Drawn from Professor Goldman's new book from his new book on the history of Victorian statistics, published by Oxford University Press, this talk will focus on the interconnections between different statistical projects and organisations, and between different statisticians and those influenced by statistics, in the nineteenth century. It will consider the 'data revolution' of the 1830s as statistics became profuse and were first employed systematically in making state policy. Natural scientists, physicians, economists and even historians tried to harness numbers to their different disciplines. Writers argued over their usefulness and the moral consequences of assigning numbers to humanity.
The 1860 meeting of the International Statistical Congress in London marked the high point of the environmental approach to social issues then taken by the wider statistical movement and brought together leading figures in this story: William Farr, Charles Babbage, Florence Nightingale, Prince Albert, and Albert's mathematics tutor, Adolphe Quetelet, then the most notable statistician in Europe.
The talk will also trace the subsequent rise of mathematical statistics and the efforts of its progenitor, the eugenicist Francis Galton, to supersede the descriptive environmental statistics then in vogue. In emphasising their relationship to leading issues in political and intellectual history, this talk will attempt to knit together the many statistical ventures and ideas of the period and provide thereby a single narrative and overview of 'Victorians and Numbers'.
Chair: Lisa Bud-Frierman - Reading University
Speaker: Lawrence Goldman - Oxford University
Lead discussant: Mark Casson - Reading University
Lisa Bud-Frierman - Reading University
Lawrence Goldman - Oxford University
Mark Casson - Reading University