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A: Paris, Île-de-France, France

Quetelet's Statistical Study of the "Average Man"


In 1835 Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet published in Paris Sur l'homme et le développement des facultés, ou essai de physique sociale. In this statistical study of the development of human physical and intellectual qualities Quetelet introduced the concept of the "average man." 

"Quetelet's use of the average man was founded upon the belief that if there is no change in any underlying causal relationship-- if there is a `persistence of causes'— then there will be a tendency for the average of large aggregates of even unhomogeneous data to be stable. . . . Quetelet italicized this as a fundamental principle: `The greater the number of individuals observed, the more do individual peculiarities, whether physical or moral, become effaced, and allow the general facts to predominate, by which society exists and is preserved' " (Stigler,  171-172). 

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