Francis Galton was bred from good stock, his parents came from families successful in banking, business and scientific specialities such as medicine and biology, he was even a cousin of Charles Darwin. He was a child prodigy who excelled at everything he turned to and as an adult he was prolific in the sheer volume of ground breaking research he conducted in fields as diverse as geography, meteorology, biometrics, genetics and psychology. However it was his research into eugenics that he will mostly be remembered for. After first coining the word eugenics in his 1883 book 'Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development' little did he know the impact it would have during the 20th century. As an educated scientist he looked at ways of improving civilisation without giving a thought to the manipulation that politicians always have and always will use to divide and rule populations to their own benefit. As well meaning as he probably was, eugenics basically means playing god and defying nature by identifying who can and who cannot breed and at the turn of the twentieth century there were plenty of self righteous people professing to know what is best for a population. It led to the formation of the American Breeder’s Association in 1903, then the Race Betterment Foundation in 1911 and then the dark side of forced sterilisations of those deemed mentally and physically unsound. Then there was a certain chap called Adolf Hitler, his eugenics programme to create the master Aryan race sent millions to their deaths in concentration camps, which incidentally were another invention of the British. I'm sure he was rolling in his grave aghast at the depths humanity had plumbed in the name of eugenics, but at least Hitler made eugenics less popular after WWII. Galton, like me, was a fellow Brummie, he was born and bred in Sparkbrook which makes me wonder what he would make of his eugenics philosophy if he were to witness the ethnic make up of the inner city suburb of Sparkbrook today. Maybe he should have researched human diversity instead? Where there's a theory there's a quote, so here is my compilation of 10 of the best Francis Galton quotes.
- Mini Bio
- Name: Francis Galton
- Born: 16th February 1822, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, England
- Died: 17th January 1911, Haslemere, Surrey, England
- Alma mater: King's College London, Trinity College Cambridge
- Occupation: Sociologist, psychologist and anthropologist
- Best known for: First terming the word Eugenics and his research on the subject of selective breeding in order to enhance human evolution
- Awards: He was knighted as Sir Francis Galton in 1909. Other notable awards he received were the Gold Medal of the Royal Society in 1886 and the Darwin Medal from the Royal Society in 1902
- Trivia: Galton was the cousin of Charles Darwin and Darwins book Origin of Species had a heavy influence on his thinking which led him to his theory of accelerated human evolution through selective eugenics
"What nature does blindly, slowly and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly"
"Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence without that affects him after his birth"
"The aim of eugenics is to represent each class or sect by its best specimens"
"One of the effects of civilization is to diminish the rigour of the application of the law of natural selection. It preserves weakly lives that would have perished in barbarous lands"
"Characteristics cling to families"
"Well-washed and well-combed domestic pets grow dull; they miss the stimulus of fleas"
"Exercising the right of occasional suppression and slight modification, it is truly absurd to see how plastic a limited number of observations become, in the hands of men with preconceived ideas"
"It takes a curiously long time for new ideas to become current, and the older men who ought to be capable of taking them in freely, will not do so through prejudice"
"All male animals, including men, when they are in love, are apt to behave in ways that seem ludicrous to bystanders"
"Whenever you can, count"