Departmental Papers (Philosophy)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Plos Biology








Stephen Jay Gould famously used the work of Samuel George Morton (1799–1851) to illustrate how unconscious racial bias could affect scientific measurement. Morton had published measurements of the average cranial capacities of different races, measurements that Gould reanalyzed in an article in Science [1] and then later in his widely read book The Mismeasure of Man [2]. During the course of this reanalysis, Gould discovered prima facie evidence of unconscious racial bias in Morton’s measurements. More than 30 years later, Lewis et al. published a critique of this analysis [3], denying that Morton’s measurements were biased by his racism. Instead, they claim that their “results falsify Gould’s hypothesis that Morton manipulated his data to conform with his a priori views.” We believe this is mistaken, and our comment will explain why.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2016 Weisberg, Paul. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



Date Posted: 04 December 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.