We are in love with the Outlier — but how do we handle the unwanted standard deviation and when do we decide to allow an exception?

Are we taught to expect a standard deviation?  Is there any way to thwart one in process?

Are we always surprised by the exception?

If an event, philosophy, theory, law or rule requires an exception, then is the entire idea flawed because it lacks an unexceptional, self-sustaining, universal coherence?

Or is nothing perfect — except the exception — and to grow and evolve we cannot have hard and fast rules that permit individual judgment against the mainstream majority norm?


  1. Could you give examples of such standard deviations? I’m having some difficulty imagining them in my mind.

  2. Gordon —
    Oxford defines “standard deviation” this way in the statistical sense, but don’t let the definition squash you too much in your greater consideration:
    “a quantity calculated to indicate the extent of deviation for a group as a whole.”

  3. Would this be an example: All men who drink beer in our bar are required to also consume peanuts except those who are allergic to peanuts.

  4. That’s what I’m wondering. From everything I’ve read about standard deviation it seems mine is more of just an exception.

  5. Gordon —
    I think a traditional standard deviation is more something like you expect the majority of people to say the sky is blue while a standard deviation could be calculated to suggest that a minority percentage say the sky is red.
    I always see exceptions as personal exemptions like, “You are a better student than the others and so I will make an exception to our rule that no first year students gets a scholarship and I will award you $10,000.00.”

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