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More and Less

I’m currently reading The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford, presenter of Radio 4 maths show More or Less. It’s very good, but one thing is stopping me from giving it an unqualified recommendation: it’s full of passages like this:

[T]he government spends three hundred dollars per person (five times less than the British government and seven times less than the American government)

Because of its lousy education system, Cameroon is perhaps twice as poor as it could be.

The poorest tenth of the population spends almost seven times less on fuel than the richest tenth, as a percentage of their much smaller income.

Model for processing language in context

New research looks at how language is used to convey information in context, something which is, according to its abstract “one of the most astonishing features of human language”. Apparently there have been “many” theories providing “informal accounts of communicative inference” but few have succeeded in making “precise, quantitative predictions about pragmatic reasoning”.