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Old 05-24-2012, 02:36 PM   #1
rob.rice
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RANT warning times is more Not less


how on earth did the phrase " something times {smaller less }"
ever get started
multiplication is always bigger or more NEVER smaller or less

it pisses me off to see or hear this oxymoron

have tech writers gone brain dead or something ?
 
Old 05-24-2012, 02:46 PM   #2
craigevil
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100x.5=50 less
100x0=0 less
 
Old 05-24-2012, 03:31 PM   #3
dugan
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Quote:
multiplication is always bigger or more NEVER smaller or less
Did you write this before drinking your coffee or something?

Multiplying by a number between 0 and 1 gives you a number with a smaller absolute value.

Last edited by dugan; 05-24-2012 at 03:39 PM.
 
Old 05-25-2012, 05:06 PM   #4
rob.rice
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OK lets see the math on "10,000 times smaller"
not the math on 0.0001 times smaller but 10,000 times smaller

Last edited by rob.rice; 05-25-2012 at 05:11 PM.
 
Old 05-25-2012, 05:19 PM   #5
TobiSGD
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Is that not a valid statement in English? In German it is valid to say "10000 mal kleiner", which is a direct translation of "10000 times smaller".

Last edited by TobiSGD; 05-25-2012 at 06:28 PM.
 
Old 05-25-2012, 06:23 PM   #6
jschiwal
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What would you say instead of "17 times smaller"?
 
Old 05-25-2012, 07:25 PM   #7
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duh! 17 is a prime and 1/17 is non-terminiating and cyclic.

jlinkels
 
Old 05-25-2012, 07:28 PM   #8
rob.rice
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
Is that not a valid statement in English? In German it is valid to say "10000 mal kleiner", which is a direct translation of "10000 times smaller".
wrong it's not a valid statement it's an oxymoron
if you think it's a valid statement prove it by showing us the math
but it is found all over the place used by tech writers all the time of late
that's what I'm ranting about

Last edited by rob.rice; 05-25-2012 at 07:33 PM.
 
Old 05-25-2012, 07:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschiwal View Post
What would you say instead of "17 times smaller"?
1 17th the size of
 
Old 05-25-2012, 08:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob.rice View Post
if you think it's a valid statement prove it by showing us the math
I think exactly here lies your problem. You are mixing up language and math. In math that statement is invalid, but that doesn't have to mean that it has to be invalid in human language. The only languages that have to be mathematically correct are the language of math itself and programming languages. Human languages don't have to, they can be vague, imprecise and sometimes mathematically incorrect.
 
Old 05-25-2012, 08:37 PM   #11
rob.rice
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
I think exactly here lies your problem. You are mixing up language and math. In math that statement is invalid, but that doesn't have to mean that it has to be invalid in human language. The only languages that have to be mathematically correct are the language of math itself and programming languages. Human languages don't have to, they can be vague, imprecise and sometimes mathematically incorrect.
but not self contradicting
any statement that is self contradicting is an oxymoron and as such is not a valid statement
to say that something is "'some whole number times' smaller" is a contradiction
 
Old 05-25-2012, 09:19 PM   #12
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I find this rather interesting, although I see nothing wrong in saying five times smaller. Surprisingly, this is not a thing started "by tech writers ... of late", but is more than 200 years old. David Hume, History of England:
Quote:
Yet the middling price of cattle, so late as the reign of king Richard, we find to be above eight, near ten times lower than the present.
And more than that, it is not just some simple tech writers, this can also be found in press releases for Nobel prize winners:
Quote:
Phillips found in 1988 that a temperature as low as 40ľK could be attained. This value was six times lower than the theoretically calculated Doppler limit!
I got 1,620,000 results on Google for the search term "times smaller" alone, I have not tried "times lower", "times less" and so on. So actually it is an old phenomenon, that is wide-spread in society. Human language, in opposite to math, is (de)formed by society over time, not necessarily in ways that have to follow logic or math. So from my view, the term 5 times smaller can be correct in human language, despite it is not in math.

Basically you have three possibilities to deal with this:
- Adapt yourself to the change in language and get over it.
- Keep your opinion about the topic, but ignore it when you see it.
- Keep your opinion about the topic and write an email to all writers that do this with the request to correct it.

Choose one. I take the first.

Last edited by TobiSGD; 05-25-2012 at 09:21 PM.
 
Old 05-25-2012, 09:50 PM   #13
frankbell
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If I have a 50x telescope and look at it through the wrong end, does it make everything 50x smaller?

It's all in how you look at it.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)
 
Old 05-26-2012, 12:44 AM   #14
dugan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob.rice View Post
if you think it's a valid statement prove it by showing us the math
Dude, seriously?

x * 1/1000. X times the reciprocal of 1000. The result is 1000 times smaller than X.

Last edited by dugan; 05-26-2012 at 12:29 PM.
 
Old 05-26-2012, 03:26 AM   #15
pixellany
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hmmmm---slow news day???

As stated, it is quite proper in our language to say "one thousand times smaller". It's also proper usage in the math or physics classroom---used synonymously with terms like "3 orders of magnitude smaller"
 
  


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