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I've heard more and more people saying "A is N times less than B" in many contexts. I even saw in a news journal (forgot whether it was Time or Newsweek), "The object was 3 times closer than the moon".
I cannot bring my self to say this. It just seems wrong. If "2 times closer" or "5 times slower" mans "half as fast" or "a fifth as fast", then why not just say that? Besides to me it seems logically that "A is 5 times less than B" ought to mean "A = B - 5*A".
I also speak French, and the French say this all the time (in French and in English).
QUESTION. Has this horrible formulation become common place, and we just need to accept it and start using it? Or is it still regarded as ambiguous and should be avoided in scientific writing?
(this question is related to Meaning of “x is 35 times less than y" but it different because it asks a different question.)