Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (especially statistics)
Monday, October 8, 2007
lots of fried ants, lots and lots of fried ants...
Mark Liberman has a post on Language Log on the Piraha and other Amazonian tribes who apparently manage quite happily without numbers and can't see why their lives are blighted by the absence of a distinction between, as it might be, 3 and 7, let alone such concepts as the 5-, 6- and 7-figure deal. Liberman points out that a similar situation obtains in Western societies, where basic concepts of statistics and probability have been deveoped in only the last 100 years or so and have yet to win widespread understanding or use.