# Thread: Question, ten times LESS?

1. (Paraphrased quote) 'As a comparison, the most powerful microquasar in our galaxy is about 10 times less powerful than this one.'

I have never understood how something, other than distance, can be more than one time less. One time is 100% correct?
How can, let's say a brick, be ten times smaller in size than another brick?
I don't get it, but i read these types of statements all the time.
Help.

Gary

2.

3. Well, for example say something has a power output of 100W, something with a power output of 10W could be considered "10 times less powerful" (as 100/10 =10) as the first one. I'm guessing this is the meaning in the quote you have given, but I agree it is a ambiguous way to phrase it...

4. Originally Posted by Garygjc
(Paraphrased quote) 'As a comparison, the most powerful microquasar in our galaxy is about 10 times less powerful than this one.'
I have never understood how something, other than distance, can be more than one time less. One time is 100% correct?
How can, let's say a brick, be ten times smaller in size than another brick?
I don't get it, but i read these types of statements all the time.
Help.
Gary
It's nothing but linguistic sloppiness. But it's also (probably) far too prevalent to stop.
What is meant is 1/10 as powerfull (microquasar) or 1/10 as large (for the brick).

While annoying, and innacurate, I don't find it to be quite as sloppy as an advert that used to shown on TV in the UK some years ago.
During the advert they claimed that their particular steam iron had, with 37 holes in the face of the iron, twice as many holes as its nearest competitor.
I always wondered if I should buy the competitor's product: anyone that can make half a hole is surely a genuinely high-tech enterprise.

5. You must have meant to say it is 110% correct.
I tried pointing out to somebody once that you really can't have more than 100% of anything and got told that you could because it was just like a fraction.
Thank you, please cut that one apple into three half apples so we can all have a piece of it.

Sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking.

6. The Pedants' Revolt.

7. Originally Posted by Garygjc
I don't get it
You'll need to get in line behind many of us. (That is, you're not the only one.)

The word times indicates factoring/dividing (as compared to adding/subtracting), and the word less indicates dividing. So, ten times less means 1/10 of the amount, five times less means 1/5 of the amount, etc.

Also, ten times more than does not mean ten times the amount added to the amount, it only means ten times the amount.

It's one of the wonders of the English language.

Put it in the same class of obfuscation as do you and don't you, as in, "Do you own a Corvette?" and "Don't you own a Corvette?"

In English,
Do you own a Corvette? Yes, I own a Corvette.
Don't you own a Corvette? Yes, I own a Corvette.

Japanese is more technically correct. In Japanese,
Do you own a Corvette? Yes, I own a Corvette.
Don't you own a Corvette? No, I own a Corvette.
(As in, No, you're wrong to think I don't own a Corvette, because I own a Corvette.)

English is so universal! (But so is diarrhea.)

8. Things can get a little tricky with values that are percentages. For example, if the original value is 60% and this increases by 10%, is the new value 66% or 70%?

9. Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
The Pedants' Revolt.
As a professional writer, I have to say that the Pedants in this case deserved to die. The smug idiots who complain about supermarkets wrongly using "less" can be buried with them. Perhaps their heads could be put on spikes outside university linguistics departments.

10. Originally Posted by Strange
As a professional writer, I have to say that the Pedants in this case deserved to die. The smug idiots who complain about supermarkets wrongly using "less" can be buried with them. Perhaps their heads could be put on spikes outside university linguistics departments.
Hmm, I must admit that that one's one of my pet peeves.
Another, in a similar vein to the OP, was the old TV ad for razors.
The one that boasted a blade "twice as thin" as its nearest competitor.

11. There's an internet advert for some steam-cleaning thingy that boasts "300 W of steam pressure" it's stuff like this that winds me up (is it bad to shout out at the screen "wrong units f***wit!")

12. Wrong units?
I bet you missed the bit where they said it had "quantum" in it.
That explains why they're right.

13. Thanks to all of you for your replies. I get it.

14. Originally Posted by PhDemon
is it bad to shout out at the screen "wrong units f***wit!"
It is perfectly normal to shout at the idiots on TV - but it is ineffective.
It is better to mute the TV or avoid the adverts completely.

I suspect that they benefit more from you being angry than from you silencing the TV.

15. I always assumed that x times less is just 1/x times more.

16. Originally Posted by anticorncob28
I always assumed that x times less is just 1/x times more.
Nope it's used to mean 1/10 as much 1.
1/x more results in (1+1/x).

1 That's how it's (incorrectly) used, but the fact remains that "times" implies a multiplier - which means that there should be an increase.
You can't have an increase to arrive at a lower figure.
It's (almost unforgivably) sloppy.
/pedant mode.

17. Originally Posted by Strange
As a professional writer, I have to say that the Pedants in this case deserved to die. The smug idiots who complain about supermarkets wrongly using "less" can be buried with them. Perhaps their heads could be put on spikes outside university linguistics departments.
Do supermarkets wrongly use "less"? I mean, you wouldn't say something costs fewer, would you? Supermarkets do use the greengrocer's apostrophe, but that's a different subject.

18. Originally Posted by Harold14370
Do supermarkets wrongly use "less"?
It's a sign above the "quick" check out counters: "10 items or less".

19. Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
Originally Posted by Harold14370
Do supermarkets wrongly use "less"?
It's a sign above the "quick" check out counters: "10 items or less".
Often partial sentences are used to convey information. So if I complete the supermarket sign sentence like this: "10 items or less than 10 items," instead of: "10 items or fewer than 10 items," is it incorrect?

20. Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
Originally Posted by Harold14370
Do supermarkets wrongly use "less"?
It's a sign above the "quick" check out counters: "10 items or less".
I also wish they said "10 or fewer items". With all my pet peeves, it's a wonder I make it through a day without my head exploding.

21. Originally Posted by Ledger
Often partial sentences are used to convey information. So if I complete the supermarket sign sentence like this: "10 items or less than 10 items," instead of: "10 items or fewer than 10 items," is it incorrect?
"10 items or fewer". Or even "Up to 10 items".

The distinction is that "less" is used for "non discrete" things. I.e. where they are not individually countable.
You can specify "less than 10 gallons" for example because it's possible to divide water into quantities lower than an individual gallon.
"Fewer" is used, or should be, where what is being counted is discretely quantifiable units: shopping ITEMS come in units of one. (Ignoring that you but a pack of 5 Kit Kats - it's ONE pack).

With regard to the joke posted: how do you have "less than one person"?
One person is the minimum. Even he's missing his arms and legs it's still one person.
But 1 quart is less than one gallon.

22. Originally Posted by KJW
Things can get a little tricky with values that are percentages. For example, if the
original value is 60% and this increases by 10%, is the new value 66% or 70%?
Easy .1 times the original value is 6 so the answer is 66.
If we were to subtract 10% of 66, however, we would get 59.4 (66-6.6)

23. Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
Originally Posted by anticorncob28
I always assumed that x times less is just 1/x times more.
Nope it's used to mean 1/10 as much 1.
1/x more results in (1+1/x).

1 That's how it's (incorrectly) used, but the fact remains that "times" implies a multiplier - which means that there should be an increase.
You can't have an increase to arrive at a lower figure.
It's (almost unforgivably) sloppy.
/pedant mode.
That is partially right as it technically would not be 1/10 as the wording may be meant to say, but the actual result would be less, unless the original number was a negative number.

The formula would be original number-(10*original number)
Let's use 100 as the original number 100-(10*100)= -900
It the original number were a negative one
we would have 100-(10*-100)= +1100.

24. Originally Posted by Mayflow
The formula would be original number-(10*original number)
Let's use 100 as the original number 100-(10*100)= -900
It the original number were a negative one
we would have 100-(10*-100)= +1100.
One small mistake there.

If the original number were a negative one
you should have -100-(10*-100)= +900

25. That's right! I kept thinking it should be + 900! My mistake! Thanks!

26. Originally Posted by KJW
Things can get a little tricky with values that are percentages. For example, if the original value is 60% and this increases by 10%, is the new value 66% or 70%?
Now that one is really a matter of linguistic sloppiness. That's where I always include the numbers. Numbers simply make more sense... all the time.

... Although it's also trivially easier to lie convincingly with numbers, especially to those who don't understand them.

ETA: Speaking of linguistic sloppiness, I believe that was a remarkably awkward sentence.

27. Originally Posted by PhDemon
There's an internet advert for some steam-cleaning thingy that boasts "300 W of steam pressure" it's stuff like this that winds me up (is it bad to shout out at the screen "wrong units f***wit!")
It's punctuation that gets me. I can understand people not using colons and semi-colons correctly; those symbols have mostly gone the way of the dodo, no matter how fond of them I might be. It's misplaced apostrophes that make me insane.

In a town in which I used to live, there was a sign for a restaurant. The sign maker apparently had never heard of the concept of peer review, nor of spell check. The sign read:

Aunt Alices' Kitchen

Every time I drove past it, I felt a small part of my hypothetical soul die, and the part of my brain responsible for language threatened to join forces with my reptile brain to set the building on fire...

28. Originally Posted by Flick Montana
Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
Originally Posted by Harold14370
Do supermarkets wrongly use "less"?
It's a sign above the "quick" check out counters: "10 items or less".
I also wish they said "10 or fewer items". With all my pet peeves, it's a wonder I make it through a day without my head exploding.
I always chalked that one up to pragmatism and let it slide. I assumed the sign-makers charged by the letter...

Originally Posted by Dywyddyr
Or even "Up to 10 items".

Now see... that would save them 2 characters! My pragmatism theory is obviously wrong, and now my "let it slide" approach is threatened! Damn you Dywyddyr!

Also... how do you suggest that I mentally pronouns that? Because right now I've got "dewey-deedee-er" with a nice bit of rythm... which is likely not what you intended.

29. You might find this helpful...

Appendix:Welsh pronunciation - Wiktionary

30. Egads. So... "dyew-ee-thur" or similar?

I think I shall dub him "dee-dur-dee-dur-dee-dur" and mentally attach a humorous police siren. It seems easier, as I don't believe either my tongue or my brain is capable of encompassing the glory that is Welsh.

ETA: My Step-Mother-In-Law is welsh. She used to have a cat whose name was spelled TWP, and was pronounced "toop"... as in the first syllable of "stupid", which I understand is exactly what it meant. He was a wonderful cat, but the name fit him quite well. Thank you for entertaining my tangent.

31. Originally Posted by Mayflow
Originally Posted by KJW
Things can get a little tricky with values that are percentages. For example, if the
original value is 60% and this increases by 10%, is the new value 66% or 70%?
Easy .1 times the original value is 6 so the answer is 66.
But what about 60% + 10% = 70% ?

Originally Posted by Anathema
Now that one is really a matter of linguistic sloppiness.
In the real world, I am the one stating the increase to people who are not mathematically inclined, and I often have to express both forms and distinguish between them.

32. Originally Posted by Anathema
Also... how do you suggest that I mentally pronouns that? Because right now I've got "dewey-deedee-er" with a nice bit of rythm... which is likely not what you intended.
Can't find my other post on this but:
d = t 1 w = oo y = i dd = th
Tiuithir.
Tue (as in Tuesday - English pronunciation) ith eer.

1 Yes, the Welsh link says it's a"d" but it's pronounced closer to "t".

33. Also the misuse of the word "decimate", which means to reduce by 10%. It's applied everywhere to describe ANY reduction of something. "My savings were 'decimated' ", for instance, when they mean wiped-out or reduced by half, say.

34. This belongs in the Religion category, perhaps, but Christian doctrine "teaches" that there is but one God; God the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, that's 1+1+1= 1 !
In which universe can this be so ? How can anybody subscribe to a doctrine which cannot even count correctly ? I've heard many of the faithful try to "explain" this nonsensical equation, to no benefit in my understanding of it.

This belongs in the Religion category, perhaps, but Christian doctrine "teaches" that there is but one God; God the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, that's 1+1+1= 1 !
In which universe can this be so ? How can anybody subscribe to a doctrine which cannot even count correctly ? I've heard many of the faithful try to "explain" this nonsensical equation, to no benefit in my understanding of it.
Oh yes, but this trinity of one is not only Christian. In Buddhism ((perhaps in a similar time frame as it was thought up in Christianity (This is a weird thing I have noted,,, similar ideas seem to come to people of various regions and cultures of the Earth zone in certain historical eras)) there is a theory that each individual is made of triple components. The physical body would be the emanation portion, the other two portions would be pure joy and the ultimate reality portions.

36. Originally Posted by Mayflow
In Buddhism ... there is a theory that each individual is made of triple components.
No.
There isn't.

37.

38. You're missing the point.
Buddhism may have made claims in that regard.
But they very definitely weren't theories.

An unsupported unjustified claim - whether it eventually turns out to be true or not - is NOT a theory.

39. You miss the point that you just say pedantic stuff that I do not care about and am not interested in.

40. Originally Posted by Mayflow
You miss the point that you just say pedantic stuff that I do not care about and am not interested in.
Yeah I figured that.
You post bullshit on a science forum and expect to get away with it.
And your best response when you're called on it is to say "You're not interested".
Why exactly are you on a science forum since you're apparently not interested in actual science?

41. You miss the point again. I said you just say pedantic stuff (not even very good pedantic stuff) and I have yet to see you post a single thing about science. Show me one post or make one?

42. i read and hear this type of statement quite often. it does not confuse me. if i see 'ten times less' i just think '0.10 *' or 'one tenth'. i am not even sure it is incorrect grammer.

43. I'm more often confused when it's more than as opposed to less than references. For instance, when it's 200% more than something else as opposed to 200% of something else. One is (X+2X) the other is 2X. And the use of language isn't always consistent. Most of the time I can infer what is intended from context... but sometimes it's just anyone's guess...

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