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What Does the Normal Curve "Mean"?

Julian L. Simon
The Journal of Educational Research
Vol. 61, No. 10 (Jul. - Aug., 1968), pp. 435-438
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27532104
Page Count: 4
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What Does the Normal Curve "Mean"?
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Abstract

Early in the history of the Normal Distribution, several writers, notably E. G. Boring (1), pointed out that the Normal Distribution does not inhere in nature, and that there is nothing "normal" about distributions that follow the function 1/√2π e -x2/2, but unfortunately many have not understood this. The point of this article goes further. The Normal Distribution is actually created by the researcher. It is common scientific practice to successively isolate and control for all important explanatory variables, each of which causes the original distribution not to resemble the Normal. The appearance of the Normal Distribution only indicates that most of the major explanatory variables have been allowed for, and the rest of the many relevant variables have small influence—the point at which the scientist ends his labors. This is what the Normal Curve "means."

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