This phrase has always been a little pet peeve of mine: “A lot of people…”.
Fox News is a master at using this phrase: “A lot of people are asking whether… <enter proposterous thing there>”. Beyond the TV, it is used all over the place in real-life arguments and debates.
Whenever I hear this, warning bells go off in my head. Ding.. ding.. ding!! Warning, warning! Be careful about what comes next!
The main problem is an argument that starts with “a lot of people…” is vague.
What is it?
Is the argument arguing existence? It is possible, but if existence was the main argument, there would be no reason to say the words “a lot”.
People only add “a lot” because they want to make it sound like a lot. Usually people say it because it would support their stance in an argument.
So if we are trying to argue “a lot”, than how many?
Is it everyone? Is it most people? If it is one of these two, the argument makes a lot of sense.
If it isn’t most people in the world, the meaning of “a lot of people” becomes more difficult to understand.
Is it 45% of people? Or is it .1% of people. 45% is obviously a lot of people, but even .1% of the world population is a good number of people (with a world population of +7B, we’d be talking about +7M people!).
In this case, I want to make sure we agree on what we are talking about. If we care about percentages of a population, lets talk about that. If we care about the absolute number of people, lets focus on that.
Sorry, this post turned into somewhat of a rant.
I guess I’m just trying to say, if you hear an argument that starts with “A lot of people…”, watch out.
And if you find yourself saying it, make sure to think it through and clarify what it means.
OK, rant over 🙂