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Francis Galton coined the term eugenics in 1883

Eugenics, from the Greek word Eu-genes, which means “well-born or of good stock”, In 1869 was the name given to the work produced by scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911).

A life of Sir Francis Galton: From African exploration to the birth of eugenics.

Quetelet had, in fact, made one of the earliest attempts to fit a set of observational data to a normal curve in 1840, which Francis Galton began to use in 1863. Wilhelm Lexis devised the Lexican Ratio L as a goodness of fit test to determine if an empirical distribution conformed to the normal distribution, whilst Francis Ysidro Edgeworth provided a goodness of fit test in 1887 that was based on a normal approximation to the binomial distribution. Though many other nineteenth century scientists attempted to find a goodness of fit test, such as the American statistician, Erasmus Lyman de Forest, and the Italian mathematician, Luigi Perozzo, they did not give any underlying theoretical basis for their formulas, which Pearson managed to do

Francis Galton - Eugenics Archive

Francis Galton stated in his Essays in Eugenics that he wished to influence

Eugenics was first defined in the late 1800s by a man named Sir Francis Galton who said that it was basically the study of traits that will cause an advantage or disadvantage in the traits of future generations.

First dubbed by Francis Galton in the 1880’s, the word Eugenics stemmed from the words “good” and “generation.” (Eugenics-Meanings) Eugenics means the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population.

Get this from a library! Essays in eugenics. [Francis Galton]

"Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims" by Francis Galton

Francis Galton was born, in 1822, into a wealthy and influential English family. Through his mother's line, he was a cousin to Charles Darwin and related by marriage to the notable Wedgwood pottery family. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was a founder of the Lunar Society, whose membership included many of the great scientific thinkers of his day, including Josiah Wedgwood, James Watt, and Joseph Priestly.

Galton exhibited his curious intellectual ability early in life — he could read by the age of three, knew the Iliad and Odyssey by heart at age six, and wrote his own will at age eight. After an undistinguished academic career at King's College and Cambridge, his travelogue of a two-year expedition to Tropical South Africa (1853), followed by his advice on travel to wild places, Art of Travel (1855), secured his reputation as a naturalist. His work was recognized by a prestigious Founder's Medal from the Royal Geographical Society and election as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1856.

Galton's eugenics work occupied the second half of his life. His interest in the habitability of "noble" traits sprang at least partly from the qualities he saw in his own extended Galton-Darwin-Wedgwood family. His first observations were published in Macmillan's Magazine (1865), and his complete thesis was presented in Hereditary Genius (1869). Using information from biographical dictionaries and alumni records at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Galton investigated the families of notable British judges and statesmen. He concluded that superior intelligence and abilities were inherited with an efficiency of about 20% among primary relatives in these families. He also extended this analysis to "the kindred of the most illustrious Commanders, men of Literature and of Science, Poets, Painters, and Musicians, of whom history speaks."

Like his contemporary, the French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon, Galton was highly interested in anthropometry — the measurement of human physical attributes. His interest in fingerprints grew out of his attempts to determine whether mental characteristics could be determined from facial features. This involved "blending" photographic exposures of several individuals to make a composite portrait, which was representative of a group of people. For example, he created composite portraits of family members, Jews, scientists, criminals, and even Roman women (from ancient coins). Although the use of fingerprinting for personal identification had been proposed before, Galton's 1890 publication actually categorized the important fingerprint characteristics that could be compared between people. In fact, it was the system developed by Edward Henry some years later that had became the legal standard when the Central Fingerprint Branch of Scotland Yard was established in 1901.

Galton's quantitative analyses of human traits led him to develop statistical tools for comparing different population groups. However, Galton's treatment of mathematics was not rigorous; it was collaboration with Karl Pearson that formalized the basis of modern statistics — including chi-square, regression, and correlation.

Only in the last few years of his life did Galton begin to promote eugenics. His lectures at the Royal Anthropological Institute (1901) and at the London School of Economics (1904), as well as his unpublished moral fantasy Kantsaywhere, laid out a vision of eugenics employed for the benefit of a privileged class. He died in 1911, leaving the British movement to emphasize his concept of the voluntary improvement of a family's genetic endowment, which became known as "positive eugenics."

Though Pearson was to find himself on the threshold of creating a new kind of statistics at the end of 1891, it was not until Weldon asked him for his advice on the data from his Naples crabs in 1892 that Pearson’s early statistical ideas came to fruition. When Weldon was a student at UCL, before going up to Cambridge to read zoology, he acquired a respectable knowledge of mathematics from Pearson’s predecessor, Olaus Henrici, whose emphasis on the use of graphical methods to teach mathematics, may have shaped Weldon’s use of graphical procedures when analysing some of his statistical data in the early 1890s. This also may have helped foster his symbiotic relationship with Pearson who used geometry as a heuristic device to teach statistics. From 1892 to 1897, Weldon and his wife Florence travelled during the summer holidays to Guernsey, Rome, the south of France and the Bahamas to collect marine biological data. Before moving to London from Cambridge, in the autumn of 1889 to take up his new post in the Jodrell Chair of Zoology at UCL, Weldon went to Plymouth that summer to collect data on marine organisms and he began to use Galton’s statistical methods after he read Natural Inheritance. Weldon had first met Galton in Swansea some nine years earlier at the annual meeting of British Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Francis galton essays on eugenics Sylvia plath essays

Pearson also established the professional accoutrements necessary to establish and to institutionalise the new discipline of mathematical statistics: with Weldon he founded Biometrika in November 1900, he established the Drapers’ Biometric Laboratory in 1903, and set up the first-ever degree course in mathematical statistics in 1917. Largely due to Weldon assistance, and later that of his many students, including George Udny Yule and William Sealy Gosset (or Student) as well as Francis Galton, Pearson was able to firmly establish the new discipline of mathematical statistics in the early years of the twentieth century, which provided the foundations for such statisticians as Ronald A. Fisher to make further advancements in the development of the modern theory of mathematic statistics.

Eugenics Archive: Francis Galton carte de visite portrait, s

In the last set of his Gresham lectures in May 1894, Pearson discussed various procedures for goodness of fit testing for asymmetrical curves. He introduced his second measure of a goodness of fit test at UCL in the spring of 1894, which he thought provided a ‘fairly reasonable measure of a goodness of fit’. He continued to work on improving this method throughout the 1890s until he devised his chi-square goodness of fit test in 1900. However, before he reached this solution in 1900, his work was interrupted by Francis Galton who needed some help with correlation. The interruption proved beneficial, as Pearson was able to expand the corpus of his statistical methods; he went on to devise 22 methods of correlation of which 11 continue to be used today.

Eugenics Archive: Francis Galton, portrait by Charles Wellin

For a recent account see Michael Bulmer. Francis Galton:: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003)

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