The base-10 number system that we've inherited from our fool forefathers is, frankly, anachronistic, inefficient, and ill-suited to a modern, go-ahead sort of world. Ten only divides by two and five, and to be honest five isn't the sort of number you often need to divide things by. Twelve, on the other
hand, divides by 2, 3, 4, and 6, all of which are frequently used divisors. Therefore a base-12, or duodecimal, number system would be a great improvement and save countless man-hours of mental arithmetic.

Duodecimal number systems are not unknown - as most halfbakers are doubtless aware, several languages of the Niger-Kordofian group use duodecimal counting systems, notably Janji, but also Kahugu, Gure, and Piti. With their clear superiority in terms of arithmetic, it is obvious that the only reason we persist with a base-10 system is the coincidence that we happen to have 10 fingers.

Which brings us to the nub of the idea. I propose that all new children should be genetically modified to have 6 fingers on each hand. I realise that the mere mention of genetic modification will induce hyperventilation and severe synaesthesia in several 'bakers, but I believe that in this case accusations of magic would be incorrect. People have been known to be born with six fingers per hand, and in the near future it shouldn't be too hard to isolate this mutation and introduce it to the human germ line all over the world. Given the huge benefits this would bring when dividing by three or four, I ask you all to back this proposal, and give two fingers to the world's children.

Two thumbs definately. Then we could easily communicate 2, 4, or 6 with gestures of: only thumbs, only fingers, or both. Odd numbers would require (through legislation) combinations of fingers and thumbs.

This would be immensely useful in, um, ... nevermind then.

We've had this discussion before, but I'm damned if I can
remember the idea. Someone pointed out that you can,
through clever use of your digits, use them to count to
ninety-nine. The non-thumb digits of one hand represent
one, the thumb represents five – so the maximum on that
hand is nine. The other hand represents tens, so with all
fingers extended you have ninety-nine. Seventy-six would
be, say, left hand (ones): thumb + finger; right hand
(tens): thumb + two fingers.

I wish I could remember who it was, to give them credit.
Own up, if you're still here.

I think the idea was Quicker Counting (see above). The counting method you mention was Chisenbop; I've put up the same link [bungston] gave on that idea. However, this idea is not about counting, but about arithmetic - whatever clever arithmetic techniques you use, you're still left with the problem that base-10 does not divide very nicely.

//Someone pointed out that you can, through clever use of your digits, use them to count to ninety-nine.//

Actually you can count up to 1023 on your fingers, if you can count in binary and have good dexterity. Or even more than that, if you can put your fingers in more than 2 storage positions.
Or as much as you like: One trillion, two trillion, three trillion...

No need for genetic modification. Just use your thumb to touch whichever of the three segments of your four fingers corresponds to the number you want. 3x4 = 12, so there you go. I remember reading about someone who proposed this, in a book about weird organisations, but I read it 20 years ago now so not much chance of digging up the reference, sorry.

As I read this, I thought that this is an argument against creationism. After all the suggestion is, if man were perfect, we would have 12 fingers, not 10. Then I thought some more and realized that if we add the number of our ears to the finger count, we would have 12 digits, making man, again the perfect being with a dozen fingers. If we had a dozen persons then we would have a gross.

What is also gross is the French created decimal system based on the Roman numeral X, which has only two divisors, a very limited number for commerce. I think it’s because they drink wine. If they drank beer, then they would understand the meaning of a pint, the next commercially efficient number after 12 and twice the size of a cup. Then again, you can't measure a cup by a ruler or even by a yardstick.

No self respecting Englishman would order a 0.473176473 liter at the pub.

12 fingers isn't enough - the real ideal would be 16, giving us the ability to count or otherwise communicate using a pair of 8-bit 'words' - either 255 per hand, or for a double-byte encoded system of 65535 symbols - which really should be plenty.

But if we're going to do any genetic engineering, it should be to provide people with the ability to unambiguously extend or retract each digit entirely independently of one another; When I try to count binarily on one hand, I start running into trouble when I get to eight (numbering 1,2,4,8,16 from thumb, forefinger, etc through to little finger, my 16 digit kind of follows whatever my 8 digit tries to do) which limits my ability to quickly perform binary arithmetic. If we fixed this, we'd be so much cooler. Guaranteed.

// Someone pointed out that you can, through clever use of
your digits, use them to count to ninety-nine. // [Detly]

There's a Wikihow entry [link] that shows you how to count
to 99 with your fingers. It really comes in handy if you are
singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall" in sign language.

hmm... is this an argument against creationism based on the observation that an extra couple of thumbs would make arithmetic (a human process) more easily doable ?

I like this idea. However, I rarely count on my fingers so there may be no need for actual body modification. It would be useful to be able to do mental arithmetic in base-12 and base-8 though.

The metric system (SI) isn't better than the Imperial system
because of the "10", it's better because it's ALWAYS 10, as
opposed to the 14, 16, 8, whatever, factors the Imperial
uses. If the "normal" number system was base 12, so would
the metric system be.

The "normal" number system of your planet is now binary, and has been for fifty years; it just hasn't trickled down to the consciousness of the mass of the population yet.

On the one hand, yes; but on the other, nothing actually has
a (visually readable) output that is in binary (other than a
light switch). It's always converted into something else
(generally decimal, but also duodecimal/sexagesimal). It's
too in-efficient for space, would be a good reason...

// nothing actually has a (visually readable) output that is in binary //

Numerous devices have such displays; not counting the front panels of the PDP family of minicomputers, and similar systems, it is possible to purchase a wristwatch with a binary display. <link>