# How much is "two times more"?

I just saw a commercial on TV. There was a very large “2X more” on the screen, and then the narrator was saying something like (I don’t remember exactly what product they were trying to sell) “Our product does two times more than theirs”. I’ve been seeing this in advertising more and more over the past couple of years, and I’m confused: Does “two times more” mean “double” or “triple”?

From my understanding of mathematics and the English language, “two times more” ought to mean “triple”. I say this for two reasons: (1) “Two times as much” would mean double; “Two times more” therefore means double in addition to the original amount, i.e., triple. (2) “100% more” would mean double. “Two times more” is the same as “200% more”, and therefore means triple.

But if they meant “triple”, why aren’t they saying triple? Triple sounds a lot more impressive than “two times more”, and it takes less time to say.

That’s why I suspect that what they really mean is merely double, but they are trying to say it in a way that sounds impressive, and that this sort of stupidity is evidence of the rampant innumeracy surrounding us.

What say those who’ve been “fighting ignorance since 1973”?

Given the context I would say it means double. Technically they should say, “Two times what theirs does” rather than “two times more.” But remember that these ads are written by marketing people, not mathematicians. Here’s the line of thinking. “Let’s not say ‘double’ because we want to get more attention. ‘Two times’ sounds more interesting. It’s two punchy words that the announcer can pronounce with a BANG-BANG emphasis. And we’re comparing our product to theirs, so we need to work the word ‘more’ in there someplace to strengthen the comparison.”

If it were triple, you know that they would say “3x More!”

Yes, they are wrong, and they are idiots, and they think the American public is full of idiots, and they are mostly right about that.

They could say “we have twice the beef”, but no, that is too clear. Better to mislead, “We have 3 times the meat” oh wait, no we don’t, but we didn’t actually claim that, you just misunderstood.

Not as bad as “3 times less”, anyway.

Bill Walsh of the Washington Post sheds some light on the subject.

Thank you all. I am comforted by your intelligent words. I just wish the idiots would listen.

Given that it is a TV ad, “two times more” probably means “a little more, in some situations, but you probably won’t actually measure it anyway”.

snicker