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

From: Douglas Bates <bates_at_stat.wisc.edu>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 12:17:59 -0600

On Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 8:25 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch_at_stats.uwo.ca> wrote:
> On 3/3/2008 9:10 AM, Rogers, James A [PGRD Groton] wrote:
> > As someone of partly French heritage, I would also ask how this
> > distribution came to be called "Gaussian". It seems very unfair to de
> > Moivre, who discovered the distribution at least half a century earlier.
> > :-)
>
> Just an example of Stigler's Law.

Taking this to a whole new level of "off topic", I wonder if Stigler's Law is self-referential? That is, should Stigler's Law more correctly be attributed to someone else?

> > 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.
> >>
> >
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>



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