Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why Top 5? Why Not Top 10?

Today, instead of posting another top 5 post, I wanted to explain my rationale for deciding to post top 5 lists.

Questioning Numbers:

Top 10 lists seem to be the norm not only on the internet, but elsewhere. Why? I suspect it is because we use a base 10 number system, which, ultimately, is because we have 10 fingers. Well, we also have five fingers on each hand, so I think top 5 is a pretty good alternative. A lot of posts on the internet go way beyond top 10, as whatever.

This old X-ray of a human hand is from a book "The Human Body and Health" by Alvin Davison, 1908. A lot of arbitrary numbers in our society originate from the fact that humans have two hands with five fingers on each hand.

Often, 10 is too much. My blog posts are already rather long, and I update frequently. Sometimes I think that quality is more important than quantity. I share top 5 posts because I want to draw attention to something: to teas, to articles on RateTea, to old blog posts. I don't want to overwhelm (I already think I do that too much).

How about you?

Did you ever wonder what life would be like if we used a different base for our number system? If we used base 8, you could divide more numbers in half, and there would be fewer multiplication tables to memorize, but doing math by hand would involve more carrying and borrowing. If we used base twelve, it would be more convenient to divide things by 3 or 6, but we would no longer be able to count to "10" on our fingers, and multiplication tables would become substantially bigger and more unwieldly.

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