Fisher's Contributions to Genetics and Heredity, with Special Emphasis on the Gregor Mendel Controversy
Piegorsch, Walter W.
R. A. Fisher is widely respected for his contributions to both statistics and genetics. For instance, his 1930 text on The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection remains a watershed contribution in that area. Fisher's subsequent research led him to study the work of (Johann) Gregor Mendel, the 19th century monk who first developed the basic principles of heredity with experiments on garden peas. In examining Mendel's original 1865 article, Fisher noted that the conformity between Mendel's reported and proposed (theoretical) ratios of segregating individuals was unusually good, "too good" perhaps. The resulting controversy as to whether Mendel "cooked" his data for presentation has continued to the current day. This review highlights Fisher's most salient points as regards Mendel's "too good" fit, within the context of Fisher's extensive contributions to the development of genetical and evolutionary theory.