Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/63

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QUETELET ON THE SCIENCE OF MAN.

53

equal in both directions. Where the tendency to vary is perceptibly different in the two directions, the curve loses its symmetry, as in the figures representing the weights of women at different ages ("Anthropom.," p. 349), and the number of marriages of men and women at different ages ("Phys. Soc," i., 272). The actual series of numbers given by observation are placed beside series computed according to the law of the expanded binomial, the same which is applied in the theory of probabilities to such calculations as that of the proportionate distribution of less probable events on each side of a most probable maximum term, the distribution of errors of observation of a single object, and of accidental variations in general. It is the closeness of approximation between the observed and calculated series of variations, computed not only as to the dimensions, but the actions of man, which gives to M. Quetelet's theory its remarkable definiteness and precision.

The diagram of statures here figured, which may be looked upon as representing a nation measured in one particular way, at once impresses on the mind a conception of a race type materially differing from the vague notions hitherto current. It is seen that individual men of different statures are required to constitute a nation, but they are required in less and less proportion as they depart in excess or defect from the central type. The nation is not even complete without its dwarfs and giants. In fact, if all the monstrously short and tall men of a particular country were put out of sight, and the census of the population taken according to stature, the national formula thence deduced would enable a statistician to reckon with considerable accuracy how many dwarfs and giants of each size had been removed.

M. Quetelet's investigations further prove, or tend to prove, that similar laws of variation from the central type govern the distribution of individuals classed according to other bodily dimensions, and also according to physical qualities such as weight and strength, it being borne in mind that the particular expressions with their descriptive curves differ for the various qualities or faculties of man, being also in some cases much less symmetrical than in others. An absolute coincidence of the series of observed facts with the numerical law chosen to express them would be too much to expect; it is a great deal to obtain even a rough coincidence. For instance, when the strength of a number of men is estimated by a dynamometer, the maximum number showed 140 to 150 degrees on the scale, the number of weaker and stronger men being both fewer from this point, groups following approximately the proportions of the coefficients of a binomial of the sixth order; the numbers are reduced as follows from the table ("Anthropom.," p. 365):

Renal force, degrees 90 100-110 120-130 140-150 160-170
No. of men in 64 1 8 14 20 15
Binom. coeff 1 6 15 20 15