[R] [OT] "normal" (as in "Guassian")

From: Ted Harding <Ted.Harding_at_manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2008 13:33:28 +0000 (GMT)


Hi Folks,
Apologies to anyone who'd prefer not to see this query on this list; but I'm asking because it is probably the forum where I'm most likely to get a good answer!

I'm interested in the provenance of the name "normal distribution" (for what I'd really prefer to call the "Gaussian" distribution).

According to Wikipedia, "The name "normal distribution" was coined independently by Charles S. Peirce, Francis Galton and Wilhelm Lexis around 1875."

So be it, if that was the case -- but I would like to know why they chose the name "normal": what did they intend to convey?

As background: I'm reflecting a bit on the usage in statistics of "everyday language" as techincal terms, as in "significantly different". This, for instance, is likely to be misunderstood by the general publidc when they encounter statements in the media.

Likewise, "normally distributed" would probably be interpreted as "distributed in the way one would normally expect" or, perhaps, "there was nothing unusual about the distribution."

Comments welcome!
With thanks,
Ted.



E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding_at_manchester.ac.uk> Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 02-Mar-08                                       Time: 13:04:17
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