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Ask Marilyn: Sharper Vision Or Not?
Steve Solomon of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, writes:
Marilyn: You gave a very clear and accurate explanation of 20/20 vision, ending with the statement, "The larger the fraction, the sharper the vision." (October 7, 2012) While this is certainly true, as a community college mathematics instructor, I can guarantee you that many readers will think that 20/100 is "larger" than 20/15. This kind of misconception is only the tip of the iceberg: You wouldn't believe how mathematically deficient many recent high school graduates are.
You could argue that they are not necessarily your readers so I might have to back off on my guarantee, but saying, "The smaller the bottom number, the sharper the vision," would have resulted in more people understanding your explanation.
I'll consider your guarantee void, Steve—I just couldn't write what you said to my readers!