To be or not to be, Normal?
Astronomers believed that every individual measurement of a celestial object (such as one scientist’s measurement of the speed of Saturn) always contained some amount of error, yet the amount of aggregate error across a group of individual measurements (such as many different scientists’ measurements of the speed of Saturn, or many different measurements by a single scientist) could be minimized by using the average measurement. In fact, a celebrated proof by the mathematician Carl Gauss appeared to demonstrate that an average measurement was as close to a measurement’s true value (such as the true speed of Saturn) as one could ever hope to get. Quetelet applied the same thinking to his interpretation of human averages: He declared that the individual person was synonymous with error, while the average person represented the true human being.
from wikipedia: The Black Stork is a 1917 motion picture written by and starring Harry J. Haiselden, the chief surgeon at the German-American Hospital in Chicago. The Black Stork is Haiselden’s fictionalized account of his eugenic infanticide of the child John Bollinger. The film was re-released in 1927 under the title Are You Fit to Marry?
The ideas of both Quetelet and Galton influence cultural thinking today
Even if we don’t necessarily agree with Galton, or know or believe that there really is a “norm” of humankind, we let these idea influence our thinking.
We compare ourselves and others against the perceived new view of perfection, the ideal traits, the cultural expectations we deem “normal.”
It still influences how we view people with disabilities and mental disorders and any others perceived to be “abnormal.”
You might be thinking at this point,
“but Amanda, Surely, there are typical people?”
Oh yes sure, but even “typical” people are nuanced individuals who don’t fit the mold of “normal” with perfection.
Also, I don’t believe you can rate people’s worth as better or less based on measurement of any kind,
not in accomplishments or lack,
not in test scores,
not in contribution to economy
NOT in culturally preferred traits.
People are people.
No better or less than others.
The pursuit of happiness however one defines it shouldn’t be put on hold because we don’t meet an imaginary ideal.