You’d think passing Math 101 would be a requirement to help run a major organization. That may not be the case once you take a gander at some of these gigantic math gaffes.
Bet there were some pretty red faces (and quite possibly some pink slips) once these blunders were discovered:
Mistake #1: Flunked
Someone working for the Maryland Board of Education could use a little more education himself, after making a simple addition error that threw off an estimate of state wealth by $18 million.
The errors spread undetected to the budgets of 18 counties and penalized the state’s largest school system.
Ultimate cost of this math mistake? $31 million.
Mistake #2: Mission overcharged
Government auditors got quite a shock when they took a look at the largest support services contract for the U.S. effort in Iraq.
The proposed charges? $110 million for supplies to bases that were already shut down, $212 million in overcharges for meals for the troops (some of which were never served) and another $50 million in duplicate charges.
No claims of funny business here; just simple weaknesses in “accounting, purchasing, estimating and billing.” Is that all?
Ultimate cost of this math mistake? $215 million, after the government withheld the disputed amounts.
Mistake #3: Lights, camera, lawsuit
It was no Hollywood ending for the Motion Picture Association of America, which paid for a study that determined college students were responsible for a whopping 40% of all illegal movie downloads.
Lawsuits were initiated to go after the pirates with guns blazing. Only problem? Bad math – turns out the college students were behind just 15% of the illegal downloads.
Ultimate cost of this math mistake? Unknown, but no doubt there were some pretty hefty legal bills to foot.
Mistake #4: All out of energy
And you thought global warming was dangerous! How about bureaucrats with sub-par math skills?
An Illinois plant working to curb greenhouse gas emissions in coal plants was shut down by the Department of Energy after it was considered too expensive an undertaking. Except that the mother of all math errors put the DOE’s estimate off by $500 million!
Ultimate cost of this math mistake? $500 million and who knows how much to the future of the planet.
Mistake #5: History repeating itself
And if there was any hope that these types of math mistakes wouldn’t be repeated, we won’t hold our breath based on this final error.
A jaw-dropping 109,263 errors were found in math books being considered for elementary school children and teachers. Included among the blunders were incorrect computations and answer keys included in the student versions of the books!
Ultimate cost of this math mistake? $116.8 million.
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