Tag Archives: Pearson

Old Resource Made New

The Annals of Human Genetics (AHG), formerly named Annals of Eugenics, has recently made its 1925-1954 journal content available online for researchers. Among the now controversial eugenics research appearing throughout these issues, researchers can also expect to find statistical publications by mathematician Karl Pearson, whose work at University College London concerned the widely used Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient, the Pearson Chi-Square test, and P-value.

The AHG editorial cites “ongoing use and reference to materials”… “and the somewhat limited availability of the original printed copy” as justification for making the content available online. Furthermore,

Online access to the Annals of Eugenics archive will also be of interest to historians of science. In many ways, the history of the Annals embodies the history of human genetics as a scientific enterprise and exemplifies the complex relationship of this discipline with wider society. The somber role that human genetics played in providing what was taken to be a scientific framework to social prejudice during the period of “Eugenics” is a well-known case of the complex interaction between science and society. The present issue of the journal includes four specially commissioned articles that attempt to contextualize the online publication of the Annals of Eugenics archive. To exemplify some of the major scientific contributions made during that period, the article by J. Ott highlights key papers on linkage analysis published by the journal. The contributions by K. Weiss, G. Allen, and D. Kevles deal with aspects of the history of eugenics and of human genetics, and explore their relevance to ongoing debates regarding the social implications of human genetics research.

For further reading see this article by USA Today, Essays in Eugenics by Sir Francis Galton, The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness by psychologist Henry Herbert Goddard, and some earlier AHP coverage of the topic.

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Classic Science from “The Giants’ Shoulders”

a giantThe second issue of the “The Giants’ Shoulders” — a blog carnival focusing on reviews of “great” scientific publications of the past — has been posted at the blog “The Lay Scientist.”

Of particular interest to historians of psychology will be the account by SciCurious of Paul Broca’s “discovery” of Broca’s Area of the brain. Although the account is valuable enough, it unfortunately appears to trade in the myths about Broca that were described in Roger Thomas’ article about commonly repeated untruths in the history of psychology (which appeared in the fall 2007 issue of American Journal of Psychology ). Continue reading

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