Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/185

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181
FRANCIS GALTON

insanity, gregarious and slavish instincts, mental imagery, number forms and color associations, only one may be noticed in further detail. This is a study of the sensitiveness of blind and seeing, savage and civilized individuals. As a result of his personal experience in barbarous and cultured lands, he concludes that savages have no keener senses than civilized man; and as a result of his experiments in schools for the blind he finds that the popular belief that in senses other than sight the blind are more sensitive than normal individuals has no foundation in fact.

After a lapse of six years "Natural Inheritance" was given to the public.

Mr. Galton came to be interested in finger prints in 1888, in connection with preparations for a lecture on personal identification and description. Having some misgivings concerning the adequacy of M. Bertillon's system of identification by measurement—because physical characters are not independent, but correlated—he cast about for other possible means, and undertook the investigation of finger prints.

Fortunately, Sir William Herschel who had actually used finger prints as a means of identification while commissioner in India learned of Mr. Galton's work and came to his aid with valuable prints and suggestions.

Identification by means of impressions of the papillary ridges of the thumbs has been so much exploited in fiction that a general explanation is unnecessary. This does not mean that an immense amount of hard work had not to be done on it by Mr. Galton before a British prison commission could adopt it. Besides the technique of taking really good impressions it was necessary to prove, not assume, that the patterns remain the same throughout life, that the variety of patterns is really very great, and that they admit of being classified or indexed. So when an individual set is submitted to an expert he can tell by reference to suitable records whether a similar set has been recorded.

These things were successfully accomplished and Mr. Galton's system of identification was adopted in Scotland Yard, and is now widely used throughout the world. His books on the subject are "Finger Prints," "Blurred Finger Prints" and "Finger Print Directory."

Space can not be taken for a review of the various anthropological questions which interested Mr. Galton, but a word must be said concerning anthropometric laboratories. Writing of Darwin's provisional theory of pangenesis in 1869, he said,

The doctrine of pangenesis gives excellent materials for mathematical formulas, the constants of which might be supplied through averages of facts, like those contained in my tables, if they were prepared for the purpose. My own data are too lax to go upon; the averages ought to refer to some simple physical characteristic, unmistakable in its quality, and not subject to the doubts which attend the appraisement of ability.