My recent discovery that Finney was once a eugenicist, has made me bit alarmed because he later developed systems for considering the safety of drugs. Many drugs are still unsafe. For example, most of our neurotoxic psychiatric drugs are quite unsafe, and their uninformed or enforced prescription is in itself a form of eugenics.. How thorough was the monitor that Finney developed? I leave this as an open question.
David Finney, famous for his work on developing systems which improved the safety of drugs, 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.
DAVID FINNEY'S DRUG MONITOR
Following my and Scott Forster's investigation of the History of Eugenics at UCL, I discovered that Finney, who was much influenced while working in the Galton Laboratory of University College London by the arch-Eugenicist Sir Ronald Fisher, was himself a Eugenicist (rather than a Eugenicist by association, as has since been suggested by one of Finney's erstwhile colleagues in Medical Statistics) Indeed, in 1952 Finney 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 the dishonest psychologist Hans Eysenck and the celebrated statistician Frank Yates, and while he Finney was working in the Department of Statistics at Aberdeen. (one of his colleagues there was the statistician, geneticist, and Fisherphile A.W.F. Edwards, but Edwards seems to have been focusing mainly on Likelihood at the time)
In 1940 and 1941, Finney published a series of three papers in the Annals of Eugenics on the Detection of Linkage resulting from his work with Fisher in the Galton Laboratory. See
Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human failings by Pauline Mazumbar
It is easy to purchase a copy of this splendid book, and to look up the references to Finney.
By reference to the pre-existing Eugenics literature, Finney for example suggested that there might be a linkage between the genes of allergic disease and the genes determining blood groups, MN groups,and the eye colour of man, and that allergic disease might be inherited.
Here is one of his papers THE DETECTION OF LINKAGE. Finney considers dominant and recessive abnormalities and concurs with Fisher's objectives "to give a treatment appropriate to pedigree collections in which the procedure of ascertainment is unknown and may vary from family to family".
Fisher's daughter Joan Fisher-Box reported in her 1978 book that this work was very much influenced by Fisher, though Finney produced most of the mathematics. In 1935, Fisher had published a paper in the Annals of Eugenics entitled 'The Detection of Linkage with dominant abnormalities'.
Finney's 1947 paper in the Annals of Eugenics on the truncated binomial distribution concerned the occurrence of abnormalities in samples of sibships, He also published several papers elsewhere on genetics, which I have not as yet investigated. The implications in Eugenics of his 1945 paper in the Annals of Eugenics on fractional factorial experiments are as yet unclear to me; However the factorial experiments at Rothampstead Agricultural Research Station with which Fisher was involved in his early years there seem to have been inspired by factorial Mendelian randomisation (using genetic variants to assess interactions). See Mazumdar (p119) and Rees, Foley, and Burgess (International Journal of Epidemiology, 2019)
Finney arrived to stay in Scotland in about 1956 following the death in 1955 of Sir Godfrey Thompson of Moray House in Edinburgh, Thompson's work on intelligence testing and the eleven plus is nowadays regarded as eugenicist, in similar fashion to Sir Cyril Burt's in England (as critically described in the first episode of the recent BBC4 series on Eugenics),. Note that intelligence tests all too frequently measure 'white middle class intelligence, and still often refer Galton-style to the thin-tailed normal distribution e.g.as a misleading population distribution for general intelligence. See also the quite appalling Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Intelligence tests have been used to diagnose people as 'mentally defective', 'feebleminded' or schizophenic. Lionel Penrose used them in his attempts to prove the hereditary nature of schizophrenia,
[IN 1959 the International Association for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics
was founded in Edinburgh, but it is very unlikely that Finney was a member. It published the extremely right-wing journal Mankind Quarterly out of Edinburgh. Its first editor was the Stockbridge-based Robert Gayre who'd graduated in Geography from the University of Edinburgh ]
Ian Deary's various laudatory accounts of Thomson's work.also mention (the eugenicists) Spearman and Eysenck.According to Deary et al (2010)
He (Finney)visited Thomson in Edinburgh as a young statistician. He later rose to be Professor of Statistics at the University of Edinburgh.
According to Bartholomew et al (p476) they discussed applications of quantal response theory for biossay (which is relevant to drug testing) to mental testing, While Finney and Thomson were both eugenicists at the time, it is unclear how much eugenics content there was to their conversation, but mental test theories involving probits and logits still abound in the psychometric literature, at times notoriously. Indeed in 1944, Finney wrote a paper on the application of probit analysis to the results of mental tests, and his 1947 book Probit Analysis, while primarily aimed a biomedical applications, also mentions mental tests as one of several areas of application, While I have also published a paper or two in this area, I now regard such mental test models as presenting as potentially unfair ways of measuring human ability,
The relatively recent paper by Deary et al (2004) has very scary undertones and describes historical studies in Scotland which were funded by the Eugenics Society and the Rockefeller foundation. Finney and Deary were colleagues at the University of Edinburgh when Finney was Professor Emeritus of Statistics and Deary interviewed Finney in 2006. According to a contemporary,
Ian Deary has profited from what the Scottish Council for Research in Education was so well known for even when I was a mere student - the Scottish Mental Survey of I think about 1948. This was a gold mine for any budding researcher.
Deary's Ph.D. supervisor, was the psychologist and psychometrician Chris Brand, who was well known and frequently criticised for his right wing statements on race and intelligence. Ian Deary and Chris Brand have a couple of joint publications, Here is a list of Brand's early publications. The 1989 paper has been said by a retired Edinburgh psychologist to be flawed. It certainly appears to be racially biased.
- 1982 'Intelligence and inspection time.' (C.R.BRAND & I.J.DEARY) In H.J.Eysenck, A Model for Intelligence. New York : Springer, pp.133-148.
- 1984 'Personality dimensions: an overview of modern trait psychology.' In J.Nicholson & Halla Beloff, Psychology Survey 5. Leicester : British Psychological Society, pp.175-209.
- 1987 'A touch of class.' (A review of M. Schiff & R. C. Lewontin, Education and Class: the Irrelevance of IQ Genetic Studies. Oxford : Clarendon.) Nature 325, pp. 767-8.
- 1989 'Has there been a 'massive' rise in IQ levels in the West? Evidence from Scottish children.' (C.R.BRAND, SUSAN FRESHWATER & W.B.DOCKRELL) Irish J. Psychology 10, 3, pp.388-394.
- 1993 'Special Review' of H.J.Eysenck, Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire. Behaviour Research and Therapy 31, 1, 129-131.
- 1993 'Cognitive abilities: current theoretical issues.' In T.J.Bouchard & P.Propping, Twins as a Tool of Behaviour Genetics. Chichester : Wiley.
- 1994 'Intelligence, personality and society: constructivist vs. essentialist possibilities.' (C.R.BRAND, V.EGAN & I.J.DEARY.) In D.K.Detterman, Current Topics in Human Intelligence 4. New Jersey : Ablex.
The celebrated statistician Maurice Bartlett corresponded with Thompson on intelligence testing and controversial matters relating to factor analysis.. Bartholomew et al (2009) report that Derrick Lawley (later Finney's colleague at the University of Edinburgh) also worked with Thomson,
In Eugenics Review, 1957:
British Journal of Psychology. Oct., 1926.
The Correlation between Intelligence and Size of Family. Mr. H. E. G. Sutherland and Professor G. H. Thomson have investigated the results of Intelligence
Tests given to 1924 primary school children in the Isle of Wight, 386 boys of the
Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 395 children of Moray House School,
Edinburgh, and 30 boys of Ryde Grammar School. With the unselected primary
school group they find a negative correlation between I.Q. and size of family (in one
year's batch, r=-- 154±-023, in another year's batch, r=- -218± .019.)
Where there are not more than two in family, more than 60% of children exceed
the median I.Q.; where there are seven or more in family, less than 40% of children
exceed the median I.Q. The correlation between I.Q. and position in family was
also investigated and was found to be r=--200±-109. However since position
in family is partly dependent on size of family, (e.g. a child cannot be tenth in a
family of five!) this correlation is entangled with that between I.Q. and size of
family, and there are peculiar difficulties in disentangling it by the method of
partial correlation; the question of unfinished families also proved troublesome.
In the Secondary School groups, where selection for intelligence may be
deemed to have taken place, no significant correlation was found between I.Q. and
size of family; and as the contrast between this result and that found in an unselected group would lead one to suppose, in fact the selected, Secondary School,
children do come from smaller families. The average family of the Grammar
School boys is 31; that of the Isle of Wight unselected children is 4-25. A selection of intelligent children is therefore an indirect selection of children of small
families. This presumed cause of the correlation between small families and high
intelligence is, the authors fear, that intelligent parents tend to have few children.
This result agrees with previous reports in America and England, but not with
Pearson and Moul, who found no such correlation among Jewish families in
London. Those however, were on the average twice as large families, where little if
-any restriction was apparently practised; hence they cannot be considered typical
-of the general population.
At least one of Finney's erstwhile colleagues at the University of Edinburgh has expressed surprise at the idea that Finney was a eugenicist . I beg to differ. Moreover, I am scared that the Edinburgh eugenicists of the past may have influenced similar attitudes in the present.
Finney retired as half-time Chair of Statistics at Edinburgh in 1984. He'd also been Director of a Statistics Unit originally funded by the Agricultural Research Council, which was, in principle at least, to provide a service for Scotland modelled on that provided by Rothamsted Agricultural Research Centre for England.
I knew Finney during the last few years of the twentieth century, by which time his Statistics Unit had turned into a strangely negative government quango called BIOSS (Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland) which had an unclear agenda about it while lapping up the grant money, I still don't know quite what it's about, or why it always stayed glued to the floor of the much more productive Statistics group in the King's Buildings, I guess it may be have even been about trying to improve crops and livestocks, in very dry ways, and they were once into measuring sheep carcasses.
Finney had the great man aura about him, though he did become very negative himself in his old age,. Much of his early work e,g. on quantal response models, was seminal and truly brilliant.for its times,.I'm sad that it was tainted with Eugenics.
Further reading: Sir Ronald Fisher: Highly Negative Eugenicist
AND FROM THE 1957 EUGENICS REVIEW. Note that the great Frank Yates (Fisher's successor at Rothampstead) is on the list of members/ fellows of the Eugenics Society together with Finney and various e.g. agricultural scientists in Edinburgh. Quite a club!!!! The level of interaction between the human eugenicists and animal eugenicists is unclear to me at this time. But Finney was a human eugenicist, during the early part of his career, if not later.
1957 Eugenics Society Membership.
CREW, PROF. F. A. E., M.D., D.Sc., M.R.C.P., F.R.S., F.R.S.E., Usher Institute, Warrender Park Road,
DOUGLAS, J. W. B., ESQ., B.A., B.Sc., B.M., B.Ch., Department of Public Health and Social Medicine, The
KENNEDY, PROF. A. M., M.D., F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., 2 Arboretum Road, Edinburgh, 4..
MARTIN, F. M., ESQ., Ph.D., Usher Institute, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh..
MAXWELL, JAMES, ESQ., M.A., B.Ed., Moray House Training College, Edinburgh..
SMITH, DR. A. D. BUCHANAN, Animal Breeding Dept., The University, Edinburgh..
WADDINGTON, PROF. C. H., Sc.D., F.R.S., Institute of Animal Genetics, King's Buildings, West Mains Road,
KENNEDY, MRS. A. M., 2 Arboretum Road, Edinburgh, 4..
MOONIE, MRS. JANET, 78 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh.
BAIRD, PROF. D., M.D., D.P.H., F.R.C.O.G., Fae-Me-Well, Dyce, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
ELLIOTT, T. R., ESQ., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.D., F.R.C.P., M.A., F.R.S., Broughton Place, Broughton, Biggar,
*FINNEY, D. J., ESQ., M.A., F.R.S., Department of Statistics, University of Aberdeen, Meston Walk, Old
YATES, F., ESQ., M.A., D.Sc., F.R.S., Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Herts.
LUCAN, THE EARL OF, M.C., ii Hanover House, N.W.8.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bingham,_6th_Earl_of_Lucan
BARNETT, S. A., ESQ., Department of Zoology, The University, Glasgow.
KINVIG, T. H., ESQ., Kaduna, West Braes, Crail, Fife, Scotland.
MOONIE, MRS. JANET, 78 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh. http://gaedin.co.uk/wp/new-history/cemetery/9-james-moonie-1853-1923????
Further reading: Sir Ronald Fisher: Highly Negative Eugenicist