On the plane from Washington (DC) to Washington (State) today, I got to thinking about numbers, and the shenanigans businesses–and even journalists—get away with because of them.
Lady seated in front of me had a newspaper open with headline about some company paying $1 billion for something. What struck me was the $1, not the billion. People tend to associate with the familiar, and the numbers zero to nine are pretty familiar. The obvious association is everyday usage, which is $1 as $1, whether there is a million or billion that follows. The impact of the number’s real value is insignificant.