Talk:Karl Pearson

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Source of material[edit]

Much of the material for this article was taken from I requested permission to use it for Wikipedia and received the following response on Jan. 8, 2003:

Hi Sheldon,
The informations is in the public domain, and this department is proud of the achievements of Karl Pearson and other pioneering statisticians. It would be good if you used some of this information for his biographical entry in Wikpedia, provided you acknowledge the source, and/or link to our web page you cited.
Dr Tim Downie
Dept. Statistical Science
University College London
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT
Ph:+44 (0)20 7679 1855
Fax:+44 (0)20 7383 4703

For the record, the URL cited above should probably be Schutz 07:52, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Very nice article. Michael Hardy 02:07 Apr 3, 2003 (UTC)

Wife/Mother confusion[edit]

At the beginning of the article, Pearson's mother's name is Maria Pearson, née Sharpe. Later in the article Pearson's wife is named Maria Sharpe. Was ist los? 19:19, 8 September 2005 (UTC)Bruce Partington

I'll check this. She was his wife (and no relative of Granville Sharp, who even spelt his name differently).

Pearson's mother was Frances ('Fanny') Smith - who, funnily, was also Florence Nightingale's mother.

I'm looking into whether

(a) Pearson's father had an illegitimate child (b.1849)
(b) his mother was in the Retreat (mental hospital) in York, c.1885.

There seems some evidence in favour of both of the above - does anyone have any info on this?

Johnbibby 21:41, 28 October 2006 (UTC)
Johnbibby 21:41, 28 October 2006 (UTC)


What if I'm not interested in knowing the BBC's opinion of Karl Pearson? Can I be sure that he was "cold" because the BBC claims that as one of his characteristics? 17:50, 19 September 2005 (UTC)James Moriarty, Professor of Mathematics

In this strange and surprising world, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some individuals who are employed by the BBC may exhibit characteristics that seem cold and calculating. Lestrade 17:41, 22 September 2005 (UTC)Lestrade

Dead, yet has made recent controversy?[edit]

I am confused by the statement in the introduction, "Recently his advocacy of eugenics has become controversial.". This makes it sound as if he is alive still today when obviously it isn't the case. Also, I think any comments regarding his views on eugenics would need a source of citation. -- (A.szczep) 16:54, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

I noticed this and thought it sounded odd. But when you think about it, it makes sense! (Unlike some pages: "The more I look, the less I see ..." ?Lewis Carroll's Gubbermunzy??

Johnbibby 21:36, 28 October 2006 (UTC)
I disagree. I think the article definitely needs someone to copy edit it.
-- (A.szczep) 12:19, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
It is pretty clear that he advocated some form of eugenics. He was very close to Francis Galton. I'm not sure why his "advocacy of eugenics has recently become controversial". Maybe he was just forgotten for a long time? Intangible 03:37, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
I think it might be better to say: "KP advocated eugenics [citation needed], and the study of eugenics has recently become controversial"
Johnbibby 13:15, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
The study of eugenics has been pretty much controversial since its inception. Intangible 16:35, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
And if you don't know what Pearson advocated eugenics then you don't know a thing about Pearson. Eugenics has only become really controversial again since the mid 1980s (Human Genome Project re-sparked interest in it). Pearson was a eugenicist but not of the American or German sort — the British eugenicists were of a somewhat different stripe. --
I think it a misrepresentation to put the "Politics and eugenics" and "Awards" sections (what he is least known for) before the "Contributions to statistics" section (what he is most known for) - perhaps "Einstein and Pearson's work" as well. After all, he would not have a Wikipedia page without his enduring work in statistics and, as order of presentation suggests order of importance, the present order seems to stand the enduring accomplishments of the man upside down. That is, once the obligatory biographical information is out of the way, his accomplishments should follow in order of importance - chronological order of occurrence notwithstanding. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:46, 26 November 2011 (UTC)


Sorry it took five edits, but there was a lot of copyediting to do! Yellow-bellied sapsucker (talk) 23:22, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Comment on Pearson in Gosset article[edit]

Over on Wikipedia's page for William Sealy Gosset (not on the page for Pearson), we find: "Gosset was a friend of both Pearson and Fisher, an achievement, for each had a massive ego and a loathing for the other." Does anyone have any direct reference for this? Personally, I have no notion what so ever, one way or the other. Surely, such a strongly-worded assessment as "massive ego" and "loathing" calls for some referenced materials. Also, if Pearson really were such a person, if such can be documented, should not this remark pertaining to a difficult nature also be included on the page for Pearson? David Corliss (talk) 04:13, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Such comments are general for both Pearson and Fisher. (Even Egon Pearson's biography recognises it for KP.) No problem about including it on both pages.

Johnbibby (talk) 12:17, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Did he visit Vienna?[edit]

I think the article is in error here - Not sure he ever visited Vienna - Porter says he was due to do so, to visit Gee, but changed his mind

Johnbibby (talk) 20:48, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Was he a Quaker?[edit]

I know that lots of sources state that KP was brought up as a Quaker. But what is the _evidence_? The article also states he was a Quaker 'until 1889'. Again - what is the evidence?

Johnbibby (talk) 20:50, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Position of the Family Memorial Image in the Article[edit]

The image which shows the Pearson Family Memorial at the end of the article, is misplaced in my opinion. And i think it should be placed along side peorson family section. However, I do not know how to change the position of a picture. Would someone kindly adjust the position of the image.Sajjad Arif (talk) 00:54, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

Done. But as it says on my user page, I'm blind, so I don't know if it looks any good. If it looks horrendous now, somebody will surely come by and fix it. Graham87 03:28, 14 November 2010 (UTC)
I've removed it completely, as it was a poor quality photo of an unremarkable Victorian obelisk-style memorial in Crambe churchyard to Pearsons named Richard, Sarah, Thomas (all three died in 1859) and Elizabeth (died 1882), none of whom are mentioned in this article. Qwfp (talk) 08:30, 14 November 2010 (UTC)