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Department of Incredibly Obnoxious Pedantry



To the editors:

In David Whiteis's article on Transcendental Meditation [March 6], Marc Kincaid describes the positive effects if 1 percent of the population practices TM, and states that he expects the "same effect by just the square root of 1 percent." Evidently, Marc Kincaid thinks the square root of 1 percent is smaller than 1 percent. Actually it's larger. Ten times as large. One percent is one hundredth, and the square root of one hundredth is one tenth. (This relation holds for all positive numbers less than one. Their square roots are larger than they are.) But certainly Marc Kincaid did not mean what he said, for his statement does not promote TM. Or is there a transcendental mathematics?

Ellen Credille
W. Loyola

David Whiteis replies:

What Marc Kincaid and the Maharishi had in mind, of course, was that you'd calculate 1 percent of the world's population and then take the square root of that number.

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