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Normal Distributions:

A distribution is a graph that shows what values of variable are more or less common in a population. Where the graph is
higher, there are more people, and where the graph has a height close to zero, there are fewer people.

By far, the most famous and most useful distribution is the Normal Distribution, a.k.a the bell curve. It shows
up everywhere, with an almost eerie universality. Suppose you were to measure one genetically determined bodily
measurement (e.g. thumb length, distance between pupils, etc.) for every single human being on the planet, and then
graphed the distribution: it would be a normal distribution. Same, for any genetically determined bodily measurement you
could make on an animal or a plant, and measured it for every member of that species, it would be a normal distribution.
The normal distribution is the shape of the distribution of any naturally occurring variable of any natural population.
(Something like blood pressure might not be as normally distributed, because there are cultural and social factors that
impinge on blood pressure its not purely natural, unadulterated by culture.)

Properties of the Normal Distribution


All normal distributions on earth, from giraffe height to ant height, share certain fundamental properties in common.

Its important to appreciate that any Normal Distribution comes with its own yardstick, and that yardstick is the standard
deviation. You can read more about standard deviation here. [link to those blogs] The very center of the Normal
Distribution is the mean and median and mode all in one. We use the standard deviation to measure distances from the
mean. If we go out a length of one standard deviation from the mean on either side,

that always
includes
68% of the
population,
a little over
two-thirds.
This means
that on
either side, there is 34% of the population, very close to one-third: theres 34% below the mean and one standard
deviation above the mean, and theres another 34% below the mean and one standard deviation above the mean.

If we go two standard deviations from the mean in either direction,

that always
includes
95% of the
population.
You are
somewhat
uncommon
if you are
more than
two
standard
deviations
from the
mean.

If we go out to three standard deviations from the mean in either direction, that includes 99.7% of the population, with
only 0.15% (i.e. 15 people out of 10000) falling in each tail beyond this. The folks who are more than three standard
deviation above the mean: they are the true outliers the major league baseball hitters, the world famous violinists, the
brilliant scientists and researchers they truly stand out from the population at large.

If you simply remember these two numbers:

68% within one standard deviation of the mean (which means, 34% on each side)
95% within two standard deviations of the mean