An argument for Divine Providence, taken from the constant regularity observed in the births of both sexes.Phil. Trans., 27, 186-190, 1710.
"Arbuthnot examined birth records in London for each of the 82 years from 1629 to 1710 and the human sex ratio at birth: in every year, the number of males born in London exceeded the number of females. If the probability of male and female birth were equal, the probability of the observed outcome would be 1/282, a vanishingly small number. This is vanishingly small, leading Arbuthnot that this was not due to chance, but to divine providence: "From whence it follows, that it is Art, not Chance, that governs." This paper was a landmark in the history of statistics; in modern terms he performed statistical hypothesis testing, computing the p-value (via a sign test), interpreted it as statistical significance, and rejected the null hypothesis. This is credited as "… the first use of significance tests …", the first example of reasoning about statistical significance and moral certainty, and "… perhaps the first published report of a nonparametric test …" (Wikipedia article on John Arbuthnot, accessed 4-2020).
Subjects: COMPUTING/MATHEMATICS in Medicine & Biology, DEMOGRAPHY / Population: Medical Statistics
An essay concerning the effects of air on human bodies.London: J. Tonson, 1733.
Arbuthnot believed that air had significant effects on personality, and he believed that the air of locations resulted in the characteristics of the people, as well as particular diseaes. He recommended ventilation of sickrooms, and urged readers to seek fresh air in crowded, poorly sanitized Augustan era cities.
Subjects: Bioclimatology, Ventilation, Health Aspects of