I was listening to short clip by Dr B.S. Hedge and he spoke about the connection between normal and average. Average is another term for a simple statistical concept called mean. In the top, we have a simplified diagram of a normal curve (bell curve). Many of the data we collect (height of all the people, weight) could be fitted into a normal curve. High or low represents the data outside the boundaries of average. The boundaries of high and low are flexible and depends on the circumstances. (I am not getting into the technical details of bell curve).
Again low (and high) is divided into simple low, very low and extremely low. If I am plotting the weight of the people above 18, extremely low weight is a condition of some serious deficiency. Extremely high may be an obese person. Extremely low height person is dwarf and extremely tall is giant. In some cases (like weight), it can be an issue and in others (height), it is not such a problem.
When we plot the responses of people to a particular situation or the thinking patterns of different individuals, we could get a similar graph. In such and many other similar cases, we would label the persons in the average section as normal people. Others get the label called abnormal. If you are in the borders of abnormality, it is acceptable. The extreme cases are labelled as mad. (Philosophers like Nietzsche and Foucault have dealt with madness in great details). This mathematical relation between average and normal is definitely faulty for many occasions.
‘Out of the box’ thinking is appreciated in the decision making process. It is definitely out of the box of average-ness and moving into the low or the high side. Even many creative acts and ventures have the touch of abnormality in some degrees.
We see many youth engaging in drinks or drugs; it may be abnormal from their parents’ point of view. But it is normal from the peer group point of view. So what is normal, according to the group which is valuable for me, is important.
A healthy balance in life is the ability to shift between normal and abnormal as and when required. My identity as a Christian demands something from me. But if the situation demands, do I have the guts to be a prophet? Am I ready to be considered abnormal (or even mad)?
Very few pioneers live in the abnormal challenging the society to move ahead. Few have the guts to follow them.
Certain false geniuses too have this capability. This is dangerous too. Hitler could influence many to make the fascist ideology a normal. Hate campaigns, intimidation and differentiation are also used to create new normal.
There are 3 categories of people in the world. First is the category of geniuses and false-geniuses who can challenge the normal. The second is the category of people who don’t follow the geniuses blind, but has the ability to think. The third is the category of blind followers of good and bad. According to me, education should help people to move from third to second, if not first.
- Can we go beyond equating normal and average
- Geniuses take abnormal paths; do follow critically & not blindly