Your headline "Odds are apparently against Archuleta on 'Idol"' (May 19) and the math (probabilities) are inconsistent. Your reporter either quoted a source incorrectly or inadvertently reversed the numbers (and your copy editor missed it).

A brief lesson in probability (odds): If the odds for winning a horse race are posted at 70 to 1, you merely make a fraction, 1/70, which can be reported as a decimal and converted to a percentage — in this case 1.4 percent.

If David Cook's chance of winning, as it appears in the article, is 2 to 5, then his probability of winning (250 percent) cannot be correct because no probability can be greater than 1.0. Maybe it should have been reported as 5 to 2 = 2/5 = 0.4 or 40 percent. The odds for David Archuleta's winning are reported as 7 to 4, or 57 percent — which is a greater probability than Cook's and inconsistent with your headline.

Wayne B. Merkley