By using the word ‘zero’, instead of a relatively small fraction, you can grab attention, appeal to the innumerate and anger women of every dress size. Rather than get into the nitty-gritty of long division, journalists can grab headlines by rounding down to the nearest number that starts with the letter ‘Z’.
One Zeitgeist observer said: ‘With plans for a culture of ‘zero harm’ in the NHS and a million UK workers on ‘zero-hours’ contracts; it’s clear what typifies popular mores. Nada is what’s hot right now. Once zilch is established as a standard answer, everything becomes rhetorical. How many friends has George Osborne got? How many US sports stars are not involved in a doping scandal? How many working-class kids will get to Oxbridge? You see, zippity do da!’