Geometry and the Munduruk̼ РAnthropology and Geometric Understanding

A very timely post in Slashdot on geometry and visualization today.  It relates to an anthropology study on the human interpretation of visual information through geometry.  It is timely because at the end of January Edward Tufte is presenting in Houston this month and I hope to attend! 

More on the article on geometry and the Mundurukú people.

Munduruku_geometryWe’re hard-wired for geometry (By Daniel B. Kane)
Tests with Amazon villagers hint at innate geometrical sense

WASHINGTON – Even if you never learned the difference between a triangle, a rectangle and a trapezoid, and you never used a ruler, a compass or a map, you would still do well on some basic geometry tests, according to a new study.

Using a series of nonverbal tests, scientists claim to have uncovered core knowledge of geometry in villagers from a remote region of the Amazon who have little schooling or experience with maps and speak a language without the mathematical language of geometry.


the authors of the new study conclude that they have uncovered evidence for a basic understanding of geometry among people without much formal education. Future research may clarify if humans are born with these intuitions or if we acquire them early in life.

We spend a great deal of energy and time with Tendenci reporting trying to create visualization of Munduruku_rightangle the actions taking place on the site to communicate back to the organizations.  Beyond basic network diagrams which are still best assembled by hand, it is a frustrating process.  Not to create the chart, but to create a chart that is easily comprehended. And it is far more complex than visualization of explicit social network connections

I like the visualization discussion at the bottom of this post regarding implicit networks as opposed to explicit networks.  That is a post for another day.