Notes - Page 5

The beautiful skulls of Schiller and the Georgian girl - Notes

The beautiful skulls of Schiller and the Georgian girl - Notes

Article Index


1 I am grateful to Marina Bell for putting me on to Dinesen’s short story.

2 Lorenz Oken advanced the hypothesis of recapitulation in an early work. See Oken
(1805, 164–167). I discuss the hypothesis in Richards (2002, 493–494).

3 Tiedemann (1808–1814, I, 64–65): “Just as each individual begins with the simplest formation and during its metamorphosis becomes more evolved [entwickelt] and devel- oped, so the entire animal organism [i.e., animal kingdom] seems to have begun its evolution [Entwicklung] with the simplest animal forms that is with the animals of the lowest classes.” While studying in Paris with Cuvier, Tiedemann would have become quite familiar with Lamarck’s version of evolution. See also Tiedemann (1830, I, 102– 104). I have discussed Tiedemann’s theory of recapitulation and that of many others,including Darwin, in Richards (1992).

4 Stephen Jay Gould wrote an admiring essay on Tiedemann (Gould 1999). Gould said
that Tiedemann “offered no summary statistics for groups ‒ no ranges, no averages”; this gave Gould something to do ‒ he provided the averages. Gould, however, relied on the English version of Tiedemann’s study; in the German version, as in Figure 9.3, Tiedemann certainly did give summary statistics and ranges, if not averages. Gould thus missed the last set of summary tabulations showing the greater proportion of large skulls for the Caucasian and Malay races. By depending only on the English version Gould was led to speculate: “Did Tiedemann calculate these means and not publish them because he sensed the confusion that would then be generated ‒ a procedure that I would have to label as indefensible, however understandable? Or did he never calcu- late them because he got what he wanted from the more obvious data on ranges and then never proceeded further ‒ the more usual situation of failure to recognize potential inter- pretations as a consequence of unconscious bias? I rather suspect the second scenario” (Gould 1999, 69). Gould simply missed Tiedemann’s obvious worry about his numbers.

5 CharlesMeigs,along-timefriendandcolleagueofMorton,includedHumboldt’sletter as an appendix to Meigs (1851). See also Kelly (1912, II, 192–197) and Stanton (1960, 24–44). Fabian (2010) gives a detailed account of Morton’s efforts to collect skulls from friends, traders, travelers, and grave-robbers.

6 Morton’s Crania Americana was simultaneously published in London. The price of $20 was prohibitively expensive and Morton had to use an inheritance to cover his costs in production and printing. As a result of lack of sales, he sent complimentary copies to many individuals and learned societies in America and Europe (Fabian 2010, 87–91).

7 The unity of mankind was not only a theological issue; it also engaged naturalists on either side of the divide between monogenists and polygenists. James Cowl Prichard led the partisans of human unity and Louis Agassiz represented those who believed humans to consist of several distinct species. Agassiz strongly supported Morton in the fray (Lurie 1954).

8 In his Catalogue of Skulls (1849), Morton provided the averages of the families within the five races. So the Negro race, in his tables, comprised four families: Native African, American-born Negros, Hottentot, and Australian. The first two had the highest cra- nial capacities of 83 and 82 respectively. The Caucasian race had eight families, with the Teutonic family having an average of 92. Jason Lewis and colleagues at Stanford remeasured a sampling of Morton’s skulls and found his final measures using lead shot o be decently accurate. They rejected Gould’s claims about the Morton’s analyses of group means and subgroup means. See Lewis et al. (2011) for the particulars. Weisberg and Paul (2016) have entered the fray, and support Gould’s conclusions. They point out that Gould did not dispute the accuracy of Morton’s shot calculations; they focus on the fact that Morton’s errors in the seed measurement were pronounced in regard to the African skulls. They contend if Morton’s errors were not due to unconscious bias, the errors should have been systematically the same. Since they were not systemati- cally the same, “Gould’s claim that this is prima facia evidence of unconscious bias in Crania Americana remains intact” (Weisberg and Paul 2016, 3). This does not follow at all. Morton’s racial attitudes are clear from his anthropological discussions. But if he were unconsciously manipulating the seed calculations to meet those prejudices, why did he fire his assistant and redo all the calculations with more reliable lead shot? After all, his prejudices would have been satisfied with the original seed calculations. There are many other possible reasons for the non-systematic errors in the seed calculations than unconscious prejudice. First, it was Morton’s assistant, not Morton, who did the actual measurements. Second, if the assistant were making careless errors, there is no reason to assume he would be carelessly systematic.

9 Carus (1841, 8 fn 1): “At the first disposition [Anlage] of the brain, the first, second, and third brain areas and the first, second, and third skull plates completely correspond, so that with the progressive formation of the brain, that is, the greater development of the forebrain area, [. . .] the original relationship of the skull plates in relation to the three brain areas remains the same.”
10 Carus published several essays showing not only differences in morphology between man and gorilla but also differences in spirit, such that “man is raised to something qualitatively other than the animal” (Carus 1863a, 30). See also Carus (1863b; 1865).
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