*Theodore M. Porter*

- Published in print:
- 2020
- Published Online:
- January 2021
- ISBN:
- 9780691208428
- eISBN:
- 9780691210520
- Item type:
- chapter

- Publisher:
- Princeton University Press
- DOI:
- 10.23943/princeton/9780691208428.003.0010
- Subject:
- History, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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 ...
More

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.Less

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.

*Theodore M. Porter*

- Published in print:
- 2020
- Published Online:
- January 2021
- ISBN:
- 9780691208428
- eISBN:
- 9780691210520
- Item type:
- chapter

- Publisher:
- Princeton University Press
- DOI:
- 10.23943/princeton/9780691208428.003.0011
- Subject:
- History, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

This concluding chapter addresses how statistics has assumed the trappings of a modern academic discipline primarily during the last half century. The intellectual character of statistics had been ...
More

This concluding chapter addresses how statistics has assumed the trappings of a modern academic discipline primarily during the last half century. The intellectual character of statistics had been thoroughly transformed by 1900. The period when statistical thinking was allied only to the simplest mathematics gave way to a period of statistical mathematics—which, to be sure, has not been divorced from thinking. In the twentieth century, statistics has at last assumed at least the appearance of conforming to that hierarchical structure of knowledge beloved by philosophers and sociologists in which theory governs practice and in which the “advanced” field of mathematics provides a solid foundation for the “less mature” biological and social sciences. The crystallization of a mathematical statistics out of the wealth of applications developed during the nineteenth century provides the natural culmination to this story.Less

This concluding chapter addresses how statistics has assumed the trappings of a modern academic discipline primarily during the last half century. The intellectual character of statistics had been thoroughly transformed by 1900. The period when statistical thinking was allied only to the simplest mathematics gave way to a period of statistical mathematics—which, to be sure, has not been divorced from thinking. In the twentieth century, statistics has at last assumed at least the appearance of conforming to that hierarchical structure of knowledge beloved by philosophers and sociologists in which theory governs practice and in which the “advanced” field of mathematics provides a solid foundation for the “less mature” biological and social sciences. The crystallization of a mathematical statistics out of the wealth of applications developed during the nineteenth century provides the natural culmination to this story.