Define “Normal”


This quarter I’ve taken a statistics class. It’s actually been a lot of fun, and as we approach the final, I decided to flip through the book and do some random math. Now, one of the cool things we learned how to do is calculate how far from the mean a given value is. I’ll not bore you with the details, but this means as long as I know the mean and standard deviation (translation: “average” and “measure of how much the numbers of a given statistic vary AKA variance”) then I can calculate how un-average or almost-normal a given thing is.

And as they say, “Research is really Me-search,” I decided to see, statistically speaking, just how un-average I am. (The closer to 50% I am, the more “average” I am. Or to put it another way, “allegedly normal.”)

My average body temperature is 36.4°C (97.6°F). The average body temperature of humans is 36.78°C (98.2°F). Which surprised the heck out of me, I thought it was 37°C (98.6°F).The variance of body temperatures of humans is 0.34°C (0.62°F). This means my body temperature is warmer than only 16.6% of people, or to put it the other way, I am colder than 83.4% of people. No wonder I’m always freezing while everybody else is complaining about it being too hot.

Yes, it’s hella nerdy, but it’s a really interesting way to position one’s self in relation to the rest of humanity. So I kept flipping through my statistics book and found a bunch of these. And because I’m just so humble, next I’m going to tell you how smart I am.

My IQ is 124. A perfectly average IQ is 100 and the test itself is designed to have a variance of 15 points. This means I have a higher IQ than 94.52% of people. Granted, the IQ test is looking only at one’s ability to take in information, process it, and spit out a conclusion (a very white/western concept of intelligence). However, it certainly helps with the self confidence when faced with a room full of people and the social anxiety begins to bubble up, I just think, “only 5.48% of these people are smarter than me.” Which means as long as there’s not too many people in the room, I like my odds for being the sharpest of the bunch.

I am 169 cm (5′ 9″) tall. The average height for women is 156 cm (5′ 3.7″) tall. The variance is 7.105 cm (2.9 in). This means I am taller than 96.64% of women.

My resting pulse is roughly 82 BPM (beats per minute). The average pulse rate for women is 74 BPM and has a variance of 12.5 BPM. This means my heart rate is faster than 73.89% of women. Interestingly, before I got my testosterone blocker changed from spironolactone to progesterone, my resting pulse was 95 BPM, meaning my heart was going faster than 95.35% of women. Which thoroughly sucked. I was totally exhausted all the time and (at best) constantly felt like I was in a low level panic. It’s strange to think that something as simple as a meds adjustment brought me 21.46% closer to being average. At least in this one respect.

Of the various statistics I found in the book and could apply to myself, there’s only one I found where I am about as close to average as one can get. My diastolic blood pressure. My blood pressure is normally 120/70. That bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure. The average diastolic blood pressure for women is 70.2 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) and the variance is 11.2 mm Hg. This means my blood pressure comes in at 49.2%. That’s 0.8% lower than perfectly average. Hey, when it comes to being normal, I guess I’ll take what I can get.

Annoyingly, there weren’t more statistics in the book that I could apply to myself. For one, it didn’t have systolic blood pressure (the top number). But it did have blood platelet count and bone density. Neither of which I know my numbers for, which doesn’t help much. I’m not sure what ways I want to measure myself against the literal everyone, but for some reason I find in really want to. Something to do with self help books (and similar) constantly telling people to not compare themselves to everyone else. It also probably helps that I don’t put much stock in the idea of “normal” in the first place.


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