Friday, March 4, 2011

What's so (a)typical about "the most typical face"?

Originally published by National Geographic. Now on Yahoo News:
The researchers conclude that a male, 28-year-old Han Chinese man is the most typical person on the planet. There are 9 million of them. The image above is a composite of nearly 200,000 photos of men who fit that description.
Note that the picture is a "composite", i.e, it's made of many other pictures. On the other hand "typical" refers to that which exhibits the essential characteristics of a group. But it turns out that the group is now defined as "typical", which is a "composite."