Edward Turner, First Professor of Chemistry at UCL

Edward Turner was a Creole. So what?

A historian colleague of mine recently asked if I knew anything about the genealogy of UCL’s first Professor of Chemistry, Edward Turner (1796-1837). This colleague said he had heard a report that Turner was mixed race, the son of a Creole mother. Being a careful and critical historian, my friend wanted to know about evidence. We both understood this would be an exciting piece of…

Historical analysis shows Karl Pearson was a racist nativist supremacist for Anglo-Saxon stock

Eugenics, Karl Pearson, and the Legacy of Anglo-Saxon Nativism at UCL

In September 2019 I gave a paper, “Eugenics, Karl Pearson, and the Legacy of Anglo-Saxon Nativism at UCL,” at a conference organised by the Research Group on University History held at the University of Manchester. In essence, it argues (1) Karl Pearson promoted a racist, nativist, supremacist programme favouring his vision of Anglo-Saxon stock, (2) he took advantage of his position within the university to…

Profesor Karl Pearson at desk in Francis Galton Laboratory for National Eugenics

Karl Pearson and Mental Deficiency Act 1913 (UK)

What role did UCL biometrician and eugenicist Karl Pearson have in passage of this Act? Reading Angelique Richardson’s 2014 TLS piece on the Mental Deficiency Act (UK), effective 1914 repealed 1968, sparked me into condensing some research on that Act and possible involvement by Karl Pearson in its development and passage. We know a lot about the Mental Deficiency Act (UK). Wikipedia offers a quick…

George Gaylord Simpson, 1956 (courtesy American Philosophical Society Library).

George Gaylord Simpson’s “Night Thoughts on Leaving the American Museum,” 1959

George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was a leader in twentieth century vertebrate palaeontology, and he contributed to making the American Museum of Natural History a powerhouse in the field. In 1959, Simpson left his job at the museum in a bitter dispute with its management. Simpson never published a rationale for his resignation, but he secretly wrote one. After his first day unemployed, Simpson penned a…

Three snouters: Archirrhinos haeckelii, Rhinolimacius conchicauda, Nasobema lyricum (Order Rhinogradentia), from Stumpke (1961).

The Snouters and Gerolf Steiner (alias Harald Stumpke)

Every scientific discipline has inside jokes. Why? Because they perform social or intellectual work. In this post, Professor Joe Cain links jokelore to his project on one of biology’s most famous jokes, the Rhinogradentia, or “snouters”. This page supports a research paper published on the subject and provides additional materials. Historical research paper on Rhinogradentia Joe Cain. (2018). In My Tribe: What the Snouters (and…