The Heart of Geekness Will Save Us All

Nerds grasp large-scale human suffering much better, Wired says
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2007 5:43 PM CDT
Bill Gates Announces $100 Million Grant To Help FIght AIDS In India   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 5 more images

(Newser) – Why is Bill Gates, “practically a social cripple,” going to save the world? Because of numbers, says Clive Thompson in Wired. More than most, the Microsoft maverick -- who spearheads tireless crusades against poverty and AIDS -- can comprehend large quantities, while research shows that most of us start losing count (or caring as much) after we tally about 8.

“The problem isn't a moral failing: It's a cognitive one,” Thompson says. We just feel more for one sufferer than we do for a photo packed with people in need. Which may mean that a Gatesian numbers man makes for a better leader. “What we need are more Bill Gateses -- people with Aspergian focus, with a direct sensual ability to understand what a million means.”