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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Francis Galton

Born 16 February 1822(1822-02-16)
Birmingham, England
Died 17 January 1911 (aged 88)
Haslemere, Surrey, England
Residence England
Nationality British
Fields Anthropologist and polymath
Institutions Meteorological Council
Royal Geographical Society
Alma mater King's College London
Cambridge University
Doctoral advisor William Hopkins
Doctoral students Karl Pearson
Known for Eugenics
The Galton board
Regression toward the mean
Standard deviation
Weather map
Notable awards Linnean Society of London's Darwin–Wallace Medal in 1908.
Copley medal (1910)

Sir Francis Galton FRS (16 February 1822 – 17 January 1911), cousin of Sir Douglas Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English Victorian polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. He was knighted in 1909.

Galton had a prolific intellect, and produced over 340 papers and books throughout his lifetime. He also created the statistical concept of correlation and widely promoted regression toward the mean. He was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for his anthropometric studies.

He was a pioneer in eugenics,which was his theory to improve reproduction by controlling it, coining the very term itself and the phrase "nature versus nurture." As an investigator of the human mind, he founded psychometrics (the science of measuring mental faculties) and differential psychology. He devised a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science.

As the initiator of scientific meteorology, he devised the first weather map, proposed a theory of anticyclones, and was the first to establish a complete record of short-term climatic phenomena on a European scale.[1] He also invented the Galton Whistle for testing differential hearing ability.




Early life

He was born at "The Larches", a large house in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, built on the site of "Fair Hill", the former home of Joseph Priestley, which the botanist William Withering had renamed. He was Charles Darwin's half-cousin, sharing the common grandparent Erasmus Darwin. His father was Samuel Tertius Galton, son of Samuel "John" Galton. The Galtons were famous and highly successful Quaker gun-manufacturers and bankers, while the Darwins were distinguished in medicine and science.

Both families boasted Fellows of the Royal Society and members who loved to invent in their spare time. Both Erasmus Darwin and Samuel Galton were founder members of the famous Lunar Society of Birmingham, whose members included Boulton, Watt, Wedgwood, Priestley, Edgeworth, and other distinguished scientists and industrialists. Likewise, both families boasted literary talent, with Erasmus Darwin notorious for composing lengthy technical treatises in verse, and Aunt Mary Anne Galton known for her writing on aesthetics and religion, and her notable autobiography detailing the unique environment of her childhood populated by Lunar Society members.

Portrait of Galton by Octavius Oakley, 1840

Galton was by many accounts a child prodigy — he was reading by the age of 2, at age 5 he knew some Greek, Latin and long division, and by the age of six he had moved on to adult books, including Shakespeare for pleasure, and poetry, which he quoted at length (Bulmer 2003, p. 4). Later in life, Galton would propose a connection between genius and insanity based on his own experience. He stated, “Men who leave their mark on the world are very often those who, being gifted and full of nervous power, are at the same time haunted and driven by a dominant idea, and are therefore within a measurable distance of insanity” [2]

He attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, but chafed at the narrow classical curriculum, and left at 16.[3] His parents pressed him to enter the medical profession, and he studied for two years at Birmingham General Hospital and King's College, London Medical School. He followed this up with mathematical studies at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, from 1840 to early 1844.[4]

A severe nervous breakdown altered his original intention to try for honours. He elected instead to take a "poll" (pass) B.A. degree, like his half-cousin Charles Darwin (Bulmer 2003, p. 5). (Following the Cambridge custom, he was awarded an M.A. without further study, in 1847). He then briefly resumed his medical studies. The death of his father in 1844 left him financially independent but emotionally destitute, and he terminated his medical studies entirely, turning to foreign travel, sport and technical invention.

In his early years Galton was an enthusiastic traveller, and made a notable solo trip through Eastern Europe to Constantinople, before going up to Cambridge. In 1845 and 1846 he went to Egypt and travelled down the Nile to Khartoum in the Sudan, and from there to Beirut, Damascus and down the Jordan. In 1850 he joined the Royal Geographical Society, and over the next two years mounted a long and difficult expedition into then little-known South West Africa (now Namibia).

He wrote a successful book on his experience, "Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa". He was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's gold medal in 1853 and the Silver Medal of the French Geographical Society for his pioneering cartographic survey of the region (Bulmer 2003, p. 16). This established his reputation as a geographer and explorer. He proceeded to write the best-selling The Art of Travel, a handbook of practical advice for the Victorian on the move, which went through many editions and still reappears in print today.

Middle years

Galton was a polymath who made important contributions in many fields of science, including meteorology (the anti-cyclone and the first popular weather maps), statistics (regression and correlation), psychology (synaesthesia), biology (the nature and mechanism of heredity), and criminology (fingerprints). Much of this was influenced by his penchant for counting or measuring. Galton prepared the first weather map published in The Times (1 April 1875, showing the weather from the previous day, 31 March), now a standard feature in newspapers worldwide.[5]

He became very active in the British Association for the Advancement of Science, presenting many papers on a wide variety of topics at its meetings from 1858 to 1899 (Bulmer 2003, p. 29). He was the general secretary from 1863 to 1867, president of the Geographical section in 1867 and 1872, and president of the Anthropological Section in 1877 and 1885. He was active on the council of the Royal Geographical Society for over forty years, in various committees of the Royal Society, and on the Meteorological Council.

Heredity, historiometry and eugenics

Galton in his later years

The publication by his cousin Charles Darwin of The Origin of Species in 1859 was an event that changed Galton's life. He came to be gripped by the work, especially the first chapter on "Variation under Domestication" concerning the breeding of domestic animals. An interesting fact, not widely known, is that Galton was present to hear the famous 1860 Oxford evolution debate at the British Association. The evidence for this comes from his wife Louisa's Annual Record for 1860.[6]

Galton devoted much of the rest of his life to exploring variation in human populations and its implications, at which Darwin had only hinted. In doing so, he eventually established a research programme which embraced many aspects of human variation, from mental characteristics to height, from facial images to fingerprint patterns. This required inventing novel measures of traits, devising large-scale collection of data using those measures, and in the end, the discovery of new statistical techniques for describing and understanding the data.

Galton was interested at first in the question of whether human ability was hereditary, and proposed to count the number of the relatives of various degrees of eminent men. If the qualities were hereditary, he reasoned, there should be more eminent men among the relatives than among the general population. He obtained his data from various biographical sources and compared the results that he tabulated in various ways. This pioneering work was described in detail in his book [7] in 1869. He showed, among other things, that the numbers of eminent relatives dropped off when going from the first degree to the second degree relatives, and from the second degree to the third. He took this as evidence of the inheritance of abilities. He also proposed adoption studies, including trans-racial adoption studies, to separate out the effects of heredity and environment.

The method used in Hereditary Genius has been described as the first example of historiometry. To bolster these results, and to attempt to make a distinction between 'nature' and 'nurture' (he was the first to apply this phrase to the topic), he devised a questionnaire that he sent out to 190 Fellows of the Royal Society. He tabulated characteristics of their families, such as birth order and the occupation and race of their parents. He attempted to discover whether their interest in science was 'innate' or due to the encouragements of others. The studies were published as a book, English men of science: their nature and nurture, in 1874. In the end, it promoted the nature versus nurture question, though it did not settle it, and provided some fascinating data on the sociology of scientists of the time.

Galton recognized the limitations of his methods in these two works, and believed the question could be better studied by comparisons of twins. His method was to see if twins who were similar at birth diverged in dissimilar environments, and whether twins dissimilar at birth converged when reared in similar environments. He again used the method of questionnaires to gather various sorts of data, which were tabulated and described in a paper The history of twins in 1875. In so doing he anticipated the modern field of behavior genetics, which relies heavily on twin studies. He concluded that the evidence favored nature rather than nurture.

Galton invented the term eugenics in 1883 and set down many of his observations and conclusions in a book, Inquiries into human faculty and its development.[8] He believed that a scheme of 'marks' for family merit should be defined, and early marriage between families of high rank be encouraged by provision of monetary incentives. He pointed out some of the tendencies in British society, such as the late marriages of eminent people, and the paucity of their children, which he thought were dysgenic. He advocated encouraging eugenic marriages by supplying able couples with incentives to have children.

Galton's study of human abilities ultimately led to the foundation of differential psychology and the formulation of the first mental tests.

Galton also devised a technique called composite photography, described in detail in Inquiries in human faculty and its development, which he believed could be used to identify types by appearance. He hoped his technique would aid medical diagnosis, and even criminology through the identification of typical criminal faces. However, he was forced to conclude after exhaustive experimentation that such types were not attainable in practice.

Joseph Jacobs

In the 1880s while the Jewish scholar Joseph Jacobs studied anthropology and statistics with Francis Galton, he asked Galton to create a composite of a Jewish type.[9]

Pangenesis experiments on rabbits

Galton conducted wide-ranging inquiries into heredity which led him to refute Charles Darwin's hypothetical theory of pangenesis. Darwin had proposed as part of this hypothesis that certain particles, which he called "gemmules" moved throughout the body and were also responsible for the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Galton, in consultation with Darwin, set out to see if they were transported in the blood. In a long series of experiments in 1869 to 1871, he transfused the blood between dissimilar breeds of rabbits, and examined the features of their offspring.[10] He found no evidence of characters transmitted in the transfused blood (Bulmer 2003, pp. 116–118).

Darwin challenged the validity of Galton's experiment, giving his reasons in an article published in Nature where he wrote:

"Now, in the chapter on Pangenesis in my Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication I have not said one word about the blood, or about any fluid proper to any circulating system. It is, indeed, obvious that the presence of gemmules in the blood can form no necessary part of my hypothesis; for I refer in illustration of it to the lowest animals, such as the Protozoa, which do not possess blood or any vessels; and I refer to plants in which the fluid, when present in the vessels, cannot be considered as true blood." He goes on to admit: "Nevertheless, when I first heard of Mr. Galton's experiments, I did not sufficiently reflect on the subject, and saw not the difficulty of believing in the presence of gemmules in the blood."[11]

Galton explicitly rejected the idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (Lamarckism), and was an early proponent of "hard heredity" through selection alone. He came close to rediscovering Mendel's particulate theory of inheritance, but was prevented from making the final breakthrough in this regard because of his focus on continuous, rather than discrete, traits (now known as polygenic traits). He went on to found the Biometric approach to the study of heredity, distinguished by its use of statistical techniques to study continuous traits and population-scale aspects of heredity.

This approach was later taken up enthusiastically by Karl Pearson and W.F.R. Weldon; together, they founded the highly influential journal Biometrika in 1901. (R.A. Fisher would later show how the biometrical approach could be reconciled with the Mendelian approach.) The statistical techniques that Galton invented (correlation, regression — see below) and phenomena he established (regression to the mean) formed the basis of the biometric approach and are now essential tools in all the social sciences.

Statistics, standard deviation, regression and correlation

His inquiries into the mind involved detailed recording of subjects' own explanations for whether and how their minds dealt with things such as mental imagery, which he elicited by his pioneering use of the questionnaire. In the late 1860s, Galton conceived the standard deviation.[12]

Galton invented the use of the regression line (Bulmer 2003, p. 184), and was the first to describe and explain the common phenomenon of regression toward the mean, which he first observed in his experiments on the size of the seeds of successive generations of sweet peas. In the 1870s and 1880s he was a pioneer in the use of normal distribution to fit histograms of actual tabulated data. He invented the Quincunx, a pachinko-like device, also known as the bean machine, as a tool for demonstrating the law of error and the normal distribution (Bulmer 2003, p. 4). He also discovered the properties of the bivariate normal distribution and its relationship to regression analysis.

In 1906 Galton visited a livestock fair and stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal's weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 gave it a go and, not surprisingly, not one hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Astonishingly, however, the mean of those 800 guesses came close — very close indeed. It was 1,197 pounds.[13][14].

After examining forearm and height measurements, Galton introduced the concept of correlation in 1888 (Bulmer 2003, pp. 191–196). Correlation is the term used by Aristotle in his studies of animal classification, and later and most notably by Cuvier in Histoire des Progres des Sciences naturelles depuis (1789). Correlation originated in the study of correspondence as described in the study of morphology. See R.S. Russell, Form and Function. Galton's later statistical study of the probability of extinction of surnames led to the concept of Galton–Watson stochastic processes (Bulmer 2003, pp. 182–184).

He also developed early theories of ranges of sound and hearing, and collected large quantities of anthropometric data from the public through his popular and long-running Anthropometric Laboratory. It was not until 1985 that these data were analyzed in their entirety.


In a Royal Institution paper in 1888 and three books (1892, 1893 and 1895) Galton estimated the probability of two persons having the same fingerprint and studied the heritability and racial differences in fingerprints. He wrote about the technique (inadvertently sparking a controversy between Herschel and Faulds that was to last until 1917), identifying common pattern in fingerprints and devising a classification system that survives to this day.

The method of identifying criminals by their fingerprints had been introduced in the 1860s by Sir William James Herschel in India, and their potential use in forensic work was first proposed by Dr Henry Faulds in 1880, but Galton was the first to place the study on a scientific footing, which assisted its acceptance by the courts (Bulmer 2003, p. 35). Galton pointed out that there were specific types of fingerprint patterns. He described and classified them into eight broad categories. 1 plain arch, 2 tented arch, 3 simple loop, 4 central pocket loop, 5 double loop, 6 lateral pocket loop, 7 plain whorl, and 8 accidental.[15]

Final years

In an effort to reach a wider audience, Galton worked on a novel entitled Kantsaywhere from May until December 1910. The novel described a utopia organized by a eugenic religion, designed to breed fitter and smarter humans. His unpublished notebooks show that this was an expansion of material he had been composing since at least 1901. He offered it to Methuen for publication, but they showed little enthusiasm. Galton wrote to his niece that it should be either “smothered or superseded”. His niece appears to have burnt most of the novel, offended by the love scenes, but large fragments survive.[16]

Correlations and Regressions


SIR--I do not join in the belief that the African is our equal in brain or in heart; I do not think that the average negro cares for his liberty as much as an Englishman, or even as a serf-born Russian; and I believe that if we can, in any fair way, possess ourselves of his services, we have an equal right to utilize them to our advantage as the State has to drill and coerce a recruit who in a moment of intoxication has accepted the Queen's shilling, or as a shopkeeper to order about a boy whose parents had bound him over to an apprenticeship. I say an equal right, because if soldiers were abased and degraded by their profession, or if the duties of an apprentice tended to make him a worthless member of society, it would be an iniquitous exercise of tyranny to take advantage of the position of these persons to their manifest injury. But when the soldier is taught self-respect, and is made into a nobler man than he could have become if left in his village, and if the apprentice is trained into a useful member of an industrious class, there can be no just complaint of tyranny. These persons are simply treated as children by their masters, and compelled to do what they dislike for their future good and for that of society at large.

Therefore, Sir, I say, with regard to these negroes, if we can by any legitimate, or even quasi-legitimate means, possess ourselves of a right to their services, and if we can insure that our mastership shall elevate them, and not degrade them, by all means work them well; but in proportion as we cannot act favourably upon them our interference becomes a curse to the Africans. It is often argued, 'let us not be too curious about the antecedents of the negroes, who are collected by the native chiefs (of course for a 'consideration') as candidates for free emigration. Very likely they may be captured for this express purpose, but what of that? Africans are always fighting, and have no notion of personal liberty, and if the conquerors choose to sell their prisoners instead of keeping them as slaves, why should we abstain from buying?' To this I reply that the disorganization induced into the whole of African society under the temptations of the slave trade is something truly frightful....Most earnestly, therefore, do I deprecate an action on our part which, directly or indirectly, in the slightest degree would reintroduce a sale of negroes. The peaceful habits which have slowly been fostered among many African tribes would be swept away in a moment under the pressure of a temptation they were not strong enough to bear. What, then, is to be our course? I cannot believe that it is impossible for an African to enter our service in the colonies without being degraded like those in America. Let the philanthropists show how we can act justly towards our blacks when we get them.

Now, as to how they are to be got. I do not at all think that adequate attempts have ever been made to obtain a free African immigration. The number of recruits depend on the skill of the recruiting officer. We must ingratiate ourselves more with the African tribes generally. As it is, those a few days' journey from the coast know little or nothing of us. You are doubtless aware, Sir, that the generally spread belief concerning the whites is that they buy slaves in order to carry them across sea, and there to eat them. It will require time to disabuse the native minds of these kinds of notions, but I fully believe it is to be done, and that by a consistent and judicious political action we may make our service respected, if not actually sought after; and that by watching the turn of events and taking advantage of great national suffering, such as that the Caffres are now labouring under we may succeed in deporting vast numbers of Africans to colonies where they will do us good service, and in which we shall not have to reproach ourselves with neglecting our duty towards them.

The Promotion of Eugenics, [London] TIMES, 15 Oct 1908:4

The Eugenics Education Society held their monthly meeting yesterday at the Grafton Galleries. Mr. M. Crackanthorpe, K.C., presided. Mr. FRANCIS GALTON, F.R.S., in the course of a lecture on 'Local Associations for Promoting Eugenics,' said that he proposed to submit some views of his own relating to that large province of eugenics which was concerned with favouring the families of those who were exceptionally fitted for citizenship, and he should leave out of sight what had been well termed by Dr. Saleeby 'negative' eugenics, namely that which was concerned with hindering the marriages and the production of offspring by the unfit. The latter was unquestionably the more pressing subject of the two, but it would be forced on the attention of the Legislature by the recent report of the Royal Commission on the Feeble-Minded. They might be content to await the discussions to which it would give rise, and which the members of that society would follow with keen interest and with readiness to intervene when what might be advanced seemed likely to result in action of an anti-eugenic character.

The successful establishment of any general system of constructive eugenics would, in his view, depend largely upon the efforts of local associations, acting in close harmony with a central society like their own. A prominent part of its business would then consist in affording opportunities for the interchange of ideas and for the registration and comparison of results. The committee would next provide, with the aid of the Central Society, a few sensible lectures to be given on eugenics, including the ABC of heredity. They would seek the cooperation of local medical men, clergy, and lawyers, sanitary authorities and all officials whose administrative duties brought them into contact with various classes of society, and they would endeavour to collect round this nucleus that portion of the local community which was likely to be brought into sympathy with the eugenic cause. The inquiries of the committee, when they were considering the names of strangers to whom invitations ought to be sent, would put them in possession of a large fund of information concerning the notable qualities of many individuals in their district and their family histories. These family histories should be utilized for eugenic studies, and it should be the duty of the local council to cause them to be tabulated in an orderly way, and to communicate the more significant of them to the central society.

The chief of the notable qualities was the possession of what he would briefly call by the general name of 'worth.' By this he meant the civic worthiness, or the value to the State of a person, as it would probably be assessed by experts, or, say, by such of his fellow-workers as had earned the respect of the community in the midst of which they lived. Thus the worth of soldiers would be such as it would be rated by respected soldiers, students by students, business men by business men, artists by artists, and so on. The State was a vastly complex organism, and the hope of obtaining a proportional representation of its best parts should be an avowed object of issuing invitations to these gatherings. The power of social opinion was apt to be rather under-rated than over-rated. Like the atmosphere which we breathed and by which we lived, social opinion operated powerfully without our being conscious of its existence. Everybody knew that governments, manners, and beliefs which were thought to be right, decorous, and true at one period had been judged wrong, indecorous, and false at another, and that views which they had heard expressed by those in authority in their childhood and early manhood tended to become axiomatic and unchangeable in mature life. In circumscribed communities especially, social approval and disapproval exerted a potent force. Its presence was only too easily read by everybody who was the object of either, in the countenances, bearing, and manner of those with whom they met and conversed daily.

Was it, then, too much to expect that when a public opinion in favour of eugenics had once taken sure hold of such communities, and had been accepted by them as a quasi-religion, the result would be manifested in sundry and very effective modes of action which were as yet untried, and many of which were even unforeseen? He looked forward to eugenic action in numerous directions, including the accumulation of considerable funds to start young couples of 'worthy' qualities in their married life, and to assist them and their families at critical times. The gifts to those who were the reverse of 'worthy' were enormous in amount. It was stated that the charitable donations in 1907 amounted to L4,868, 050. He was not prepared to say how much of this was judiciously spent; he merely quoted the figures to justify the inference that many of the thousands of persons who were willing to give freely at the prompting of a sentiment based upon compassion, might be persuaded to give largely also in response to a more virile sentiment, based on the desire of promoting the natural gifts and the national efficiency of future generations.

Honours and impact

Over the course of his career Galton received many major awards, including the Copley medal of the Royal Society (1910). He received in 1853 the highest award from the Royal Geographical Society, one of two gold medals awarded that year, for his explorations and map-making of southwest Africa. He was elected a member of the prestigious Athenaeum Club in 1855 and made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1860. His autobiography also lists the following:[17]

  • Silver Medal, French Geographical Society (1854)
  • Gold Medal of the Royal Society (1886)
  • Officier de l'Instruction Publique, France (1891)
  • D.C.L. Oxford (1894)
  • Sc.D. (Honorary), Cambridge (1895)
  • Huxley Medal, Anthropological Institute (1901)
  • Elected Hon. Fellow Trinity College, Cambridge (1902)
  • Darwin Medal, Royal Society (1902)
  • Linnean Society of London's Darwin–Wallace Medal (1908)

Galton was knighted in 1909. His statistical heir Karl Pearson, first holder of the Galton Chair of Eugenics at University College London, wrote a three-volume biography of Galton, in four parts, after his death (Pearson 1914, 1924, 1930). The eminent psychometrician Lewis Terman estimated that his childhood I.Q. was on the order of 200, based on the fact that he consistently performed mentally at roughly twice his chronological age (Forrest 1974). (This follows the original definition of IQ as mental age divided by chronological age, rather than the modern distribution-deviate definition.)

The flowering plant genus Galtonia was named in his honour.

See also


  1. ^ Francis Galton (1822–1911) – from Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography
  2. ^ Pearson, K. (1914). The life, letters and labours of Francis Galton (4 vols.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography accessed 31 Jan 2010
  4. ^ Galton, Francis in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Forrest DW 1974. Francis Galton: the life and work of a Victorian genius. Elek, London. p84
  7. ^ Hereditary Genius
  8. ^ Inquiries into human faculty and its development by Francis Galton
  9. ^ Daniel Akiva Novak. Realism, photography, and nineteenth-century Cambridge University Press, 2008 ISBN 0521885256
  10. ^ Science Show — 25/11/00: Sir Francis Galton
  11. ^
  12. ^ Sir Francis Galton discovered the standard deviation
  13. ^
  14. ^ Schell, Barbara A Boyt (2007). Clinical And Professional Reasoning In Occupational Therapy. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 372. ISBN 0781759145. 
  15. ^ Innes, Brian (2005). Body in Question: Exploring the Cutting Edge in Forensic Science. New York: Amber Books. pp. 32–33. ISBN 1904687423. 
  16. ^ Life of Francis Galton by Karl Pearson Vol 3a : image 470
  17. ^ Galton, Francis (1909). Memories of My Life:. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company. 

Further reading

  • Bulmer, Michael (2003), Francis Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-7403-3 
  • Ewen, Stuart and Elizabeth Ewen (2006; 2008) "Nordic Nightmares," pp. 257–325 in Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality, Seven Stories Press. ISBN 978-1583227350
  • Forrest, D.W (1974), Francis Galton: The Life and Work of a Victorian Genius, Taplinger, ISBN 0-8008-2682-5 
  • Galton, Francis (1909). Memories of My Life:. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company. 
  • Gillham, Nicholas Wright (2001). A Life of Sir Francis Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514365-5
  • Pearson, Karl (1914, 1924, 1930), The life, letters and labours of Francis Galton (3 vols.), 
  • Daniëlle Posthuma, Eco J. C. De Geus, Wim F. C. Baaré, Hilleke E. Hulshoff Pol, René S. Kahn & Dorret I. Boomsma (2002), "The association between brain volume and intelligence is of genetic origin", Nature Neuroscience 5: 83–84, doi:10.1038/nn0202-83 
  • Quinche, Nicolas, Crime, Science et Identité. Anthologie des textes fondateurs de la criminalistique européenne (1860–1930). Genève: Slatkine, 2006, 368p., passim.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

A nation need not be a mob of slaves, clinging to one another through fear, and for the most part incapable of self-government, and begging to be led; but it might consist of vigorous self-reliant men, knit to one another by innumerable ties, into a strong, tense, and elastic organisation.

Sir Francis Galton F.R.S. (16 February 182217 January 1911), was an English Victorian polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. He was a half-cousin of Charles Darwin.


  • One of the effects of civilization is to diminish the rigour of the application of the law of natural selection. It preserves weakly lives that would have perished in barbarous lands.
    • "Hereditary Talent and Character" in MacMillan's Magazine Vol. XII (May - October 1865), p. 326.
  • There is a steady check in an old civilisation upon the fertility of the abler classes: the improvident and unambitious are those who chiefly keep up the breed. So the race gradually deteriorates, becoming in each successive generation less fit for a high civilisation.
    • Hereditary Genius (1869), p. 414
  • I have already spoken in Hereditary Genius of the large effects of religious persecution in comparatively recent years, on the natural character of races, and shall not say more about it here; but it must not be omitted from the list of steady influences continuing through ancient historical times down, in some degree, to the present day, in destroying the self-reliant, and therefore the nobler races of men.
    • Inquiries Into Human Faculty and Its Development (1883), p. 80
  • A really intelligent nation might be held together by far stronger forces than are derived from the purely gregarious instincts. A nation need not be a mob of slaves, clinging to one another through fear, and for the most part incapable of self-government, and begging to be led; but it might consist of vigorous self-reliant men, knit to one another by innumerable ties, into a strong, tense, and elastic organisation.
    • Inquiries Into Human Faculty and Its Development (1883), p. 80

External links

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Simple English

Francis Galton
Francis Galton
Born16 February 1822(1822-02-16)
Birmingham, England
DiedJanuary 17, 1911 (aged 88)
Haslemere, Surrey, England
FieldAnthropology and heredity
InstitutionsMeteorological Council
Royal Geographical Society
Alma materKing's College London
Cambridge University
Academic advisor  William Hopkins
Notable students  Karl Pearson
Known forEugenics
The Galton board
Notable prizesCopley medal (1910)

Sir Francis Galton FRS (Birmingham, 16 February 1822 – Surrey, 17 January 1911), half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English scientist. His main field of work was human biology and inheritance of mental characteristics.

Galton was a polymath: an anthropologist, a eugenicist, a tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. He was knighted in 1909.

Galton produced over 340 papers and books in his lifetime. He created the statistical concepts of normal distribution, correlation and regression toward the mean. He was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence.

He was the first person to do twin studies. His method was to trace twins through their life-history, making many kinds of measurement. Unfortunately, though he knew about monozygotic (identical twins) and dizygotic twins, he did not appreciate the real genetic difference.[1][2] Twin studies of the modern kind did not appear until the 1920s.

He also introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys to collect data on human communities. He needed such data for genealogical and biographical works and for his anthropometric studies. He was a pioneer in eugenics, coining the very term itself and the phrase "nature versus nurture". As an investigator of the human mind, he founded psychometrics (the science of measuring mental faculties) and differential psychology.

Galton created a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science. As the initiator of scientific meteorology,[3] he devised the first weather map,[4] proposed a theory of anticyclones, and was the first to establish a complete record of short-term climatic phenomena on a European scale.[5] He also invented the Galton Whistle for testing differential hearing ability.

Books by Galton

  • 1853 Narrative of an explorer in tropical South Africa.
  • 1855. The art of travel, or shifts and contrivances available in wild countries. Murray, London.
  • 1869 [2nd ed 1892]. Hereditary genius: its laws and consequences. Macmillan, London.
  • 1874. English men of science: their nature and nature.
  • 1883. Inquiries into human faculty and its development. Macmillan, London.
  • 1884. Record of family faculties. Macmillan, London.
  • 1889. Natural inheritance. Macmillan, London.
  • 1892. Fingerprints. Macmillan, London.
  • 1893. Decipherment of blurred finger prints.
  • 1895. Fingerprint directories.
  • 1909. Memories of my life. Macmillan, London.
  • 1909. Noteworthy families. Murray, London.


  1. Bulmer M. 2000. Francis Galton, pioneer of heredity and biometry. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore MD. p67
  2. Galton F. 1875. The history of twins, as a criterion of the relative powers of nature and nurture. J. Anthropological Inst. 5, 329–348.
  3. Galton F. 1863. Meteorographica. Macmillan, London.
  4. Francis Galton, meteorologist: [1]
  5. Francis Galton (1822-1911) - from Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography


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