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

From: John Fox <jfox_at_mcmaster.ca>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 13:41:24 -0500

Dear Doug,

As I recall, according to Stigler, yes -- he wasn't the first to formulate Stigler's law of eponymy (but I don't recall to whom he attributed it).

Regards,
 John

On Mon, 3 Mar 2008 12:17:59 -0600
 "Douglas Bates" <bates_at_stat.wisc.edu> wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 8:25 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch@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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John Fox, Professor
Department of Sociology
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/jfox/

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