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Sunday, 15 September 2019

Dr. Franz Hildebrandt, friend and inspiration to Dietrich Bonhoeffer


                                                          Pastor Franz Hildebrandt  (1909-1985)

I am currently reading this inspirational book, which has been lent to me by Rev. Hildebrandt's daughter.  Hildebrandt held so steadfastly to his principles of truth and morality that he was prepared to go to prison for them, for example the principle that Christ Jesus reigned in Nazi Germany, more so than Adolf Hitler..His Ph.D. dissertation inspired Bonhoeffer's understanding of Christ's presence, He was a pastor and hospital chaplain in Edinburgh, Scotland from 1968 to 1985, and he should be an inspiration to all of us during the current troubled pre-Brexit times.

       I referred to both Hildebrandt and Bonhoeffer during a short ministry to South Edinburgh Quakers on Sunday 15th October 2019, and this seemed to in part inspire four further ministries during the same hour of joint spirituality.


                                                       Dietrich Bonhoeffer  (1906-1945)

                                   AMAZON BOOKS BY FRANZ HILDEBRANDT


From Wikipedia:

He was ordained as a pastor in Berlin on June 18, 1933. Since his mother was of Jewish descent, he was affected by the introduction of the so-called Aryan Paragraph in some of the Protestant Churches in Germany after the Nazis came to power in 1933. Hildebrandt resigned from his post as a sign of protest against this church measure and left Germany to join his friend, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was pastor to the German congregation in London at the time.
He returned to Germany after three months, having been asked by Pastor Martin Niemöller to help him build up the Pfarrernotbund, an organisation set up to help pastors affected by the infamous Arierparagraph. Shortly after Niemöller's arrest and subsequent detention until the end of World War II, Hildebrandt was himself arrested. Friends managed to procure his release, and he left once again for England, now in permanent exile.

From Gracewing:

Franz Hildebrandt’s early ministry began and developed under the shadow of the swastika in Hitler’s Germany.  His close, deep friendship and pastoral colleagueship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer in fighting that evil power marked them both as true witnesses for Jesus Christ.
His subsequent exile to England (1937) - his mother was Jewish - his work as a pastor to refugees, as  Methodist minister, as a professor of theology in the USA and finally as assistant pastor in the Church of Scotland reveal him as a man who was fearless for the Gospel and who was also a loving, caring friend practising the faith both in words and life

Click also on: Dietrich Bonhoffer Portal.

From Bonhofferblog:

At the beginning of the Nazi era, Bonhoeffer and Hildebrandt planned actions and strategied against the “German Christians” (Deutsche Christen or DC) together, an originally rather large group of churches influenced strongly by the Nazi administration (NS-DAP).
The DC wanted to do away with the Old Testament and introduce the “Aryan Clauses,” which meant a ban on work for Jews.  The ban was also instituted in the church as well, which deterred some of the initial DC-followers, so that this group became somewhat smaller.
Franz Hildebrandt was a so-called “half-Jew.”  His Jewish mother, with whom he lived, also lived in Berlin-Grunewald.  After he was imprisoned for his activities in Martin Niemoller’s church in Dahlem, he was able to emigrate to England together with his mother, helped by the Bonhoeffer family.

(Renate Bethge, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Brief Life, 47)


                             by Michael De Jonge

This paper examines Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Christ’s presence against the background of his friend Franz Hildebrandt’s dissertation, EST. Das lutherische Prinzip. Hildebrandt’s dissertation responds, in part, to Karl Barth, who argues that the Lutheran understanding of Christ’s presence compromises the divine character of revelation and prepares the way for nineteenth-century theology’s confusion of God with creation. In contrast to Hildebrandt’s defense of Christ’s presence, which relies on the logic of idealism that Barth rejects, Bonhoeffer articulates Christ’s presence with reference to what he understands as the core of the Lutheran Christological tradition: its focus on Christ’s person. By treating Christ’s presence through attention to the logic of person, Bonhoeffer purifies the Lutheran Christological tradition of its speculative tendencies, offering an account of Christ’s presence for a post-Barthian theological context.


  • Franz Hildebrandt, Est: Das Lutherische Prinzip. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1931.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer & Franz Hildebrandt, Glaubst du, so hast du: Versuch eines Lutherischen Katechismus (1932). Later published in: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gesammelte Schriften, Volume 3, Munich: Kaiser, 1966, pp. 248–257.
  • [anonymous] Martin Niemöller und sein Bekenntnis. Zollikon: Verlag der Evangelischen Buchhandlung, 1938; English translation: Pastor Niemoller and his Creed. London 1939.
  • Franz Hildebrandt, Theologie für Refugees: Ein Kapitel Paul Gerhardt. Issued by the Church of England Committee for "Non-Aryan" Christians. London: The Finsbury Press, 1940.
  • Franz Hildebrandt (ed.), 'And other Pastors of thy Flock': A German tribute to the Bishop of Chichester, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942.
  • Franz Hildebrandt, Melanchthon: Alien or Ally? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
  • Franz Hildebrandt, From Luther to Wesley. London: Lutterworth Press, 1951.
  • Franz Hildebrandt, Christianity according to the Wesleys: the Harris Franklin Rall lectures, 1954, delivered at Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Illinois. London: Epworth Press 1956; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.
  • Franz Hildebrandt (ed.), Wesley Hymnbook. Kansas City 1963.
  • Franz Hildebrandt, I offered Christ: a Protestant study of the Mass. London: Epworth Press, 1967.
  • Franz Hildebrandt and Oliver A. Beckerlegge (eds.), A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists. (The Works of John Wesley, vol. 7), Oxford: Clarendon Press 1983; Nashville: Abingdon Press 1991.


  • Dr. Franz Hildebrandt and Methodist hymns conducted by A.G. Dreisbach (with Denville Methodist Episcopal Church Choir). English Sound Recording: Music: Hymns: LP recording: 33​13 rpm ; 12 in., Madison, New Jersey 1959.


Monday, 9 September 2019



                      See  The Leonard-Forster Research on Galtonian Eugenics                                                                                     

                      and Eugenics, Human Genetics, and Human Failings (1992)

                                                    by Pauline Mazumdar



                                                                         Sir Francis Galton


                                                                        Karl Pearson 


                                                                     Sir Ronald Fisher


                                                                    Major Greenwood


                                                                   Wilhelm Weinberg


                                                                         Corrado Gini


                                                                      Bruno de Finetti


                                                                     Charles Spearman


                                                                        David Finney


Sunday, 8 September 2019



Here are my recent blog posts, most of which were researched with my colleague Scott Forster:

(11) Pre-Eminent Statisticians in the Eugenics Movement

(10) Sir Ronald Fisher, Highly Negative Eugenicist

(9) Professor David Finney, FRS, FRSE, Eugenicist

(8) On the great statistician and economist Corrado Gini and De Finetti-Style Coherence

(7) Eugenics and the Amoralization of Economics

(6) Sir Francis Galton's Highly Inflammatory 1904 Lecture

(5) The Leonard-Forster Written Submission to the Commission of Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL

(4) My verbal presentation to the Commission of Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL


And here are some old blog posts, which were patched together in much more amateur fashion and should be read with circumspection::

(3) Eugenics of the Past, Present, and Future

(2) On the Dark History of Eugenics and MKUltra

(1) William Sargant (1907-1988) Evil Pioneer of Modern Psychiatry

(0) Material on Sir Francis Galton (incomplete)


Saturday, 7 September 2019



             The Elimination of Mental Defect (Eugenics Reviews, 1924-25)

      The great statistician and geneticist Sir Ronald Fisher was a positive eugenicist when he helped found the Cambridge Undergraduate Eugenics Society in 1911, Several of his contemporaries at Cambridge advocated Nietzschian ideas on the development of a superhuman race, the  Ubermensch, However, Fisher was a negative eugenicist by 1924. In the Elimination of Mental Defect, he used some very dodgy, subjective statistics which purported to justify the immense and early benefits of the segregation and sterilization of the feebleminded.

       For a detailed account of Fisher's contributions to Eugenics, and their interaction with Fisher's pioneering but also suspect contributions at Rothampstead Agricultural Research Station to the Statistics of Crop Breeding, see Chapter 3 of Pauline Mazumdar's splendid book Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human Failings (1992),

 According to Rodrigo Cruz's 1980   Ph.D. Dissertartion
At the roots of Fisher's intellectual motivations, such as the development of population statistics and genetics, was his concern with the phenomenon he termed ‘differential fertility’. To him, the high reproductive rates of genetically unfit humans for life in society were the main cause of the problems that humankind faced at that time - and would also be the reason for the decline of civilizations throughout history. The fittest needed higher rates of reproduction, and to Fisher, reversing these indexes was vital to the maintenance of civilization.

FISHER WAS STILL A EUGENICIST IN 1952. In his response to UNESCO in THE RACE CONCEPT he expresses the opinion that men were not created biologically equal

See also the references in Scott's three helpful comments (below)

Saturday, 24 August 2019


        David Finney was my predecessor in the Chair of Statistics at the University of Edinburgh. He passed away in Morningside, Edinburgh in December 2018 at age 100, and I attended his funeral.

        Following my and Scott Forster's investigation of the History of Eugenics at UCL, I have discovered that Finney, who was much influenced by the arch-Eugenicist Sir Ronald Fisher, was himself a Eugenicist. Indeed, in 1952 he was elected Honorary Life Fellow of the Eugenics Society (later the Galton Institute), see Royal Society of Edinburgh Obituary (2018). He is listed as a Fellow in The Eugenics Review (1957)  along with the likes of Hans Eysenck, and while he was working in the Department of Statistics at Aberdeen.

      In 1940 and 1941, Finney published a series of three papers in the Annals of Eugenics on the Detection of Linkage. See

                Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human failings by Pauline Mazumbar

Fisher's daughter Joan Fisher-Box reported in her 1978 book that this work was very much influenced by Fisher, In 1935, Fisher had published a paper in the Annals of Eugenics entitled 'The Detection of Linkage with dominant abnormalities'.

At Edinburgh, Finney was well acquainted with Sir Godfrey Thompson of Moray House, whose work on intelligence testing was regarded as eugenicist. See Deary et al (2010)

Wednesday, 21 August 2019



ON CLIMATE CHANGE: For South Edinburgh Quaker Business Meeting on 25th August 2019

                                                            Tom Leonard

It is very important to understand the enormously grave difficulties we face in trying to prevent climate change from destroying the world as we know it within the next few decades. I understand that lots of scientific research is currently being directed at determining the very drastic sorts of measures that need to be taken (e.g. refreezing the polar icecaps, directly reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, complete cessation of war).

It is very well established, geologists, that greenhouse emissions are continuing to severely harm our natural environment,

However, reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a nation to nation basis, while highly laudable, is simply not enough. It is also virtually impossible to enforce since individual nations are very likely to manipulate and misrepresent the (in Scotland very sparse) statistics to their advantage,

Furthermore, the short and medium term profit motives of our three-centuries-old Capitalist system will almost certainly prevent the drastic sorts of changes we need to save the world. Maybe I am pipe-dreaming when I express the hope that Capitalism can be persuaded to peacefully destroy itself in its current form. But failing this we face the real prospect of a terrible Armageddon, namely the possibility of a violent world-wide revolution in a last ditch attempt to save the planet, followed by the probable destruction of everything we know by natural disaster.

The only small contribution I have made to this process is to recommend to the Commission of Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL that UCL funds more research into the Climate Change problem. Climate change has numerous intersectional effects. It for example already discriminates against many of our indigenous populations.

I am now contemplating whether to support the Edinburgh Green Anti-Capitalist Front since it offers a much more rational, and less clownish, perspective than Extinction Rebellion.

Maybe, however, we should simple encourage our children to think and act for us.


Monday, 5 August 2019

On the great statistician and economist Corrado Gini and De Finetti- Style Coherence

                                                             Corrado Gini (1884-1965)           

 For Maria Sophia Quine's account of the dreadful racist Eugenics in the Mussolini era of the otherwise great Italian Statistician and Economist Corrado Gini see pages 392-394 of the Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (2010). Gini lead the Italian delegation to the globally influential First International Congress of Eugenics in South Kensington, London in 1912, After that he practised so-called positive eugenics on the Italian and other Latin nations. He also pushed  his demography and population statistics ever closer to biology and human genetics in order to encourage the practice of very cruel negative eugenics on 'inferior' nations around the world.

       See also Maria Quine's 1990 University of London Ph.D, thesis (e.g. pages 30-33)

     Also in 1912, Gini published his much celebrated Gini Coefficient in a paper entitled Variability and Mutability, This is still a commonly used Economic index for measuring inequality of wealth, or income, in a population.

     Bruno de Finetti (1906-1985) was a presumably misguided (e.g. by Gini) fascist whose over-mathematrized concept of 'coherence' has both bewitched and constrained the minds of Bayesian statisticians and scientists ever since. De Finetti's 'axioms of coherence' are infinitely more complex than what they are taken to imply, and seem to attempt to impose false rationalities. They lead to an over-formalised notion of subjective probability, which is a reasonable enough notion in itself, though not globally applicable.

     De Finetti-style coherence seems to me to be like a Eugenic-style notion of trying to 'improve the human mind'. Its origins lie in Fascist Italy. For later developments along these lines see BAYESIAN BRAINS.

      De Finetti's early work in population genetics has been related by A.W.F. Edwards to natural selection. See, for example "Natural selection and the de Finetti Diagram (Cannings and Edwards, Annals of Human Genetics, 1968)

     During the Mussolini Era, De Finetti developed models for predicting the evolution of the Italian population, though without getting much credit from Gini for his contributions. See Eugenio Regazzini's Interview in Statistical Science.These predictive models  may well have strongly impacted on the eugenic policies of Mussolini's regime in regard to immigration, emigration, and colonialist racial segregation. See,

       The Organization of Demographic Totalitarianism: Early Population Policy in Fascist Italy
                                              by Carl Ibsen


    This all set the scene for De Finetti's development during the 1930s of his mind-boggling 'justification' of (finitely additive) subjective probability by his highly prescriptive concept of coherence, Other mathematical probabilists found it necessary to add further technical details much later to ensure the mathematical accuracy of his 'proof'. See Eugenio Regazzini's Interview for all the key references to De Finetti's and Regazzini's work on this topic,

       De Finetti proposed a thought experiment along the following lines:

      You are required to fix the price of a promise to pay a dollar if an event A is true, and nothing if it is untrue, on the understanding  that the answer will shortly be revealed by a third party.

      An opponent will be given the option of either buying the promise from you at the the price you have set, or require you to buy such a promise for your opponent, still at the same price.

      By a piece of possibly twisted logic, De Finetti claims that the price P(A) you set can then be referred to as your 'operational' subjective probability that you assign to the possibility that A is true. You can similarly determine a supposed subjective probability for all events that are (measurable) subsets of some sample space S. De Finetti claims that, further to some further technical assumptions, the prices thus obtained do not expose you to a long run certain loss through a 'Dutch book', The so-called  'probabilities' (which don't look anything like subjective probabilities to me) are therefore called 'coherent'.


FOR PREVIOUS DISCUSSIONS OF THE AXIOMS OF COHERENCE (From my Personal History of Bayesian Statistics, 2014) please click on

                                      AXIOMS OF COHERENCE

A serious conceptual problem with the De Finetti axiomatization of subjective probability lies in the way it confounds with the concept of the utility of money and with the consequent interconnections with the Expected Utility Hypothesis (EUH) and Sure Thing Principle  as developed (from the 18th century ideas of Daniel Bernoulli) by the rather myopic L.J. Savage at the highly patriarchal and colonialist University of Chicago. But EUH has long been known to be paradoxical as far as the thinking of individuals, rather than the long-term profit-making financial institutions, is concerned. It can be used by financial institutions to make a long-term profit from investigators who are risk averse or need to protect themselves from short-term catastrophic loss, See for example the Allais and other paradoxes, as described in Chapter 4 of BAYESIAN METHODS (Leonard and Hsu, 1999), together with the further conclusions described in that chapter, Indeed, De Finetti published jointly with Savage in 1962. Their highly complex ideas are interwoven, as were the politics of the institutions in which they worked.

      In Chapter 5 of OPTIMAL STATISTICAL DECISIONS (1970) Morris De Groot describes a simpler and much more appealing axiom system, which does not refer at all to monetary decision making but rather to an objective auxiliary experiment involving a spinning pointer. Nevertheless , De Groot's fifth axiom (which stipulates the existence of a random variable X on the unit interval) involves complex measure theoretic assumptions which are at best tautologous with the countable additivity of the resultant subjective distribution on the parameter space,

FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS OF THE EXPECTED UTILITY HYPOTHESIS AND ITS RAMIFICATIONS (also from my Personal History of Bayesian Statistics, 2014) please click on

                                    AXIOMS OF UTILITY