Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Your Average Family of Ebadipdip

If you find numbers, Amazonian tribes, human cognition, first-graders or dots interesting, read this excerpt from Alex Bellos' "Alex's Adventures in Numberland."
It is Pica's belief that understanding quantities in terms of estimating ratios is a universal human intuition, due to the fact that ratios are much more important for survival in the wild. Historically, faced with a group of adversaries, we needed to know instantly whether there were more of them than us. When we saw two trees, we needed to know instantly which had more fruit hanging from it. In neither case was it necessary to enumerate every enemy or every fruit individually. The crucial thing was to be able to make quick estimates of the relevant amounts and compare them; in other words to make approximations and judge their ratios.
I had no idea that children were born counting logarithmically rather than linearly. I am now informed.

No comments:


Free Blog Counter