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Ah, statistics... The ally of mathematics, business and hard science. How infallible. There seems to be a problem here though... What instrument can you use to measure "awesome", for example? How do you calculate a 14% drop in sadness? And then there are the units, often measured using an Abstract Scale — how many millisobs do you need to get one kilocry?note It would be one million times the conversion factor between sob and cry, because "kilo" refers by definition to "thousands of" and "milli" refers by definition to "thousandths of."
This trope is for when a character cites a statistic for something which is incapable of being measured. It's almost always done for comedy, though it may appear in more serious works as a sarcastic rejoinder.
See also Thing-O-Meter, where the value is actually somehow measurable. Compare/contrast Artistic License – Statistics, which is also about misusing statistics, but with material that actually can be measured. Compare Applied Mathematics.
Often seen in the form of "giving 110%."
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Ads for the Nicoderm patch (which delivers a small amount of nicotine through the skin to help ease withdrawal for people quitting smoking) show people with a Suck-O-Meter, which shows how much "quitting sucks" from moment to moment. When the needle gets too high, they use Nicoderm and it goes back down.
Wrigley's Doublemint Gum can apparently double both pleasure and fun.
There was a Czech ad for washing powder, guaranteeing great effectiveness because it has "double power of active oxygen". There was an article in some magazine mocking it, and its author wondered what would "single power of passive oxygen" be.
Advertisers have been doing this for years, such as Chesterfield cigarettes advertising that they had a "measurably smoother" smoke, as if smoothness was something that could be physically quantified and measured. The mathematician Charles Seife discusses this in his book Proofiness: How You're Being Fooled by the Numbers, along with several other such claims that went so far as to have specific numbers attached to them, a type of proofiness he refers to as "Potemkin numbers."
Anime & Manga
In Death Note, L occasionally gives statistics about how right he is. The official guide claims that he makes these up to sound more credible, although in the anime he also does it in his internal monologue when there's no one to impress. Another Wordof God claimed that whenever he mentions a statistic at all, he's always 99% sure. So all that "5%" or "47%" or whatever meant he was almost totally sure every time.
A Certain Magical Index's first arc involves Index's friends trying to remove her memory because according to the Church of Necessary Evil, 85% of her memory is taken up by the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a collection of forbidden Magical Grimories memorised with her photographic memory skills. This leaves 15% of her memory for her daily life, and makes it necessary for the memory to be removed in order for her to survive (the Grimories cannot be deleted). This is actually subverted, as the memory limit is proved to be wrong by Touma, who gets suspicious on how the Church gets values like 85% and 15%, and learns that the brain has a huge capacity for memory even if the person has photographic memory. Index's friends then realise that they are being used by the Church to protect the secrets of the forbidden Grimories by limiting her contact with the world via deleting her memory.
Ai from Yatterman uses made up percentages to display her reactions to everything.
In Is This a Zombie?, the main character, a zombie, uses percentages to reference how much power he's using in his attacks relative to the maximum power a normal human can exert. As a zombie, he's not limited by mortal concepts or limitations of strength, but he can—and sometimes does—damage himself if he puts too much power into his attacks.
On one occasion in Sgt. Frog, the A.R.M.P.I.T. platoon's deep sea expedition takes a surprising turn when their submarine is surrounded by mysterious, unseen shapes that command them to leave. Keroro reaches for the intercom button, but accidentally launches the torpedoes instead and hits one of the entities dead-on. The whole crew understandably panics, especially when the sub's sensors reveal that the entity was completely unharmed.
Giroro: But how?! Our missiles are 500% more lethal than necessary!
Friendship Is Optimal contains a subtle example. As a result of uploading to Equestria, everything can be numerically quantified, and Celest-A.I. is dedicated to reaching the theoretical maximum value for an individual's satisfaction. Justified, since she has complete knowledge of an uploaded individual's mind and a full knowledge of how the brain operates.
The Rainbooms are trying to buy time for Twilight to write a counter-spell to the Siren's magic by advancing through the Battle of the Bands:
Twilight Sparkle: Remember, we have to be good enough to make it through but not so good we let the sirens see the magic within us. They could realize we plan to use it against them. Rainbow Dash: Got it! Be cool enough to win, but not so cool that we end up showing off the whole ears and tails and rainbows thing. Sooo... about twenty percent less cool.
Rainbow's song, "Awesome as I Want to Be" has the lyrics, "When it comes to makin' music, I'm the ruler / You wish you could be twenty percent cooler."
Films — Live-Action
Bedazzled (2000) (2000): "Ah... well, you know, you go out there and you give a 110%, and you wanna play good, and, you know, you hope you play good... I think we played pretty good tonight!"
Running any given route in the rain makes you feel 50 percent more hard-core than covering the same route on a sunny day.
Ridcully declares the Unseen University football team will give it 110% in Unseen Academicals. It's left to the Literal-Minded Ponder Stibbons to explain that no, they won't, although their 100% may be greater than previously thought.
One of Jeremy Clarkson's collections of car reviews described a car as "exactly one million times better looking" than a rival model. We're not sure what units you use for this purpose (millizondas? Microjaguarcx16s?).
In Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch, a graphic novel set in an Orthodox Jewish community, the narrator declares,
"Naps on Shabbos afternoon are twelve times as refreshing as naps taken any other day! It's a scientific fact!"
In the novel Cranford, the narrator Mary Smith describes Miss Brown, an Ill Woman as coarse-looking and plain. She's about forty. Her sister Jessie is said to be ten years younger and twenty shades prettier.
In Douglas Coupland's jPod, Ethan declares: "I've come to the conclusion that documents are thirty-four percent more boring when presented in the Courier font."
According to Wit's poll at the end of Words Of Radiance, Shallan Davar is precisely 77% more agreeable than her mistress, Jasnah Kholin.
How I Met Your Mother episode "Not a Father's Day" (2008): "Lily, no part of Barney Stinson does anything less than 110%. If one my little Michael Phelps has got loose, he is swimming for a gold."
Monk (2002 TV Series), Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Big Game" (2006). Monk is coaching basketball and, being Monk, has asked the players to only give 100%. He responds to the above by telling another player she can only give 90%.
X Play on G4 uses concepts in place of stars in a ratings system during their video game reviews.
In the old American Gladiators show, competitor Wesley "Two Scoops" Berry gave an ever-increasing percentage of effort for every show he won, topping out at six digits for the championship.
Square One TV had a skit with a man singing about how he was giving "Eight Percent of my Love" to his girlfriend, with a breakdown for where the other 92% was going.
In Community Professor Slater tells Jeff that the secrecy makes the sex 38% hotter.
Flight of the Conchords'': In one episode, Murray keeps a graph of the state of his various friendships. After Brett and Jemaine offend him a few times, it drops their friendship to "Strangers."
In an episode of House, House actually prescribes cigarettes as treatment for a man suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome, and adds that it's an established fact that they make you look 30% cooler.
The song "Remember The Name" by Fort Minor uses this trope heavily. The chorus of the song goes:
"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill Fifteen percent concentrated power of will Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!"
Occurs on the Reel Big Fish live album, Our Live Album is better than Your Live Album, on the track "Suburban Rhythm." The RBF perform many versions of the song, one of which is a blues version. Before this version is played, the lead singer says they need to "bluesify it, by like 20%."
The Ken Ashcorp song "20 Percent Cooler" which includes references to all of the "Mane 6" and a shout out to Ferris Bueller.
Professional Wrestling fans often quantify exceptionally bloody matches on the Muta scale. 1 Muta is defined as the amount The Great Muta bled in a 1992 match against Hiroshi Hase, widely held to be one of the goriest matches in history. Thus, Muta ratings are usually fractional or decimal (for example, 1/2 Muta or 0.3 Muta).
One of the slogans Marcus' vending machines gives for "Torgue" brand guns is:
"Four hundred percent more awesome! Also, Torgue doesn't make their guns out of freaking wood!"
The bit about wood is an in-universe shot at a rival weapons developer, Jakobs, who also makes high damage guns, but includes wood stocks and finish in their design.
The Zen Ball in Peggle is a Zig-Zagged example. While the word used ("zen") is immeasurable, what it's actually measuring is how much the score of the shot increased over the original, non-zen-assisted shot.
"__% more Zen!" or "Maximum Zen Achieved!"
Pretty much everything Fi says in Skyward Sword uses this trope. Fi is a computer, and she may very well have a concrete, well-defined measuring system for different emotions based on certain criterion.
World of Goo: The Tower of Goo Memorial Park and Recreation Center advertises itself as being "20% more infinite in all directions."
The trailer for the Halloween update for The Binding of Isaac stated that the update had made the game "20% more evil".
The iOS game Dragonvale has some fun with this. "We're 83% certain that it is 100% safe to keep Poison Dragons near habitable civilizations."
Similarly, at the conclusion of a story arc for villains in City of Heroes, the player is given the option of fighting just one or multiple clones. Choosing to fight all eight at once awards the "Army of Me" badge:
You don't understand the math behind it, but you're pretty sure you're equal to or greater than eight of yourself.
xkcd has done this a few times. In cartoon 523, a character has made a graph showing the decline of a relationship.
In The Order of the Stick, an angel shows Roy a graph of Belkar's evil against time. Note that since it is a fantasy world, it could very well be that it is not a "subjective quality" at all but that evil can be really measured objectively there (Kilonazis is the term of measurement used, by the way).
Similarly, in Questionable Content, happiness can be quantified in Fournier-Goldman Happiness Units. A tremendous amount of difficult algebra seems to be involved, and the scale apparently defines a lethal threshold of happiness.
A common source of comedy in Cracked, especially the articles that center on charts and graphs.
In the online review circle, some reviewers (occasionally JesuOtaku or others) will use a star system with the star replaced by concepts. Said concepts are often some aspect of the subject being reviewed; said star system is not really being replaced, just merely being made 20% cooler.
This funny chart is intended to measure the "furriness" of something. It's a heavily abridged version of a less comical and lesser-known image that does much the same thing — depicting what different "percentages" of cat traits look like, from fully human to fully cat. The full version has many more examples of different percentages.
A banner ad for some kind of game project: "DrMcNinja's Radical Adventures. Now 20% more radical." Possibly a Stealth Pun, since there is a character in the comic called "King Radical." Maybe he just shows up 20% more times.
SF Debris gives us the unit "Kims" (as in deci-Kims), which is the measure of Harry Kim's sexual trauma applied per cubic meter/second. Not to be confused with a metric-Kim, which is a measurement of personal shame.
Popehat, a blog primarily concerned with the legal aspects of First Amendment issues, devoted its June 28th, 2012 column to the [KHAN], defined as "the amount of internet rage, channeled through email, listservs, and websites, on the day of Bill Clinton's impeachment acquittal". Larger units in the measurement system are the GENGHISKHAN (exactly One Godzillion KHANs, first measured on December 12, 2000, the day the US Supreme Court ruled that George Bush had won re-election) and the CHAKAKHAN, One Mecha Godzillion KHANs of internet rage..
Doctor Insano of The Spoony Experiment built a literal Gaydar; it measures stereotypical gayness. He refuses to say why.
One member of the committee creating Poochie says, "I feel we should Rastafy him by... 10 percent or so."
In an early episode where Mr. Burns' company softball team is playing against their Shelbyville analogues, Burns hires a hypnotherapist who attempts to invoke this:
Hypnotherapist: You are all very good players. Entire Team: (in monotonous unison) We are all very good players. Hypnotherapist: You will beat Shelbyville. Entire Team: (in monotonous unison) We will beat Shelbyville. Hypnotherapist: You will give 110%. 'Entire Team (in monotonous unison'') That's impossible. No one can give more than 100%; by definition, that is the most one can give.
Abe Simpson once describes his former Army unit, The Flying Hellfish as, "The fightingest squad, in the fightingest company, in the third-fightingest battalion in the Army!"
In Adventure Time, there's apparently a Party God who lives in the clouds in the sky, who seems to use the term "party" as a unit of measurement when possessing Jake to the extent that he "parties forever"!
The (partial) Trope Namernote It would've been the Trope Namer outright, but "20% cooler" could refer to temperature, which CAN be measured, and didn't fit this trope is the episode "Suited for Success", where Rarity asks Rainbow Dash how to improve Dash's dress. Dash simply replies that it needs to be "cooler." When Rarity asks Dash to be more specific, Dash says "it needs to be about 20% cooler." Such maddening vagueness drives Rarity up the wall. The phrase immediately went memetic.
Rarity also wants her friends to be 110% satisfied with their dresses.
Bender's Gaydar which can receive interference from a gay weather balloon.
One episode of Samurai Jack featured Jack aiding a group of spacemen return to their home planet. One of them was constantly calculating the probability of random events, from the probability of successfully launching a rocket, to whether or not Jack was having a good time at the moment.
Subverted with Cyborg in the Teen Titans episode "Only Human". Since Cyborg is, well, a cyborg, the machine part of him can measure how much effort he is actually putting in. Part of the episode was Cyborg lamenting that he cannot give 110%.
In the American Dad! episode "Haylias", Stan is attempting to set up a brainwashed Hayley with an obviously homosexual and unenthusiastic suitor. Hayley, who has been conditioned to follow Stan's commands somehow manages distinct facial expressions for each of Stan's instructions:
Stan: Look aroused. (Hayley gives a seductive smile) Stan: Ten percent more aroused. (Hayley's smile brightens and her eyes widen in excitement) Stan: Scale it back two percent. (Hayley mutes her excited expression slightly) Stan: Ah, young love.
In the Bravest Warriors episode "Butter Lettuce," Danny uses the Holojohn to load up a version of Beth with the request that she be "30% sexier than normal." He then follows this up with a version that is 40% sexier, which is then followed by a version that is 9000% sexier. The last one doesn't end well.
Averted in "The Three Friends Problem" on Peg + Cat when Cat draws a graph indicating that Peg used to like him to infinity and now she only likes him to "about this much" (very low point on the graph) but likes Big Dog instead to infinity. Peg tells him that while there are lots of things that can be compared on a graph, her feelings for him can't be compared to her feelings for Big Dog or anyone else and that he'll always be totally special to her. Later, they both sing about it.
The concept of utility in economics. Two utils are not seen as twice as liked as one util, they just indicate something that is liked more than one util but not as much as three.
Utility in Utilitarianism, which is subtly different from economics. For example, it can be aggregated between people. It's measured in QALYs and DALYs. Basically, a QALY is the net happiness a healthy person feels in an average year, and a DALY is negative one QALYs, i.e. the net pain felt in a year.
Money itself is essentially approximating desire for a good or service relative to the desire to produce the good or service and the desire for alternative goods or services. Part of the reason our economy goes through cycles is this metric is an approximation and can be skewed by various factors (government subsidies and corporate malfeasance for example).
Probably the most common parody of this in real life is the milliHelen, a measure of beauty. Helen's beauty launched a thousand ships, in reference to the Greek myth. Thus, a milliHelen is the beauty that launches one ship. Amusingly, this manages to be the rare example of this trope that has a defined value, but in a bit of a Voodoo Shark moment, its definition is just as vague as standard for this trope. A negative amount of milliHelens indicates how many ships would be launched away from the "beauty" in question.
The "Winger" and "milliWinger", terms coined by the Furry Fandom during its earlier days (but which have fallen out of use by now) as a way of quantifying Squick. According to WikiFur, "One Winger is equal to the amount of mental disturbance caused by viewing a typical DougWingerdrawing."
Script author William Goldman once was told by a producer that a script had to be made "forty percent funnier", in the next month. Two weeks later Goldman was asked about the progress. He said: "I only managed to make it fifteen percent funnier, so I'll have to make it twenty-seven percentnote The proper answer is twenty-two percent. funnier in the next two weeks." The producer, after a beat: "Yeah, should work out."
There's the Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment, where One Henderson is the complete and total destruction of the plot, and multiple negative Hendersons is every problem ever solved for all of time permanently.
IQ is frequently misunderstood by people who believe it to be an absolute measure of intelligence; rather, it is a statistical measure. 100 IQ is the average intelligence of whatever baseline population is used to construct the baseline for the test. Someone with an IQ of 115 is not 15% more intelligent than someone with an IQ of 100, but rather is 1 standard deviation more intelligent than someone with an IQ of 100 - thus they're more intelligent than 84.1% of the population. This doesn't mean that they're 34.1% more intelligent than the average person is, either. Due to the way that IQ tests are created, I Qs more than four standard deviations beyond the average (below 40 or above 160) cannot be accurately measured because there is simply insufficient data to accurately chart the relative intelligence of people out there - thus someone with an IQ measured as being 175 may not be one standard deviation more intelligent than someone with a measured IQ of 160. Thus IQ is a relative rather than an absolute measure, and going from 100 to 110 IQ may not represent the same change in absolute intelligence as going from 110 to 120 IQ.