While getting multiple hairs cut this afternoon, I thought I’d take the opportunity to get an unbiased opinion on a particular topic of interest.
I asked the lady, “If you had to estimate, what percentage of gray would you say I’m working with up there?”
“Um,” she paused. “I’d say about six.”
Six percent! I can live with that. I’m 26 years young. I’ve got a 14 week old baby and plenty of dark hair left to last into his teens. Funny, I thought surely it would be more than that. She would know, though. After all, she can see all of my head.
“Six percent?” I asked, in gentle confirmation.
“Yeah, six out of ten, I’d say,” she replied.
A couple things about that. Firstly, six out of ten is sixty percent, as I’m sure you all have calculated by now. 6% ≠ 6/10.
That’s okay, fractions just aren’t some peoples thing.
Secondly, I don’t think six out of every ten hairs on my head is gray. White, technically. That would mean, on average, my hair is more white than not. I’ll let you make your own judgement from the Vine clip above, and I’m certain we’ll agree that my hair is not majority white. While I do have more gray on the sides and back than on top, in order to get a sixty percent average those areas would have to be even more white, on the order of eighty percent or so, which would definitely be noticeable. Maybe it goes back to fraction skills. Then again, maybe not.
Humans possess an inherent ability to make a ballpark judgement of relative object quantities. This super power is referred to as the approximate number system (ANS). We have this skill before we even know what numbers are. No math involved. ANS performance has been shown to predict mathematics abilities in infants. If you’re curious, see how you do on panamath’s free ANS test. Here’s my unadulterated first try no warm up.
So math in general may not be her thing. Which is cool. The right-brained people make the world beautiful for the left-brainers. My haircut is a work of art.
And she probably thinks I gave her a 200% tip.