Reshared post from John Baez

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Most people are below average! Human performance is often not distributed according to the famous 'bell curve' or 'Gaussian'. Instead, a small number of people vastly outperform the rest. A new study shows that in 186 out of 198 groups ranging from physics professors and Grammy nominees to cricketers and swimming champion, a small group of 'superstars' account for much of the success of the group as a whole. That means the majority are performing below the mathematical average – or to be precise, the 'arithmetic mean'.

This should not be depressing news, but it does mean that blindly modelling people's behavior using a bell curve is a bad idea. So is expecting that 'average' means 'typical'.

Put Away The Bell Curve: Most Of Us Aren't 'Average' : NPR

For decades, teachers, managers and parents have assumed that the performance of students and employees fits what's known as the bell curve — in most activities, we expect a few people to be very good…

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