Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911)…Continuing Series on Human Intelligence published May 2005 in the Riverside Review.

Despite his colossal achievements, Sir Francis Galton is no longer widely known or appreciated. He was a man of many facets and made many contributions to the fields of geography, meteorology, anthropometry, biology, statistics, criminology, heredity, psychology and education. As a meteorologist Galton was a pioneer in developing weather maps based on charting data about air pressure. He discovered that fingerprints were an index of personal identity and persuaded Scotland Yard to adopt a fingerprinting system. In 1865 he began to study heredity, partly brought on by reading his cousin, Charles Darwin's publication Origin of Species. Galton soon discovered that his true passion was studying the variations in human ability. In particularly, he was convinced that success was due to superior qualities passed down to offspring through heredity. His book, Hereditary Genius (1869), outlined this hypothesis and utilized supporting data he had collected by analyzing the obituaries of the Times newspaper, where he traced the lineage of eminent men in Europe. His findings sparked the formative years of the eugenics movement, which called for methods of improving the biological make-up of the human species through selective parenthood. Galton would even go so far as to advocate human breeding restrictions to curtail the breeding of the 'feeble-minded'
In 1925, Lewis Terman promulgated Galton's theories of natural ability by defining mental ability and genius in terms of scores on the Stanford-Binet intelligence test. In doing so, "Galton's belief in the adaptive value of natural ability became thereby translated into widespread conviction that general intelligence provides the single most critical psychological factor underlying success in life". However, even Galton took into account energy and persistence as well as intellect when factoring the ingredients of success.
Francis Galton is most highly recognized for his heredity studies and his proliferation of eugenics ideology. In his passionate drive to quantify the passing down of characteristics, qualities, traits, and abilities from generation to generation, he formulated the statistical notion of correlation which led to his understanding of how generations were related to each other. He also established that "numerous heritable traits, including height and intelligence, exhibited regression to the mean - meaning that extreme inherited results tended to move toward average results in the next generation". Galton produced over 340 papers and books throughout his lifetime. Through his writings and sound financial management he was able to cover his comfortable independent income into a substantial fortune; part of this went to fund the Galton Chair of Eugenics at the University of London College in London. For more information on Sir Francis Galton you may refer to
If you read the March 28, 2005 issue of Newsweek you may have noticed the article on page 33 that told of two women who were sterilized in 1968 by the State of North Carolina without their knowledge. It seems that they and 70,000 others were part of the eugenics (or “good breeding”) movement that began nationally in the early 20
th century and continued into the 1970s. More than 30 states had eugenics programs during the last century; they were ruled constitutional in Buck v. Bell, a May 2, 1927 Supreme Court decision that is still the law of the land. The Court found that John Bell, Superintendent of the Virginia State Colony of Epileptics and Feeble Minded had the right under the Virginia statute to sterilize Carrie Buck, a feeble minded women placed in his care. It is said that Adolph Hitler copied Virginia’s law to justify his sterilization of 350,000 Jews in Nazi Germany. Virginia continued their sterilizing procedures from 1927 to 1974.