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Another $2.79 Mathematics Experience

As mentioned last week, my wife buys me greeting cards...not for an occasion, but because they involve "mistaken-mathematics" in some form. Consider this second example...

The cover shows a monkey making a face at you, with the phrase: "78% of the people think you look like a monkey. 32% of the people think you smell like one, too."

And inside: "You do the math. Happy Birthday"

Think about the mathematics involved....with these additional thoughts:

  • The obvious element is the fact that the two percents add to a total that exceeds 100%, but so what, as there could be an overlap as in Venn Diagrams?
  • Is the author of the card even aware that there is no "necessary" contradiction? That is, did they "do the math" themselves but not understand it?
  • So, as a worst case, it could be that 78% of the people think one looks like a monkey, while 32% of the people think you both look like and smell like one....or maybe that is not the worst case, as it could be that 68% of the people think one looks like a monkey but does not smell like one, 10% of the people think you both look like and smell like a monkey, and the remaining 22% think you smell like a monkey but do not look like one.
  • And finally, the most perplexing thing, what does this whole issue have to do with someone having a birthday? I am missing any connection....[See * below for further explanation]
Wow...Again, all of this mathematical discussion prompted by $2.79 card (less 10% sale reduction plus state tax = ?)...enough fun, and I doubt I will give anyone this card!


*A.K. (Mount Vernon) has provided the link I was unaware of. She writes: "A variation of the happy birthday song (usually sung after singing the normal version first) is:

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
You look like a monkey
And you smell like one too!