Percentages.

Oh for crying out loud. The next time Simon Cowell says “1 million percent” I will literally turn the TV off. I have had enough of the media professing for thing more than 100%. Players in football matches are giving 110% every game, Dragons Den people are committing 120% to the idea, and the last spastic who ended up on X Factor trying to make a couple of million pounds in a few years before dying in a coke filled bath tub surrounded by mint condition issues of Heat magazine are being told “1 hundred million percent no”.

I have had enough. The frequency at which complete percentage debauchery takes place is incredible. I can’t believe that people don’t understand percentages.

A percentage is an arbitrary way of calculating proportions and is an easy way to simplify changes in value. For example, if the price of a £2.00 pack of cheese went up 40p, to 2.40, it would have increased in price by 20%. This makes sense. We are expressing 2.00 as 100, and 20 of those hundred (40p of those 2.00) it is increasing by.

Infact, percentages greater than 100% are acceptable too. For example, if I owed the bank £3000 but earned £2000 a month I would have to earn 150% my wage to pay it back in one month. This also works.

What doesn’t work is arbitralily sticking and applying hundreds to non numerical things. Like talent. If you are 100% good at something then, in theory, you shouldn’t be able to give 110%, unless, your original 100% was actually less than your total talent. In fact, I can say that a quarter of my talent is 100% and that means that when I work to my full power I am working to 400%. Or, I can make my full talent 1% and that means I have 99% excess talent in numerical terms but have none in real terms!

So, when I hear 1 million percent (1000000/100, remember, per cent is per hundred) you really are saying “you surprised us” or “well done, you exceeded our expectations”. So why don’t people say this? The finny thing is that people often forget that you could have per mille (‰). In fact, I’d love to hear Duncan Bannatyne saying “you gave 1 thousand per mille” and Peter Jones smiling his 6ft 7’’ smile.

Basically, I have an irrational displeasure for this. Literary, in English, as a device for hyperbolae, it might work – but hearing it to quantify so much about our society it is becoming a cliché is annoying. Annoying to 110%.