Save the World Sunday

The latest issue of Wired appeared in our mailbox recently. We do not remember subscribing, but being the voracious magazine readers we are, we did not complain.
We especially did not complain when we read Clive Thompson's article "Count on the Geeks to Rescue the Earth." It's online too so go check it out.
Thompson brought our attention to the interesting research Paul Slovic is doing on decision making. Slovic has discovered that people are more inclined to help a singular person in need over a group of people who share the same need. It's not that we are stingy, just that we're better at conceptualizing the plight of smaller groups and terrible when it comes to larger groups. Thompson's point is that this is why people like Bill Gates are good at tackling large scale third world diseases through philanthropy. Geeks are better wired to conceptualize big numbers. "We look at the huge numbers and go numb. Gates looks at them and runs the moral algorithm: Preventable death = bad; preventable death x 1 million people = 1 million times as bad."
Uh huh. Sounds simple enough. What does it have to do with crafting? Well we got to thinking about how in fiber arts particularly deal with large numbers. Cast on a sweater in the round lately? Calculate the number of threads needed for the warp and weft of your pattern? If we too conceptualize large numbers well, Slovic's research and Thompson's suggestion probably explains crafters' ability to launch large scale charity projects. It also suggests a root for the optimism with which these efforts are launched. 12 stitches = pattern; 12 stitches x 100,000 = afghan; afghan x 1 million = afghans for an entire country.
And if that's not inspiring food for a Sunday afternoon's though, well we don't know what.


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