Can’t Add, But So Darn Cute

Leave it to Wendy to find a new angle on a story.

Picture 7

We have one too.
Was teaching math to Wendy Mesley a waste of time?

In a feature segment on last night’s The National, Wendy looked at how much the U.S. spends on NASA compared to how much it spends on education.
She found the amounts …

Picture 17

did the calculations, and decided it was …

Picture 23

Then, as a CBC reporter, a former news anchor, a representative of the highest standards of journalism and fact finding, she went about telling everyone the news …

Peter and the viewing public …

Picture 21“It’s about 40% of what the Feds spend on education”

Pedestrians on Queen Street …

Picture 19“NASA gets about 40% of what is given to the Dept. of Education”

Canadian physicist Dr. Allan Carswell …

Picture 20“but it’s about 40% of what the Feds give to the Education Dept.
Pretty big.”

Of course, it’s fairly easy to see that Wendy is numerically challenged.
The actual amount is closer to 30%.
29.8% to be exact.

But here’s an even tougher math question:
What are the odds of Wendy and the CBC admitting publicly that they made a mistake?

(special helpful hint and note for Wendy – on your computer, find the page and type in the words “to find a percentage”, or just click on this link.
And by the way, you’re beautiful)


  1. Jim J.
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 2:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This is comical, not just because they can’t divide to find a correct percentage, but because it fails to take into account that in the U.S., states and local governments spend the overwhelming majority of public funds on education.

    For example, in New York State (where I live), the state is slated to spend in the 09-10 fiscal year, about $17.7 billion on K-12 education, without even counting the $2.5 billion it will receive from federal transfers.

    So, New York State, just by itself, spends an equivalent amount to the federal government’s spending on NASA. Now, extrapolate that out to include the 49 other states.

    Idiots? Or deliberately misleading?

    • Falula
      Posted November 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      I’m going to go with deliberately misleading. What the hell is this story anyways? News? Seriously? Who the hell cares what nasa budget divided by education budget is? Do you know what Obama’s weight divided by the area of Texas is? Scandalous!

      Would probably play well on fox news, though, if fox were bent that way.

  2. PeterInEdmonton
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    If the concern is about mathematical accuracy, shouldn’t the title of this item be “Can’t Divide, But So Darn Cute”? I did not see any addition going on in this story.

    Haven’t watched the National, yet, but have caught a few episodes of Lang & O’Leary, or as I like to call it, BizNews, The Disco Remix. (What is it with the CBC’s new infatuation with Disco? See also the theme music for the Calgary Weekend Morning Radio 1 show) I am not a CBC insider, but is the number of technical glitches normal for a new show? They played a music sting over Amanda a couple of times the first show, then on the second, she introduced some market numbers and then they showed a black screen.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 12:02 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Good thing some people think she’s cute because that would be the only reason to watch her so far totally lame segments on The National.
    I was watching her bark cutely and bat her eyes lamely, and quite frankly I walked away thinking “how embarassing” and utterly pointless.

  4. Kev
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:07 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I think the problem is with the onscreen graphic. The discretionary budget for Fy2009 was $46.2 billion, vs $17.8 billion for discretionary budget for NASA, giving 38.5% which is reasonably rounded up to 40% for vox pop purposes (got my figures from ).

    Of course you could argue that this doesn’t really tell the full story as education has other larger funding sources (the Recovery Act being the biggest) that would get it well above $100 billion, while NASA has less access to those sources and remains pretty much around the $20 billion mark – but that isn’t your argument, as you don’t really care about the story and are just looking for reasons to denigrate the newscaster in question.

    (The girls sucking at abstract thought stereotype has been thoroughly debunked by the way. They’re now kicking our asses at math. Time to hit the books lads.)

    • Allan
      Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      The problem is with the graphic?
      Then has it occurred to you, kev, to take the graphic downstairs for a cup of coffee and explain to it how important it is to get the facts right?

      • Kev
        Posted October 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        Isn’t that a bit rich (leaving aside the attempt at wingnut humour), considering that you didn’t bother checking any facts yourself?

        • Allanjoined April 10, 2009
          Posted October 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

          checking facts myself? why would I do that when I can just watch … The Number One News Source In Canada!
          You gotta wonder, kev, how something so instantly obvious could escape the largest news gathering operation in the country, and the most expensive and extensively staffed news program on the air today.
          Guess everyone’s head is in the Magid cloud now instead of into journalism.
          It would seem only fair to have scroll at the bottom: “MAY CONTAIN ERRORS. BUT SO WHAT”.
          And the CBC is in no hurry to clarify the numbers, leaving it up to kev.

  5. CRTC
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 1:46 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m more concerned that you think Wendy is cute!? I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

    Diana Swain… now that’s a hot news broad! She can screw up facts and figures all she wants.

  6. beancounter
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 12:52 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No biggee.
    This is just the usual degree of high math at the CBC.
    Just taking a cue from the way management does it’s ‘figurin’
    Even Wendy only has so many fingers and toes.

  7. Another Year Another Plan
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 6:55 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Wendy was told there would be no math.

    The 40% number was arrived at due to the fluctuation of the Canadian loonie versus the US clam. What’s the big about a 9 billion dollar error?

    Wendy’s producer used the crack team who under fuelled the Gimli Glider back in 1983 to process the NASA & DOE sums.

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