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

From: Ingmar Visser <i.visser_at_uva.nl>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2008 09:20:43 +0100

Wikipedia says:

Stigler attributes the discovery of Stigler's Law to Robert K. Merton (which makes the law self-referencing).

(Working as a historian of science he should have proceeded to name the law Merton's law only to find out
later that actually someone had discovered it even earlier.)

Ingmar

[edit]
On 3 Mar 2008, at 19:17, Douglas Bates wrote:

> 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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>>
>
> ______________________________________________
> R-help_at_r-project.org mailing list
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> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

Ingmar Visser
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam Roetersstraat 15
1018 WB Amsterdam
The Netherlands
t: +31-20-5256723

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