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Posted By Patrick

In his Hereditary Genius, Galton alights on judges as men sufficiently elevated (& well-documented enough, too) to demonstrate his idea that genius runs in families. “A judgeship is a guarantee of its possessor being gifted with exceptional ability,” he writes. “It might be different in other countries, but we all know that in England, the Bench is never spoken of without reverence for the intellectual powers of its occupiers. A seat on the Bench is a great prize, to be won by the best men.” Surely everyone would agree. Wouldn’t they?

Well, no. George Bernard Shaw, for instance, is pretty dubious about this assessment. In "How to Become a Man of Genius," he writes that “In England a judge is as likely as not to be some vulgar promoted advocate who makes coarse jokes over breach-of-promise cases; passes vindictive sentences with sanctimonious unction; and amuses himself off the bench like an ostler. But he is always spoken and written of as a veritable Daniel come to judgement.”

A split decision: we have a hung jury!

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