The idea that people have an innate mathematical ability has been questioned by a study of an Amazonian tribe that has no sense of number.
The ability of tribal adults of the PirahÃ£ to conceptualise numbers is no better than that of infants or even some animals and their language, with only 300 speakers, has no word even to express the concept of “one” or any other specific number.
Prof Gibson found that there were no words for ‘one’ or ‘two’ for members of the PirahÃ£ tribe
The team, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of brain and cognitive sciences Edward Gibson, found that members of the PirahÃ£ tribe in remote northwestern Brazil use language to express relative quantities such as “some” and “more,” but not precise numbers.
It is often assumed that counting is an innate part of human cognition, said Prof Gibson, “but here is a group that does not count. They could learn, but it’s not useful in their culture, so they’ve never picked it up.
Hat tip to MeaninglessHotAir.