**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)

_______________________________________________________

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

Karl Pearson was born in London
on March 27^{th} 1857 into an upper-middle class family, his father a barrister.
He read mathematics at Cambridge University, where Maxwell, Cayley and Stokes
were the luminaries. He had the best of coaches, Routh, and came through the examinations as third
wrangler. This brought him a fellowship and, for some years, financial
freedom to travel and to pursue very diverse interests. He qualified as a barrister and studied social, philosophical,
literary and historical questions, turning himself into a German Late Romantic.
Pearson developed his own view of man’s place in a post-Christian world,
expressing his ideas in a novel and play as well as in essays—some of these
appeared in the *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 Dublin and the
biologist Raymond Pearl and the economist** **H. L. Moore from
the United States. (American economists, like Moore and __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 University
College. Pearson was no longer responsible for applied mathematics. After the
1914-18 war statistics continued to flourish and the department went on
attracting talents, such as Neyman and Wishart, but Pearson was
no longer producing influential new ideas. By the later 20s R.
A. Fisher was replacing him as the dominant influence on the
subject. Some of Fisher’s most important contributions were corrections to
Pearson’s work and relations between the men were bad from around 1917. Pearson
retired in 1933 but he continued to write and, with his son E. S. Pearson, to
edit *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). The
newer 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

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*,
Adelaide: Adelaide University Press.

Additional photographs

The UCL Special Collections digital archive has some nice family photographs including Maria and baby Egon, Karl and Maria with pram and Karl and Maria with teenage children.

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. Detroit: Macmillan
Reference USA, 2008. 190-194. here

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

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

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

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. New York: Wiley.

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

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. New York: Wiley.

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

H. M. Walker (1978) Karl Pearson, *International
Encyclopedia of Statistics*, **2**, 691-698.
New York: Free Press.

C. P. Eisenhart
(1974) Karl Pearson, *Dictionary of Scientific Biography, ***10***, *447-73. New York: Scribner. Not subject
to copyright

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

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. London: Routledge.

_______________________________________________________

Karl Pearson was a great teacher.
For fifty years he taught at University College; his subjects were applied
mathematics, astronomy and statistics. For nearly forty years he almost
monopolised the teaching of statistics in Britain and many prominent
statisticians studied with him. Some went as undergraduates, some as fledgling
members of staff and some as visitors; the modern PhD system was established
only towards the end of Pearson’s career and he was never part of it. The
following were among those who studied with him—the reference, unless otherwise
stated, is to an obituary in the *Journal
of the Royal Statistical Society* or, after 1948, to *Series A* of that journal: Burton H. Camp, Florence Nightingale
David, **157** (1994), 299-301 *JSTOR*;
William Palin Elderton, **125**, (1962),
669-673 *JSTOR*; Edgar Charles
Fieller, **124**, (1961), 275-277 *JSTOR*;
Louis Napoleon George Filon
(1875-1937); 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*.

On
Pearson’s death in 1936 and his centenary in 1957 the survivors reflected on
him and his work. The reflections were generally more tempered than the
reactions that Pearson generated in his life-time: “the man is a __liar__”
wrote J. M. Keynes to W. Bateson in 1910 (Bateson Letters, John Innes
Archives).

*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 who contributed to *Biometrika*
and was once offered a job by Pearson).

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.

G.
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, …. Yule’s appreciation of
Pearson’s greatness and his flaws comes out in the two obituaries he wrote

G. Udny Yule (1936) Prof. Karl Pearson,
F.R.S., *Nature*, May 23,
856-7.

(This
was reproduced in the *JRSS* with some
remarks on Pearson’s relations with the RSS.)

Professor Karl Pearson, F.R.S., 1857-1936, *Journal
of the Royal Statistical Society*, **99**,
(2), 424-428.* JSTOR*

Yule’s
much longer Royal Society obituary also has a contribution from L. N. G. Filon, Pearson’s student and 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 London*, **2**, 74-110. Royal
Society

Burton Camp,
professor of mathematics at Wesleyan and President of the Institute of
Mathematical Statistics in 1938, was an American visitor to Pearson’s laboratory
during 1923-4; see Bellhouse (2011). He
wrote on the occasion of Pearson’s retirement:

Burton H.
Camp (1933) Karl Pearson and Mathematical Statistics, *Journal of the
American Statistical Association*, **28**, (Dec), 395-401. *JSTOR*

Raymond Pearl** **(1879-1940)
attended Pearson’s lectures in 1905-6 and was once a co-editor of *Biometrika*.
See Matthews (1995) and
Bellhouse (2011)
for his fluctuating relations with Pearson. From 1919 Pearl was a professor at
Johns Hopkins. In his obituary he wrote warmly of Pearson’s influence on his
generation.

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 University College statistical group. Elderton computed the first chi-square tables and in 1907 published an account of the Pearson curves (see below). His sister Ethel M. Elderton worked for Pearson for many years. In his obituary Elderton gave a balanced account of Pearson’s achievement and personality.

W. P. Elderton (1937) Professor
Karl Pearson, *Journal of the Institute of Actuaries*, **68**, 183-185.
here

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

R.
A. Fisher
(1890-1962), Pearson’s greatest successor and fiercest 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) R. A. Fisher
on Karl Pearson, *Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London,* **48**,
97-106. *JSTOR*

Pearson emerges without glory from Fisher’s sketch of the history of statistics (available from the University of Adelaide in pdf format)

Statistics from *Scientific Thought in the Twentieth
Century, *(ed. A. E. Heath), pp. 31-55. London: Watts, 1951.

An anonymous
reviewer of Fisher’s *Statistical
Methods for Research Workers* (1925) used a quotation from Macaulay to
describe Fisher’s relationship 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 was probably Major Greenwood. For more on Fisher and
Pearson see A
Guide to R. A. Fisher.

Major
Greenwood
(1880-1948) wrote the article that actually appeared in the *DNB.*
Greenwood was an early follower of Pearson and became professor of medical statistics at the London School of Hygiene &
Tropical Medicine: see Matthews (1995) for
his relations with Pearson. In 1928 Greenwood wrote a memorandum on the state
of medical statistics in which Pearson is compared with Newton but, as with
Newton and the calculus, the Continentals had the better system!

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

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.

Greenwood expressed his feelings
towards Pearson in the opening paragraphs of his Presidential
Address to the Statistical Society given a few months after Pearson’s
death.

J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964), at UCL from 1933
first as professor of genetics then of biometry, compared Pearson to Columbus:
following a false theory of heredity he discovered methods that proved
indispensable for the study of evolution.

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, wrote 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*,
Cambridge University Press.

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, Cambridge (Bradshaw
Papers), in the University Library at Cambridge, at the Royal Society, the
Royal Astronomical Society, Adelaide University Library, the
Worshipful Company of Drapers, the American Philosophical Society Library and
the Rockefeller Archive Center.

_______________________________________________________

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 UK university libraries. However
reprints of them are now available. To see the mass and variety of the
publications *not* included consult the Morant bibliography or the Karl
Pearson entry in the COPAC catalogue. Over
300 articles can be found on *JSTOR*.

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

Loki (1880) *The**
New Werther*. London: C. Kegan Paul. Amazon

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*. Cambridge: E. Johnson. Amazon

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.
London: Kegan Paul, Trench

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). Cambridge:
University Press.

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*, London, T. Fisher Unwin Trench.

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.
London: Walter Scott (1892) and A. & C. Black (1900 & 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. London:
Edward Arnold.

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. London:
A. & C. Black.

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*, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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*, Cambridge: University
Press

This huge work is one of
the most ambitious biographies of a scientist ever written. It is available on
Gavin 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*. London: Griffin.

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 *JSTOR*.

Articles

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) Mathematical
Contributions to the 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*,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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 Gresham lectures on statistics and probability but the
following general essay on probability was published after his death

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 Cambridge, as Seen from Another
Viewpoint, *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*, Cambridge, Cambridge
University Press.

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*, New York, Springer-Verlag.

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,
especially *Tables for Statisticians and Biometricians*. Elderton’s Pearsonian textbook
covers fitting the Pearson curves and correlation:

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

_______________________________________________________

Writing about Pearson

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**. *Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

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) pp. 92-3 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 Britain 1865-1930: The Social Construction
of Scientific Knowledge*. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

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*, New York:
Oxford University Press.

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*, New York: Oxford University Press.

M.
Bulmer (2003) *Francis Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry*,
Baltimore,* *Johns Hopkins University Press.

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

J.
F. Box (1978) *R. A. Fisher: The Life of a Scientist*, New York: Wiley.

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*, Brussels: Ousia.
2007.

The philosophies of Pearson and Weldon are distinguished by

C. H. Pence (2011) “Describing our whole experience”: The Statistical Philosophies of W. F. R. Weldon and Karl Pearson,

*Studies in History and Philosophy of
Biological and Biomedical Sciences*, **42**, (4), 475-485.

The relationship between
Pearson’s 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

Pearson’s position on
spurious correlation is treated in the Earliest Known Uses entries on “spurious correlation”
and “Simpson’s paradox”.

_______________________________________________________

The most thorough
biographical 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*,
Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

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. Skagestad focusses on Peirce and Piovani on the Vienna Circle.

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*,
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

P. Skagestad (1983) Peirce and Pearson: Pragmatism vs. Instrumentalism,
R. S. Cohen & M. W. Wartofsky (eds.) *Language,
Logic and Method*, Reidel

J. I. Piovani (2004) L’epistemologia di Karl Pearson, *Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale*, Fascicola 75,
5-28.

Thiele has published
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. *JSTOR*

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. *Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

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

George Levine (2000) Two
Ways Not To Be a Solipsist: Art and Science, Pater and Pearson, *Victorian
Studies*, **43**, 7-42.

George Levine (2008) *Realism,
Ethics and Secularism: Essays on Victorian Literature and Science*, Cambridge University Press.

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

Christopher
Herbert (1996) Science and Narcissism, *Modernism/Modernity,* 3, 129-135.

Christopher
Herbert (2001) *Victorian Relativity: Radical Thought and Scientific
Discovery*, University of Chicago Press.

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, Harvard University, Cambridge MA. Reprinted by Arno Press, New York
1981.

J. W. Tankard (1984) *The** Statistical
Pioneers*, Cambridge, MA: Schenkman.

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

S. M. Stigler (1986) *The
History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty before 1900*.
Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

A. Hald
(1998) *A History of Mathematical Statistics from 1750 to 1930*. New York:
Wiley.

S. M. Stigler (2012) Karl Pearson and the Rule of Three, *Biometrika*,
**99**, (1), 1-14.

J. Aldrich (2016) The Origins of Modern
Statistics: the English Statistical School, in *The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy* ed. Alan Hájek and Christopher Hitchcock, OUP.

Walker’s
history looks back from the Pearsonian present of
1929. Hilts presents a rounded picture of “the first mathematical statistician
in England”. Tankard’s introductory textbook has a chapter on Pearson plus ones
on Galton, Gosset and Fisher. Porter has written a wide-ranging essay in the
history of ideas. Hald and Stigler have written complementary volumes on
‘technical’ statistics: Hald emphasises the mathematical theory while Stigler
is as concerned with the use of the theory. Apart from Hald the coverage tends
to stop at 1900. By that date Pearson had done his most influential work but he
still had hundreds of publications in front of him. Stigler’s 2012 article
(written for the centenary of the University College Statistics Department)
provides an overview of Pearson’s work. Aldrich places him with Galton and
Fisher.

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

E.
Seneta, I. H. Stamhuis (2009) Preface to
Karl Pearson Issue, *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 India,*
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 Netherlands and
the Astronomer Kapteyn,* International Statistical Review*, **77**, 96-117.

E.
Seneta (2009) Karl Pearson in Russian Contexts* International Statistical Review*, **77**, 118-146.

The issue has no paper
on Pearson’s influence in France. Pearson’s influence there was limited but
Lucien March felt it.

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.

J. Aldrich (2010) Tales of two Societies - Paris, London 1860-1940,* Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de
la Statistique*, **6**, (2), pp. 41.

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, R. A. Fisher and Karl
Pearson, with Notes and Comments, *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*, Cambridge, Harvard
University Press.

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, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005.

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*, New York: Wiley.

A.
I. Dale (1999) *A History of Inverse Probability from Thomas Bayes to Karl
Pearson*, second edition, New York: Springer-Verlag.

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*, Boston: Birkhäuser.
This includes a chapter by D. R. Cox on “Karl Pearson and the Chi-squared
Test.”

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*, New York: Cambridge
University Press.

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

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, R. A. Fisher and Karl Pearson, with Notes and Comments, *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 R. A. Fisher on
Statistical Tests: A 1935 Exchange from *Nature*, *American Statistician*,
**48**, 2-11. *JSTOR*

J. Aldrich (1997) R. A. Fisher and
the Making of Maximum Likelihood 1912-22, *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, Princeton University Press.

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*, London: Macmillan.

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

J. Aldrich (2008) Keynes among the
Statisticians. *History of Political
Economy*, **40**, 265-316. pdf

The most thorough treatment of the statistical issues
involved is

S. M. Stigler (1999) Karl Pearson and the Cambridge
Economists. In the collection of essays, S. M. Stigler *Statistics on the
Table*, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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. pdf

See also Bellhouse (2011).

*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. R. Cox. Amazon.

*Biometrika* celebrated its one hundredth volume in 2013 and
commissioned an article on KP’s editorship

J. Aldrich (2013) *Karl Pearson's** Biometrika**: 1901-36, **Biometrika**, March 2013, 100, 2-15. *pdf

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 New York. (updating articles in 1995 and 1998 in *American
Statistician*, **49**, 121-133 and
**52**, 36-40.)

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*, London: Athlone Press.

W. B. Provine (1971) *The** Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics*,
Chicago: University Press.

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

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

P. R. Sloan (2005/8) *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 England 1889-1906,
*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*, London: Taylor & Francis.

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 R. Forsdyke *“Treasure Your Exceptions”: The Science and
Life of William Bateson*, Springer (June 2008) 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 R. A. Fisher’s 1918 Paper ‘The
Correlation between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian inheritance’, *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. *JSTOR*

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 best known 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 Britain 1900-1914*. Leyden: Noordhoff.

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

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

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. Amazon.

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*, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Amazon

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*, London: Penguin.

The Club is also discussed in

Judith R. Walkowitz, (1986) Science,
Feminism and Romance: The Men and Women's Club, 1885-1889, *History Workshop*, no. 21 (Spring), 37-59.

Judith R. Walkowitz (1992) *City
of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London*,
London: Virago. (review by Lesley A. Hall)

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

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

Ruth First & Ann Scott (1980) *Olive Schreiner*,
London: Deutsch.* *

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

Much of the correspondence between Schreiner and
Pearson is available on The Olive Schreiner Letters Online.

The biography of another novelist, Amy
Levy, discusses her
relationship with Pearson

Christine
Pullen (2010) *The Woman Who Dared: A Biography of Amy Levy*, Kingston
University Press.

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

R. Love (1979) Alice in Eugenics Land: Feminism and
Eugenics in the Scientific Careers of Alice Lee and Ethel Elderton, *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*, London:
George Allen & Unwin.

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*, Brighton,
Sussex, Harvester Press.

_______________________________________________________

Neo-Pearsonians?

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

S. Blyth (1994) Karl Pearson and 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.

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.