Talk:Francis Galton

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Francis Galton:

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I have the Darwin family tree done in PowerPoint. Please post on my talk page to request changes or email me to get a copy of the PowerPoint.Cutler 21:21, 3 Mar 2004 (UTC)

In my editing on 3 Jun 2005, 17:34, I'm pretty sure I did not inadvertantly take out anything already on the article. I'm sure it's all there, but some things may be disputed.--AI 03:41, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)


What does word refer to? Is it a misspelling of "histrionics"? Does it refer to "historiometry"? Would a different word be better? -Willmcw 23:43, August 11, 2005 (UTC)

Famous Experiment: Galton and the ox[edit]

Francis Galton, while visiting the annual West of England livestock fair in 1906, came upon a weight-judging competition. An ox had been on display and members of the gathering crowd were lining up to place wagers on the weight of the ox. Eight hundred people tried their luck; they were a diverse lot, many 'non-experts'. When the contest was over and the prizes had been awarded, Galton borrowed the tickets and ran a series of statistical tests on them. He added all the contestants' estimates and calculated the mean of the guesses. Galton thought the average guess would be way off the mark but he was wrong. The crowd thought the ox would weigh 1,197 pounds. It actually weighed 1,198!

I think this should be added..... it´s one odd and most impressing experiment i ever met

There's an interesting reference to the incident here [1] - about 2/3 way through the article. It's used to make a "Wisdom of Crowds" point. You'd need a better source with more details.--Shtove 11:19, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
There was an edit done on this page back on 23:51, 26 October 2008 by user "Dr. Faustroll" pointing out that a paper written at [2] which has since been taken down because it has been rebutted. See the comments by James Surowiecki at We should change the guessed weight of the Ox back to 1,197 pounds which is also stated at the PBS Nova website[3] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Moebiusstrip (talkcontribs)

intelligence and head size[edit]

From Heredity, historiometry and eugenics:

Galton's study of human abilities ultimately led to the foundation of differential psychology, the formulation of the first mental tests, and the scientific study of human intelligence. Many of his insights have taken many decades of research to verify; for example, his study of reaction time as a measure of intelligence was only vindicated a hundred years later, as was his assertion of a relationship between head size and intelligence (MRI measures are now known to correlate at approximately 0.4 with I.Q.[citation needed]).

That last sentence is a pretty specific and direct claim that needs to be supported. I deleted this once before but it was restored with a note that another article has the citation. Is there any way to get that citation now?--Media anthro 18:53, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

It's a bit difficult to keep track of all that goes on due to the constant edit warring. I added a general reference. A more specific one should be floating around somewhere, but I don't really feel like finding it as I'm growing ever tired of carrying water to the sea. Besides, I'm sure you could find it if you wanted to. --Zero g 19:52, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
I suppose I could, but the obligation to do so rests with the person making the claim. Especially when it's that specific.--Media anthro 20:11, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
You've got a point there, though the burden of evidence seems a contradiction to WP:FAITH. Feel free to call me an idealist ;) --Zero g 20:18, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Should go for GA[edit]

I just rated this article as class B for the history of science Wikiproject. It strikes me that it could easily make GA if someone were to go to the trouble of adding a bunch of inline citations. They are particularly important for someone like Galton who worked in a number of controversial areas.Rusty Cashman 10:05, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

I second that as a GA potential -- already a good standard, and important to have a science biog article nominated. --mervyn 09:59, 12 October 2007 (UTC)


This article needs footnotes to accompany the in-text citations. Simple links to the sources are not sufficient. Links (whether in-text or at the end of an article) must be IN ADDITION to footnotes. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ask123 (talkcontribs) 17:56, 12 April 2007 (UTC).


Galton did not invent the electrocardiogram as someone claimed. I have removed this. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Gavantredoux (talkcontribs) 18:13, August 20, 2007 (UTC).

Fields of study[edit]

Fields Anthropologist and polymath

Uh, "polymath" isn't a field? Also, this entry is meant to be given in the general nominative ("anthropology"), not the specific vocative ("anthropologist"). As in "the fields of ___ and ___ and ___". -- (talk) 01:07, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

"Polymath" is informative for persons whose knoledge spans fields of studies too numerous to itemize. But listing the various fields to which "polymath" applies, with regard to Galton, to supplement the expression, would add to the informative nature of the term. (talk) 19:55, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Nature vs. Nurture Coinage[edit]

"A devil, a born devil, on whose nature. Nurture can never stick" - Shakespeare's Prospero on Caliban (talk) 19:52, 16 May 2009 (UTC) (Tautologist, Francis Galton Chair, Director, Thomas Henry and Aldoud Huxley Family Foundation)

Galton's Eugenics - Influence on 20th Century[edit]

My state of Indiana, though never visited by Sir Francis Galton, has the DISHONOR of being the first state to enact harsh EUGENICS based laws--around the time of Galton's death. Either Galton's own writings (or writings of his immediate disciples) would have influenced Indiana's decision. This is the link from the Indiana University website which lists the APOLOGIES Indiana officials made for Indiana's past eugenics practices as well as a history of Indiana's BAD eugenics laws.

While the link "eugenics" redirects to an article on eugenics, this Wikipedia biography on Sir Francis Galton should at least minimally mention Galton's influence on bad eugenics.

The Francis Galton biography's neutrality on eugenics implies a tacit acceptance that the evidence does not warrant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lindisfarnelibrary (talkcontribs) 14:50, 5 August 2009 (UTC)


"He was a proponent of the idea of selective breeding amongst humans in order to halt what he saw as the decline of the British race."

I think the comment may be referencing the June 18th 1909 letter to The Times (Deterioration of the British Race). First, he quotes someone else who said " was impossible to believe in the supposed deterioration of the British race." Galton responds, "It is not that deterioration is so general that men of remarkable fine physique have ceased to exist-for they do; thank God -- but the bulk of the community is deteriorating..."

That exchange appears to be the genesis of the previous quote. I don't know if it is fair to say that was his primary goal, but it appears he was cognizant of some sort of decline.

I think the primary author of this entry is not yet fully alive to Galton's malignant racism and cruel contempt for the "unfit" of any race. Thinking to let Galton say in this venue what he said during his lifetime in no less public venues, I have pasted in a new section on the front page, with transcripts of two London TIMES items, one an 1857 letter Galton wrote to the editor, the other, a 1908 news story paraphrasing Galton's talk before the Eugenics Education Society. These items are nearly fifty years apart in time, and yet it is the very same individual speaking, giving us a psychometric "voice print," we might say. I concede that the new section has aesthetic demerits, but I hope its imperfections do not warrant its elimination. Anticipating that it might be deemed unfit, I've pasted the same items below and hope that at least they will be permitted to remain here, not getting in people's way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:27, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Correlations and Regressions[edit]


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.

I;m new to wikipedia an i've just read the "Negros and the Slave Trade, francis galton" an I think im goin to reserch that because whoever wrote that intro it sounds bogus and can anyone give me a factual website??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Princesspaperieca (talkcontribs) 22:22, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Intelligence Citations Bibliography for Articles Related to IQ Testing[edit]

I have posted a bibliography of Intelligence Citations for the use of all Wikipedians who have occasion to edit articles on human intelligence and related issues. I happen to have circulating access to a huge academic research library at a university with an active research program in those issues (and to another library that is one of the ten largest public library systems in the United States) and have been researching these issues since 1989. You are welcome to use these citations for your own research and to suggest new sources to me by comments on that page. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk) 20:56, 30 June 2010 (UTC)


I've just stumbled upon the wiki article for the man who pioneered the eugenics movement ― it reads like an account of the greatest person who ever lived. I am very surprised this has not been discussed before. I am requesting that this article be examined for its neutrality. Thanks. Keshidragon (talk) 23:51, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

Neutral The article gives a factual account of the life and many accomplishments of an unusual person. One of these is eugenics which was a major idea amongst social improvers in the nineteenth and twentieth century, but got a bad name with Hitler's use of it. Most intellectuals of the time would be counted racist by twenty-first century liberal standards. The article correctly deals with the facts, but you seem to suggest it should either downplay his many other activities or add some moral opprobrium, which would certainly not be a neutral point of view.Chemical Engineer (talk) 15:43, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

Seems fine to me. I'm actually surprised how big a section it is, given the diversity of Galton's interests, and his lack of connection to events occurring after his death and not in his name. Tim bates (talk) 16:01, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

No reaction. Are there any specific comments? Will remove notice in another month if not Tim bates (talk) 15:01, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Please remove the "notice"--Bramfab (talk) 15:48, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

I will remove the "notice" since nothing has been added since comments above Adh (talk) 13:09, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Was eugenics used to justify persecution?[edit]

Because Galton died on 1911 it is quite obvious that he did not have any discussions with later NSDAP party members. Without further evidence I am tempted to say that Galton did not favor any kind of persecution of Jews or any other people. Were there other and more notable excuses used to justify persecution of the Jews and many other groups or was it completely based on eugenics that was created by Francis Galton? If the latter holds true, I would say that NSDAP pretty much interpreted eugenics their own way. In that case the persecution was based on their interpretations and twisted theory, not Galton's. I refer to the recent edit done by --Nikolas Ojala (talk) 23:03, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

The observation by Galton's biographer at the end of this page may be of relevance. RashersTierney (talk) 00:09, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
Good point and rather good source too.
Galton himself would probably have approved, as did most contemporary eugenicists, of the Nazi law of 1933 for the sterilization of those with hereditary diseases, but he would have been shocked by the substitution in 1939 of "euthanasia" for those with hereditary disease instead of sterilization, and by their attempt to exterminate the Jews.
I don't have to explain because probably I could not crystallize the message further. --Nikolas Ojala (talk) 21:51, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Correction: Origins of correlation[edit]

The section "Correlation and regression" currently begins: "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 Georges Cuvier in Histoire des progrès des sciences naturelles depuis 1789 jusqu'à ce jour (5 volumes, 1826–1836). Correlation originated in the study of correspondence as described in the study of morphology. See Edward Stuart Russell, Form and Function (1916)."

I have read the relevant sections of Russell's book. First, Aristotle did not use the term "correlation"; rather, he noted what later biologists would term "correlations". These were not statistical correlations; rather, they were similarities between corresponding parts of different animals, which Aristotle studied in an attempt to trace the evolution of animals. The same objection applies to Georges Cuvier's work.

The formulation of a correlation coefficient began with Auguste Bravais (1811-1863) in his paper of 1846, "Analyse mathematique sur les probabilites des erreurs de situation d'un point" (Mathematical analysis of the probabilities of a point's location). In 1888, Francis Galton independently developed a similar measure of correlation.

Therefore, I have deleted the material about Aristotle and Cuvier, and replaced it with material about Bravais. Cwkmail (talk) 20:42, 24 February 2014 (UTC)


shouldnt civilisation be spelled civilization? with a z? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Marcosoldfox (talkcontribs) 14:24, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

In British English it shouldn't; see wikt:civilisation and American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization). -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 14:50, 13 February 2015 (UTC)