At first, I thought I was reading about an incredible medical breakthrough, instead of the evacuation of a hospital in New York City. No, that's not true. At first, I passed over the numbers, as I often do. So, I suspect, do most people. (Okay, not Joseph. But most people.)
New mom Jo-An Tremblay-Shepherd said, "The power went off completely, and all of the monitors, you're seeing all these monitors here, and there's a lot of buzzing and whatnot and everything just went."
Tremblay-Shepherd's son, Jackson, born 27 weeks prematurely, was carried in the dark by a nurse who also held his oxygen tank.
But the back of my mind wouldn't let it go. Born 27 weeks prematurely? So I stopped to calculate. Normal gestation is 40 weeks, 40 minus 27 is ... 13? Thirteen weeks? The quintuplets I pray for were born at more than twice that age, just shy of 28 weeks, which is 12 weeks prematurely, and although they are doing well for their age, life has not been easy for any of them.
So I turned to Google, and learned that the youngest premature baby to survive was born at 21 weeks, five days. At 13 weeks, the baby is but three to three-and-a-half inches long.
So, obviously, the CBS News article was wrong. The baby was no doubt born at 27 weeks gestation, not 27 weeks prematurely. Not much more than a typo. But it set me thinking: How many of the numbers that assail us in news articles and broadcasts do we absorb without thought, let alone fact-checking? How much information that is just plain wrong has become part of our national consciousness? What inaccuracies, mistakes, and downright lies do we propagate unthinkingly?