DID MENDEL CHEAT?

Faraz Ahmed Bokhari, Waqas Sami

Abstract


Who does not know Gregor Mendel? Mendel is
considered to be the father of genetics. The often
stated irony is that Mendel’s work, at the time of
presentation of his famous paper titled ‘Experiments
in plant hybridization’, was not taken seriously. It
would be later, the year 1900, that a few botanists
would ‘rediscover’ Mendel’s work and the field of
genetics would find its place at the center of human
curiosity. What Mendel might not have envisaged is
that his scientific inferences would be questioned on
scientific, and even moral grounds.
The main arguments indicting Mendel and
his work, started to brew when world renowned
mathematician and statistician, R. A. Fisher,
discovered peculiarities in Mendel’s data. Fisher,
who in the words of Anders Hald1 “was a genius who
almost single-handedly created the foundations for
modern statistical science”, while lecturing at
Cambridge in 1911 quipped: It is interesting that
Mendel’s original results all fall within the limits of
probable error; if his experiments were repeated the
odds against getting such good results is about 16 to
one. It may have been just luck; or it may be that the
worthy German abbot, in his ignorance of probable
error, unconsciously placed doubtful plants on the
side which favored his hypothesis.

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References


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