Francis Galton


Francis Galton

Sir Francis Galton was an English explorer, anthropologist, eugenicist, geographer and meteorologist. He is noted for his pioneering research on human intelligence and his statistical concept of correlation. He is often called the “father of eugenics”. Galton also invented many statistical tools such as surveys and questionnaires.

Early Life and Education:

Born in Sparkbrook, England, the maternal grandfather of Francis Galton was Erasmus Darwin. Charles Darwin was a grandson of Erasmus, so this makes Galton and Darwin cousins. Galton studied at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1810, however he never graduated.

Contributions and Achievements:

Galton made several trips to Africa, and in 1853, he published “Tropical South Africa”. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1856. Galton spent much his life developing eugenics, which aims to modify the physical and mental make-up of the human species by selected parenthood.

Galton published “Hereditary Genius” in 1869. He explained an index of correlation as a measure of the degree to which the two diverse objects were related. However, he was unsuccessful in realizing the complexity of the mathematics involved. He published “Natural Inheritance” in 1889 which heavily influenced Karl Pearson.

Galton wrote more than 340 papers and books. He was the inventor of scientific meteorology and he was the first person to develop the first weather map as well as the Galton Whistle for evaluating differential hearing ability.

Later Life and Death:

Galton was awarded the Royal Medal in 1876 and the Copley Medal in 1910. He was knighted in 1909. He died in January 1911 in Greyshott House, Surrey.