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A bottle of Capsaicin I was blogging about last week was labeled as having 0.15% capsaicin. There was no mention of the other ingredients which constituted 99.85% of whatever was in the bottle. It was probably water and alcohol but who knows. I am wondering what would happen if these Capsaicin product labelers got together with the Procter and Gambel product labelers. They were so proud of the purity of their Ivory soap that they ran advertisements for years with the jingle about its purity as being, 99 and 44 one hundredths percent pure, and it floats.

Now if we compare 99.85% and 99.44% we see that the product in capsaicin is considerably less than the unknown impurities in Ivory soap. We could load some Ivory soap with the full dose of capsaicin and still confidently sing the happily little jingle about its purity with a completely straight faced honesty. Using this soap with capsaicin as the unknown contamination would certainly give those clean faced children something to sing about.

An Ivory soap ad from about 1920

Ivory Soap . . . . . 99 and 44/100 Per Cent. Pure and it floats

I am currently reading STREET-FIGHTING MATHEMATICS : The art of educated guessing and opportunistic problem solving by Sanjoy Mahajan . That book encourages its readers to find real world examples of fouled up mathematics, mislabeled products and other real world mess-ups. My Capsaicin versus Ivory soap example isn’t exactly what he was writing about because it is two normally unrelated subjects but it is a funny application of his basic ideas.