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For Mathephobes


You think you are mathephobic? The following is from an article in
the last (12/10) issue of Science News. It concerns a tribe called
the Piraha, who live deep in the Amazonian rain forest:

So for the next few months, Daniel Everett–a linguist … and Keren
Everett, a missionary with linguistic training, ran evening classes in
math and literacy for the forest dwellers. However, although the
Piraha know volumes about hunting and jungle survival, the group
flunked both courses. None of the roughly 30 people who regularly
attended classes learned to count to 10. None learned to add 3+1, or
even 1+1.

[The article goes on to explain Everett's theory about how culture
shapes language. The theory is highly controversial, though.]


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