Galton, Sir Francis

Galton, Sir Francis gôlˈtən [key], 1822–1911, English scientist, founder of eugenics; cousin of Charles Darwin. He turned from exploration and meteorology (where he introduced the theory of the anticyclone) to the study of heredity and eugenics (a term that he coined). Galton devised the correlation coefficient and brought other statistical methods into this work, which was carried on by his pupil Karl Pearson as the science of biometrics. In his Hereditary Genius (1869) he presented strong evidence that talent is an inherited characteristic. Galton established a system of classifying fingerprints that is still used today. He was knighted in 1909. The best known of his books is Inquiries into Human Faculty (1883).

See his Memories of My Life (1908, repr. 1974); biographies by K. Pearson (3 vol. in 4, 1914–30), N. W. Gillham (2002), and M. Brookes (2004); study by H. F. Crovitz (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Genetics and Genetic Engineering: Biographies