Someone told me that the average number of legs in the human population is less than 2, because there are more amputees than those with multiple limbs. I found it odd at the time (a statistics teacher told me it), but now it got me thinking. Has anyone actually measured this?

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    I'd say you didn't need to; it's logic that dictates more people have amputations, than have deformaties leading to extra legs, so it follows that the average number of legs is less than 2. – Hairy May 23 '11 at 8:16
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    What's even freakier, the average number of testicles in the human population is not just less than 2, but actually somewhere around 1! – David Hedlund May 23 '11 at 8:26
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    @David that means the average human ALSO has one half of a vagina! – Monkey Tuesday May 23 '11 at 9:41
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    @Monkey Oh the possibilities! – David Hedlund May 23 '11 at 9:46
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    Mean != Median and questions like this are why tracking both is useful. – sal May 23 '11 at 20:05

This fact-sheet from the Amputee Coalition of America should have the figures you need to approximate the average.

In the United States, there are approximately 1.7 million people living with limb loss. It is estimated that one out of every 200 people in the U.S. has had an amputation.

Many of those without limbs are missing arms, not legs. To figure out the number of missing legs, you will need to do a bit of data-crunching - they have figures of upper versus lower-body limbs, but they are generally not given per capita, but per hospital discharge, by cause, so you will need to multiply these out.

Further, if a person has multiple amputations of the same limb (at different points) that will confuse the averages, but that should be close enough for your needs.

(When you have finished using their figures, perhaps you should consider donating to the organisation that produced them.)

  • These statistics are interesting. BTW, I should correct "funny"; I never intended to be offensive (I was in a rush when I wrote the post.) – Thomas O May 23 '11 at 17:58
  • You can cut off your left arm twice? – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 11 '11 at 3:04
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    @muntoo: Yes, at the forearm, and then the elbow (for example). – Oddthinking Jun 11 '11 at 3:08

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