LEARNING DESPITE OUR UNIVERSAL BANTU EDUCATION

Six-fingered Giants, Aliens and them dirty Dozens: Why we Count(ed) in Twelves

Today, still, we are dependent upon the Dozen, via things like any mathematics that involves circles or parts thereof. This in turn, determines the way we express time. Seeing as such things are beyond the reach of a species that is at most 40 000 years old, we obviously got it from some alien, god, supreme being and so on so forth. Actually, the explanation for the damned Dozen, is quite simple. Open your less dominant paw, and hold it so you can see the palm, and particularly the five fingers, splayed open. We will call this your Units hand. Leave your dominant hand free for now, use it for scrolling down or something.

Now, look at your open hand and put the tip of your thumb against the bottom-most joint of your pinkie, and say “One”. Move your thumb up one joint, and say “Two”. Touch your thumb to the tip of your pinkie, say “Three”. Move to your ring finger, touch your thumb to the bottom joint, and say “Four”. Move one joint up for Five. Continue this way, the tips of every finger will count 3, 6, 9 and last, your index finger will count off ten, eleven and twelve.

Now you know how to count to twelve on one hand only, while you use your right hand to write it down, mark a stick, throw a pebble into a box… whatever your level of literacy, you can reliably count in dozens. With the second hand, of course, we can count all the way to 144, or twelve dozen. Every time you fill a dozen, you just add one more to the free hand, which can also count twelve times, and 12 x 12 = 144, also called One Gross.

Now wasn’t that easier than digging up giant six-fingered corpses? In Nature, it is almost always the simplest explanation that makes best sense. Or we can blame everything we have forgotten of old, on aliens and holy spooks. Life is full of choices like that.