I suppose such a question should really just be phrased as a rhetorical since it is a given that the majority seem to be dribbling idiots with the IQ of a turnip. The reason for this tirade is a series of news reports I heard this morning whilst heading to my regular Wednesday morning yoga practice. The closer I got to my destination the more grossly inflated became the figures pertaining to the number of viewers for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. As I left the garage the number stood at 1 billion but by the time I parked it had risen to 1.5 billion – a remarkable feat of inflation given that my trip only took 10 minutes.So back home I decided to have a look at this figure and see if any of the quoted numbers had any basis in fact at all.
Given that we had an upper limit of viewers, which no doubt in the minds of journalists has by now undergone even further inflation and probably now stands at 17 billion. It easy to find out the population of the Commonwealth which currently stands at 2.3 billion of which 94% reside in Asia and Africa. You don’t have to be an expert in demographics to know that the most populous member of the Commonwealth is India with 1.26 billion. Given the size of India it is therefore essential that India be a major contributor to the viewing population. However, it is here that we hit our first common sense hurdle, only 14% or 183 million Indian households have a television. So if we assume that every household in India has at least 2 people watching then we can make a broad assumption that India contributes 366 million – the rest of the Commonwealth will need to contribute 1.13 billion to the cause. Remember the total population of the Commonwealth is 2.3 billion and we have assumed that 894 million people in India will not be watching the telecast, so 80% of the remainder of the Commonwealth will have to watching for us to hit our target. Even if everyone in India parked their bum in front of the TV to watch the opening ceremony we would still come up short on our 1.5 billion upper limit.
However, there is another problem – there is a time difference of 4 hours and 30 minutes between India and the Gold Coast, so if experience is anything to go by the bulk of the population of India will be on a train at that time. And spare a thought for the poor Canadians who have a 14 hour time difference so god knows when they would have to set their alarm clocks for.
So what is the point of this little fun by numbers exercise?
It is to show that the mainstream media cannot even get the most basic of facts correct. It takes two seconds to find out that the population of the Commonwealth is 2.3 billion and another two seconds to work out that 1.5 billion as a percentage of 2.3 billion is 65%. It then takes a fraction of a second to realise that the bulk of the Commonwealth is made up of Third World countries who dont have access to running water let along satellite TV. Performing this sort of exercise is a relatively simple endevour but now expand the problem to include the analysis of reasonably complex financial matters and you can see where the problem arises for traders who are reliant upon third party information sources to make their decisions. If simple things cannot be thought through then the chances of getting any sort of sense about markets must approximate zero.