Dear Editor,

I wish to point out what appears to be a gross error in one of your editorials and what the possibility of its going unnoticed is saying about the reading classes of Guyanese.

But before we get the details the supporting background music is in order. Here we have just had the minority leader holding up a placard for the whole world to see that we Guyanese have difficulty spelling. There was the word “divide” spelt with 2 “e”s. Another placard had 2 “l”s for vilify. I checked to see whether “ll” version has caught on in the rest of the world. Apparently it hasn’t as yet. I figure the second ‘l’ was for lampoon. But seriously, no one who has listened to the minority leader over the years when he was president would ever accuse him of not knowing how to spell. That placard was someone else’s work (hopefully not the ex-minister of education’s!) So it appears that the minority leader has semi-literate people working with him. When all the jokes are over the question we have to ask is whether that is the group that is really behind him. I drew attention in my previous letter to the fact that when the ex-attorney general Anil Nandlall’s letters were undressed of all their fancy language they revealed shoddy logic (a misinterpretation of the meaning of “or” in one letter and setting up a false equivalence between “fails to submit a list as provided for” and “fails to submit a list” in another, inter alia). I do not usually read his tedious tomes but was on the lookout for anyone who wrote on two issues and had to come to grips with his process of ratiocination. As the editor, you have to put a caption on letters. In view of the fact that many people are not reading anything but the caption, you might be unwittingly aiding a process of transmission and proliferation of faulty conclusions in the society. It appears that many simply repeat them.

But it appears that a great whopper of a blunder in your editorial of November 1 simply passed unnoticed. Please tell me that your phones were ringing off the hook or that you got countless emails on it. In the editorial titled “Disappearing landmarks: ‘Change is the only constant in life,’ Heraclitus” you wrote: “The instant answer is of course online shopping. In the last seven years, the online retailer Amazon’s revenues have risen to $80 trillion as compared to Sears’ $22 trillion…”

What currency were you using? It certainly could not be US$. The entire GDP of the United States in 2016 was $18 trillion. How could Amazon’s revenues  be greater than four times the US GDP? The statistics available reveal that Amazon had third quarter earnings of $43.4 billion at the third quarter of 2017 including an increase. Even if you use the brute estimate of 4 quarters, you get $150 billion. One trillion is a 1 million times 1 million or 1,000 billion. So I think you have some explaining to do. The irony of it is the title “Change is the only constant in life”. Agreed. But this kind of change we have to reverse. You will probably agree that the difference between bn$43 and trn$80 is not small change. Exxon said that the number of barrels of oil with the new discovery is now 2.8 billion barrels. I am wondering now if they had said 2.8 trillion if anyone would have known the difference. Please tell me that I am not the only one who queried this apparent error. I have seen no letter published about it.

Yours faithfully,

 E. Collins

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