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

From: roger koenker <roger_at_ysidro.econ.uiuc.edu>
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2008 10:10:21 -0600

A nice survey of this territory is:

http://books.google.com/books?id=TN3_d7ibo30C&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=stigler+normal+oxymoron&source=web&ots=OwGhmnDk3O&sig=J7ou_L8-_Mu4L14c3KJAhefrD4I&hl=en

I particularly like the phrase: "[normal] is in this respect a rare one-word oxymoron."

url:    www.econ.uiuc.edu/~roger                Roger Koenker
email   rkoenker_at_uiuc.edu                       Department of Economics
vox:    217-333-4558                            University of Illinois
fax:    217-244-6678                            Champaign, IL 61820


On Mar 2, 2008, at 7:33 AM, (Ted Harding) wrote:

> 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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