The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

September 26, 2012

Your View: Bell-shaped curve

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — In her column (Globe, Sept. 15), Esther Cepeda mentioned that a few teachers are substandard, but most are not.

This is an illustration of the bell-shaped curve. In any large population such as teachers, scientists or government workers, there will be a few who are incompetent and a few who are excellent. However, most will be somewhere in between. The interesting aspect of this is that it will not change. You can fire the undesirables, but they will be replaced. This is part of the fascination of statistics. In our intelligence community, it can be safely assumed that at any given moment there will be at least one individual who will betray his country, if the opportunity arises.

The bell-shaped curve is so widely applicable that it can be considered a law of nature. In psychology, for example, we can determine instinctive behavior by observing human behavior in all places and all times. There will be a few on each extreme of a given trait, but the behavior of the large majority can be considered the mean. The mean can be taken to be the instinctive trait. An example is the behavior of women. Men can take it as a good general rule that whatever they think a woman is doing, she is doing something else.

This general law, known as the normal distribution, prevents stability. Stability is death. There must be something to disrupt stability or activity and development will cease. Laws of nature such as the bell-shaped curve work to keep things moving. This gives hope that the dreaded death of the universe will not happen.

General laws of nature such as the bell-shaped curve transcend the laws of physics, which are subsumed under these laws. Because of this, consideration must be given to concepts such as intelligent design. Simply because current view of scientists do not take account of these concepts is no reason to deny that they’re being taught. To deny consideration of other views is to place blinders on the students.

Donald E. Corder

Baxter Springs, Kan.

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