Lucien March (1859-1933): Mathematical statistics without probability? (Lucien March (1859-1933): Une statistique mathématique sans probabilité?) (French) Zbl 1062.01014

Lucien March graduated from the École Polytechnique, for many years headed the Statistique Générale de France, was President of the Société de Statistique de Paris (1907) and initiated the establishment of the Société Française d’Eugenique.
He applied statistics to economics (partly following Pareto), studied economic barometers and was the main French partisan of Pearsonian ideas and methods (and translated Pearson’s “Grammar of Science” into French). March objected to stochastic interpretation of the movement of prices, but, in philosophy of science, upheld the primacy of contingency. And in statistics, like many other statisticians of the time, he came out against probability theory (but did not deny mathematical methods in general); in this connection, the author mentioned “l’impression d’électisme”.
He wrongly stated that Poisson had applied Quetelet’s concept of the homme moyen and did not say that one of the main objections to probability during that period was the absence of “equally possible cases” in statistics (rather than lack of normality). That Jakob Bernoulli had long ago made this opinion worthless was somehow forgotten.


01A60 History of mathematics in the 20th century
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century

Biographic References:

March, Lucien
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