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Two-thirds is a minority?

Maura Dolan had this article on the California death penalty over the weekend.  The subhead read (and as of 11:45 am PST Jan. 2 the online version still does), "California's recent vote to continue the death penalty keeps it in the minority of states with capital punishment still on the books."  As we have noted on this blog more than once, headlines are not written by the reporters who write the articles.  (See, e.g., here.)

While errors in headlines are often eyeball-rollers, this one is particularly egregious.  In fact, about 2/3 of the states have capital punishment "on the books."  An overwhelming majority of the states retain capital punishment as a legally available punishment, as California does, and yet the Times tells its readers their state is in the minority in this regard.  How far back do you have to go to find a more factually false headline?  "Dewey Defeats Truman"?

The Times will publish a correction.

Update:  A runner-up in the innumerate headline category has been brought to my attention:  "'We hate math,' say 4 in 10 -- a majority of Americans"

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