John Phipps

An all too brisk and too narrow history of eugenics: Radio 4’s Bad Blood reviewed

Plus: a much better analysis of whether humans are as legible and as measurable as we believe them to be can be found by listening to the audiobook of The Woman in White

Francis Galton (c.1890), a Victorian eccentric who coined the term 'eugenics'. Photo: Adoc-photos / Corbis / Getty Images

Like so many of history’s great catastrophes, the story begins with an eccentric Victorian Englishman. Francis Galton was a maker of maps and compiler of tables; ‘Whenever you can, count,’ was his mantra. Galton was the first man to plot a weather map and the grandfather of forensic fingerprinting. His quixotic mania for quantification would lead him to try and draw up a ‘beauty atlas’ of the United Kingdom based on his own observations.

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