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The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900$
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Theodore M. Porter

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691208428

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691208428.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The Roots of Biometrical Statistics

The Roots of Biometrical Statistics

(p.285) Chapter Nine The Roots of Biometrical Statistics
The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900

Theodore M. Porter

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces the roots of biometrical statistics. That the modern field of mathematical statistics developed out of biometry is not wholly fortuitous. The quantitative study of biological inheritance and evolution provided an outstanding context for statistical thinking, and quantitative genetics remains the best example for an area of science whose very theory is built out of concepts of statistics—variance-covariance matrices, regression coefficients, and so on. Beyond that, the biometrician-eugenicists were possessed with an intense ecumenical urge and, especially in the case of Karl Pearson, endowed with very respectable talents for academic entrepreneurship. The great stimulus for modern statistics came from Francis Galton's invention of the method of correlation, which, significantly, he first conceived not as an abstract technique of numerical analysis, but as a statistical law of heredity. Here, as throughout the nineteenth century, the special problems of particular fields were of central importance for the development of statistical mathematics.

Keywords:   biometrical statistics, mathematical statistics, biometry, statistical thinking, quantitative genetics, regression, Karl Pearson, Francis Galton, correlation, statistical law of heredity

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