# What finger counting reveals about you

Originally published at: What finger counting reveals about you | Boing Boing

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Sometimes a fatal revelation. In a goddam basement.

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An elementary school teacher, tasked with teaching us “New Math” and how to use different bases, taught us to count on our fingers using binary. Sure, the first hand only gets to 31, but the second hand gets you all the way to 1023. Add in the toes and you can get all the way to over a million.

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A roman centurion walks into a bar, holds up two fingers and says “Five beers, please.”

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In India, for example, they use the lines between the segments of the fingers to count. This means each digit can represent four numbers and the whole hand can represent 20.

brilliant improvement

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I wish we’d set up our number system around base 12—perhaps by counting finger segments?—so that 10 was evenly divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.

The metric system would still look fine (albeit with new, lower round figures for everything). Imperial would still be unnecessarily complicated with different arbitrary numbers of smaller units making up larger ones.

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I start with my thumb, and once I have all five fingers up, I lower them one at a time, again starting with my thumb. So I count ten on each hand. This isn’t European though, I learned it from a Deaf person.

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I thought that too. But when I checked, my fingers have 3 segments not 4, and my thumb only 2.

Maybe my hands are wrong.

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And if you use Chisanbop it shows you grew up in the '70s and went to a progressive elementary school in Santa Monica.

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After reading “One, Two, Three, Infinity” as a precocious child, I realized I could count to 1023 by using all ten fingers as bits, though holding certain combinations for very long was challenging…

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I count similarly, start with the thumb to pinky, then pinky to thumb (back into a fist) on the right hand, which gets me to 10. I then use my fingers on my left hand to represent multiples of 10, which can get me to 100.

I don’t know where I learned to count like this, though.

(Edit for clarity)

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As demonstrated in this Squirrel Girl comic:

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And the numbers 4 and 128 offend people. 132 doubly so.

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Depending on the situation, I usually start off with my middle finger.

If I need two, that’s what the second hand is for.

Tips of your fingers count too. Though you’re still stick with only three on your thumb.

@DonatellaNobody Damn, you made my same joke while I was typing mine, but in binary.

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Touching the tip of the thumb to finger joint segments is a handy system if you use base-12 or base-60 like the ancient Babylonians did.

Kind of a pity we ended up with base-10, really. There’s a reason so many things are sold by the dozen (including units of time).

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Hehe, thats super interesting, sadly foiled by biology.

Due to the way a human hands tendons are wired up, some combinations are nearly impossible to actually do.

Regarding the image, displaying a ‘2’ is near impossible without the two fingers either side nearly extending

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I love that in a comic book about a superhero who has the powers of a squirrel the issue becomes "how does she hold out her ring finger without extending her pinky?

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I wonder how many people seeing your post now have achey hands from trying to do so

hides hands

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