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7:58am on Monday, 30th April, 2007:

A Third, a Quarter, a Fifth, a Sixth


Watching GMTV this morning (it's the only thing our TV seems able to pick up regularly that isn't a soap opera), we were told that a new report has identified the fact that three times more women suffer from post-natal depression that previously thought. Instead of being 1 in 10 women (which is what the charity MIND found a few years ago), it's now 1 in 3 (courtesy of the Royal College of Midwives). They didn't say how this came to be (although, as is usual with these things, I suspect it was achieved by changing the definition of "post-natal depression"), but you can't blame them: to do so would have probably entailed reading the report rather than whatever summary of it appeared in the press release.

The report stated that women in the Midlands and North of England were more likely to suffer post-natal depression than women in the South. We were told it was 20% in the North and 16% in the South, but the web version says 21% in the North; it also reveals that it's 23% in the Midlands, but that doesn't make for a good North/South Divide story.

The thing is, though, 23% is about a quarter, 21% is about a fifth and 16% is about a third. None of these are about a third. Where did that figure of a third come from?

Two thirds of the population don't understand fractions, and the other half aren't happy about it.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).