Most absurd use of "Most"

(Dan here…Lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts.  Just a comment.)

by Robert Waldmann

Most absurd use of “Most”

Two of the bees in my bonnet are the Headline writer(s) and the abuse of the word “most.” In a bit of a shift*, I complain about the headline:

“Most Americans Oppose Health Law, Poll Finds”

I clicked the link and read “In the latest poll, 47 percent said they oppose the law while 36 percent approve, with the rest having no opinion. “
OK lets go slow. 47<50 therefore 47%<50% therefore 47% is not most.
I don’t like the word most because it ambiguously means “more than half” and “approximately all.” It is a 4 letter automatic equivocation.

I add that the article has changed since the first time I read it (the New York times has always updated within the day — the newspaper of record becomes the record at midnight). In the older draft (trust me) the 47% = most was in the first paragraph.

Interestingly the new first paragraph notes that two thirds of respondents want the Supreme Court to declare parts of the law (mostly the mandate I guess) unconstitutional. This shows how much the US pubic hates judicial activism. Think of how few must have the view that laws which they don’t like shouldn’t be overturned by unelected courts.