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Lyon, Aidan (2013): Why are Normal Distributions Normal? In: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
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It is usually supposed that the central limit theorem explains why various quantities we find in nature are approximately normally distributed—people's heights, examination grades, snowflake sizes, and so on. This sort of explanation is found in many textbooks across the sciences, particularly in biology, economics, and sociology. Contrary to this received wisdom, I argue that in many cases we are not justified in claiming that the central limit theorem explains why a particular quantity is normally distributed, and that in some cases, we are actually wrong.