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Significant Digits For Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018

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


5 by 8 inches

Suspicious packages, some reported to contain bombs, were sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters, Democratic donor George Soros and CNN’s New York offices. None of the devices exploded or injured anyone, and not all of them reached their intended final destinations. The package sent to CNN was addressed to “John Brenan.” It was a 5-by-8-inch envelope, affixed with six first-class postage stamps, containing white powder and a pipe bomb just over 6 inches long. New York City’s police commissioner said it was “a live explosive device.” The other packages were reportedly similar. [The New York Times]


More than 600 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 600 points Wednesday, wiping out all of the index’s 2018 gains. Investors were carefully eyeing inflationary concerns over tariffs and the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases, according to the Post. [The Washington Post]


-48 Elo points

The Philadelphia Eagles, last season’s Super Bowl winners, are experiencing a championship hangover like few teams before them. They are currently 3-4 and have dropped 48 Elo points in those seven games, the worst of any defending Super Bowl champion since 2010. The good news, if you’re an Eagles fan, is that a handful of the teams on the “worst hangover” list did end up recovering (water, coffee and a bacon, egg and cheese, perhaps) and making the playoffs. [FiveThirtyEight]


17 percent of people over 65

According to a new analysis of a study from the Pew Research Center, older people are worse than younger people at distinguishing facts from opinions. Given 10 statements — five facts and five opinions — 34 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds identified all five facts correctly, and 46 percent identified all five opinions. The numbers were 17 percent and 21 percent for those 65 and older. The research cuts against the notion that digitally native young people are more exposed and therefore more susceptible to misinformation. There is, however, a correlation with poor performance on the test and exposure to television news. [The Atlantic]


$1 trillion cost

There is no doubt that the opioid crisis has exacted an immense toll in the form of personal pain and suffering. Some 70,000 people died from overdoses in 2017, according to the CDC. And the direct toll of the crisis cost some $115 billion that year, according to a quantification by Altarum, a health care research nonprofit. Since 2001, those direct costs have totaled more than $1 trillion — and that’s a conservative estimate, according an analyst with the group. [CBS News]


15 million euros in fines

An Italian body akin to our Federal Trade Commission has fined Apple and Samsung a total of 15 million euros for forcing customers to download updates that could slow down or break their devices. Apple, for whatever it’s worth, has about a quarter of a trillion dollars cash on hand, of which their fine represents about 0.005 percent. [TechCrunch]


Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.

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

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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