Thanks to a v awesome, special friend, I have been listing to an awesome podcast called 99% Invisible. This post is dedicated to him because he is anything but average.
When we think of the average, we don’t really wonder about its origin. Its a formula we take for granted because it is convenient and easy and almost everything is based on it. We can thank the Belgian Astronomer and statistician, Adolphe Quetelet for the average. While it was originally developed because the instruments used in Astronomy at the time were imprecise, Quetelet quickly realized the useful application that it would bring to civilian life. His formal was used for calculating body weight and height, which became useful and efficient for the military in the sizing of military uniforms. In fact, the sizes used in modern fashion today, originated from the military’s sizing system.
Now that we know the origin, a larger, more philosophical question is raised. If life is derived from an average calculation, what is the motivation to be anything but average? Can a mere change in perception convince people otherwise?
If we look at a bell curve, the largest portion are those that are average, with exceptional outliers at either end. Whether we choose to admit it or not, your net worth, salary and health and well being, even life span, are all calculated this way. Averages are simple and convenient for people and businesses to digest. A significant way that economies are measured.
So now what?
I guess that is what is so great about numbers. They only hold value once one is assigned. It is the person that has the power to manipulate and shape that value. The power to be anything but average.
the sum of all fears