[History by Numbers] Crime and ignorance
The work of 19th century statistician Joseph Fletcher
There’s nothing that newspapers like more than a good bunch of crime statistics, especially when they show some correlation with social factors such as poverty or education. It turns out that this obsession is known as ‘moral statistics’ and, like so much of human endeavour, it has a long pedigree.
One of its pioneers was a Frenchman, André-Michel Guerry, who in the 1820s and 30s plotted a series of maps showing levels of crime, illegitimacy, illiteracy and even levels of donation to the poor, all of course with the objective of dropping strong hints that these different things are not unconnected.