My first question here, When and where did the new sense of "normalize" begin?, has been closed due to being "off-topic."
TL;DR summary of the question: There is a recent sense of normalize that means to make something abnormal into a new norm, rather than the conventional sense of to make something abnormal conform to an existing norm. I'm interested in tracing the history of this recent meaning.
Despite this question having many upvotes, and an accepted answer of, at the current time, 18 upvotes, it has been downvoted by members and closed. Thanks to the answer by tchrist, I was both made aware of an article on Merriam-Webster.com and, through a quotation he referenced, I was led to discover an academic text on language evolution with an entire section that deals with the very question I asked. Now, it would seem that if both the people at Merriam-Webster, and a group of academic language researchers think this question is interesting enough to write articles about, it cannot possibly be "off-top."
After getting tons of upvotes, the naysayers started in the comments, giving various explanations to the effect of "it has always had both senses." They seemed to frame this as a problem with the question, rather than a potential answer. In the comments, it was asked if they felt the same reasoning fit words like "radicalize: to make radical" but no one deigned to give a response. If indeed the word normalize has always had what I'm referring to as the "new" sense of the word attached, by all means, answer my question with your logical arguments and evidence as to why. This is literally the point of the question: to get to the history of the meaning.
Of course, not one single person claiming that the novelty of the sense in question was mistaken bothered to give an answer. Conversely, Merriam-Webster poses the question in a way that assumes this meaning is "new" and says "Recently, we've seen it used to describe a change in what's considered standard." The authors of the study in Corpora and the Changing Society describe the word being used in this sense as a "neoseme." Both groups having done their research, one single quote from 1864 can be produced where the sense seems to be the "new" sense in question. (It's worth noting that normalization is only attested from 1842, and as a neologism being used by an American journalist might have been used in a peculiar way, since there is no evidence of this meaning again until 2015.)
The reason given by the first member voting to close: "I’m voting to close this question because it's based on a misunderstanding of existing definitions, including meaning #2 in the MW definition cited in the question itself."
Now, not only is this something that he could have dealt with in an answer to the question by giving examples of the word being used in the sense the question is curious about, but there's another problem here: "meaning #2" is: 2 : to make normal (as by a transformation of variables). This clearly refers to statistical normalization, by which:
...normalization of ratings means adjusting values measured on different scales to a notionally common scale, often prior to averaging. In more complicated cases, normalization may refer to more sophisticated adjustments where the intention is to bring the entire probability distributions of adjusted values into alignment.
Likewise, when we investigate transformation of variables, we find:
One of the most common assumptions for statistical analyses is that of normality, with nearly all parametric analyses requiring this assumption in one way or another. While not all normality assumptions pertain directly to an individual variable’s distribution (i.e., the assumption of normality for a regression is that the regression’s error is normally distributed, not that all variables in the analysis are normal), it is often easier to meet the assumption if each variable in the analysis is normally distributed.
There is no evidence here to support this term being used to indicate changing the norm to accommodate variability or abnormality. So, it seems that it is the other user who either does not understand the question or does not understand the definition.
The second member voting to close says: "I'm voting to close this question because it's based on an unfounded, false premise, specifically that the so-called "new sense" of "normalize is new, which it's not. The Latin root from which it was derived included and includes that definition. That definition likewise exists for cognates in other languages, like "normalizar" in Spanish and "normaliser" in French. Anglicized as "Normalize," it was imported with said definition, so the question is based on an unfounded premise that is false." (It's worth noting this user has an incredibly high reputation.)
Again, rather than using this an answer and backing it up with evidence, he simply votes to close. He claims the meanings of the Latin root and two cognates support the sense in question always being used. If this is the case, evidence is needed, as cursory searches for these terms do not uncover the "new" sense of "making the norm conform to the abnormal." This is not remotely authoritative, and is ostensibly incorrect about the meanings of the French and Spanish terms, which hardly indicate how a word is used or has been used in English at any point. And if he believes etymologies support the fact the term entered English with the sense, all the more reason to write an answer.
Then at some point since last night, the question was closed.
So what is going on here? This is obviously a pertinent question that strikes at a phenomenon currently underway: either the introduction of a new sense of the word or its take-over from more common uses of the word. It creates a linguistic environment where we can no longer be sure whether "We need to normalize the behavior of these troubled teens" means "We need to bring their behavior back into accepted standards" or "We need to change our standards so their behavior is seen as normal."
The cultural problem on this site is far more pervasive than this single question, though. One of my first interactions with a high reputation user was in a thread asking about the grammar of "adjectival clause" being used in contrast with "adjective clause." This question was shut down because the high-reputation user claimed that adjectival/adjective clause were not a valid category of clauses (despite this term being used on this very site by many high reputation users). When it was pointed out to him that the question was about the grammatical use of an adjectival form versus a noun adjunct, he refused to understand and doubled down on "there's no such thing as an adjective clause."
I could go on and on about the irrational behavior of high reputation users. As a new user who is genuinely passionate about investigating language, it is very off-putting to see this repeated, obstinate, tone-deaf form of one-upmanship consistently perpetrated in post after post, usually upvoted by some cohort of people who seem more interested in explanations that sound smart rather than ones that convey knowledge. Debate is not encourage on the site, so seemingly unchallenged but incorrect comments from high reputation users often have the definitive say, even when they are clearly unreasonable.
Hence, I submit, the site is useless to new users. Unless we can clarify the guidelines for these types mentioned above, it's a hostile environment.
Edit: Responses that ignore that this is primarily about the type of environment the behavior creates and that blame users for being upset by this behavior are part of the broken culture that needs to be fixed.