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Precise is not the same as accurate

December 06, 2007

Re "Home of the whopper," editorial, Dec. 3

The editorial on Rudy Giuliani points up a fundamental misunderstanding of "precision." The editorial claims that Giuliani "likes to set himself apart from his rivals by claiming greater precision -- this while being imprecise."

Actually, Giuliani is rarely imprecise. He consistently offers statistics with many decimal places.

The concern is that he is inaccurate. It is common to utilize a great deal of precision to mask inaccuracy.

I'm not surprised that Giuliani takes this approach; it is common with politicians, particularly those who have no concern for little details like the facts. But I am more surprised that The Times doesn't understand the difference.

Michael Gallagher

La Habra Heights

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