Logistic Distribution - Criticism


William Feller criticized overuse of the distribution:

The logistic distribution function


may serve as a warning. An unbelievably huge literature tried to establish a transcendental "law of logistic growth"; measured in appropriate units, practically all growth processes were supposed to be represented by a function of the form (4.10) with t representing time. Lengthy tables, complete with chi-square tests, supported this thesis for human populations, for bacterial colonies, development of railroads, etc. Both height and weight of plants and animals were found to follow the logistic law even though it is theoretically clear that these two variables cannot be subject to the same distribution. Laboratory experiments on bacteria showed that not even systematic disturbances can produce other results. Population theory relied on logistic extrapolations (even though they were demonstrably unreliable). The only trouble with the theory is that not only the logistic distribution but also the normal, the Cauchy, and other distributions can be fitted to the same material with the same or better goodness of fit. In this competition the logistic distribution plays no distinguished role whatever; most contradictory theoretical models can be supported by the same observational material.

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