the shallow and thorny pit of using colloquialisms that don’t make sense, such as using “
not even a fraction
” to mean a very small amount compared with something else.
This morning on CBC radio some pundit was talking about the oil potential in the Caspian Sea region. Apparently the Russians are quite excited about the apparently rich reserves there. The pundit was saying, however, that the amount of oil there is being overestimated, that in fact it amounts to only about 3% of the world’s production.
Along a whole other line of reasoning, 3% of the world’s oil production is not insignificant, but I won’t even get into that. The guy went on to compare it against Saudi Arabia, who produces 25% of the world’s oil. He said, dismissively, “The Caspian represents about 3% of world oil production, which is not even a fraction of what Saudi Arabia produces“.
Well, according to my calculations, 3% compared to 25% means the Caspian compares with about 12% of the Saudi resources. That “not even a fraction” is, in fact roughly 1/8. (1/8, of course, being a fraction.) Even if it was only 1/100, it’s still a damn fraction! 9/10 is a fraction. So is 1/1000. “A fraction” just means “a subdivision less than the whole“.
He could have said “…which is just a fraction of what Saudi Arabia produces.” In this case we know he means “it is less”, and we can infer he means “significantly less.”
But it is still a fraction!
By the way, I would have merely rolled my eyes had the lame pundit said that only once, but he said it twice! (Hence the rant.)