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Stephen J Bensman notsjb at LSU.EDU
Tue Jun 9 14:58:08 EDT 2009

Closing paragraph of Chapter entitled "Francis Galton, Eugenics, and the
Origins of Scientometrics."  One of the best pieces of historical
analysis I have ever done,


In the opening paragraph of his Nature article Galton (1904) set forth
the overall conclusion which he ultimately drew from his statistical
pedigree analysis of the Fellows of the Royal Society thus:


                      The result of this inquiry is to prove the
existence of a small number of

                     more or less isolated hereditary centres, round
which a large part of the total

                     ability of the nation is clustered, with a
closeness that rapidly diminishes

                    as the distance of kinship from its centre
increases.  p. 354.


He stated in the conclusion that his data showed that "exceptionally
gifted families must exist, whose race is a valuable asset to the
nation," mentioning "the existence of at least nine gifted families
connected with fellows of the Royal Society, two or three of whom are
exceptionally gifted" (p. 356).  Galton used this finding to call for
the creation of register of gifted families for eugenic purposes.  In
the book Galton (Galton and Schuster, 1906) asserted that the data
showed that "a considerable proportion of the noteworthy members in a
population spring from comparatively few families" (p. ix).   Pearson
(1914-1930, Vol. 3a, p. 114) evaluated this assertion as "very likely
true" but difficult to accept on the basis of the statistical evidence
presented by Galton and Schuster.  However, it should be noted that
Galton's conclusion was corroborated some fifty years later by Annan
(1955) in his landmark study of the formation of what he termed "the
intellectual aristocracy" in Victorian Britain.  In his study Annan also
proved that "certain families produce a disproportionately large number
of eminent men and women" (p. 284), but differentiated his approach from
that of Galton in the following manner:


                   ...There are first two projections to observe, the
horizontal and the vertical.

                   The horizontal shows how these families ally
themselves by marriage and

                   form a new class in society.  The vertical has
already been studied by Galton

                   and Havelock Ellis; but whereas they drew conclusions
about hereditary

                   ability, here it illustrates how certain families
gain position and 

                   influence through persistent endogamy.  pp. 253-254.


Thus, Galton emphasized nature, whereas Annan emphasized nurture, but,
taken together, these studies indicate that the interactive and
multiplicative operation of these two variables resulted in the
intellectual and scientific power of Victorian Britain-one of the most
advanced countries in the world-deriving from a relatively small
proportion of the families in that country.







Stephen J. Bensman

LSU Libraries

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA   70803


notsjb at

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