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Biography of Sir Francis Galton



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He was born in 1822, his life and accomplishments spanned almost a century and he is credited with being a pioneer in numerous fields of the life sciences and exploration venues. This half-cousin of Charles Darwin was the youngest of 9 children born to Samuel Galton, who was a member of the famous British Quaker family of bankers and gun manufacturers never really became a household name. yet his theories on Evolution have prompted scientific and theological controversy for decades. His accomplishments in mathematics, geography, meteorology and psychology effect our lives almost on a daily basis.

There are many reports written that he was a child "prodigy", as he could read by age 2 and knew Greek and Latin by age 5. It was said, he was able to do long division and read Shakespeare for pleasure by age 6. His parents wanted him to study medicine, and so he began his academic endeavors in that arena, until a "breakdown" ended his exhaustive pursuit of medical science. After his recovery from the debilitating "illness", he to academic study and received a degree from Trinity College, then went on to attend Cambridge ( though he never attained a degree there).

After his intense time of academic study, he spent a long tenure of time traveling and engaging in various explorations around the world. He was a true Renaissance man who perhaps, combined with his mental genius, was an enlightened Victorian ADHD personality. His accomplishments and explorations represent a wide scope of work that is very amazing.

His name is Francis Gallton and here are his major contributions to science and the world, you should be awed by.

1. In his early years he was an avid explorer, geographer and meteorologist. He explored and extensively charted areas of South and West Africa never before mapped (1850 - 1852).

2. He appears to be among the first meteorologists to chart continental weather flows which depict air pressure levels. This was the precursor to our modern barometric weather charts, used by weather forecasters to predict storms and their severity. Sir Galton was also the first to identify the "anticyclone".

3. Galton was also a geneticist and founder of the statistical study of heredity we now call "biometrics". He created what is known as Galton's Law of Ancestral Heredity.

4. He was probably one of the first experimental "Differential Psychologists" and is considered the founder of Differential Psychology: the study of psychological differences between humans not just the study of common traits. Galton is also known for his famous study "Hereditary Genius" (1869), which was a systematic investigation of the effect of heredity on human intellectual ability. In other words are you born 'smart' or do you get smart by learning.

5. He invented the word-association test, used in the field of psychology extensively. His exploration of the sub-conscious mind has exhaustive volumes of information and theories extrapolated years of research.

6. His psychological studies led to the advancement of Statistics with such work as:"Anthropometric Percentiles", "A Plausible Paradox in Chances", "Kinship and Correlation". He also developed the statistical methodology known as 'standard deviation', 'regression toward the mean' and the concept of 'correlation'. He is credited with developing the use of surveys and questionnaires as a tool to collect data on the human condition.

7. Sir Galton was known throughout the western world as an Eugenicist and was a fundamental agent in the development of "Eugenics". He has also been credited as having coined the term "eugenics" and the phrase "nuture versus nature". Galton promoted the belief among his intellectual peers that the purpose of Eugenics was "to improve the human stock and prevent the degeneration of genetic potential". His work in Eugenics and the exploration of human diversity (variety) became the main thrust of his later years of scientific study.

8. It is interesting to note, Francis Galton refined the use of fingerprint identification in criminology and brought credibility to forensic investigations use of fingerprinting, when he assisted the courts by creating a classification system of fingerprint patterns. He identified 8 broad categories of fingerprints: plain arch, tented arch, simple loop, central pocket loop, double loop, lateral pocket loop, plain whorl and 8 accidental (Bulmer).

9. He was one of the pioneers of Historiometry the study of personal characteristics of famous people over the centuries in various fileds of endeavor using statistics from cliometrics and psychometrics.[For example a statistical look at American presidents and their IQ could be a research study.]

10. He also refuted his cousin Charles Darwin's theory on pangenesis.

He was Knighted Sir Francis Galton in 1909 and left this journey in 1911.

It is a curious thing we hardly know the man's name that gave the world many foundational theories and methodologies for scientific study in diverse fields, that we commonly use still to this day!

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