Behavior Genetics , History , IQ

Erasmus Darwin without Francis Galton

Posted on:

Erasmus Darwin is an interesting character. R.A. Fisher thought highly of him. But claiming that he invented a rocket engine on the basis of a vague, un-captioned doodle in his commonplace book is unwise. Desmond King-Hele has made a lot of far-fetched claims of that kind. They will backfire, like rockets do. Or injure the occupant, as that unstable bathchair […]


Freeman Dyson, Useful Idiot

Posted on:

Freeman Dyson made his reputation as a first-rank theoretical physicist. He also had a sideline in popular essays and mildly controversial opinions in other fields. The following anecdote is taken from a collection of these for The New York Review of Books, The Scientist as Rebel (2006). (It is curious that scientists are always rebels in their own minds, no […]

History , Statistics

Colonial Atrocity Porn

Posted on:

Thanks to Adam Hochschild, King Leopold of Belgium (1835–1909) is now known as one of history’s greatest mass murderers. At 10 million, he keeps company with Joseph Stalin (perhaps 30 million), Mao (perhaps 60 million) and that little house painter with the silly mustache (usually credited with 6 million). Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo [Leopold] looted its […]