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As the author later said, this book’s title should have been “Hereditary Ability.” This pioneering work in the study of hereditary and human ability laid the groundwork for the science of eugenics, inheritance and intelligence studies.
Galton’s methodology consisted of making a list of eminent people and their extended relations to determine how many prominent relatives they had. If genius was hereditary, Galton reasoned, there should be more eminent people among the relatives than among the general population.
He also proposed a number of methods to separate the effects of heredity and environment, which included adoption studies and trans-racial adoption studies.
The conclusion to which all the data propelled Galton was that intelligence was clearly hereditary. A groundbreaking work, now despised, but as valid as the day it was written.