From the article, “The Border of Madness,” in The Atlantic:
“More than 14,000 people have been killed in the almost three years since President Felipe Calderon mobilized the army to fight Mexico’s half-dozen major drug cartels.
Virtually none of these homicides has been solved….”
What’s the problem with these two sentences?
What does “Virtually none” actually mean?
14,000 is a big number. “Virtually none” suggests that some of the homicides have been solved, but it’s a sufficiently large number to call into question what the writer, Philip Caputo, considers to be “virtually none.”
It’s worrisome that this type of sloppiness and imprecision slipped past Caputo’s editor. So often, we use turns of phrase because they sound good… not because they convey facts accurately.