August 20, 2004
Talking Up Numbers

Politics is boring. Science is cool:

Language may shape human thought – suggests a counting study in a Brazilian tribe whose language does not define numbers above two.

Hunter-gatherers from the Pirahã tribe, whose language only contains words for the numbers one and two, were unable to reliably tell the difference between four objects placed in a row and five in the same configuration, revealed the study.

All of humanity was probably like this until the advent of agriculture, when it started to really matter how many was in a "many".

Posted by scott at August 20, 2004 02:15 PM

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