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Clear Thinking?

Posted By: Allen Lambert on April 13, 2011
 
As reviewed it appears that the "myth of the normal curve" confuses different issues and in effect dismisses the possibility of social science or statistically based systematic analysis of human behavior.

It may be that “disability is inadequately conceptualized” but that does not mean either that (a) the "law of large numbers" and its "normal" distribution is false, or (b) the underlying property is false or abnormally distributed.

One can dismiss all concepts of or about human behavior as "inadequate".

To assert that “Human activity and ... intellect ... cannot be meaningfully parsed into component attributes” is in effect to dismiss the possibility of systematic scientific knowledge thereof. Complex? Of course. Impossible to systematize and sort out thru statistical procedures? If so, what do we do with the successful engineering of complexity of variables involved in effective design, construction, and operation of airplanes? Is public policy not subject to rational analysis?

It is asserted that “The normal curve is much more than a theory of human variation. It is an ideology that assigns meaning to difference and human worth.” But statistical procedures and the science of probability do not assign variations in "human worth" to location in a distribution. Human misuse of data does that. And probability distribution of properties is no more ideological than other scientific procedures. Again, misuse is by humans with particular purposes in mind. Is the argument against human misuse or against science? After all, "normal distribution" of properties is an essential part of the foundation of science, including physics and chemistry.

While “The use of social statistics to order and rank individuals aimed to justify racial and class stratification" may have been involved many decades ago in some of the origin of some psychological testing, including intelligence and learning, that origin has long ago ceased to influence the mainstream of psychological and social sciences.

Allen Lambert

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 Clear Thinking? by Allen Lambert on April 13, 2011
     
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