Biography: John Graunt

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John Graunt provided us with stable ratios that easily related to issues and concerns of everyday life and society. According the Karl Pearson Graunt’s most significant contribution was his “recognition of the stability of statistical ratios over time and space”(Pearson, 1978, as cited in Klein, p.46). I believe that Graunt laid the groundwork for the study of social science statistics by researching, gathering and analyzing data such as life expectancy and death rates. His work created a chain effect by inspiring others such as Johann Peter Sussmilch, Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin. Graunt’s discovery of stable ratios “meshed well with the goal of the scholars of the Enlightenment to find uniformity amid variety and order amid chaos”(Klein, ) explained Judy Klein. The Rule of Three was a technique used by Graunt that utilized “three knowns to solve for a fourth unknown factor in a ratio relationship”(Klein, p.26). The Rule of Three is often referred to as the Merchant’s Key or the Merchant’s Rule. Evidence of the Rule of Three can be found in literature produced as early as A.D. 250. Graunt used the Rule of Three to create a ratio for gender comparisons and to assert “that the value of the ratio served as proof that legislation against polygamy was consistent with the “Law of Nature”’(Klein, p.26). Graunt also used the rule to convince royal dignitaries that it was a useful and effective tool “in simplifying comparisons of awkward quantities”(Klein, p.27) noted Klein. The Rule of Three related to Graunt’s job as a cloth merchant because merchants were constantly looking for ways to predict the future of their professions. Merchants wanted to be able to predict the stability or instability of the economic market. The Rule of Three was used to demonstrate a correlation between monetary and political arithmetic which in turn helped merchants such as Graunt secure jobs. In 1662, John Graunt used the Rule of Three to help ensure “the unusual...
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