Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy

Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy
Allan Franklin, A.W.F. Edwards, Daniel J. Fairbanks, Daniel L. Hartl, and Teddy Seidenfeld
University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 330 pp., $27.95

Recognized as "the founder of modern genetics," Gregor Mendel (1822–84), an Austrian monk and botanist, announced the discovery of a law of heredity when he reported on his experiments on pea plants in 1865. Though published, it went unnoticed until 1900 when Dutch botanist Hugo De Vries (1848–1935) and others brought to the attention of the scientific world its significance. In 1938, when R.A. Fisher (1890–1962), a British biologist and statistician, reviewed Mendel's data, he determined that Mendel's findings "were too good," according to probability tables, and he concluded: "This possibility is supported by independent evidence that the data of most, if not all, of the experiments have been falsified so as to agree closely with Mendel's expectations." Remaining unpublished until 1964, his report sparked a controversy among scientists with criticism going both ways. Desiring to end the challenging arguments around Mendel's work, the authors provide a copy of Mendel's original paper — "Experiments in Plant Hybridisation" (originally entitled Versuche über Pflanzen–Hybriden) — and present a scholarly analysis of the discussions on the subject, including the most recent update. Filled with supporting statistical tables and other data, this volume will be of interest to students and scientists in the field of genetics.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden