The Scam of Percentages

The day remains clearly etched in my memory. I was in fifth standard and one day I came home utterly dejected. The maths teacher had introduced the concept of percentages and I just couldn’t fathom it. It sounded freakishly alien. I literally had tears in my eyes because it seemed that everybody in the class understood it except me.

The teacher had repeated the definition – percentage is when you convert any ratio into base of hundred – at least a dozen times in the class that day. It didn’t help.

Then my father explained, “Look. When you divide something into two equal parts, each part is called half, right? Instead of calling it half, let’s call it 50 percent. Now, when you divide something into four equal parts each portion is one fourth, correct? Let’s call that 25 percent.”

That made some sense. Although it took some time but finally I was able to wrap my head around this strange human invention called percentages.

20 years later, my wife upended the theory of percentages.

“I am 400 percent sure about this.” She would often say and leave the fifth standard kid in me thinking, “I knew this percentage business was all scam.”