**Karl Pearson: A Reader’s Guide**

Print the
legend!

[The first thing Pearson could remember] was
sitting in a high chair sucking his thumb. Someone told him to stop sucking it,
and added that unless he did so, the thumb would wither away. He put his two
thumbs together and looked at them for a long time. “They look alike to me,” he
said to himself. “I can’t see that the thumb I suck is any smaller than the
other. I wonder if she could be lying to me.” Here in this simple story we have
rejection of constituted authority, faith in his own interpretation of the
meaning of observed data, and finally, imputation of moral obliquity to a
person whose judgement differed from his own. These characteristics were
prominent throughout his entire career. Walker (1958 & -78)

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Photos of KP in 1882 1890 1910 with Galton of Weldon Bateson Fisher

Karl Pearson was born in ^{th}
1857 into an upper-middle class family, his father a barrister. He read
mathematics at *Ethic of Freethought* (1888) and the *Chances of
Death and Other Studies of Evolution*
(1897). Pearson founded the Men and Women’s
Club and in 1890 married a fellow-member Maria Sharpe. They
had three children; the son Egon
Sharpe Pearson also became an important statistician.

In
1884 Pearson became Professor of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics at University College London (UCL). Mechanics and the theory of
elasticity—and later biometry—eventually crowded out other pursuits. Pearson
took on the task of completing Todhunter’s *History of the
Theory of Elasticity* and Clifford’s *Common
Sense of
the Exact Sciences.* The *Elasticity*
is a very detailed internal history of Pearson’s own specialism. The book by Clifford,
the first holder of the UCL chair, explains the basic principles of mathematics
in a non-technical way. Pearson not only edited what Clifford had written but
contributed about a third of the final text
Pearson’s ideas for the reform of mechanics were close to those of Mach and he developed them further in the *Grammar
of Science*
(1892). This presented the scientific method as “the orderly classification of
facts followed by the recognition of their relationship and recurring
sequences.” His achievements as an applied mathematician were recognised when
he was elected to the Royal
Society in 1896.

Between 1891
and -94 Pearson gave four series of lectures at Gresham College. The first series provided
the basis for the *Grammar*. The later lectures treated statistics.
Pearson had developed a new interest to which he would devote his greatest
efforts. With __W. F. R. Weldon__,
professor of zoology at UCL, he founded biometry. Weldon had come to the view
that “the problem of animal evolution is essentially a statistical problem” and
was applying Francis Galton’s
(1822-1911) statistical methods, including correlation. Pearson joined in,
developing new techniques and eventually a new theory of statistics. Over the
next ten years Pearson made his most important contributions to statistics,
including the method of moments, the Pearson system
of curves, correlation and the chi-squared test. Pearson
realised that the methods he had devised for biometry had other uses and he and
his collaborators applied them to all manner of subjects. The most important of
the early collaborators was G.
Udny Yule, whose
applied interests were in social policy and medicine. By the end of the
nineteenth century there was an embryonic mathematical statistics community
extending to non-biometricians such as F.
Y. Edgeworth and W. F. Sheppard.

In 1901
Pearson, Weldon and Galton founded *Biometrika*, a “Journal for the Statistical Study of
Biological Problems”. The mission was controversial. Following the
“rediscovery” of Mendel, William Bateson
(1861-1926) argued that the statistical study was pointless while Pearson
thought Mendel’s account covered only a few special cases. In 1903 Pearson
established the Biometric Laboratory. This drew visitors from all over,
including W. S.
Gosset (‘Student’) from Guinness in ** **H. L. Moore from
the __Irving Fisher__,
thought more of Pearson than their British counterparts—see below) As well as
research in theoretical and applied statistics, much effort went into
constructing statistical tables. In 1907 Pearson took over a research unit
founded by Galton and reconstituted it as the Francis Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics.
The laboratory researched human pedigrees but it also produced controversial
reports on the role of inherited and environmental factors in tuberculosis,
alcoholism and insanity. Pearson saw his role in eugenics as providing the
scientific foundations and he addressed other experts rather than the public
directly.

In 1911 a
bequest from Galton led to the establishing of a chair of Eugenics and a Department of Applied Statistics at *Biometrika*. He died on April 27^{th} 1936.

Sources
E. S. Pearson’s biography is the major source.
It is thorough and fair-minded, though inevitably dated. For the early Pearson
it has now been surpassed by Porter (2004). This new biography focuses on
the *making* of the statistician and does not try to cover in the same
detail what Pearson did when his career was under way.

The sketch over the menu is from Peter Lee’s portraits of statisticians

http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/welcome.htm

KP 1882 1890 & 1910 from E.
S. Pearson’s *Biometrika* biography

Weldon from KP’s *Biometrika*
memoir

KP with Galton from the Galton website http://www.mugu.com/galton/:

Bateson from the Bateson website http://post.queensu.ca/~forsdyke/bateson1.htm

Fisher from J. H. Bennett (1971) *Collected
Papers of R. A. Fisher* *volume 1*,

Additional photographs

The UCL Special Collections digital archive has some nice family photographs. Maria and baby Egon can be seen on Science, Technology and Engineering, p. 5 and Karl and Maria with pram and with grown-up children on Science, Technology and Engineering, p. 6.

There is a
wealth of photographs of places associated with the Pearson family on John
Bibby’s From Crambe to chi-squared.

There are photographs of the Pearson family home at Karl Pearson’s Hampstead home.

There are more brief lives at

MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive

This archive is excellent for finding out quickly who was who in Mathematics. There are several links to it in this guide.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Stats/department/pearson.html

The
Department of Statistical Science at UCL descends from Pearson’s Department of
Applied Statistics.

On the Intellectual
Versatility of Karl Pearson

R. H. Williams, Zumbo, B. D., Ross, D., & Zimmerman,
D.W. (2003) *Human Nature Review*, **3**: 296-301.

_______________________________________________________

Encyclopedia
articles not only introduce Pearson but lead on to related people and topics—to
W. K. Clifford, F. Galton, W. F. R. Weldon, W. Bateson, ‘Student’ (W. S. Gosset),
R. A. Fisher, F. Y. Edgeworth, G. U. Yule, M. Greenwood, E. Mach, … to
biometrics, chi-squared, correlation, eugenics, evolution, goodness of fit,
method of moments, Pearson system, regression, …. .

M. E. Magnello (2008) Pearson, Karl, *International Encyclopedia of the Social
Sciences*. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr.. Vol. 6. 2nd ed.

M. E. Magnello (2005) Karl Pearson,
*Encyclopedia of Social Measurement*, **3** 2005, 31-39,

J. Woiak (2004) Pearson, Karl (1857-1936), *Oxford** Dictionary of National Biography*,

J. Aldrich (2001) Pearson, Karl
(1857-1936) *International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences*,
11159-11163. Kidlington,

M. E. Magnello (1999) Pearson,
Karl, *Encyclopedia of Life Sciences*, available to subscribing
institutions at http://www.els.net/

M. E. Magnello (1998a) Karl Pearson, *Encyclopedia
of Statistical Science, *(update**), **653-656.

M. E. Magnello (1998b) Karl Pearson, *Encyclopedia
of Biostatistics* **4**, 3308-3315.

F.
N. David (1997) Karl Pearson, in N. L. Johnson & S. Kotz (eds) *Leading
Personalities in Statistical Sciences from the Seventeenth Century to the
Present*, 150-151.

F.
N. David (1985) Karl Pearson, *Encyclopedia of Statistical Science, ***6,
**653-656.

H. M. Walker (1978) Karl Pearson, *International
Encyclopedia of Statistics*, **2**, 691-698.

C. P. Eisenhart (1974) Karl Pearson, *Dictionary
of Scientific Biography, ***10***, *447-73.

P. Alexander (1967) Karl Pearson, *Encyclopedia
of Philosophy, ***6**, 68-69.

These articles are brief and
introductory except Eisenhart’s which is a small monograph. The* Encyclopedia
of Biostatistics* has the fullest set of links. Pearson also figures in
several of the articles in the

*Companion
Encyclopedia to the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences*,
1994.

_______________________________________________________

Karl Pearson was a great teacher.
For fifty years he taught at *Journal
of the Royal Statistical Society* or, after 1948, to *Series A* of that journal: Florence Nightingale David, **157** (1994), 299-301 *JSTOR*;
William Palin Elderton, **125**, (1962),
669-673 *JSTOR*; Edgar Charles
Fieller, **124**, (1961), 275-277 *JSTOR*;
William Sealy Gosset, **101**, (1938),
248-251 *JSTOR*; Major Greenwood, **112**, (1949), 247-249 *JSTOR*;
J. Arthur Harris, *Biometrika*, **28**, (1936), p. 444 *JSTOR*; David Heron, **133**, (1970), 276-279 *JSTOR*;
Austin Bradford Hill, **154**, (1991),
482-484 *JSTOR*; Joseph Oscar Irwin, **145**, (1982), 526-528 *JSTOR*;
Leon Isserlis, **129**, (1966), 612-616 *JSTOR*;
Henry Ludwell Moore *Econometrica*, **30**, (1962), 1-21 *JSTOR*; Ethel May
Newbold, **96**, (1933), 354-357 *JSTOR*;
Jerzy Neyman, **145**, (1982), 523-524 *JSTOR*;
Raymond Pearl, *Ecology*, **22**, (1941), 408, *JSTOR*; Egon Sharpe Pearson, **144**, (1981), 270-271 *JSTOR*; Edmund Cecil Rhodes, **128**, (1965), (4), 615-616 *JSTOR*;
Henry Schultz, *Econometrica*, **7**, (1939), 97-103. *JSTOR*; Ernest
Snow, **123**, (1960), 355-356 *JSTOR*;
Herbert Edward Soper, **94**, (1931),
135-141 *JSTOR*; Samuel Stouffer, American Statistician, **14**,
(1960), 36 *JSTOR*; L. H.
C. Tippett, **149**, (1986), 44 *JSTOR*;
John Wishart, **119**, (1956), 270-271 *JSTOR*;
George Udny Yule, **115**, (1952),
156-161* JSTOR*.

Some
of Pearson’s students wrote about him after he died. Pearson generated strong
reactions: “the man is a __liar__” wrote J. M. Keynes to W. Bateson in 1910
(Bateson Letters, John Innes
Archives). On Pearson’s death in 1936 and his
centenary in 1957 the survivors reflected on him and his work.

*The Times* obituary is
available on the MacTutor Pearson page.
Also available is an obituary for the Royal Society of Edinburgh by G. H. T.
(presumably Godfrey
Hilton Thomson (1881-1955) the statistical psychologist).

E.
S. Pearson (1895-1980),
Pearson’s son and his successor as head of the Department of Applied Statistics
University College, London (UCL) and editor of *Biometrika*, wrote a full biography
soon after his father’s death

Egon S. Pearson
(1936/8) Karl Pearson: An Appreciation of Some Aspects of his Life and Work, In
Two Parts, *Biometrika*, **28**, 193-257, **29**, 161-247. *JSTOR*, *JSTOR*

This
appeared as a book with the same title, published by Cambridge University
Press, in 1938.

George
Udny Yule (1871-1951)
was a student and eventually an assistant professor in Pearson’s department.
Later he went his own way he and Pearson came to disagree about association,
time series correlation, …. The Royal Society obituary also has a contribution
from L. N. G. Filon, Pearson’s student and
eventually his successor in the Goldsmid chair in Applied Mathematics

G. Udny Yule & L. N. G. Filon (1936)
Karl Pearson, *Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society of *,

Raymond Pearl** **(1879-1940)
attended Pearson’s lectures in 1905-6 and was once a co-editor of *Biometrika*.
See Matthews
(1995) for his fluctuating relations with Pearson. From 1919

Raymond Pearl (1936) Karl Pearson,
1857-1936, *Journal of the American Statistical Association*, **31**,
653-664. *JSTOR*

William Palin
Elderton (1877-1962) was a distinguished actuary. He first met Pearson in
1900 when he was training to be an actuary and was drawn into the

W. P. Elderton (1937) Professor
Karl Pearson, *Journal of the *,

E. S. Pearson recalls Elderton’s relations with Pearson in the
obituary, William Palin Elderton (1877-1962), *Biometrika*, **49**, (1962), 297-303. *JSTOR*

R.
A. Fisher (1890-1962),
Pearson’s greatest successor and his bitterest critic, wrote an article for the
*Dictionary of National Biography* but it was not accepted. Edwards
published the article and tells the story in

A.W. F. Edwards (1994) *Notes and Records
of the Royal Society of *

Pearson emerges without glory
from Fisher’s sketch of the history of statistics (available from the

Statistics from *Scientific Thought in the Twentieth
Century, *(ed. A. E. Heath), pp. 31-55.

An anonymous
reviewer of Fisher’s *Statistical
Methods for Research Workers* (1925) used a quotation from Macaulay to
describe Fisher’s attitude to Pearson: “just so we have heard a baby, mounted
on the shoulders of its father, cry out, ‘how much taller I am than Papa!’” The
reviewer could well have been Major Greenwood

Major
Greenwood (1880-1948)
wrote the article that appeared in the *DNB.*

M. Greenwood (1949) Pearson, Karl, *The
Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-40*, ed. L. G. Wickham Legg, pp.
681-684,

V. Farewell,
T. Johnson & P. Armitage (2006) ‘A Memorandum on the Present Position and
Prospects of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology’ by Major Greenwood, *Statistics
in Medicine,* **25**, 2167-2177.

J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964), at UCL from 1933 first as
professor of genetics then of biometry, compared Pearson to

J. B. S. Haldane (1957) Karl Pearson,
1857-1957. A Centenary Lecture delivered at University College London, *Biometrika,*
**44**, 303-313. *JSTOR*

H. M. Walker (1891-1983),
pioneer historian of statistics, produced a centenary piece on a man “to whom
no smaller word than titan is appropriate”

Helen M. Walker (1958) The Contributions of Karl Pearson, *Journal
of the American Statistical Association*, **53**, 11-22. *JSTOR*

S. A. Stouffer
(1900-1960) pioneer quantitative sociologist studied with Pearson in the 1930s.

Samuel A. Stouffer (1958) Karl Pearson—An Appreciation on the 100th Anniversary of his Birth, *Journal of the American Statistical
Association*, **53**, 23-27. *JSTOR*

2007 was the Karl Pearson
sesquicentenary (or sesquicentennial) and this was marked in various ways. There was a Karl Pearson
sesquicentenary conference in London in March and a session (“Karl
Pearson’s 150^{th} birthday,” IPM78) at the conference of the International
Statistical Institute in Lisbon in August; see below.

_______________________________________________________

Pearson’s
output was vast: Morant’s bibliography lists 648 publications and some of the
projects like the *Elasticity* and the Galton biography were on the
grandest scale.

G. M. Morant (1939) *A Bibliography of
the Statistical and other Writings of Karl Pearson*,

For
the statistical papers—at least—Morant provides abstracts and cross-references.
Most of the abstracts were written by B. L. Welch.

Most
of Pearson’s articles are now accessible through *JSTOR*. However many of
his contributions to *Biometrika* were unsigned editorials and material
from lectures and the only infallible method for finding them on *JSTOR *is
to go through volume by volume. Alternatively use the Morant bibliography.

The Pearson
Papers at University College London has more than 16,000 letters, family
papers and scientific manuscripts, including students’ notes on Pearson’s
lectures and the records of the Men and Women’s
Club. A catalogue is available:

*A list of the papers and correspondence *of Karl Pearson* (1857-1936) held in
the Manuscripts Room, University College London Library* compiled by M
Merrington, B Blundell, S Burrough, J Golden, J Hogarth (University College
London, 1983).

The
AIM25
listing contains a basic description of the collection.

Porter
(2004) has a long list of archives, the ones he used in writing his
book. There is also material at King’s College,

_______________________________________________________

A short list of Pearson’s writings

The
books listed show Pearson’s range of interests: applied mathematics, philosophy
of science, biometrics, eugenics, statistics, literature, linguistics and
society. His novel and play are included for their biographical interest, not
for their influence for they sank without trace; there are copies in the
British Library but not, it seems, in the main *not* included consult the Morant
bibliography or the entry in the COPAC
catalogue. Over 300 articles can be found on *JSTO R.*

This selection omits several volumes of tables, tracts for computers and monographs on physical anthropology.

Loki (1880) *The New Werther*.

Through
letters to his renounced beloved, Arthur describes the disappointments of
philosophy, science, art and love until, like Goethe’s Werther, he commits
suicide. For discussion see Porter (2004, ch. 3) and E. S. Pearson (1936, pp.
200-1)

[Anonymous] (1882)* The Trinity. A
Nineteenth Century Passion-Play, The Son; or, Victory of Love*.

In
the foreword to this retelling of the Christ story Pearson wrote “Modern
science and modern culture are freeing us from the old theological shackles;
let them take heed that in destroying a human divinity they do not forget a
divine humanity.” For discussion see Porter (2004, ch. 4) and E. S. Pearson (1936, pp.
201ff)

Karl Pearson (ed.)
(1885) *The Common Sense of the Exact Sciences* by W. K. Clifford.

The
*Exact Sciences* are mathematics, pure and applied. The book was re-issued
in 1946 with a laudatory preface by Bertrand Russell who had read it when he
was fifteen.

Karl Pearson (ed.)
(1886/93) *A History of the Theory of Elasticity and of the Strength of
Materials from Galilei to the Present Time* by I. Todhunter, *Vols I &
II* (II in two parts).

Pearson
wrote more than half of this enormous work. He kept to Todhunter’s plan of
summarising each contribution and the result is an encyclopedic treatise on
the literature of elasticity organised
chronologically rather than a history of science work of the modern kind. For
discussion see Porter (2004, ch. 3) and E. S. Pearson (1936, p. 209 )

Karl Pearson (1888) *The
Ethic of Freethought*,

The
first papers “endeavour to formulate the opinions which a rational being of
to-day may hold with regard to the physical and intellectual worlds.” A second
group “regards one or two phases of past thought and life from the
Freethinker’s standpoint.” The final group “deals with great race
problems”—socialism and the woman’s question. For discussion see Porter (2004, ch. 3)
and E. S.
Pearson (1936, pp. 198-206)

Karl Pearson (1892) *The
Grammar of Science*, with further editions in 1900 and 1911.

This
positivist account of science was widely read in English and in translations.
The second edition was enlarged to take account of Pearson’s mathematical
studies in evolution. The third edition was conceived on an even larger scale
but only the first (*Physical*) volume appeared. For the 1937 reissue in
the *Everyman* series E. S. Pearson returned to the chapter plan of 1892
but kept the wording of 1900; he also wrote an introduction. In 1991 Thoemmes
published a reprint of the first edition with an introduction by Andrew Pyle.
For discussion see Porter (2004, ch. 3) and E. S. Pearson (1936, pp.
214-7) and (1938, pp. 185-6).

Karl Pearson (1897) *Chances
of Death and Other Studies of Evolution*, 2 vols.

This
contains both statistical and historical studies of evolution. The latter
include reconstructions of prehistoric society based on the “fossils” of
language and customs. Behind the long study of the “German Passion-Play” is the
thought that the mediæval philosophy of life contained “social, economic, and
æsthetic elements wanting in the civilisation of today.” For discussion see Porter
(2004, ch. 3) and E. S. Pearson (1936, p. 225)

Karl Pearson (1901) *National Life from
the Standpoint of Science*, with a second edition in 1905.

This
gives Pearson’s views on nations, socialism and eugenics: “We find that the law
of survival of the fitter is true of mankind, but that the struggle is that of
the gregarious animal. A community not knit together by strong social instincts
by sympathy between man and man, and class and class cannot face the external
contest…” In the second edition the original lecture was supplemented by data
appendices

Karl Pearson (1914) *Tables for
Statisticians and Biometricians*,

The main purpose of these first tables was to assist in the
fitting of the Pearson curves. More specialised volumes came later as well as a
*Part II* in 1931. Much effort went
into table-making and it was an activity Pearson rated highly: “What the true statistician,
the true physicist demands” is “the conversion of algebraical results into
tables;” an "all-round mathematician" needs to be a “computer.” (Lectures on the *History of Statistics*, p. 245.) See E. S. Pearson (1938, p. 195)

Karl Pearson
(1914/24/30) *The Life, Letters and Labours of Francis Galton*, *Vols.
I, II, IIIA & IIIB*,

This huge work is one of the most ambitious biographies of a scientist ever written. Available online at Gavan Tredoux’s Galton website.

For discussion see E. S. Pearson (1938, pp. 193-195)

E.
S. Pearson (ed) (1978) *The History of Statistics in the 17th and 18th
Centuries against the Changing Background of Intellectual, Scientific and
Religious Thought: Lectures by Karl Pearson given at University College,
1921-1933*.

Here, unlike in the Todhunter *Elasticity*
volumes, the “changing background” is essential to the picture. There is a
useful review: I. Hacking (1981) Karl Pearson’s History of Statistics, *British
Journal of the Philosophy of Science*, **32**, 177-183.

The
articles listed here contain the core of Pearson’s contribution to statistics. Stigler (1986) and Hald
are good general guides but additional references are noted after each article.
Links are given to the Bibliothèque Nationale
for the *Phil. Trans*. papers.

Karl Pearson (1894) Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Evolution, *Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society A*, **185**, 71-110. *JSTOR*

(Introduces the method of moments and applies it to
estimating a mixture of normal distributions:
Magnello
(1996))

Karl Pearson (1895) Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Evolution. II. Skew Variation in Homogeneous Material*,
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A*, **186**, 343-414.* JSTOR*

(Introduces
the Pearson system of curves: Magnello
(1996))

Karl Pearson (1896) Mathematical Contributions to the Theory of Evolution. III. Regression,
Heredity and Panmixia, *Philosophical
Transactions of the
Royal Society A*, **187**, 253-318. * JSTOR*

(Develops
normal correlation and regression and applies them to heredity: Aldrich
(1995)
Magnello
(1998c))

Karl Pearson & L. N. G. Filon (1898) Mathematical
Contributions to the Theory of Evolution IV. On the Probable
Errors of Frequency Constants and on the Influence of Random Selection on
Variation and Correlation,*
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A*, **191**, 229-311. *JSTOR*

(Presents
a way of calculating probable errors and applies it to method of moments
estimators: Dale Aldrich (1997))

Karl Pearson (1900) On
the Criterion that a Given System of Deviations from the Probable in the Case
of Correlated System of Variables is such that it can be Reasonably Supposed to
have Arisen from Random Sampling, *Philosophical Magazine*, **50**,
157-175. here

(Introduces the χ^{2} goodness of
fit test.
Lancaster Plackett Barnard Magnello (1998c) Magnello (2005))

These
articles were all written before *Biometrika* was founded. With some other
non-* Biometrika* pieces they were reprinted (without editorial additions)
in

E. S. Pearson (editor) (1948) *Karl Pearson’s
Early Statistical Papers*,

Pearson’s technical publications usually
involve unfamiliar mathematics *and* unfamiliar science and, while his
volumes of essays were addressed to the educated reader, both the issues and
the way they are treated are now remote.

Pearson
did not make a book out of his

The Laws of Chance, in Relation to
Thought and Conduct: Introductory, Definitions and Fundamental Conceptions
Being: the First of a Series of Lectures Delivered by Karl Pearson at Gresham
College in 1892, *Biometrika*, **32**, (1941), 89-100. *JSTOR*

Two
papers of considerable autobiographical interest should be mentioned. The
memoir Pearson wrote on the death of Weldon, his friend and most important
colleague, recalls the beginnings of biometry

Karl Pearson (1906) Walter Frank Raphael
Weldon.1860-1906, *Biometrika*, **5**,1-52. *JSTOR*

In
old age Pearson wrote affectionately of his student days in the 1870s

Karl Pearson (1936) Old Tripos Days at *Mathematical Gazette*, **20**, 27-36. here

In
fact, his experience at the time, as described in Andrew Warwick’s *Masters
of Theory: Cambridge and the Rise of Mathematical Physics*, Chicago UP
(2003) and based on letters to his family, seems to have been rather unhappy.

Two anthologies of “fin de
siècle” writing have snippets of Pearson: Ledger & Luckhurst have extracts
from *National Life* and the *Grammar of Science, *Jay & Neve
have extracts from *National Life* and the *Scope and The Importance to
the State of the Science of National Eugenics *(1907).

Sally Ledger and Roger Luckhurst (editors)
(2000) *Fin de Siècle A Reader in Cultural History, C. 1880-1900*,

Mike Jay and Michael Neve (editors) (2000) *1900: A Fin-De-Siècle Reader*,
Harmondsworth, Penguin.

These volumes treat themes developed more fully in the secondary literature listed under Eugenics, feminism & socialism and Physics & philosophy.

Much of Pearson’s most important statistical work appeared in conjunction with biological ideas which are now obsolete—e.g. his fundamental work on correlation is in the 1896 paper on “Regression, Heredity and Panmixia”. However his first chi-squared paper, Pearson (1900), does not contain difficult biological matter. It appears with notes by G. A. Barnard in

S. Kotz & N. L. Johnson (ed.) (1992) *Breakthroughs
in Statistics Volume 1*,

Pearson
wrote no textbook but the chapters on evolution in the 2^{nd} edition
(1900) of the *Grammar of Science** *make a good introduction to his way of
doing statistics. A “statistical methods for research workers” could be
compiled from the *introductions* he wrote for his books of tables.
Elderton’s Pearsonian textbook covers fitting the Pearson curves and correlation:

W. P. Elderton
(1906) *Frequency-Curves and Correlation*.

_______________________________________________________

The
following selection from the secondary literature is organised under four
headings: philosophy, statistics, biology and society. Pearson’s work does not
divide so neatly and several items could as well appear elsewhere; this
polyvalence is probably one of the appeals of Pearson research. Here I mention
some works spanning the categories.

The
new biography by Porter has a different emphasis from most of the literature on
Pearson for it focuses on the *formation* of the statistician

T. M. Porter (2004) *Karl
Pearson: the Scientific Life in a Statistical Age. *

The
book makes impressive use of the abundant archival material to give a very full
account of Pearson’s life and thoughts in the period before 1900, treating his later
career in more cursory fashion. The treatment of Pearson’s work in literature,
history and physics and his first efforts in statistics is much fuller than
that available elsewhere. The first part of E. S. Pearson’s biography had
covered similar territory but in much less detail and with less discussion of
the subject’s motivation. Porter’s book has been widely and favourably
reviewed. See here for a list of the
reviews. Two are available on-line: Lee
in *Notes
and Records of the Royal Society*, **59**, (2005) and Aldrich in *American
Scientist*.

The
inter-connectedness of Pearson’s work was taken for granted by his
contemporaries. More recently it has been emphasised by the sociologist
MacKenzie and historian Magnello.

D. A. MacKenzie (1981)
*Statistics in *.

M. E. Magnello (1996) Karl Pearson’s Gresham Lectures: W. F.
R. Weldon, Speciation and the Origins of Pearsonian Statistics, *British
Journal of the History of Science*, **29**, 43-64.

MacKenzie’s
sociology of scientific knowledge approach has been criticised by Sullivan (see
also Olby)

P. Sullivan (1998) An Engineer Dissects
Two Case Studies: Hayes on Fluid Mechanics and MacKenzie on Statistics in N.
Koertge (ed.) *A Home Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths about
Science*,

D. A. MacKenzie (1999) The Science Wars
and the Past’s Quiet Voices, (with response by P. Sullivan and reply by
Mackenzie), *Social Studies of Science*, **29**, 199-234.

The danger of over-simplifying Pearson’s
activities is emphasised by

M. E. Magnello (1999) The Non-correlation
of Biometrics and Eugenics: Rival Forms of Laboratory Work in Karl Pearson’s
Career at University College London, (In two Parts), *History of Science*,
**37**, 79-106,
123-150.

Galton had an
important influence on both Pearson’s statistical work and his genetical work.
Two new biographies discuss Pearson and his relationship with Galton

N. W. Gillham (2001) *A Life of Sir Francis
Galton: From African Exploration to the Birth of Eugenics*,

M. Bulmer (2003) *Francis
Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry*, *
*

Pearson’s
quarrel with R. A. Fisher encompassed both
statistics and genetics. Fisher’s side is described by

J. F. *R. A. Fisher: The Life of a
Scientist*,

E.
S. Pearson’s (1936/38) biography does not treat the quarrel but see the
references under Statistics
and Genetics & evolution** **and Edwards
(1994)**.**

The
relationship between Pearson’s philosophy of science and his genetics is
discussed by

B. Norton (1975) Metaphysics and
Population Genetics: Karl Pearson and the Background to Fisher’s
Multi-factorial Theory of Inheritance, *Annals of Science*, **32**,
537-553.

P. R. Sloan (2000) Mach's Phenomenalism and the British
Reception of Mendelism, *Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences
Series III Sciences de la Vie*, **323**, no. 12, pp. 1069-1079(11).

J. Gayon (2007) Karl Pearson: les enjeux du phénoménalisme dans les
sciences biologiques, pp. 305–324 of J. Gayon and R. Burian (eds.) *Conceptions de la science, hier,
aujourd'hui, demain*,

The
relationship between his philosophy of science and his thinking about
correlation is discussed by Hilts and by

J. Aldrich (1995) Correlations Genuine and Spurious in
Pearson and Yule, *Statistical Science*, **10**, 364-376. pdf *JSTOR*

Pearson’s
position on spurious correlation is treated in the earliest known uses entries on
“spurious correlation” and “Simpson’s paradox”.

_______________________________________________________

The
most thorough account of Pearson’s work in physics and the philosophy of
science is in chapter 3 of Porter (2004). Modern textbooks seldom mention
Pearson’s contributions to applied mathematics/physics, though the
Pearson-Todhunter *History *is still referred to. Nor is there much
historical literature; there are a few remarks in

M. Jammer (1961) *Concepts
of Mass in Classical and Modern Physics*,

A recent article has examined Todhunter and Pearson together
with the other important historians of elasticity

L. A.
Godoy (2006) Historical Sense in the Historians of the Theory of Elasticity, *Meccanica*, **41**, Number 5, October, 2006.

Pearson’s philosophy of
science has received more attention. Passmore and Porter discuss it in relation to the ideas of
other late 19^{th} century physicists

J. Passmore (1968) *A Hundred Years of
Philosophy*, 2^{nd} edition, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

T. M. Porter (1994) The Death of the
Object*: Fin-de-Siècle* Philosophy of Physics, in D. M. Ross (ed.) *Modernist
Impulses in the Human Sciences*,

Thiele has reproduced the correspondence between Mach and Pearson

Joachim
Thiele (1969) Karl Pearson, Ernst Mach,
John B. Stallo: Briefe aus den Jahren 1897 bis 1904, *Isis***60**, 535-542.

Porter
draws on Pearson’s novel and passion play to discuss his philosophy taken more
broadly—including his attitudes to religion and socialism—in

T. M. Porter (1999) Reason, Faith, and
Alienation in the Victorian *Fin-de-Siècle* in H. E. Bodecker (ed.) *Wissenschaft
als Kulturelle Praxis. *

In this essay
Porter compares Pearson with John Henry Newman. Levine compares him with Walter
Pater:

George
Levine *Victorian
Studies*, **43**, 7-42. (available online at http://iupress.indiana.edu/journals/victorian/vic43-1.html

Herbert detects Feuerbach’s influence in the* Grammar of
Science*

Christopher Herbert (1996)
Science and Narcissism, *Modernism/Modernity,*
3, 129-135. Available online to subscribing institutions at

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/modernism-modernity/v003/3.3herbert.html

The *Grammar* made little impression on professional
philosophers but it was inspiring to a number of scientifically-minded
youngsters including Harold
Jeffreys and Jerzy
Neyman. Raymond
Pearl testified to this influence on his generation.

_______________________________________________________

Pearson’s
name appears in statistics textbooks in connection with chi-squared,
correlation, goodness of fit, method of moments and the Pearson system of
curves. However these books rarely contain much information about the man or
about the context of his work.

There
is a good account of Pearson’s earliest statistical work in chapters 8 and 9 of
Porter
(2004). Another useful account containing much biographical
information is

M. Eileen Magnello (2005) Karl Pearson
and the Origins of Modern Statistics: An Elastician becomes a Statistician, *Rutherford Journal*, **1** (1) here

For accounts on Pearson’s place in the history
of statistics see (besides MacKenzie
(1981))

H. M. Walker (1929) *Studies
in the History of Statistical Method*, Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

V.
L. Hilts (1967) *Statist and Statistician: Three Studies in the History of
Nineteenth Century English Statistical Thought*. Thesis,

J. W. Tankard (1984) *The
Statistical Pioneers*,

T. M. Porter (1986) *The
Rise of Statistical Thinking 1820-1900*, Princeton:

S. M. Stigler (1986) *The History of Statistics: The Measurement
of Uncertainty before 1900*.

A. Hald (1998) *A History of
Mathematical Statistics from 1750 to 1930*.

The *International Statistical Review* has marked the Pearson
sesquicentenary with a special issue. Appropriately enough, the articles
emphasise Pearson’s international influence.

E. Seneta, *International Statistical
Review*, **77**, 1-2.

M. E. Magnello Karl Pearson and
the Establishment of Mathematical Statistics,* International Statistical Review*, **77**, 3-29.

H. A. David (2009) Karl
Pearson—The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age by Theodore M. Porter: A
Review,* International Statistical Review*,
**77**, 30-39.

A. M. Fiori andM. Zenga (2009) Karl
Pearson and the Origin of Kurtosis, *International
Statistical Review*, **77**, 40-50.

D R. Bellhouse (2009) Karl Pearson's Influence in the United
States,* International Statistical Review*,
**77**, 51-63.

P Guttorp and G. Lindgren (2009) Karl Pearson and the Scandinavian
School of Statistics,* International
Statistical Review*, **77**, 64-71.

T. K. Nayak (2009) Impact of Karl
Pearson's Work on Statistical Developments in * International Statistical Review*, **77**, 72-80.

C. G. Borroni (2009)
Understanding Karl Pearson's Influence on Italian Statistics in the Early 20th
Century* International Statistical Review*,
**77**,
81-95.

I. H. Stamhuis and E. Seneta
(2009) Pearson's Statistics in the * International Statistical Review*,
**77**, 96-117.

*
International Statistical Review*, **77**,
118-146.

The issue has no paper on Pearson’s influence in

M. Armatte (2005) Lucien March (1859-1933):
Une statistique mathématique sans probabilité? *Journal
Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique, 1, (1),
pp. 19*.

Hald’s
book has a comprehensive bibliography.
A few items from it are worth highlighting: E. S. Pearson on the interaction of
Pearson, Galton, Weldon, Edgeworth, ‘Student’
and Fisher and Plackett on Pearson (1900)

E. S. Pearson (1965) Some Incidents in
the Early History of Biometry and Statistics 1890-94, *Biometrika,* **52**,
3-18. *JSTOR*

E. S. Pearson (1967) Some Reflections on
Continuity in the Development of Mathematical Statistics 1885-1920, *Biometrika,*
**54**, 341-355.* JSTOR*

E. S. Pearson (1968) Some Early Correspondence Between W. S. Gosset, *Biometrika,* **55**, 445-457. *JSTOR*.

R. L. Plackett (1983) Karl
Pearson and the Chi-squared Test, *International Statistical Review*, **51**,
59-72.

More recent papers include

S. M. Stigler (1999) Karl Pearson and
Degrees of Freedom. In the collection of essays, S. M. Stigler, *Statistics
on the Table*,

Eileen Magnello, Karl
Pearson, Paper on the Chi-Squared Goodness of Fit Test. In Ivor
Grattan-Guinness (ed.) *Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics: Case
Studies, 1640-1940*, pp. 724-731,

S. M. Stigler (2008) Karl Pearson's
Theoretical Errors and the Advances They Inspired, *Statistical Science*, **23**
(2), 261-271. Euclid.

Lancaster and Dale treat more specialised
theoretical topics

H. O. Lancaster (1969) *The Chi-squared Distribution*,

A. I. Dale (1999) *A History of Inverse Probability from
Thomas Bayes to Karl Pearson*, second edition,

There is a volume marking the centenary
of Pearson’s chi-squared paper

C. Huber-Caro, N. Balakrishnan,
M. Nikulin, M. Mesbah (Eds.) (2002) *Goodness-of-Fit
Tests and Model Validity*,

Pearson’s time series analysis as well as
other aspects of his work are discussed by

J. L. Klein (1997) *Statistical Visions
in Time: A History of Time Series* *Analysis, 1662-1938*,

Pearson’s disagreements with Yule on time series analysis—as well as on other aspects of correlation—are discussed by Aldrich (1995).

Among the other
distinguished statisticians who worked for KP were F. N. David, J. O. Irwin, H. E. Soper (see M.
Greenwood, *Journal of the Royal Statistical Society*, 94, (1931), 135-141
*JSTOR*) and J.
Wishart.

Pearson’s
relations with Gosset (‘Student’) are covered by

E. S. Pearson (1990) *‘Student’, A
Statistical Biography of William Sealy Gosset*, Edited and Augmented by R.
L. Plackett with the Assistance of G. A. Barnard, Oxford: University Press.

The origins of Fisher’s quarrel with Pearson (see above) are
described in

E. S. Pearson (1968) Some Early
Correspondence between W. S. Gosset, *Biometrika*, **55**,
445-457. *JSTOR*

There were many areas of disagreement.
Besides Hald and Lancaster see

S. E. Fienberg (1980) Fisher’s
Contribution to Categorical Data, pp. 75-84 of Fienberg, S. E. & D. V.
Hinkley (1980) (eds.) *R. A. Fisher: An Appreciation*, New York, Springer.

R. Mensch (1980) Fisher and the Method of
Moments, pp. 67-74, of Fienberg & Hinkley.

D. Baird (1983) The Fisher/Pearson
Chi-Squared Controversy: A Turning Point for Inductive Inference, *British
Journal for the Philosophy of Science*, **34**, 105-118. *JSTOR*

H. F. Inman (1994) Karl Pearson and *Nature*, *American Statistician*, **48**, 2-11. *JSTOR*

J. Aldrich (1997) *Statistical Science*, **12**, 162-176. *Project
Euclid*.

S. M. Stigler (2005) Fisher in 1921, *Statistical Science*, **20**,
32-49. *Project
Euclid*.

J. Aldrich (2005) Fisher and Regression, *Statistical Science*, **20**, 401-417. *pdf*.

The relevant papers by Fisher are available from the University of Adelaide as is the useful biography

Yates, F. & K. Mather (1963)
Ronald
Aylmer Fisher
1890-1962,
*Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society*, **9**, 91-120.

For more on Fisher see A
Guide to R. A. Fisher.

Pearson did not only apply statistics to
biometrics; for his work in medical statistics
see

J. Rosser Matthews
(1995) *Quantification and the Quest for Medical Certainty*, Princeton,

M. E. Magnello (2002) The Introduction of
Mathematical Statistics into Medical Research: The Roles of Karl Pearson, Major
Greenwood and Austin Bradford Hill, in Eileen Magnello and Anne Hardy (ed.) *The
Road to Medical Statistics*, Amsterdam: Rodopi.

A. Hardy**
**and** **M. E. Magnello
(2002) Statistical methods in
Epidemiology: Karl Pearson, Ronald Ross, Major Greenwood and Austin
Bradford Hill, 1900-1945, *Soz.-
Präventivmed*. **47**, 80–89. here

K.
O'Rourke (2006). Reducing the Play of Chance using Meta-analysis. *James Lind Library. **This refers to the
following*

K.
Pearson (1904) Report on Certain Enteric Fever Inoculation
Statistics. *British Medical Journal*, **3**, 1243-1246. here

The
medical statistician Major Greenwood
was strongly influenced by Pearson. Austin Bradford Hill
attended Pearson’s lectures but was not so strongly influenced.

Pearson’s research into the effects of
parental alcoholism was criticised by doctors and by the **economists** J. M. Keynes, Alfred Marshall and A. C. Pigou.
The controversy is discussed in the standard biographies of Keynes (by Harrod,
Skidelsky and Moggridge) and in accounts of Keynes’s attitude towards
statistics: see e.g.

R. M. O’Donnell (1989) *Keynes:
Philosophy, Economics and Politics*,

B. W. Bateman (1990) Keynes, Induction
and Econometrics, *History of Political
Economy*, **22**, 359-379.

The most thorough treatment of the
statistical issues involved is

S. M. Stigler (1999) Karl Pearson and the
*Statistics on the
Table*,

Pearson’s more positive relationships with the American **statistical economists** H. L. Moore and Irving Fisher are
discussed in

J.
Aldrich (2010) The
Econometricians’ Statisticians 1895-1945, *History
of Political Economy*, **42**,
111-154.

*Biometrika* celebrated its centenary in 2001 and
several of the articles in the commemorative issue (February 2001) discuss
Pearson’s contributions to the journal. The material is available in book form
as *Biometrika: One Hundred Years *edited
by

D. M. Titterington & D.

Pearson changed the language of
Statistics and contributed many technical terms as can be seen from

J.
Aldrich (2003) The Language of the English Biometric School, *International
Statistical Review*, **71**, 109-131. pdf

H.
A. David, First (?) Occurrence of Common Terms in Statistics and Probability,
Appendix B and pp. 219-228 of H. A. David & A. W. F. Edwards (ed.) (2001) *Annotated
Readings in the History of Statistics*,
Springer

or
by searching for Pearson in Jeff Miller’s Earliest known uses of some of
the words of mathematics.

_______________________________________________________

There is a large literature touching on
Pearson in this area—and the following is only a selection. Pearson’s work has not
only attracted attention from regular historians of science but from students
of the sociology of scientific knowledge (see above) and the
philosophy of science.

Pearson’s biology is put in various
historical contexts by

P.
J. Bowler (1989) *The Mendelian Revolution: The Emergence of Hereditarian
Concepts in Modern Science and Society*,

W. B. Provine (1971) *The Origins of
Theoretical Population Genetics*,

K.-M. Kim (1994) *Explaining Scientific Consensus: the Case of Mendelian Genetics*,

J. Gayon (1998) *Darwinism’s Struggle
for Survival: Heredity and the Hypothesis of Natural Selection*,

P. *Evolution* in the* Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy*.

Bowler is very brief. The other works
have much more to say.

For a recent detailed account of
Pearson’s efforts see

M. E. Magnello (1998c) Karl Pearson’s Mathematisation of
Inheritance: from Galton’s Ancestral Heredity to Mendelian Genetics
(1895-1909), *Annals of Science*, **55**, 35-94.

The
controversy with the Mendelian, William Bateson, is examined more specifically in

P. Froggatt & N. C. Nevin (1971) The
“Law of Ancestral Heredity” and the Mendelian-Ancestrian Controversy in *Journal of Medical Genetics*, **8**, 1-36.

D. A. MacKenzie & B. Barnes (1979)
Scientific Judgement: the Biometry-Mendelism Controversy, pp. 191-210 of *Natural Order: Historical Studies of
Scientific Culture*, edited by B. Barnes and S. Shapin, Beverly-Hills: Sage.

N. Roll-Hansen (1983): The Death of
Spontaneous Generation and the Birth of the Gene: Two Case Studies of
Relativism. *Social Studies of Science*,
**13**, 481-519.

R. Olby (1988) The
Dimensions of Scientific Controversy: The Biometric-Mendelian Debate, *British
Journal of the History of Science*, **22**, 299-320.

A. Nordmann (1992) Darwinians at War:
Bateson's Place in Histories of Darwinism, *Synthese*,
**91**, 53-72.

A. R. Rushton
(2000) Nettleship, Pearson and
Bateson: The
Biometric-Mendelian
Debate in a Medical Context, *Journal of
the History of Medicine*, **55**,
134-157.

M. E. Magnello (2004) “The Reception of
Mendelism by the Biometricians and the Early Mendelians (1899-1909, in M. Keynes, A. W. F. Edwards,
R. Peel (eds.) (2004) *A Century of
Mendelism in Human Genetics*,

Olby
also reviews the secondary literature. For Bateson see Donald Forsdyke’s website. A major
biography of Bateson has recently appeared

Alan G. Cock & Donald *“Treasure
Your Exceptions”: The Science and Life of William Bateson*, Springer (__Amazon__

An important point of contention between
Pearson and Fisher (see also the references
under Statistics
above) is treated by

B. Norton and E. S. Pearson
(1976) A Note on the Background to and Refereeing of *Notes & Records
of the Royal Society of London,* **31**, 151-62. *JSTOR*

Fisher
1918 reconciled Mendelism and Biometry. Morrison tries to identify the assumptions
behind Fisher’s reconciliation and Pearson’s rejection of reconciliation.

M. Morrison (2002) Modelling Populations:
Pearson and Fisher on Mendelism and Biometry, *British Journal for the
Philosophy of Science*, **53**, 39-698.

Pearson’s
criticism of some Mendelian work on the inheritance of mental defect is treated
by

H. G. Spencer and D. B. Paul
(1998) The Failure of a Scientific Critic: David Heron, Karl Pearson and
Mendelian Eugenics, *British Journal of the History of Science,* **31**,
441-452.

__________________________________

Pearson is perhaps most familiar to the general reader as an advocate of eugenics. For an introduction and guide to this literature see MacKenzie and

G. R. Searle (1976)
*Eugenics and Politics in *.

D. J. Kevles (1985) *In the Name of
Eugenics: Genetics and the Use of Human Heredity*,

P. M. H.
Mazumdar (1992) *Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human Failings*.

Kevles
has a valuable bibliographical essay.

There
are 2 short extracts from Pearson’s writings on eugenics in

Lucy Bland & Laura Doan (eds) (1998) *Sexology
Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science,* Chicago: Chicago University
Press. (Table
of contents)

Carolyn Burdett “From the New Werther to
Numbers and Arguments: Karl Pearson’s Eugenics” in Roger
Luckhurst & Josephine McDonagh (eds) (2002)* Transactions*** ***and Encounters: Science and Culture in
the Nineteenth Century*,

Pearson’s
participation in the Men and Women’s Club (in existence from 1885 to
1889) and his marriage to Maria Sharpe are discussed by Porter (2004) and
by

L. Bland (1995) *Banishing the Beast:
English Feminism and Sexual Morality 1885-1914*,

The Club is also discussed in

Judith *History
Workshop*, no. 21 (Spring),
37-59.

Judith *City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in
Late-Victorian London*,

Elaine Showalter (1990) *Sexual
Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin-de-Siecle*,

Olive Schreiner (Burdett) was the Club’s best-known woman member. There are accounts of her relationship with Pearson in

Ruth First & Ann Scott (1980)
*Olive Schreiner*, * *

Carolyn Burdett (2001*) Olive
Schreiner and the Progress of Feminism: Evolution, Gender, Empire*,

The careers of two of KP’s female
colleagues are described by

R. Love (1979) *Annals of Science*, **36**,
145-158.

Semmel pioneered the study of Pearson’s
social ideology in its historical context

B. Semmel (1960) *Imperialism and
Social Reform: English Social-Imperial Thought 1895-1914*,

There
are later references in Olby. See also MacKenzie
and Porter (1994 and –99).

Pearson
also appears in Jones’s more sociologically oriented study

Greta Jones (1980) *Social Darwinism
and English Thought: the Interaction between Biological and Social Theory*,

_______________________________________________________

In
statistics and biology there has long been a sense that Pearson’s work had been
absorbed and that nothing *new* can be learnt from it. Yet occasionally one
of his ideas is picked up and developed as e.g. the correlation curve

*International Statistical Review*, **62**, 393-403.

but
more often they are re-invigorated without reference to the original as in

L. P. Hansen (1982) Large Sample
Properties of Generalized Methods of Moments Estimators, *Econometrica*, **50**,
1029-1054. *JSTOR*

_______________________________________________________

The
secondary works listed above have further references and the Science, Social
Science and Art & Humanities citation indexes will generate more. The *Current
Index to Statistics*, *Isis* and *Historia Mathematica *index
papers in statistics, history of science and the history of mathematics.

Web sites

For Francis Galton see the website created by Gavan Tredoux

For a sketch of the history of probability and statistics and notes on some of the key people see my

Figures from the History of Probability and Statistics

For the history of statistics see
Peter Lee’s

Materials
for the History of Statistics

For the history of mathematics see David Wilkins’s

Websites relevant to the History of Mathematics

MedHist the Wellcome Library’s gateway to
internet resources for the history of medicine has sections on genetics and
eugenics.

_______________________________________________________