Remembering the war discussions over the last decade reminded me of the few times I have heard or read someone noting the number of American war dead approaching, becoming equal to, and then exceeding the number killed on 9/11 - as if this was a marker for some sort of evenness, or completion, or a turning point.
I always feign that I have never heard of this counting before and asking, rather innocently, what they think is being balanced. Actually, sometimes just silence can make folks play back in their heads what they just said out loud, and re-evaluate whether it makes any sense. Most people do pick up that there really isn't anything sensible being measured in that equation, and sign off with something lame.
I don't think they necessarily meant any harm, but it is the kind of vague thinking that drives me nuts. There's a Bad Thing, and it has a number associated with it, like 3,000 deaths. Therefore, when something related to the Bad Thing is being discussed, and a number of deaths associated with that starts to get near 3,000, the mind automatically ties those two things together, as if some puzzle has been solved, or some stasis has been reached. It is likely one of those useful shortcuts the brain has developed in remembering things and understanding them.
No problem there. But why let the thought come out of your mouth?