26 Facts About Adolphe Quetelet


Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet FRSF or FRSE was a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist who founded and directed the Brussels Observatory and was influential in introducing statistical methods to the social sciences.


Adolphe Quetelet's name is sometimes spelled with an accent as Quetelet.


Adolphe Quetelet founded the science of anthropometry and developed the body mass index scale, originally called the Quetelet Index.


Adolphe Quetelet's father was born at Ham, Picardy, and being of a somewhat adventurous spirit, he crossed the English Channel and became both a British citizen and the secretary of a Scottish nobleman.


At about 31, he settled in Ghent and was employed by the city, where Adolphe Quetelet was born, the fifth of nine children, several of whom died in childhood.


Adolphe Quetelet studied at the Ghent Lycee, where he afterwards started teaching mathematics in 1815 at the age of 19.


Adolphe Quetelet received a doctorate in mathematics in 1819 from the University of Ghent.


Adolphe Quetelet became a member of the Royal Academy in 1820.


Adolphe Quetelet lectured at the museum for sciences and letters and at the Belgian Military School.


Adolphe Quetelet founded several statistical journals and societies, and was especially interested in creating international cooperation among statisticians.


Adolphe Quetelet encouraged the creation of a statistical section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which later became the Royal Statistical Society, of which he became the first overseas member.


Adolphe Quetelet was a founding member of the first Societe des douze.


In 1855, Adolphe Quetelet developed apoplexy, which diminished but did not end his scientific activity.


Adolphe Quetelet died in Brussels on 17 February 1874, and is buried in the Brussels Cemetery.


Adolphe Quetelet made significant contributions to scientific development, but he wrote several monographs directed to the general public.


Adolphe Quetelet founded the Royal Observatory of Belgium, founded or co-founded several national and international statistical societies and scientific journals, and presided over the first series of the International Statistical Congresses.


Adolphe Quetelet was a liberal and an anticlerical, but not an atheist or materialist nor a socialist.


Adolphe Quetelet was among the first to apply statistics to social science, planning what he called "social physics".


Adolphe Quetelet was keenly aware of the overwhelming complexity of social phenomena, and the many variables that needed measurement.


Adolphe Quetelet's goal was to understand the statistical laws underlying such phenomena as crime rates, marriage rates or suicide rates.


Adolphe Quetelet wanted to explain the values of these variables by other social factors.


Adolphe Quetelet wrote about these values as "ideals" with deviations from them as being less than or more than ideal.


Adolphe Quetelet saw the average body as an ideal beauty and something to be desired and his work was influential on Francis Galton who coined the term eugenics.


Adolphe Quetelet had a significant influence on Florence Nightingale who shared with him a religious view of statistics which saw understanding statistics as revealing the work of God in addition to statistics being a force of good administration.


In terms of influence over later public health agendas, one of Adolphe Quetelet's lasting legacies was the establishment of a simple measure for classifying people's weight relative to an ideal for their height.


Adolphe Quetelet was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 1839.