by Antonio Dias
As much as I avoid it, there can be something to be gained by listening to public radio once in a while. On a long drive over the holiday I heard a piece on studies being done analyzing the differences between an innate logarithmic sense of quantity and rational, integer-based counting. A French developmental psychologist described his work on this innate sense that is shared by many creatures and is the default manner in which non-civilized people confront questions of quantity. This ability is based, as is all perception, on logarithmic scales. What matters is how the total changes and if it changes proportionately. In this way of seeing what is halfway between one and nine is three.
This is perplexing at first, especially if we are hearing about it in spoken words or reading them on a page. If we have an array of something in front of us and we square it by multiplying it by itself, this logarithmic sense is quite intuitive.
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