Badges are meant to be shown off. If you meet someone in a boy scout uniform, you get impressed by the number of badges that they have, even if you don't necessarily know what those badges are exactly (in real life you would have to actually -ask- the scout what the badges stood for, just like you have to go to their user page to find out what those actual badges are).
The reason behind showing the counts is just to provide a short and slightly informative view of how active/good they are on the system by showcasing the overall number of badges. You can draw your own conclusions. If a user has 800 bronze badges but only 5 silver, you may actually draw a conclusion that the user may only be partially helpful.
You can make up your own mind about what the badges mean to you when you look at them on other people.