The Sunday Times today reported an oft repeated 'fact' that the closure of 43 unprofitable Tesco stores would result in the loss of 2,000 jobs.
There is a temptation to describe this as a factoid. Oxford Dictionaries defines a factoid as
"An item of unreliable information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact"
I am not sure however that the Sunday Times report strictly meets that definition because it is highly probable that the closure of those 43 stores will actually result in that many job losses.
What is not in any way described however is that the store closures are caused by increased competition from other retailers, in particular Aldi and Lidl who have themselves announced the intention to significantly increase staff numbers over the next few years. In fact with the UK grocery market set to continue to grow over the next few years the sector is likely to see net job creation rather than job losses.
It seems to me therefore that the job loss numbers are what I might term a fractoid, defined as
"An item of information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as relevant, even though it isn't."
In other words the statement includes only a fraction of the information required to be truly helpful.
I would be interested to hear from you with other fractoids.