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Understanding Infantilism (.org)

"Normal" is Mean

By BitterGrey

Mathematically, both the statistical norm (that which defines what is normal) and mean are the same as the average. However both have taken on their own connotation outside of mathematics. "Normal" has become the rule that all should conform to. To do otherwise would be "abnormal." This includes a value judgment: Something different is usually something wrong. As we'll see in a moment, this value judgment is selectively and subjectively applied. Mean, on the other hand, has gained an opposite connotation. To be mean is to be common, ignoble, base, cruel. The knowtion of "normal" is applied by the masses to arbitrarily judge those who are different. That is, the common use of "normal" is mean.

To illustrate this point, let's consider a few minorities who's abnormality can be corrected.

Given the popularity of healthmeter-based shows like "Biggest Looser," abnormal body mass indexes (BMI) seem like a good place to start. The body mass index is the ratio of weight to height. According to the Center for Disease Control, the average BMI in the US in 2003 was 26.6, with 25.0-29.9 being defined as overweight[1]. Thus, being overweight is normal. Given nationwide trends, soon being obese (BMI > 30) will be normal. Conveniently for couch potatoes, the body mass index doesn't differentiate between fat and muscle. As a result, armchair quarterbacks and the professional athletes they watch on TV might be equally obese. However, marathon runners aren't so fortunate. Their freakish abnormality can be resolved with more TV and cheeseburgers.

Next lets consider those of abnormal height. The normal height for men in the US is 69 inches[2]. Height adjustments are a much more involved correction than that faced by the marathon runners, but the option provides the hope of normalcy. Because of this, celebrities such as Shaquille O'Neal (85 inches) and Yao Ming (90 inches) will probably need to take the lead.[3]. They can take the first step by having the extra foot and a half taken out. After the operation, they will be average - just like the rest of us. They will no longer be doomed to highly lucrative careers as professional basketball players.

To help fund these medical procedures, we should tap another unfortunate group; the abnormally wealthy. Their problem is easily fixed, giving them the ability to be average - just like the rest of us.

Of course, the wealthy won't be eager to give up their money, any more than the marathon runners would want to be overweight or any other professional athletes would want to give up what makes them exceptional. It would separate them from the reasons the masses look up to them. Of course, the masses also need someone to look down upon... Someone other than the normal and mean masses, of course.

This preposterous proposition was offered to make a point. Mathematically, being average isn't necessarily better. We should keep this in mind next time we feel the pressure to be "normal."

- Updated:4 May 2012  1st:4 May 2012     

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[icon] Books and Other References:
  1. CDC National Health and Nutrition Survey, Healthy weight, overweight, and obesity among U.S. adults,
  2. CDC, Measured average height, weight, and waist circumference for adults ages 20 years and over
  3. NBA, 2007-08 Player Survey: Height