Francis Galton and the Racist Pseudoscience of Eugenics in the 19th Century

Smart people can have really bad ideas – like selectively breeding human beings to allegedly “improve” the species. Introduction A popular pseudoscience was leaving its mark on American culture a century ago in everything from massive reductions in quotas for immigration to the U.S., to thousands of “fitter family” contests at county fairs, to a[…]

Physiognomy, the Beautiful Pseudoscience

Untitled (Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, The Vexed Man, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA), 2008, Ken Gonzales-Day. Chromogenic print. Ken Gonzales-Day and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. © Ken Gonzales-Day How the dubious science of deducing mental character from physical appearance influenced European art and culture in the 17th and 18th centuries. By Sarah Waldorf /[…]

Relics of Junk Science: Phrenology and Bally’s 19th-Century Miniature Plastic Heads

Set of sixty miniature heads used in phrenology produced by William Bally in 1832. Image Credit: Science Museum, London  By Dolly Stolze / 09.08.2015 The Science Museum of London has a set of 60 eerie little plaster heads that look like miniature death masks. Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776-1832), a well-known 19th century phrenologist, commissioned these bizarre relics to help his students study phrenology. As[…]