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Galton, Francis

Galton, Francis

WORKS BY GALTON

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Francis Galton was born in 1822 and died in 1911. He was educated successively at home, at a dame school, at Boulogne, and at Kenilworth. In 1835, at the age of 13, he entered King Edward’s School at Birmingham, where he stayed for two years. He spent two years as a medical student, the first at the General Hospital, Birmingham and the second at King’s College, London. In 1840 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a mathematics student, but was content to take a poll degree in 1843, when his health broke down.

Galton’s father, Samuel Tertius Galton, was a banker. His mother, Violetta Darwin, was the daughter of Erasmus Darwin by his second wife. One of Erasmus Darwin’s grandsons through his first wife was Charles Robert Darwin; there was a certain physical resemblance between the two cousins. His mental development is interesting: he is credibly reported to have read a simple book before he reached the age of three, and his restless ingenuity with regard to machinery dates from his early youth. He did not enjoy school, however, nor did he find the profession of medicine, which was chosen for him, congenial. In spite of his interest in mechanics and mathematics, he was not successful in his Cambridge studies.

When his father died in 1844, Galton immediately forsook any idea of continuing his medical career. He found himself the possessor of a more than adequate income and proceeded to spend his time and energy “hunting with a set chiefly noteworthy for their extravagance and recklessness …the strange thing [being] that it [shooting] seemed to absorb his whole nature, and to be done not for the sake of the experience, but in the pure pursuit of occupation” (Pearson 1914-1930, vol. 1, pp. 208-209).

It was after these fallow years, as Pearson called them, that Galton carried out the explorations for which he was later awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1853. Even before going to Cambridge, Galton had taken an extended trip down the Danube and on to Smyrna, which had perhaps awakened the young man to the delights of foreign scenes and strange peoples. After his father’s death he set off again for Egypt, Khartoum, and Syria, but he “was still touring for the boyish fun of movement and of new scenes. He had not yet thoughts of the language, habits, or archaeology of the people he mingled with” (ibid., p. 205). It was not until after four years of idleness in England that he set out on a trip to tropical Africa, the results of which showed that he had come to terms with life and with himself.

In 1850 Galton set off for the Cape and spent two years upcountry exploring from Walvis Bay to Lake Ngami, territory of which little was known. He composed 15 brief laws for the Hottentot chiefs who governed the Damaras of the plain and compiled a rudimentary dictionary for the English who wished to use the local tongue. He returned to England early in 1852 and read a paper to the Royal Geographical Society, which awarded him its gold medal the following year. This award was followed in 1854 by a silver medal from the French Geographical Society. Early in 1853 he met Louisa Butler and married her in August. After an extended honeymoon tour of Europe, punctuated by visits to England, the Galtons finally settled in London, and in 1855 Galton really began to work.

Early publications . As might be anticipated, Galton’s first publication was on exploration, and in 1855 The Art of Travel was published. There were signs that his scientific curiosity was developing in new directions, since in Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel (1861–1864), which he meant to be an annual magazine, there is a description of the eclipse of the sun in 1860, with a drawing of the curved rays of the corona that he had observed. Galton’s first piece of fruitful research was on the weather. He started to plot wind and pressure maps and noted, from very scanty data, that centers of high pressure are associated with clockwise directions of winds around the calm center. He coined the name “anticyclone” for such systems in 1863. Several other papers followed, in which he was clearly feeling his way toward the concepts of correlation and regression.

He tried to determine a linear prediction formula for the velocity of the wind, given the pressure, temperature, and humidity. He did not succeed, possibly because of his failure to realize that the prediction formula for pressure from velocity was not the same as the prediction formula for velocity from pressure. The realization that there are two regression lines was still in the future, as was the concept of correlation. In 1870 he read a paper at the British Association entitled “Barometric Predictions of Weather,” in which he was fumbling toward a multiple regression, trying to predict the wind from pressure, temperature, and humidity. He failed in his objective at the time, but he posed the problem for others who were to succeed.

Intellectual influences . In assessing the intellectual influences on Galton, continuing uncertainty exists as to the extent of Quetelet’s influence. Pearson tended to minimize the significance of Quetelet for Galton; he wrote, “I am very doubtful how far [Galton] owed much to a close reading of the great Belgian statistician” (Pearson 1914-1930, vol. 2, p. 12), and he placed perhaps undue weight on the fact that Galton possessed no copy of Quetelet’s Letters …on the Theory of Probabilities (1846). Pearson further remarked that Galton “was never a great student of other men’s writings: he was never an accumulator like his cousin Charles Darwin” (Pearson 1914-1930, vol. 1, p. 209). Now Pearson was closer to Galton’s time and actually knew him, so that some weight must be given to his opinions. Nevertheless, Pearson would appear to have underestimated the influence of Quetelet; he himself pointed out that Galton’s work seemed to flow naturally out of that of Quetelet. Further, Galton’s obsession with the normal curve of error which, to a certain extent, has unduly influenced the development of statistical method, can only have stemmed from Quetelet. One of Quetelet’s great achievements was to consider all human experience as ultimately capable of being described numerically, which was fundamentally Galton’s attitude also.

The other great influence on Galton during the period in which he was establishing himself as a research worker affected the whole of the scientific world in the second half of the nineteenth century—the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. The effect of this work on Galton was not immediately apparent in his writings, but there can be no doubt that the book was responsible for transforming him from a geographer into an anthropologist and eugenist. He began with the article “Hereditary Talent and Character” in 1865 and proceeded through Hereditary Genius (1869); English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (1874); Inquiries Into Human Faculty (1883); and Natural Inheritance (1889), by which time he was 67 years of age. As Pearson said, “We see that his researches in heredity, in anthropometry, in psychometry and statistics, were not independent studies; they were all auxiliary to his main object, the improvement in the race of man.”

Application of statistics . In Hereditary Genius, Galton claimed that his discussion of heredity was the “first to treat the subject in a statistical manner” ([1869] 1952, p. vi). He clearly owed much to Quetelet and paralleled Quetelet’s use of the normal curve for anthropometric measurements by using it to grade intellectual ability. He was quite explicit about this: “The law is an exceedingly general one. M. Quetelet, the Astronomer-Royal of Belgium, and the greatest authority on vital and social statistics, has largely used it in his inquiries. He has also constructed numerical tables, by which the necessary calculations can be easily made, whenever it is desired to have recourse to the law” (ibid., p. 23).

Galton supplemented Quetelet’s tables by a short table of the abscissas of the unit normal curve corresponding to percentiles of area (1889). He examined the abilities of the kin of persons who had achieved eminence of some kind—judges, generals, scientists, statesmen, painters, poets, and clerics. He was concerned with distinguishing between general ability and special ability and regarded each individual personality as a combination of natural ability and the advantages accruing from early environment, i.e., nature and nurture.

This idea of nature and nurture recurs in his writings. Thus we find in English Men of Science (1874), “It is, I believe, owing to the favourable conditions of their early training that an unusually large proportion of the sons of the most gifted men of science become distinguished in the same career. They have been nurtured in an atmosphere of free enquiry….” The thesis is that heredity tends to produce eminence in some area and that environment tends to be the deciding factor in specifying what this area shall be. Galton tried to go beyond this in Inquiries Into Human Faculty and Its Development (1883), the book that possibly holds most interest for students of the history of psychology, in which he discussed preliminary results that he had obtained in the psychometric field.

In 1876, at the exhibition of scientific instruments at South Kensington, Galton exhibited his “Whistles for Determining the Upper Limits of Audible Sounds in Different Persons.” Both before and after this time he was active in proposing tests for the measurement of muscular sensitivity by weight discrimination, for the perception of differences of tint, for reaction time, for acuteness of hearing, for keenness of vision and judgment of length by the eye, and for the senses of smell and touch. In an attempt to describe the skewed distributions that often resulted from the application of his tests, Galton hypothesized that in some frequency distributions, such as, for example, judgment of length, the geometric mean, rather than the arithmetic mean, is the best “medium” for the distribution, and he wrote a paper on “The Geometric Mean in Vital and Social Statistics” (1879). As usual the mathematical conceptualization was beyond him, and he took the problem to Sir Donald Macalister, who derived what is now known as the log-normal distribution.

At this stage of his work, he was associated with the American psychologist James McKeen Cattell, who on his return to the University of Pennsylvania (and later at Columbia University), began to teach statistical psychology, giving his first course in 1887. Through Cattell, Galton’s ideas and experiments exerted possibly the greatest single influence upon American psychology during the last years of the nineteenth century.

From the statistical point of view, Natural Inheritance is probably the most important of Galton’s writings. As can be seen from his earlier works, the ideas in it had been fermenting in his mind for some time, but it was their expression in Natural Inheritance that excited the interest of those whom today we might call the practitioners of applied mathematics. Again he was influenced by the fact that Quetelet was using the normal curve to describe anthropometric data and by the interest in the problems of inheritance aroused in him by The Origin of Species.

He began the book with a summary of those properties of the normal curve that appealed to him. He had previously suggested representing a frequency distribution by using grades or percentiles, and he elaborated on this suggestion here, pointing out that the normal distribution is completely determined from a knowledge of the median and one other quantile. Galton had observed that many measured characteristics can be closely described by a normal curve. He used the “quincunx,” first shown in print with the publication of his lecture “Typical Laws of Heredity,” delivered at the Royal Institution (1877), to illustrate the build-up of the normal curve: He had noticed that a normal curve is reproduced by lead shot falling vertically through a harrow of pins and he tried to explain the stability of measured characteristics by this mechanical device. In this paper he had almost reached the concepts of both regression and correlation but must have felt the need for further thought, since it was at this time that he began to collect data bearing on inheritance in man. Galton published nothing further on heredity for eight years. The foundation of his ideas on regression and correlation did not perhaps become clear to him until a short time before the publication of Natural Inheritance.

The regression line arose naturally out of measurements of the sizes of the seeds of mother and daughter sweet pea plants. The sizes of the seeds of daughter plants appeared to “revert” to the mean (the word “revert” was soon replaced by “regress”). This inspired him to look at a bivariate frequency table of the heights of fathers and sons, in which he found a regression to “mediocrity.” The arguments he used became familiar ones with the analysis of variance put forward by R. A. Fisher some forty to fifty years later. Suppose, Galton said, that we want to predict the height of brother A, given the height of brother B. We take, therefore, all the individuals who have heights the same as B and form a collection of the heights of all of their brothers. These brothers as a group Galton called a cofraternity, and he proceeded to discuss the variation in height of all individuals about the grand mean, the variation of the cofraternity means about the grand mean, and the variation of the individuals of the cofraternities about their respective cofraternity means. This splitting up of variation had been done previously by Lexis in Germany and Dormoy in France, but Galton was possibly the first to carry out this type of analysis with the idea of assigning the variation.

While studying the bivariate frequency table of heights of fathers and sons, Galton was struck by the observation that the contours of equal frequency in the table were similar and similarly situated ellipses. He also found the lines that fitted the medians of the arrays (possibly drawing them by eye) and the slopes of these lines eventually became his regression coefficients. This early work, as is inevitable with a pioneering effort, is confused and difficult to evaluate, not least because Galton himself was not explicit. When, however, he had determined that he had what would now be termed linearity of regression and homoscedasticity in the arrays of the table, his mathematical powers were not sufficient to enable him to form a mathematical model for his surface, and he took the problem to Hamilton Dickson, a Cambridge mathematician. Dickson’s mathematical formulation was published in an appendix to Galton’s paper “Family Likeness in Stature,” presented to the Royal Society in 1886. Galton was troubled by the fact that the slope of the regression line depends on the variability of the margins, and this concern led to his search for a unit-free measure of association.

Some time earlier, in 1882, Alphonse Bertillon had put forward a scheme for classifying criminals according to 12 physical measurements that was adopted by the prefecture of police in Paris. Galton became interested in this scheme and pondered for some time over which measurements would be the most descriptive—that is, which would discriminate one man most effectively from his fellows. It was from these considerations that he was led to the realization that some measurements might be so highly correlated with other measurements as to be useless for the prescribed purposes and finally to the necessity for describing how any two measurements are related. The slope of the regression line is not adequate for this, since it depends on both the scales of measurement and the choice of dependent variables. However, the regression line fitted between the variables that Galton used (1888) after dividing the heights (reduced by their median) by a measure of their variability (their semi-interquartile range) and similarly dealing with forearm length provides a unit-free measure of association. Given the problem and 65 years of subsequent statistical development, the correlation coefficient may now appear to have been inevitable. There can be no question, however, that at the time at which Galton wrote, 1888-1889, the production of a measure of association that was independent of location and scale was an immense contribution to statistical methodology.

The Bertillon system of measurement also started Galton wondering about the whole procedure of personal identification. In the paper for the Royal Institution in which he discussed bertillonage, he also drew incidental attention to fingerprints. In his book Finger Prints (1892), he referred to the work of Jan Purkinje, Kollman, William Herschel, and Henry Faulds, who had preceded him in this study, but it is clear that at the time he wrote little was known. As he himself said:

It became gradually clear that three facts had to be established before it would be possible to advocate the use of finger prints for criminal or other investigations. First it must be proved, not assumed, that the pattern of a finger print is constant throughout life. Secondly that the variety of patterns is really very great. Thirdly, that they admit of being so classified, or lexiconised, that when a set of them is submitted to an expert, it would be possible for him to tell, by reference to a suitable dictionary or its equivalent, whether a similar set had already been registered. These things I did, but they required much labor.

As a result of Galton’s book and his evidence to a committee set up by the Home Office in 1893, a fingerprint department was established, the forerunner of many such throughout the world. Galton himself, as might be expected from his previous work and interest, turned to studying the inheritance of fingerprints, a study which was carried on for many years in the laboratory that he founded and that was named after him.

Eugenics . The term “eugenics” was introduced by Galton in his book Inquiries Into Human Faculty (1883) and soon won general acceptance. The study of human inheritance and the possibility of improving human stock were undoubtedly linked in his mind, as his public lectures and papers witness. He did more than lecture, however. In 1904 he founded a research fellowship in national eugenics at the University of London which was to develop in a few years into the Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics, with Karl Pearson as its first director. Pearson was succeeded by R. A. Fisher, and the now vast complex of statistical theory and method developed there thus owes its origin to Galton.

It was inevitable that Galton’s work should attract the interest of young men able in the mathematical and in the biological fields, and the late 1880s saw Karl Pearson, and W. F. R. Weldon— the one a professor of applied mathematics and the other a professor of zoology and both at University College, London—working in the field of “biometry,” i.e., the application of mathematics to problems of biological inheritance. Galton himself said, “The primary object of Biometry is to afford material that shall be exact enough for the discovery of incipient changes in evolution which are too small to be otherwise apparent.” Pearson and Weldon met difficulties in their attempts to publish papers relating to biometry in existing journals and determined to start their own. A guarantee was required. Galton, on being asked to help, not only guaranteed the whole amount but followed it up with an additional gift that enabled his admirers to go their way in freedom; the journal Biometrika, the first to be devoted to both the theory and practice of statistics, was established on a firm footing. In the last decade of his life, Galton played the part of counselor and adviser to the younger men, but he still worked away at his own problems, as his continued output of letters and papers indicates.

During his last years many honors came his way. He had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1856, receiving a gold medal in 1886, the Darwin medal in 1902, and the much-prized Copley medal in 1910, the year before his death. He was awarded the Huxley medal by the Anthropological Institute in 1901 and the Darwin-Wallace medal by the Linnean Society in 1908. He received honorary degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge universities and became an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, his old college, in 1902. The citation for the Darwin medal said, in part, “It may safely be declared that no one living has contributed more definitely to the progress of evolutionary study, whether by actual discovery or by the fruitful direction of thought, than Mr. Galton.” Mr. Galton’s private comment was, typically, “Well, I am very pleased except that I stand in the way of younger men” (quoted in Pearson 1914-1930, vol. 3A, p. 237).

F. N. David

[For the historical context of Galton’s work, see the biographies ofDarwinandQuetelet. For discussion of the subsequent development of Galton’s ideas, seeEeugenics; Linear Hypothesis, article onRegression; Multivariate Analysis, articles OnCorrelation; and the biographies ofCattell; Fisher, R. A.; Pearson.]

WORKS BY GALTON

(1855) 1856 The Art of Travel: Or, Shifts and Contrivances Available in Wild Countries. 2d ed., rev. & enl. London: Murray.

1861-1864 Galton, Francis (editor) Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel in 1860 [1861, 1862-1863]. London: Macmillan.

1863 Meteorographica: Or, Methods of Mapping the Weather. London: Macmillan.

1865 Hereditary Talent and Character. Macmillan’s Magazine 12:157-166, 318–327.

(1869) 1952 Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry Into Its Laws and Consequences. New York: Horizon Press. → A paperback edition was published in 1962 by World.

1870 Barometric Predictions of Weather. British Association for the Advancement of Science, Report 40 [2]: 31–33.

1874 English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture. London: Macmillan.

1876 Whistles for Determining the Upper Limits of Audible Sounds in Different Persons. Page 61 in South Kensington Museum, London, Conferences Held in Connection With the Special Loan Collection of Scientific Apparatus, 1876. Volume 2: Physics and Mechanics. London: Chapman.

(1877) 1879 Typical Laws of Heredity. Royal Institution of Great Britain, Proceedings 8:282–301. → First published in Volume 15 of Nature.

1879 The Geometric Mean in Vital and Social Statistics. Royal Society of London, Proceedings 29:365–367.

(1883) 1952 Inquiries Into Human Faculty and Its Development. London: Cassell.

1886 Family Likeness in Stature. Royal Society of London, Proceedings 40:42–63. → Supplemented with an appendix by J. D. Hamilton Dickson on pages 63–72.

1888 Co-relations and Their Measurement, Chiefly From Anthropomorphic Data. Royal Society of London, Proceedings 45:135–145.

1889 Natural Inheritance. London and New York: Macmillan.

1892 Finger Prints. London and New York: Macmillan.

1908 Memories of My Life. London: Methuen.

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Burt, Cyril1962 Francis Galton and His Contributions to Psychology. British Journal of Statistical Psychology 15:1–49.

Darwin, George H. (1912) 1939 Sir Francis Galton. Volume 2, pages 70—73 in Dictionary of National Biography: Second Supplement. Oxford Univ. Press.

Newman, James R. 1956 Commentary on Sir Francis Galton. Volume 2, pages 1167-1172 in James R. Newman (editor), The World of Mathematics: A Small Library of the Literature of Mathematics From A’h-mose the Scribe to Albert Einstein. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Pearson, Karl 1914-1930 The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton. 3 vols. Cambridge Univ. Press. → Includes a comprehensive bibliography of Galton’s works.

Quetelet, Adolphe (1846) 1849 Letters Addressed to H. R. H. the Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, on the Theory of Probabilities, as Applied to the Moral and Political Sciences. London: Layton. → First published in French.

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Galton, Francis

Galton, Francis

(b. Birmingham, England, 16 February 1822; d. Haslemere, Surrey. England 17 January 1911)

statistics, anthropometry, experimental psychology, heredity.

Galton’s paternal ancestors were bankers and gunsmiths, of the Quaker faith, and long-lived. His mother was Erasmus Darwin’s daughter, and thus he was Charles Darwin’s cousin. Galton’s intellectual precocity has become a textbook item, and Lewis Terman estimated his IQ to have been of the order of 200. His education, though, was desultory, its formal peaks being a few mathematics courses at Cambridge (he took a pass degree) and some unfinished medical studies in London. He quit the latter at the age of twenty-two when his father died, leaving him a fortune. He then traveled. Journeying through virtually unknown parts of southwestern Africa in 1850-1852, Galton acquired fame as an intrepid explorer. His immediate reward was a gold medal from the Geographical Society, and his later reports led to election as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1860. In 1853 he married, and in 1857 he settled into a quiet London home, where he remained, except for occasional European vacations, until his death over half a century later. Galton was knighted in 1909. He died childless.

Galton was perhaps the last of a now extinct breed— the gentleman scientist. He never held any academic or professional post, and most of his experiments were done at home or while traveling, or were farmed out to friends. He was not a great reader, and his small personal library was said to consist mainly of autographed copies of fellow scientists’ books. He composed no magnum opus, but he kept up a rich flow of original ideas. An endless curiosity about the phenomena of nature and mankind was nicely coupled with mechanical ingenuity and inventiveness. Secure and contented in the employment of his wideranging talents, Galton was an unusually equable person. Anger and polemic were alien to him. In his later years he was fortunate in having the ebullient Karl Pearson as champion and extender of his ideas. Pearson subsequently became the first holder of the chair of eugenics at University Colleges, London, that Galton had endowed in his will.

Galton’s earliest notable researches were metorologic, and it was he who first recognized and named the anticyclone.

Foremost in Galton’s life was a belief that virtually anything is quantifiable. Some of his exercises in this direction are now merely amusing— a solemn assessment of womanly beauty on a pocket scale, a study of the body weights of three generations of British peers, and a statistical inquiry into the efficacy of prayer are examples—but there can be little doubt that his general attitude was salutary in its day. Moreover, against the trivia have to be set such good things as his developing Quetelet’s observation that certain measurable human characteristics are distributed like the error function. Galton initiated an important reversal of outlook on biological and psychological variation, previously regarded as an uninteresting nuisance. In his own words: “The Primary objects of the Gaussian Law of Errors were exactly opposed, in one sense, to those to which I applied them. They were to get rid of, or to provide a just allowance for, errors. But these errors or deviations were the very things I wanted to preserve and know about.” In psychology Galton sowed the seeds of mental testing, of measuring sensory acuity, and of scaling and typing. In statistics he originated the concepts of regression and correlation.

Galton’s best-known work was on the inheritance of talent—scholarly, artistic, and athletic— raw data being the records of notable families. He found strong evidence of inheritance. Upholders of the rival nurture-not-nature theory attacked the work, on the ground that the children of gifted and successful parents are environmentally favored; but even when allowance was made for this truth, Galton’s contention could not be wholly denied. One outcome of the investigation was a conviction in many people’s minds—and particularly deeply in Galton’s own mind—that a eugenic program to foster talent and healthiness and to suppress stupidity and sickliness was a sine qua non in any society that wished to maintain, let alone promote, its quality and status. (Galton coined the world “eugenics” in 1883).

Galton’s views on genetics are historically curious. Influenced by Darwin’s belief that inheritance is conditioned by a blending mechanism, Galton propounded his law of ancestral heredity, which set the average contribution of each parent at 1/4, of each grandparent at 1/16, and so forth (the sum, over all ancestors of both parents, being asymptotic to unity). Karl Pearson and his colleagues pursued the notion in a series of sophisticated researchers, but Galton"s law received withering criticisms after the rediscovery, in 1900, of Mendel’s work on particulate inheritance. Yet Galton had himself toyed with the notion of particulate inheritance, and in a remarkable correspondence with Darwin in 1875 he sketched the essence of the theory and even discussed something very like what we now know as genotypes and phenotypes under the names “latent” and “patent” characteristics. He did not press these views, perhaps because of the strong climate of opinion in favour of blending inheritance at that time.

Galton’s establishment of fingerprinting as an easy and almost infallible means of human identification transformed a difficult subject, and his taxonomy of prints is basically that used today. He was disappointed, however, to find no familial, racial, moral, or intellectual subgroupings in the collections he examined.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Orignal Works. Galton wrote sixteen books and more than 200 papers. Of the books, recent printings are Herediary Genius (London, 1869; 3rd ed., 1950); Art of Travel (5th ed., London, 1872; repr. Harrisburg, Pa., 1971); and Finger Prints (London, 1893; facs., New York, 1965). An unpublished utopian book, “The Eugenic College of Kantsaywhere,” written toward the end of his life, is excerpted in Karl Pearson’s biography (see below). His autobiography, Memories of My Life (London, 1908), is worth reading. The best listing of Galton’s publications is appended to Blacker’s book (see below).

II. Secondary Liteature. Immediately after Galton’s death his friend Karl Pearson started a biography that was to become one of the most elaborate and comprehensive works of its kind in this century: The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton, 4 vols. (London, 1914-1930). A treatment emphasizing the interests of his later years is C.P. Blackers, Eugenics, Galton and After (London, 1952). A good survey of his psychologic contributions is H. E. Garratt, Great Experiments in Psychology (New York, 1951), ch. 12. The 1965 repr. of Finger Prints (see above) contains a biographical intro, by Harold Cummins that places Galton’s fingerprint work in historic context.

Norman T. Gridgeman.

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Sir Francis Galton

Sir Francis Galton

The English scientist, biometrician, and explorer Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) founded the science of eugenics and introduced the theory of the anti-cyclone in meteorology.

Francis Galton was born on Feb. 16, 1822, at Birmingham, the son of Samuel Galton, a businessman, and Violetta Galton. After schooling in Boulogne and privately, he began to study medicine in 1838 but also read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The death of Galton's father in 1844 left him with considerable independent means, and he abandoned further medical study to travel in Syria, Egypt, and South-West Africa. As a result, he published Tropical South Africa (1853) and The Art of Travel (1855). His travels brought him fame as an explorer, and in 1854 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Geographical Society. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1856.

Turning his attention to meteorology, Galton published Meteorographica (1863), in which he described weather mapping, pointing out for the first time the importance of an anticyclone, in which air circulates clockwise round a center of high barometric pressure in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones, on the other hand, are low-pressure centers from which air rushes upward and moves counterclockwise.

Meanwhile, Galton had developed an interest in heredity, and the publication of the Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin won Galton's immediate support. Impressed by evidence that distinction of any kind is apt to run in families, Galton made detailed studies of families conspicuous for inherited ability over several generations. He then advocated the application of scientific breeding to human populations. These studies laid the foundation for the science of eugenics (a term he invented), or race improvement, and led to the publication of Hereditary Genius (1869) and English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (1874).

Finding that advances in the study of heredity were being hampered by the lack of quantitative information, Galton started anthropometric research, devising instruments for the exact measurement of every quantifiable faculty of body or mind. In 1884 he finally set up and equipped a laboratory, the Biometric Laboratory at University College, London, where the public were tested. He measured such traits as keenness of sight and hearing, color sense, reaction time, strength of pull and of squeeze, and height and weight. The system of fingerprints in universal use today derived from this work.

Galton's application of exact quantitative methods gave results which, processed mathematically, developed a numerical factor he called correlation and defined thus: "Two variable organs are said to be co-related when the variation of the one is accompanied on the average by more or less variation of the other, and in the same direction. Co-relation must be the consequence of the variations of the two organs being partly due to common causes. If wholly due … the co-relation would be perfect." Co-relation specified the degree of relationship between any pair of individuals or any two attributes.

The developed presentation of Galton's views on heredity is Natural Inheritance (1889). A difficult work, with mathematics not beyond criticism, it sets out the "law of 1885," which attempts to quantify the influence of former generations in the hereditary makeup of the individual. Parents contribute each one-quarter, grandparents each one-sixteenth, and so on for earlier generations. Claims that Galton anticipated Mendel's ratios seem without foundation. For Galton, evolution ensured the survival of those members of the race with most physical and mental vigor, and he desired to see this come about in human society more speedily and with less pain to the individual through applying eugenics. Evolution was an unresting progression, the nature of the average individual being essentially unprogressive.

Galton used his considerable fortune to promote his scientific interests. He founded the journal Biometrika in 1901, and in 1903 the Eugenics Laboratory in the University of London. He died at Haslemere, Surrey, on Jan. 17, 1911, after several years of frail health. He bequeathed £45,000 to found a professorship in eugenics in the hope that his disciple and pupil Karl Pearson might become its first occupant. This hope was realized.

Further Reading

Galton's own account is Memories of My Life (1908). A full-length biography is Karl Pearson, Francis Galton 1822-1911: An Appreciation (1914-1930).

Additional Sources

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz, Sir Francis Galton and the study of heredity in the nineteenth century, New York: Garland Pub., 1985.

Forrest, Derek William, Francis Galton: the life and work of a Victorian genius, New York: Taplingr Pub. Co., 1974.

Galton Institute (London, England), Symposium (28th: 1991: London, England), Sir Francis Galton, FRS: the legacy of his ideas, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, in association with the Galton Institute, 1993. □

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Galton, Francis

Galton, Francis

2/16/18221/17/1911
ENGLISH
SCIENTIST, EXPLORER, BIOMETRICIAN

The English scientist, biometrician, and explorer Sir Francis Galton founded the science of eugenics and introduced the theory of the anticyclone in meteorology . Forensic science has benefited from Galton's pioneering anthropometric research. The system of fingerprinting in use today resulted from his work.

Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, England, the son of Samuel Galton, a businessman, and Violetta Galton. After schooling in Boulogne, he began to study medicine in 1838 and also read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The death of his father in 1844 left Galton with considerable independent means, and he abandoned further medical study to travel in Syria, Egypt, and south West Africa. As a result, he published Tropical South Africa (1853) and The Art of Travel (1855). His travels brought him fame as an explorer, and in 1854 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Geographical Society. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1856.

Turning his attention to meteorology, Galton published Meteorographica (1863), in which he described weather mapping, pointing out for the first time the importance of an anticyclone, in which air circulates clockwise round a center of high barometric pressure in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones, on the other hand, are low-pressure centers from which air rushes upward and moves counterclockwise.

Meanwhile, Galton had developed an interest in heredity, and the publication of the Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin won Galton's immediate support. Impressed by evidence that distinction of any kind is apt to run in families, Galton made detailed studies of families conspicuous for inherited ability over several generations. He then advocated the application of scientific breeding to human populations. These studies laid the foundation for the science of eugenics (a term he invented), or race improvement, and led to the publication of Hereditary Genius (1869) and English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (1874).

Finding that advances in the study of heredity were being hampered by the lack of information, Galton started anthropometric research, devising instruments for the exact measurement of every quantifiable faculty of body or mind. In 1884, he finally set up and equipped the Biometric Laboratory at University College, London. He measured such human traits as keenness of sight and hearing, color sense, reaction time, strength of pull and of squeeze, and height and weight. The system of fingerprints in universal use today derived from this work.

The developed presentation of Galton's views on heredity is Natural Inheritance (1889). A complex work, it sets out the "law of 1885," which attempts to quantify the influence of former generations in the hereditary makeup of the individual. Parents each contribute one-quarter, grandparents each one-sixteenth, and so on for earlier generations. For Galton, evolution ensured the survival of those members of the race with most physical and mental vigor. By applying eugenics, he desired to see this come about in human society more speedily and with less pain to the individual. Evolution was an ongoing progression; the nature of the average individual being essentially unprogressive.

Galton's application of exact quantitative methods gave results which, processed mathematically, developed a numerical factor he called correlation and defined thus: "Two variable organs are said to be co-related when the variation of the one is accompanied on the average by more or less variation of the other, and in the same direction. Co-relation must be the consequence of the variations of the two organs being partly due to common causes. If wholly due . . . the co-relation would be perfect." Co-relation specified the degree of relationship between any pair of individuals or any two attributes.

Galton used his considerable fortune to promote his scientific interests. He founded the journal Biometrika in 1901, and in 1903 he established the Eugenics Laboratory in the University of London. He died at Haslemere, Surrey, in 1911, after several years of frail health. He bequeathed £45,000 to found a professorship in eugenics in the hope that his disciple and pupil Karl Pearson might become its first occupant. This hope was realized.

see also Anthropometry; Fingerprint; Integrated automated fingerprint identification system.

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Galtons problem

Galton's problem The Galton problem is named after Francis Galton, the nineteenth-century British polymath, who became embroiled in a celebrated exchange about the logic of comparative analysis with the anthropologist Edward Tylor. In 1889, Tylor published an article which purported to show clear correlations between the economic and familial institutions of a wide range of past and present societies, and attempted to explain these in functionalist terms. Galton's rejoinder argued that correlations between social institutions might not only arise under pressure of functional exigencies (that is, through processes operating within societies), but also as an effect of cultural diffusion between societies. In this way he questioned Tylor's assumption that each of his national cases represented an independent observation (see the debate in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1889
).

This problem of distinguishing between autonomous institutional development on the one hand, and institutional development influenced by cultural diffusion on the other, remains a central issue in comparative macrosociology. For example, it is plausible to argue that the national institutions associated with the emergence of modern welfare states have in different ways been influenced by the examples of the Beveridge Plan for post-1945 Britain, nineteenth-century Bismarckian social policy in Germany, or the contemporary so-called Scandinavian model. Indeed, some observers argue that the process of globalization, the emergence of the world-system, and policies of certain multinational corporations and political organizations are accelerating and intensifying the effects of cultural diffusion, to the point at which these undermine the very possibility of a comparative macrosociology based on ‘independent’ national observations: we may be moving towards a world in which N = 1.

Empirically, the problems posed for cross-national comparative analysis by processes of cultural diffusion seem to vary across different spheres of social life, being particularly pronounced in the study of economic and social policy (where governments purposively do often emulate each other). Similarly, it is clear that theorists wishing to develop general accounts of rebellion that emphasize indigenous causes must recognize that revolutionaries have everywhere learned from each other, so that (for example) the course of the Chinese revolution was in part shaped by the earlier Russian experience. Elsewhere, however, such as in the study of class differentials in educational attainment, there is evidence to suggest that national variations are in fact largely attributable to processes of social selection which are distinctive to indigenous institutions—despite the apparent cross-national similarities in programmes of educational expansion and reform. It is also possible to model cross-national interdependence into comparative macrosociology, for example by using event-history analysis to study how institutional and policy development is affected both by domestic factors, and by the timing of cross-national influences of particular kinds.

For an excellent discussion of the implications of Galton's problem for the methodology of comparative macrosociology, of both a case-oriented (qualitative) and variable-oriented (quantitative) kind, and of wider problems of theory development and testing in this field, see the symposium in volume 16 of the journal Comparative Social Research (1997). See also COMPARATIVE SOCIOLOGY; FUNCTION.

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Galton, Sir Francis

Sir Francis Galton (gôl´tən), 1822–1911, English scientist, founder of eugenics; cousin of Charles Darwin. He turned from exploration and meteorology (where he introduced the theory of the anticyclone) to the study of heredity and eugenics (a term that he coined). Galton devised the correlation coefficient and brought other statistical methods into this work, which was carried on by his pupil Karl Pearson as the science of biometrics. In his Hereditary Genius (1869) he presented strong evidence that talent is an inherited characteristic. Galton established a system of classifying fingerprints that is still used today. He was knighted in 1909. The best known of his books is Inquiries into Human Faculty (1883).

See his Memories of My Life (1908, repr. 1974); biographies by K. Pearson (3 vol. in 4, 1914–30), N. W. Gillham (2002), and M. Brookes (2004); study by H. F. Crovitz (1970).

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Galton, Francis

Galton, Francis 1822–1911

Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, England, on February 16, 1822 and he died in Surrey, England, on January 17, 1911. He was a founding figure in the field of mental testing and intelligence and in the pseudoscience of “proving” class and racial inferiorities. He also helped develop the racist theories of social Darwinism that led to nineteenth and twentieth century eugenics programs in Europe and North America. He is recognized in the discipline of psychology as a pioneer of standardized intelligence testing and of original anthropometric and sociological methods used to demonstrate the importance of heredity in human differences. In this area, he also helped develop an experimental research laboratory that led to the development of the subfield of experimental psychology.

Sir Francis Galton was influenced by his cousin Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories, which led him to explore the relationship between intelligence and the evolution of humans. Following Darwin’s ideas about biological evolution of species, he added the social to the biological and developed a hierarchy of ranked races, nations, and classes. Through a simple rendering of evolutionary ideas into a social theory—known as “social Darwinism’’—Galton held that biological differences were predestined by genetics, with limited effects possible from environmental influence. Individual differences, he argued, are the result of two principle factors, environment and heredity, with heredity being by far the more important. It was a simple step from Galton’s social Darwinist theories to the eugenics movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that advocated the unnatural selection of the “fittest” individuals and groups to reproduce, while social engineering programs were established to discourage or prohibit “inferior” individuals from reproducing. It is an irony of history that Francis Galton—whose racist analysis has since been discredited—was knighted by the English crown in 1909 for his contributions, while Charles Darwin— whose works remain influential in the early twenty-first century—was not.

Galton’s Hereditary Genius (1869) is his classic work and represents a milestone in the history of racialist scholarship. Like Arthur Gobineau, whose Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines (Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races) was published in four volumes from 1853 to 1855, Galton used racism as a major framework in asserting that there are higher and lower races. Galton graded men on a scale of genius from “A” to “G’’, with “G” being the highest grade. He found the greatest majority of humans were in the “mediocre classes’’—represented by the bulge in the “bell curve” he developed in relation to intelligence testing—while there were only a small number of men of great ability and an equally small number of mental defectives. Thus, he posited that the rarity of genius and the vast abundance of mediocrity was no accident, but due to natural, hereditary forces. Further, those at the “genius” level were not found randomly among all humans, but instead concentrated in the upper classes of northern Europeans.

According to Galton, classical Greece and the England of his day possessed the highest percentage of per capita geniuses of the first class, while the Negro race had failed to produce any man of genius in all of history (1869, pp. 325–337). For Galton, genius clustered in families, and no matter how rich the social and cultural environment, a genius could never be created out of a mediocre man. Indeed, he held that the success of some English families over generations proved his hypothesis that intelligence is inherited. Although Hereditary Genius represented unsound science with an a priori bias that intelligence is hereditary, it was a useful political tool for many, and the book was reprinted many times and was an inspiration to proponents of eugenics and social Darwinism well into the twentieth century.

Added to Galton’s testing and analysis of hereditary difference was his fear that the lower races and poorer classes were breeding at a faster rate than the upper classes and higher races. Fearing a “dysgenic” trend of future genetic inferiority, he coined the term eugenics, meaning “science of the well-born,” and advocated eugenic programs that would limit the number of individuals from “defective,” and “inferior” races and classes. Galton’s ideas are linked to the origins of the eugenics movement, which sought to improve the racial stock of humans through selective mating. Indeed, some eugenics groups called themselves “Galton Societies.” Thus, Galton’s Hereditary Genius lies at the base of much of the literature that makes a false correlation among race, class, and intelligence.

Galton introduced to science the idea of the “bell curve,” around which human intelligence can be measured and interpreted along a “normal distribution.” For Galton, human intelligence varied by individuals (from geniuses to the “feebleminded” and retarded) and by groups (from the highest genius [English noblemen] to the dullest [Negroes]) along a predictable bell curve of frequency distribution. It is noteworthy that the controversial 1994 work The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, was a revival of the theories of Galton. The book opens with a reverent bow to Galton, and the authors restate Galton’s idea that some people are smarter, positing the novel racist idea that East Asians (Japanese and Chinese) are more intelligent than whites.

Galton made a number of methodological contributions to the discipline of psychology, including pioneering the development, application, and analysis of tests demonstrating hereditary differences in ability. He assumed that human intelligence is innate and can be objectively measured though the administration of tests. His intelligence tests were mainly devoted to measurement of the acuity of the senses, and they were developed and administered at the anthropometric laboratory at his South Kensington Museum, where he tested his hypotheses regarding the influence of heredity on the characteristics of related persons, particularly parents and children, twins, and brothers and sisters. From his results, he persuaded a number of educational institutions in England to keep systematic anthropometric records on their students, thus establishing the precedent for the public application of racialist data in education. By these methods, Galton created the first systematic body of data on individual differences.

Galton devised simple tests for his anthropometric lab, many of which are still in use, some in their original forms. Examples include the “Galton bar” for measuring visual discrimination of length, the “Galton whistle” for determining the ability to hear the highest audible pitch, and a test measuring muscular strength using graduated weights in order to determine kinesthetic ability. Galton believed that sensory skill is a measure of intellect. He noted, for example, that extreme mental retardates tend to be defective in their ability to discriminate cold, heat, and pain. His association of reaction time with intelligence was established with the g-factor in IQ tests. In the 1890s, Galton’s reaction-time test was applied by R. Meade Bache to three groups by race: Caucasians, American Indians, and Negroes. Bache found that Caucasians had the slowest reaction times, American Indians had the fastest, and that Negroes were in between the two. However, with science having become thoroughly racialized, Bache’s analysis interpreted that rapid reaction time is inversely related to intelligence, so the slower Caucasians were actually deemed to be smarter.

Galton innovated the study of twins, believing that observing differences between fraternal and identical twins demonstrates the significance of heredity. Biologically identical twins are destined to be alike, even if they are reared apart, whereas fraternal twins are not necessarily similar even if they are reared together. The conclusion from twins and other Galtonian studies was that heredity is more important than environment. In this respect, he influenced the racialist work of Sir Cyril Burt (1883–1971) and Edward Lee Thorndike (1874–1949), both of whom have since been discredited. Challengers of Galton, including Franz Boas (1858–1942), have emphasized the role of environmental factors, focusing the debate about race and intelligence around the relative importance of heredity and environment.

The mental tests that succeeded Galton’s reaction-time tests were originally developed by the French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857–1911), whose nonracialist interest in ability testing represented a stark contrast to Galton. Binet was unable to define or accurately measure what he called “general intelligence.” His more complex view of intelligence was more in tune with modern psychology, but he died before his view prevailed. His tests were grossly oversimplified by others and made into the first standardized intelligence tests, which were then graded according to an “intelligence quotient,” or “IQ.” “Mental age” was divided by the chronological age and multiplied by 100, with the net result being the intelligence quotient. This type of testing rested upon two basic premises: (1) intelligence can be measured objectively by tests yielding an Intelligence Quotient, or “IQ,” and (2) IQ is largely inherited, (Galton asserted that heredity accounted for 80% of performance; 60% has been alleged by Herrnstein and Murray in The Bell Curve).

Galton pioneered the application of the rating-scale and questionnaire methods, as well as “free association tests.” He developed statistical methods for the analysis of individual differences, adapting techniques previously used only by mathematicians (such as the correlation coefficient analyzing the relationship between two variables). Thus, Galton was a founder of quantitative methods in psychology. The chair in eugenics at the University of London was first held by his protégé Karl Pearson (1857– 1936), who also founded the university’s Department of Applied Statistics, reflecting the influence of his mentor.

Galton’s role in pioneering tests of ability and intelligence is still highly regarded in the field of educational and psychological testing, while his class-biased and racially motivated interpretations have yet to be thoroughly critiqued. Since the beginning of intelligence testing, calculating and ranking differences by race has been a key feature of this enterprise. It remains so to this day, along with other measures of academic potential, such as the common measure of scholastic achievement in the United States, the SATs.

SEE ALSO Eugenics, History of.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

PRIMARY WORKS

1869. Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences. London: Macmillan. (2nd ed. published in 1892).

1879. “Psychometric Experiments.” Brain 2: 149–162.

1883. Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development. London: Macmillan.

1888. “Co-relations and their Measurement, Chiefly from Anthropological Data.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 45: 135–145.

SECONDARY WORKS

Anastasi, Anne. 1988. Psychological Testing. 6th ed. New York: Macmillan.

Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn. 2006. Race and Racism: An Introduction. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

Herrnstein, Richard J., and Charles Murray. 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. New York: Free Press.

Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban

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Galton, Francis

GALTON, FRANCIS


(1822–1911)

Sir Francis Galton, scientific polymath, eugenicist, hereditarian and pioneer of statistical methodology, was born in Birmingham, England, the third son of the wealthy banker Samuel Tertius Galton, and the grandson of doctor and poet Erasmus Darwin. Galton began his scientific career, at the age of 16, as a medical student at the Birmingham Free Hospital. From there he moved to King's College London to study medicine, and to Trinity College Cambridge in 1840 to read mathematics. Achieving only a pass degree at Cambridge, due to the first of several mental breakdowns, Galton reluctantly persisted with his medical training. But, coming into a fortune on his father's death in 1844, he abandoned medicine. In 1850, after several idle years, Galton financed and led an exploratory expedition to Southwest Africa, returning in 1852. Lionized by the scientific community, he gradually established himself as one of Victorian Britain's most respected scientists.

Galton's professional energies were mostly devoted to exploring human heredity and developing means by which to study it. And, as heredity could only systematically be investigated at the population level, he made many practical contributions to population studies. Having read, and been profoundly influenced by, English naturalist Charles Darwin's (his half-cousin) The Origin of Species (1859), a decade later Galton published Hereditary Genius (1869). In this unequivocally Darwinist work, Galton collated hundreds of eminent pedigrees in an attempt to prove that high intellectual ability is largely a function of hereditary endowment. On this basis, he proposed measures to ensure that the more intelligent members of society achieved the highest rates of fertility. (Galton's own marriage, however, was childless.) Galton coined the term eugenics in 1883,in his Inquiries into Human Faculty, derived from the Greek eugenes meaning "good in stock."

Galton was among the first scientists to apply mathematical tools to the study of the inheritance of human mental and bodily traits. He began with rather rudimentary methods. However, it was his consistent fascination with variation around the population mean that later enabled him to develop the fundamental statistical techniques of both correlation and regression–procedures later systematized and more fully explicated by Galton's admirer and first biographer, the statistician Karl Pearson (1857–1936). From 1904, Galton privately financed research fellowships in statistics and eugenics at University College London, and he left money for their continuation in his will.

Galton's interest in heredity was practical as well as numerical. Collaborating with Darwin, he tested the theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics by transfusing blood among different breeds of rabbit. Galton then bred several generations of sweet-pea plants in an attempt to establish the mechanics of heredity; from his results he formulated the ancestral law of heredity, a model of inheritance later superceded by Mendelian genetics. The same fascination about heredity also stimulated his research on fingerprints (and their use in criminology), unconscious mental phenomena, variation in stature and strength, and the supposed physical indices of criminality. In addition, symptomatic of his polymathic interests, Galton made significant contributions to geography and meteorology; in 1862, he named and described the "anti-cyclone."

Galton was honored with numerous prestigious awards and was knighted in 1909. As a scientist he was idiosyncratic, utterly dedicated and, though frequently naive, often strikingly effective. His maxim was "Whenever you can, count," and his research suggests a man with an almost obsessive compulsion to do so. At the personal level, Galton suffered from an unusually low self-esteem and recurrent mental health problems. Yet, he also displayed a willingness to scandalize popular opinion, and he pushed the materialism of his fellow protagonists of Darwinism further than most would have dared.

Galton's eugenic ideas stimulated demographic research in both Europe and America. But it was his contributions to statistical methodology, made in the context of his hereditarian pursuits, that make Galton such an important figure in the history of population studies.

See also: Darwin, Charles; Eugenics; Population Thought, History of.

bibliography

selected works by francis galton.

Galton, Francis. 1869. Hereditary Genius. London: Macmillan.

——. 1883. Inquiries into Human Faculty. London: Macmillan.

——. 1889. Natural Inheritance. London: Macmillan.

selected works about francis galton.

Gillham, Nicholas W. 2001. A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pearson, Karl. 1914–1930. The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton, 3 vols. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.

John Waller

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Galton, Francis

GALTON, FRANCIS

Francis Galton (1822–1911), the scientist who created and promoted eugenics, the notion that a fitter human race might be created through selective breeding, was born near Birmingham, England, on February 16, and died in Haslemere, Surrey, England, on January 17. Originally oriented toward a medical career, Galton switched to Cambridge University to study mathematics, graduating with an ordinary degree. But his Cambridge experience was crucial to Galton's future career, during which he attempted to introduce quantitative analysis into whatever problem on which he happened to be working. His quantitative interests led Galton to discover the important statistical concepts of regression and correlation. He applied these in his anthropometric studies whose ultimate goal was to contribute to the improvement of humanity through eugenics, a term coined by Galton, that has profound ethical implications.

Galton's decision to abandon medicine was strongly influenced by his cousin, Charles Darwin (1809–1882), thirteen years his senior. They were grandsons by different marriages of Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), a physician, scientist, poet, and inventor.

Like Darwin, Galton began his career as an explorer. Several years after graduating from Cambridge, he financed his own expedition and traveled through northern Namibia, a region of Africa not previously visited by Europeans. Galton took careful measurements of latitudes, longitudes, and altitudes, published his results in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1852, and was awarded a gold medal by the Society the same year. He also wrote a nontechnical book about his journey, Tropical South Africa (1853), but is best remembered for The Art of Travel (1855), an immensely popular guidebook for amateur and professional alike who ventured into the bush. The book went through many editions, grew in size, and Phoenix Press reissued the fifth edition in 2001. Subsequently Galton was active in the Royal Geographical Society for many years commenting frequently at Society meetings. During this part of his career he also became interested in meteorology. This led to his discovery of the anticyclone, a weather feature characteristic of a high-pressure system.

The second part of Galton's career commenced when he read Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859). Galton concluded that it should be possible to improve the human race through selective breeding just as was true for domestic animals and cultivated plants. In 1865 he published a two-part article entitled "Hereditary Talent and Character" in a popular periodical called MacMillan's Magazine. The MacMillan's article was a precursor for Galton's book Hereditary Genius (1869). In both the article and the book Galton attempted to show that what he called talent and character were inherited. The book contained sections on judges and statesmen among others. Galton's thesis was that if he picked an eminent judge, for instance, that judge's immediate male relatives (e.g., father and son) were more likely to be eminent than those whose relationship was more distant (e.g., grandfather and grandson). Women were excluded from the analysis. Galton believed that analysis supported his thesis while recognizing, as others argued, that environment (for example, the father might obtain a good position for the son) might also be responsible for the correlation.

Galton was intensely interested in the analysis of quantitative data. By the time he had written Hereditary Genius he had become aware of the normal distribution and its application. In the book he used the bell curve to calculate a hypothetical distribution of the estimated 15 million males in the United Kingdom according to their natural abilities. Later Galton described two important new statistical concepts: regression and correlation. In experiments with sweet peas he found that seed diameter was normally distributed, but the diameter of seeds of progeny of large seeded and small seeded plants tended to be closer to the mean of the population as a whole than they did to the parental seed from which they had come. He dubbed this property regression to the mean. Regression to the mean has been documented over and over again since (for instance, in the case of different classes of mutual funds such as ones specializing in growth versus international stocks).

Galton also found he could draw a straight line on a graph comparing the diameters of parental and progeny seeds (Figure 1). This was the first regression line and from it he computed the first regression coefficient. Later he obtained comparable numerical data for humans (e.g., height) in the anthropometric laboratory organized at the International Health Exhibition of 1884 held in South Kensington, London. After the exhibition ended the laboratory reopened in the Science Galleries of the South Kensington Museum. Because Galton collected data on both parents and children, he once more demonstrated regression to the mean (e.g., for height).

While plotting forearm length against height he discovered another important statistical concept, correlation (i.e., tall men have long forearms). He reported the first correlation coefficient, countless numbers of which have been calculated since. Galton also became interested in fingerprints and their classification and used his anthropometric laboratory to collect scores of fingerprints. His work was central to the development of fingerprinting as a forensic technique.

Galton collected many of these important observations together in his book Natural Inheritance (1889). He began to acquire disciples. One of these, Karl Pearson (1857–1936), a superb mathematician, was able to develop statistical theory and go far beyond Galton in its formulation.

The Legacy of Eugenics

All the while Galton had been promoting eugenics. The notion that fitter people could be bred through selection began to gain great momentum in the first decade of the twentieth century. Positive eugenics envisioned the selective reproduction of those regarded as fit, while negative eugenics discouraged or prevented the reproduction of those deemed unfit. Sadly negative eugenics prevailed. In the United States eugenic sterilization laws were passed in many states leading to the involuntary sterilization of thousands of people who were thought to be mentally deficient or feebleminded. Developments in the United States were followed with interest elsewhere, especially in Germany. When the Nazis came to power they passed an involuntary sterilization law that resulted in the sterilization of hundreds of thousands of individuals. After World War II eugenic sterilization gradually came to an end. Although eugenics is Galton's unfortunate legacy, he also leaves important accomplishments such as statistics and the development of fingerprinting technology.

NICHOLAS WRIGHT GILLHAM

SEE ALSO Darwin, Charles; Eugenics.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gillham, Nicholas W. (2001a). "Sir Francis Galton and the Birth of Eugenics." Annual Review of Genetics 35: 83–101.

Gillham, Nicholas W. (2001b). A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kevles, Daniel. (1995). In the Name of Eugenics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Kühl, Stefan. (1994). The Nazi Connection. New York: Oxford University Press.

Paul, Diane B. (1995). Controlling Human Heredity:1865 to the Present. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.

Reilly, Philip R. (1991). The Surgical Solution: A History of Involuntary Sterilization in the United States. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Galton, Francis

GALTON, FRANCIS

GALTON, FRANCIS (1822–1911), English scientist and originator of the eugenics movement.

Francis Galton is best known for his origination of the eugenics movement, but he was also a versatile scientist who made diverse contributions to the fields of geography, meteorology, genetics, statistics, psychology, and criminology. Galton was born on 16 February 1822 into a wealthy family in Birmingham, England—his father a banker descended from the Quaker Barclay family (of banking fame) and his mother the daughter of the celebrated physician and poet Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) by his second wife. Galton was a half-cousin to Charles Darwin (1809–1882), whose father, Robert, was Erasmus Darwin's son by his first wife.

Although young Galton showed some signs of being a prodigy, his formal academic career was undistinguished; he started but did not complete medical training, and he failed to win honors in mathematics at Cambridge. After several years of idle drifting, he finally found purpose in active, outdoorsy pursuits and came to public prominence in the early 1850s as an African explorer. His map and geographical descriptions of present-day Namibia won him the Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal for 1853, and his book Tropical South Africa (1853) provided a more popularized account and gained him a name as a travel writer. Galton subsequently became a central figure in the Royal Geographic Society and helped plan many of the epic African exploring expeditions of the 1860s and 1870s. In 1855 Galton wrote The Art of Travel, the first extensive "how-to" book for explorers and travelers in the wild. In the late 1850s Galton had the idea to plot simultaneous barometer readings from many different European locations on a single map—thus inventing the now ubiquitous weather map.

Galton's socially most momentous work was stimulated by Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory as introduced in 1859 in On the Origin of Species. Whereas Darwin at that point emphasized the evolution of physical characteristics in animals and plants, Galton was convinced that the most important intellectual and psychological variations in humans are also inheritable, and thus constitute the main basis of future human evolution. In an extrapolation that his cousin did not completely accept, Galton argued in Hereditary Genius (1869) and Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development (1883) that human evolution could be deliberately facilitated by exercising selective breeding practices—a program that he first called "viriculture" and then, more effectively, "eugenics." This project became Galton's obsession and consuming passion for the rest of his long life.

In his efforts to place eugenics on a scientific footing, Galton originated several techniques and theories that continue to be actively used today in many different fields. One was the idea for the modern intelligence test, which Galton hoped would be a scientific measure of hereditary mental ability in young adults, so the most able could be identified and encouraged to intermarry and have many offspring. Galton's own tests measured neurophysiological functions, such as reaction time and sensory acuity, and met with little practical success. Nevertheless, his general eugenic idea remained alive and, following the development of a more effective testing approach by Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon in 1905, helped produce the continuing controversy regarding the hereditary or environmental determination of intelligence.

To measure the relative influences of "nature and nurture"—a catchphrase that Galton introduced in 1874—Galton had the idea of comparing similarities and differences between genetically identical, monozygotic twins, and nonidentical, dizygotic twins. His own, relatively simplistic study stimulated several more ambitious and sophisticated (although still somewhat inconclusive) investigations, including surveys of "separated" identical twins that continue to receive much fascinated attention. In an effort to express mathematically the relative strengths of hereditary relationships such as the similarities in height between fathers and sons, uncles and nephews, and other kinship pairs, Galton devised the basic techniques for calculating "coefficients of correlation"—a momentous statistical invention later perfected by Galton's disciple and biographer Karl Pearson (1857–1936). While searching for hereditary marks of personal individuality, Galton became interested in the subject of fingerprints and developed the first practical system of fingerprint classification according to "whorls," "loops," and "arches" that remains in general use. And at a time when most evolutionary biologists believed in the existence of at least a degree of "Lamarckian" inheritance, that is, of acquired characteristics, Galton denied that possibility in a speculative genetic theory that correctly anticipated much of the early twenty-first century's accepted wisdom about the mechanisms of inheritance.

Although he acknowledged a role for environmental influences and nurture, Galton was more interested in, and believed in the greater relative importance of, nature. His own work primarily stressed "positive" eugenics—the encouragement of a high rate of propagation by highly intelligent and able parents. Some others who followed him, however, emphasized the darker, negative side of eugenics—the discouragement or forced prevention of breeding by those deemed unfit or the products of degeneration. Thus the dark and unintended side of Galton's multifaceted legacy includes the involuntary sterilization of the retarded, restrictive immigration laws, and—at least indirectly—the enormities of Nazi genocide.

See alsoDegeneration; Eugenics; Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste; Science and Technology.

bibliography

Primary Sources

Galton, Francis. "Co-relations and Their Measurement." Proceedings of the Royal Society 45 (1888): 135–145. Famous paper introducing the method of statistical correlation.

——. Memories of My Life. London, 1908. Galton's vividly written autobiography.

Secondary Sources

Cowan, Ruth. S. "Nature and Nurture: The Interplay of Biology and Politics in the Work of Francis Galton." In Studies in the History of Biology, edited by W. Coleman and C. Limoges, vol. 1, 133–208. Baltimore, Md., 1977. A critical analysis of Galton's theories, arguing that they were strongly influenced by his conservative political inclinations.

Fancher, Raymond E. "The Measurement of Mind: Francis Galton and the Psychology of Individual Differences." In Pioneers of Psychology, by Raymond E. Fancher. 3rd ed., 216–245. New York, 1996. A summary of Galton's life and his influence on psychology.

Gillham, Nicholas Wright. A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics. Oxford, U.K., 2001.

Pearson, Karl. The Life, Letters, and Labours of Francis Galton. 3 vols. Cambridge, U.K., 1914, 1924, 1930. A massive biography written from the standpoint of Galton's major disciple, but invaluable for its detail.

Raymond E. Fancher

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