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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


The Rules of Attraction (2002)

Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beck) is arranging to deal drugs for Rupert (Clifton Collins Jr.). Guest (Michael Ralph) is vaguely listening.
RUPERT: What kinda mark-up you think you can get, from these rich-ass freshmen?
JAMES: Well, that depends upon how stepped on it is.
SAM: Stepped on?! Guest, is our shit stepped?
GUEST: Nah, Man, it’s fresh as the morning snow…
JAMES: Maybe twenty per cent over market value.
RUPERT: Fifty per cent, you say! Hot damn, college boy. That’s some good motherfuckin’ math!

Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon) and Lara Holleran (Jessica Biel) are discussing sex.
LARA: O.K., well do the math. If a condom is 98% safe, and he wears two, then you’re 196% safe. A better percentage than the pill can offer.
LAUREN: I don’t think it works that way, Lara. Abstinence is 100% safe, which is less than a percentage than…
LARA: Whatever. I don’t care, I don’t major in math.

REMARKS: If a condom fails 2% of the time, and if each of two condoms fails independently of the other, then both will fail .04% of the time. Thus, wearing two condoms is 99.96% safe.