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The Forgotten Brummie: - the life and legacies of Sir Francis Galton (English Edition)

The Forgotten Brummie: - the life and legacies of Sir Francis Galton (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

David Allen

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This book is about the impact on society of a man, Sir Francis Galton, who can justifiably be classified as one of the last of the polymaths. Born in Birmingham in 1822, he made discoveries and inventions across a wide spectrum of knowledge – including exploration, statistics, meteorology, and fingerprinting.
But few people know of him, even in his home city; it is as though he has been ‘airbrushed out’ of history. Why should this be? The answer is that the principal focus of his work was the understanding of heredity: how personality traits were passed on from parents to children. Prior to his work in this area, though it was recognised that physical traits were determined by nature, mental ones (intelligence, work ethic, creativity, thrift, etc.) were believed to be solely down to nurture.
Moreover, he went on to link that to the concept of natural selection as outlined by his cousin, Charles Darwin, so as to come up with suggestions as to how the quality of a particular human race – and, by extension, the whole human species - could be improved over several generations by encouraging the procreation of the more eminent members, and discouraging the procreation of the less well endowed. Galton coined the expression ‘eugenics’ to sum up that process, which he defined as the science of good breeding, and his ideas proved very popular, as indicated by the award of a knighthood.
He died in 1911, and was buried in the churchyard at Claverdon in Warwickshire, but his work on eugenics was picked up by various groups whose common aim was to establish a society in which the masses were ruled by a small elite: the early Fabians and, later, Fascists and Nazis.
The problem was, however, that none of these followers were keen on the ‘over several generations’ bit: whereas Galton would use words like ‘discourage’, they would substitute ‘prevention’ or ‘prohibition’ and would go on to develop a much more urgent approach, including racial segregation, compulsory sterilisation, criminalisation of mixed marriages and, in Nazi Germany, extermination of those considered ‘unfit’.
Unfortunately, most commentators since then have seen ‘eugenics’ as synonymous with the atrocities associated with the Nazi regime, to the point that, from the end of the Second World War onwards, neither Galton’s name nor his achievements were to be mentioned in polite society.
The time has surely come, however, when his achievements should be recognised, and his ideas (as distinct from those of his ‘followers’) as regards eugenics brought back into focus, not least because they are a valid and important input to the consideration of many of today’s big issues, notably politics, education, medicine and population.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 289 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 164 Seiten
  • Gleichzeitige Verwendung von Geräten: Keine Einschränkung
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00KS4B0SE
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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