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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mean and Lean Eleven Plus Questions

When is an average an average?
When it is not mean!

A mean is popularly called an average. Why did Caesar not call for people who were `mean and hungry’? He wanted people around him who would listen to him.

Caesar asked:
Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

Suppose he had asked for someone who was `average and hungry’. Then he may not have feared that Cassius was plotting against him.

The word `mode’ has a number of meanings – one is how often something happens and another is a method of travel. Is it likely that the word `mode’ comes from the Latin `modus’ – or a manner. Is this from the Fourth Declension?


Of course there is a different meaning altogether. Modes are the way scale are ordered. Scales used to dominate music in Europe for a thousand years. The plainsong of the Church has continued to be `modal’.

A very bright ten year old asked me today, “Why is an average called a mean?” I gave the short version. She then asked: “What is the difference between the mean, the median and the mode?”

I am sorry to say that I waxed lyrical – indeed her eyes glazed over!

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