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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Excerpts from 'On the History of Statistics, Eugenics and Mind Control'



I am currently preparing a lengthy article on this topic for submission to an academic journal, Excerpts from the latest draft of this article will periodically appear in this blog post. Your comments and constructive criticism would be very welcome,


                                                   Thomas Hoskyns Leonard

                                                       Edinburgh, UK, retired



          1. Introduction

                         Luck, chance, and fate bemuse philosophers to this day

                         Maybe everything's predestined, but have it your way.

                         Our fortune is their misfortune,

                         As Isis rolls the die,

                         And secretive eugenics takes them like a fly;

                         Maybe we are all controlled by strange powers rippling from above;

                         Maybe the ruthless Gatekeepers are void of human love,

          2. Sir Francis Galton and the Birth of Eugenics

           Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911)                  was best known for his pioneering work on human intelligence,


The celebrated geneticist and Bayesian statistician Sir Francis Galton coined the term 'eugenics' at University College London in 1883. He genuinely believed that eugenics and mind control could be used to improve the well-being of the population.

The collection of data for his first important book, Hereditary Genius, marks the beginning of his psychological work. The thesis of the book is that "genius" or "talent" is genetically rather than environmentally determined (Forrest, 1995). He devoted the latter part of his life chiefly to propagating the idea of improving the physical and mental makeup of the human species by selective parenthood. By an examination of lists of famous people in the fields of law, politics, science, art, sport, and so on, Galton was able to trace their relatives in order to ascertain how many of them were bright enough stars to merit obituaries (Locy, 1908). He would then calculate the percentage of talented people in various degrees of kinship to the initial famous people. He writes that "there is no escape from the conclusion that nature prevails enormously over nurture when the differences of nurture do not exceed what is commonly found among persons of the same rank of society and in the same country " (Galton, 1908).
In order to estimate the proportion of the general population, which succeed into being 'prominent', Galton examined obituaries published in The Times. After careful data gathering and analyzing, Galton claimed that people differ in their abilities, and such differences are innate, and published his ideas in English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture.
From these ideas Galton found himself involved in the field of hereditary improvement, which he called Eugenics. The eugenic concept became the paramount importance in Galton's thinking (Forrest, 1974). He adopted a laboratory approach to collect the necessary data, and the laboratory was so successful in terms of the number of people who passed through it (nearly 10,000 in its year opening). Eugenics is accordingly often treated as an expression of class prejudice, and Galton as a reactionary. Yet to some extent this view misrepresents his thought, for his aim was not the creation of an aristocratic elite but of a population consisting entirely of superior men and women.
Some 17,000 individuals visited, paid for the priviledge, and were tested in Galton's Laboratory in the 1880s and 1990s. As they left they were given cards showing their results. To measure mental abilities Galton relied heavily on physical measures, such as height, weight, strength, rate of movement, visual and auditory acuity and reaction times, since he believed that there was a consistent co-relationship between sensory and mental acuity (Hothersall, 1995).
The lab served as a stimulator for other scientists such as Edward Thorndike whose "law of effect" bore resemblance to Darwinian and Galtonian theories of adaptation. Another who was impressed with Galton's work was James McKeen Cattell, whose first mental tests were largely derived from Galton (Forrest, 1995). From his first inquiries in to human intelligence, he concluded that there might be other methods of investigating mental imaginary. While walking down Pall Mall, he tried to call up mental associations to the objects and scenes before his eyes, conceiving the first word association test (Forrest, 1995). Galton was able to show that association formed in his early years were likely to be those repeated on the later trials with the same list, whereas recent associations were less fixed and would vary from trial to trial (Galton, 1979). He published his ideas on word association in Brain, to which Freud was subscribed and it might have been influenced in his later research. Galton was a prolific writer and a zealous scientist who placed great emphasis in the measurement of phenomena he was mostly interested in: intelligence and human ability to transfer it from one generation to the other. He examined a number of deferent human faculties, including the efficacy of prayer and much information about animals, which he compiled and published in his Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development in 1883. His hereditarian position is still important in contemporary psychology, and the paradigms he developed to investigate the relative contributions of nature and nurture to human behavior are still used.

1822 - Francis Galton was born at Sparbrook, Birmingham.
1837 - Accepted as pupil at Birmingham General Hospital where he would graduate early at the age of 16.
1850 - Galton undertook an exploration in South -West Africa.
1853 - He published Tropical South Africa and was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographic Society.
-----The Art Of Travel was published, which was recently reprinted in 1974.
1869 - Published Hereditary Genius.
1874 - Published English Men Of Science: Their Nature and Nurture.
1884 - Anthropometric Laboratory was established.
1882 - "Finger Prints" found to be an ideal index of the personality identity. Scotland Yard adopted the method.
1883 - Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development was published.
1889 - Published Natural Inheritance.
1908 - Galton founded the Eugenics Society of Great Britain
1909 - Galton started a monthly journal called The Eugenics Review.
-----Galton was knighted Sir Francis
1911 - Sir Francis Galton died. 

Forrest, D.W (1974). Francis Galton: The Life and Work of a Victorian Genius. New York: Paul Elek (Scientific Books) Ltd.
Forrest, D. W. (1995). Francis Galton. Seven Pioneers of Psychology.
London and New York: Routledge.
Galton, F (1908). Memories of My Life. London: Methuen & Co.
Galton, F (1879). Psychometric Experiments. Brain, 2:149-162.
Hothersall, D (1995). History of Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Locy, W. A. (1908). Biology and its Makers. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Pearson, K. (1914). Life, Letters, and Labours of Francis Galton. Cambridge: University Press. 

Sir Francis GaltonFRS (/ˈfrɑːnsɪs ˈɡɔːltən/; 16 February 1822 – 17 January 1911) was an English Victorian statistician,progressivepolymathsociologistpsychologist,[1][2] anthropologisteugenicist, tropical explorergeographerinventor,meteorologist, proto-geneticist and psychometrician. He was knighted in 1909.
Galton produced over 340 papers and books. 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, coining the term itself[3] and the phrase "nature versus nurture".[4] His book Hereditary Genius (1869) was the first social scientific attempt to study genius and greatness.[5]
As an investigator of the human mind, he founded psychometrics (the science of measuring mental faculties) and differential psychology and the lexical hypothesis of personality. He devised a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science. He also conducted research on the power of prayer, concluding it had none by its null effects on the longevity of those prayed for.[6] His quest for the scientific principles of diverse phenomena extended even to the optimal method for making tea[7]
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.[8] He also invented the Galton Whistle for testing differential hearing ability.[9]

Heredity and eugenics[edit]

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.[23] He came to be gripped by the work, especially the first chapter on "Variation under Domestication," concerning animal breeding.
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 so doing, he established a research program which embraced multiple 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. To test this, he invented the methods of historiometry. Galton obtained extensive data from a broad range of biographical sources which he tabulated and compared in various ways. This pioneering work was described in detail in his bookHereditary Genius in 1869.[5] Here 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.
Galton recognised the limitations of his methods in these two works, and believed the question could be better studied by comparisons of twins. His method envisaged testing 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 behaviour genetics, which relies heavily on twin studies. He concluded that the evidence favoured nature rather than nurture. He also proposed adoption studies, including trans-racial adoption studies, to separate the effects of heredity and environment.
Galton recognised that cultural circumstances influenced the capability of a civilisation's citizens, and their reproductive success. In Hereditary Genius, he envisaged a situation conducive to resilient and enduring civilisation as follows:
The best form of civilization in respect to the improvement of the race, would be one in which society was not costly; where incomes were chiefly derived from professional sources, and not much through inheritance; where every lad had a chance of showing his abilities, and, if highly gifted, was enabled to achieve a first-class education and entrance into professional life, by the liberal help of the exhibitions and scholarships which he had gained in his early youth; where marriage was held in as high honour as in ancient Jewish times; where the pride of race was encouraged (of course I do not refer to the nonsensical sentiment of the present day, that goes under that name); where the weak could find a welcome and a refuge in celibate monasteries or sisterhoods, and lastly, where the better sort of emigrants and refugees from other lands were invited and welcomed, and their descendants naturalised. (p. 362)[5]
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.[24] 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. On 29 October 1901, Galton chose to address eugenic issues when he delivered the second Huxley lecture at the Royal Anthropological Institute[20]
The Eugenics Review, the journal of the Eugenics Education Society, commenced publication in 1909. Galton, the Honorary President of the society, wrote the foreword for the first volume.[20] The First International Congress of Eugenics was held in July 1912. Winston Churchill and Carls Elliot were among the attendees.[20]

Empirical test of pangenesis and Lamarckism[edit]

Galton conducted wide-ranging inquiries into heredity which led him to challenge 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.[25] 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.[26]
Galton explicitly rejected the idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (Lamarckism), and was an early proponent of "hard heredity"[27] 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.[28] ) 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.

      EUGENICS ON p21



Background material, already published on this blog, includes

                           WILLIAM SARGANT (1907-1988) Evil Pioneer of Modern Psychiatry


                           ELI LILLY, ZYPREXA, AND THE BUSH FAMILY by Bruce Lavine

                                        MY PERSONAL HISTORY OF BAYESIAN STATISTICS  




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