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.
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."
Hmmm...I think I've had some kids who must have some connection to the Pirahã tribe. Maybe some grandkids as well.
(I see in the photo that even the use of homeschool manipulatives didn't help these poor folks.
Amazon tribe has no words for different numbers
hat tip: The Papa