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Significant Digits For Thursday, July 20, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

12 percent

It’s summer, and how we use energy to cool our homes is of paramount interest to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. All told, 87 percent of homes use air conditioning, and 65 percent of homes use central air conditioning. Now here’s where things get interesting: Most of those central air homes have a programmable thermostat, an essential tool for efficiently using energy. Still, two-thirds of those homes with a programmable thermostat don’t bother using it. All told, the percentage of U.S. homes that have central air, have a thermostat that can program the use of that central air, and actually use the thermostat — ideal energy consumers — represent only 12 percent of homes. [EIA]

45 percent

Percentage of Trump voters who believed that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the election, which is very low given that Donald Trump Jr. personally tweeted out the emails detailing the planning of the meeting, discussed attending the meeting at length in an interview with Sean Hannity, and also that the president discussed the meeting which definitely happened, in print yesterday. [The Independent]

74 percent

Placebos work, and faking a surgery may be the greatest placebo of all. A 2014 knee pain study comparing elective surgical procedures and sham surgeries — fear not it was all on the level people knew what they were potentially getting into — found that faking a surgery (doing all the fasting and knocking them out and fake incisions and the whole routine) provided some benefit to the ailment in 74 percent of cases and was just as effective as the actual elective surgery roughly half the time. [FiveThirtyEight]

32 million

A CBO score of the latest GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act found it would leave 32 million more people uninsured by 2026 compared to current law. This straight repeal, no replace legislation compounds the uninsured more than other recent plans and could see a vote next week. [CNN Money]

$216 million

Back in March the New York Power Authority was reportedly presented with a preliminary plan from the Cuomo administration that would fund a light show on a bunch of bridges by raiding $216 million from the MTA. Now that New York City is bordering on open rebellion with the wretched state of the MTA’s subway system during the “summer of hell,” the Cuomo administration is reportedly distancing itself from the light-show plan. [POLITICO Pro]

6,400 million metric tons

Amount of plastic that has become waste since we started doing stuff with plastic in the fifties. So far 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerate, and 79 is just doing it’s own thing in nature or a landfill. Earth made as much plastic in the past 13 years as it did in the rest of human history. [The Atlantic]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.