Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Lucy, a student:

The question is:
Samoa 23%
Brazil 41%
Sri Lanka 52%
Senegal 39%
Armenia 37%
Croatia 20%
Why is the following statement true for the data above: More than half of the people said they were interested in Sri Lanka. The reason I don't understand the problem is that because the percentages add up to be greater than 100%, that means that the 500 people(as stated in the question) who participated in the survey got to pick more than once. Therefore, it is not 52% out of 100% anymore.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

Yes, Lucy, it is. It's not 52% of the responses, but it's 52% of the people.

Look at this simple case. We have three people, A,B,and C.

A likes coffee.
B likes coffee and tea.
C likes tea.

Then two people out of three like coffee - and this is more than half.
Also, two people out of three like tea - and this too is more than half.
No contradiction.

Good hunting!


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