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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)

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