# did you ever meet Joe?

today i (involuntarily) read a news claiming that “the average person has been in 17 cities during his/her life”. i think this sentence, although we all can sense what it really tries to say, is wrong. the sentence should probably have been “people have been in an average of 17 cities during their lives” instead.

of course the thing is that one cannot average people really. you can only average things that can be defined somehow by a number, meaning stuff that you can count or measure. so you can indeed average certain qualities of people, but not people themselves. and even if you defined a person to be a set of qualities, still, how would then the aggregate of the average of the qualities represent the qualities of some sort of average person? i don’t think people are linear, nor ergodic.

besides, if your intuition is not that strong with maths anyway, think about it this way: seems tempting to simplify and pretend there exists something like an “average Joe”, but, and be honest here, is anybody around you “average” in all ways? did you actually ever meet Joe?