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is a pretty straightforward concept: It is the same as illiteracy, but with numbers instead of letters, with formulae instead of words, with mathematical concepts instead of literature. Curiously enough, other languages (by which I mean Spanish and German, as usual, and only as far as I know, until I stand corrected by someone who knows better, as always) do not have the means to express this concept in a single word. This is not due to any lack of people suffering from innumeracy in German or Spanish speaking countries, rather the opposite is unfortunately the case. It seems to me, speakers of German and Spanish have simply not paid enough attention to this problem. And a problem it is, I am afraid to say. I am not implying that having the concept, like the English language does, would solve the it. I have heard people say in English, in Spanish and in German that they never understood maths in school with a smug attitude, as if it was something to be proud of. They said it in parties, trying to impress people of the opposite gender, they said it as an excuse after making a silly mistake, as if it was a good reason for making elementary mistakes, some of those people even seemed proud to be innumerate! I can not understand it. Being ignorant is nothing to be proud of, making mistakes is nothing you can boast about! But it is more common than I feared. It would not surprise me at all if innumeracy went a long way explaining the last financial crisis, for example (compound variable interest rates on the mortgage for your overvalued property? What can possibly go wrong with that?1 It is certainly better than to pay the rent?2). I personally have had to interpret politicians that did not know and did not care about the difference between a billion in English (109, one thousand million) and in Spanish (1012, one million million). I wonder how much this kind of ignorance is costing us all.

To proof my point, just look at this scientific paper published in a leading Spanish on-line magazine! They present radical findings that no one understands without mentioning the concept of innumeracy once! Just imagine how much easier they could have proven their point if they could have used a term like innumeracy.
But I digress. The point of this entry was to state that there is a useful concept out there that is lacking in the Spanish and the German languages. It reflects a problem that arises too often, if you pay attention to it. And although it does not solve the problem it denotes, it helps to focus on that problem as such. So I argue that other languages need an equivalent concept. Time has come to find out what name this concept should have in other languages. The floor is open so be careful not to fall through (que chiste más malo, ¡tierra trágame!).

BTW: You could also see it from this point of view.

1 Quite a lot, as we now know.
2 Probably wrong, but it depends on the individual circumstances.


Am 12.03.2014 um 10:28 von Christian
Am 13.03.2014 um 09:41 von Jordi
Hallo Christian! Dyskalkulie ist m.M.n. eine Krankheit, man kann nicht rechnen, auch, wenn man es eifrig versucht. Es ist wie eine Schreib-Lese-Schwäche, nur auf Zahlen bezogen. Innumeracy hingegen ist eher schlichte Ignoranz, die manchmal sogar verherrlicht wird.
Am 14.05.2014 um 03:52 von Chatman
Die unter Statistikern und Erziehern geläufige Bezeichnung lautet "Zahlenblindheit".
Am 14.05.2014 um 04:40 von Jordi
Danke, Chapman, guter Vorschlag. Ich bin kein Experte, mir kommt Zahlenblindheit jedoch wie Zahlenlegasthenie vor, also eher etwas angeborenes als auf mangelnde Erziehung und Aufmerksamkeit zurückzuführendes, aber ich mag mich täuschen. Als erste Annäherung kommt es mir dennoch brauchbar vor

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