Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

Historical and Philosophical Perspectives The Historical and Philosophical Perspectives series provides professional historians and philosophers of science with a forum to reflect on topical issues in contemporary biology.

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The Mismeasure of Science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on Skulls and Bias

  • Jason E. Lewis mail,

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America

  • David DeGusta,

    Affiliation: Paleoanthropology Institute, Oakland, California, United States of America

  • Marc R. Meyer,

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga, California, United States of America

  • Janet M. Monge,

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology and Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

  • Alan E. Mann,

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America

  • Ralph L. Holloway

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States of America

  • Published: June 07, 2011
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001071

Reader Comments (6)

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Samuel Morton's bias may have occurred earlier

Posted by qrehmani on 24 Jun 2011 at 17:47 GMT

While Gould did not raise the issue, Morton may have labeled the skulls to get the results he wanted. On Page iv, paragraph 3 of his Introduction, he wrote:

“… sometimes had the skulls of both Europeans and Africana sent me by mistake for those of Indians: that these should occasionally be mingled in the same cemeteries is readily understood; but a practised eye can separate them without difficulty.”

No competing interests declared.