Saturday, 12 September 2009

Did you know ...

... that the vast majority of people have a higher than average number of legs?

This is because, even if only one person in the world had one leg, the average number of legs per person would drop below two and become 1.9999999999999 ... Thus, if you have two legs, you have more than the average.

You can impress your friends with that factoid.

6 comments:

Kathie said...

This argument is vaguely reminiscent of (and about as logical as) Zeno's paradox.

It assumes no one's ever born with more than two legs, or that such a population's lower-limb count is outnumbered by that of folks born with fewer than two. Since amputations affect only phenotype, not genotype (natural-born trait), offspring of amputees with originally more than one leg are most likely to inherit one or another parent's genotype (barring genetic mutation or other birth defect). Also, how do you count thalidomide babies and others born with incomplete limbs?

Quoth Benjamin Disraeli (later paraphrased by Mark Twain): "Lies, damned lies, and statistics!"

Also, do those folks count who sometimes render themselves temporarily legless? ;-)

Neil King and Carol Duncan said...

Do you know, as I was typing my post, I did have in mind the potential for people with more than two legs to distort the average but in the interests of simplicity I decided to omit that point.

I'm no expert but I'd be fairly sure that the number of people with one leg heavily outweighs the number of people with three so the original point holds good.

Kathie said...

Hmm, I suppose it depends on whether you're counting according to the number of legs with which they were born (genotype), or how many they still have by time of death (phenotype).

Neil King and Carol Duncan said...

No it doesn't.

Whether you have fewer than two legs due to genotype, phenotype or freak yachting accident is beside the point.

The fact remains that, at any given moment, there are more people on the planet with one leg (for whatever reason) than there are with three so the average number per head is less than two.

I wish I hadn't started this now ...

Kathie said...

Is this what you do when Baby Chou & BB come to visit? Or will you engage in a watercress-foraging/-cooking marathon this time? LOL!

Mary said...

The only one I can think of is Jake the Peg. There was a local three-legged dog called Tripod. Never heard of a five-legged dog though.