Galton, Sir Francis


Galton, Sir Francis

biographical name

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Sir Francis Galton, detail of an oil painting by G. Graef, 1882; in the National Portrait Gallery, …—Courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London

(born Feb. 16, 1822, near Sparkbrook, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Eng.—died Jan. 17, 1911, Grayshott House, Haslemere, Surrey) British explorer, anthropologist, and eugenicist. Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, studied medicine at Cambridge University but never took a degree. As a young man he traveled widely in Europe and Africa, making useful contributions in zoology and geography. He was among the first to recognize the implications of Darwin's theory of evolution, eventually coining the word eugenics to denote the science of planned human betterment through selective mating. His aim was the creation not of an aristocratic elite but of a population consisting entirely of superior men and women. He also wrote important works on human intelligence, fingerprinting, applied statistics, twins, blood transfusions, criminality, meteorology, and measurement.

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