Eugenics as a Creed and the Last Decade of Galton's Life 407
discussed, the greatest possible precision has to be reached, and the measure of the accuracy so determined has to be ascertained; then elaborate mathematical methods must be employed, which cannot be briefly described except in highly technical terms.
I do not at all agree that " the relation of parental alcoholism to offspring is quite beyond the ken" of biometric methods. The memoir that is criticised discusses that relation in regard to offspring in their early life. The simple question, divested of all connotation, whether or no adult offspring suffer, and in what degree, seems to me perfectly within the ken of biometry.
But the interpretation of the results so obtained is quite another consideration.
My admiration for Galton was never higher than when I read this letter. He had a right to be indignant, but he very quietly expressed his complete dissent from the views of the Chairman of his Society.
The controversy concerning the memoirs on alcoholism of the Eugenics Laboratory continued almost to the end of 1910. There was in the Temperance Press a good deal of the usual type of biased criticism ; it was even boldly asserted that the memoirs had been published in opposition to the wish of Sir Francis Galton, and the manifest antagonism of the Eugenics Education Society to these memoirs needed some public statement ; there were those who thought that the Laboratory had some relation to the Society, or even that the former was in rebellion against the latter, its supposed creator t The point had been reached when the paths of Society and Laboratory must diverge, a point I had foreseen, but had not expected to meet with quite so early on the journey. Galton was indeed in a difficult position : on the one hand there was a small group of workers endeavouring to the best of their ability to apply his own methods to reach safe conclusions with regard to important social problems ; on the other hand he had called into existence a very miscellaneous group of persons-held together by a faith which had not yet its " confession "-many of whom had little scientific training and still less capacity for judging statistical work ; a few were cranks, and some of these were rendered septic by their own verbosity.
This body Galton felt to be needful as a force to spread Eugenic ideas. He was only slowly learning that a " confession " is -requisite to hold together the members of a sect, and that without this there will be just as many 'creeds taught as there are individual propagandists. To this miscellaneous crowd Galton's name was merely a symbol or flag ; they had never studied his scientific methods, nor did they know the stress he had laid on various results deduced from them*. To them Eugenics was a matter of sentiment and of " general impressions," and they were not prepared to submit their sacred opinions to any numerical test, nor were they " sufficiently masters of themselves to discard contemptuously whatever. may, be found untrue " (see our Vol. II, p. 297). Not yet had Galton given up hope that
* One member doubted whether psychical characters were inherited at the same rate as physical ; another whether "nature " was markedly more influential than "nurture," although he did not know what Galton understood by "nurture"; a third muttered lies, damned lies and statistics," regardless of the truth that the trouble is not that figures lie, but that liars figure. In short, all that Galton held certain, and therefore held most dear, was called in question by members of the very society he had brought into being.