Working Paper

The median is the message: Wilson and Hilferty’s reanalysis of C.S. Peirce’s experiments on the law of errors


Roger Koenker

Published Date

23 October 2008


Working Paper (CWP28/08)

Data is reanalyzed from an important series of 19th century experiments conducted by C. S. Peirce and designed to study the plausibility of the Gaussian law of errors for astronomical observations. Contrary to the findings of Peirce, but in accordance with subsequent analysis by Frechet and Wilson and Hilferty, we find normality implausible and medians an attractive alternative to means for the analysis.