I’ve mocked the mathematical abilities of the BBC once or twice before. Now I was working on the theory that this was just a problem with whoever is responsible for local news in this area, but it seems that innumeracy is more of a general problem.
This story reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is the official figure used to indicate the rate of inflation, is expected to be over 3% when the figure for December is announced. This would be the highest figure for quite some time, but for anyone who remembers the really high figures of previous decades, it’s not that alarming. But it is an indication that the rate of increase of the cost of living is, on average, higher than it has been for a long time, which might be a cause for concern.
Now the CPI replaced the old Retail Price Index (RPI), and includes, in addition to commonly purchased items, housing costs. And as interest rates have increased in recent months, this tends to increase the index. As the figure is rather low, it’s sensitive to such changes (if it was running at 10%, a small increase in interest rates wouldn’t make a big difference to the index).
Anyway, all that is an aside. Most people understand that the CPI is a measure of a rate of increase of “the cost of living” rather than a measure of “the cost of living” itself.
Most people who don’t work for BBC News, that is. The headline for this story was
Cost of living ‘at 11-year high’
Now the only response to that is, well, duh! Of course it is! It was last month, too. And the one before. And so on. Now if they’d said “Inflation” instead of “Cost of Living” it would have worked. I heard the same phrase on the radio this morning, too.
I wonder if they have the same problem distinguishing between speed and acceleration?