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Correlation and Application of Statistics to Problems of Heredity 81

poured scorn on statistical methods even while they rejoiced in being ignorant of the mathematical processes, which would alone have enabled them to understand and criticise them effectively. Other biologists contented themselves with asserting that material collected by " non-biologists " could not possibly be of biological value. Many rash statements were made which would hardly now be maintained by the most ardent mutationist or Mendelian *. The controversy over Galton's method of dealing with heredity became a logomachy, or as some would say a tauromachy, and contributed little of permanent value to science. It was idle because the fundamental questions as to whether " variations proper " could serve as a basis for selection, and whether and to what extent sports bred true, were not investigated by agreed critical experiments. No one who has tried or even thought over such experimental work-bound to be of a secular nature-will be in the least likely to minimise the difficulty of devising and carrying through a crucial experiment. Nevertheless that was and remains the- sole satisfactory method of settling a scientific dispute as to natural phenomena. The opinion that no real conclusion could be reached, except by direct experiment, was the actual reason why Galton's lieutenants ultimately retired from the controversy concerning the application of his methods to the measurement of heredity. Galton himself for another decade endeavoured to provide means for secular experimentation. What was the-outcome of his attempts we shall see later on.

Again when Galton came to study finger prints, he was struck by the scarcity of transitional types ; further his evidence indicated that there was little if any correlation between type and any bodily or mental characteristics, or that the types were peculiar to any human races.

"It would be absurd therefore to assert that in the struggle for existence, a person with, say, a loop on his right middle finger has a better chance of survival, or a better chance of early marriage, than one with an arch. Consequently genera and species are here seen to be formed without the slightest aid from either Natural or Sexual Selection, and these finger patterns are apparently the only peculiarity in which Panmixia, or the effect of promiscuous marriages, admits of being studied on a large scale. The result of Panmixia in finger markings corroborates the arguments I have used in Natural Inheritance and elsewhere, to show that organic stability' is the primary factor by which the distinctions between genera are maintained ; consequently the progress of evolution is not a smooth and uniform progression, but one that proceeds by jerks, through successive 'sports' (as they are called), some of them implying considerable organic changes; and each in its turn being favoured by Natural Selection.

" The same word ' variation' has been indiscriminately applied to two very different conceptions, which ought to be clearly distinguished ; the one is that of 'sports' just alluded to,


by a committee of incompatibles. I shall return to his attempts later, but their first foreshadowing appears in the 1892 preface to Hereditary Genius:

" It has occurred to others as well as myself, as to Mr Wallace and to Professor Romance, that the time may have arrived when an institute for experiments on heredity might be established with advantage. A farm and garden of a very few acres, with varied exposure, and well supplied with water, placed under the charge of intelligent caretakers, supervised by a biologist, would afford the necessary basis for a great variety of research upon inexpensive animals and plants. The difficulty lies in the smallness of the number of competent persons who are actually engaged in hereditary inquiry, who could be depended upon to use it properly." (p. xix.)

* For example, that two-factor dominant and recessive Mendelian hypotheses would account for the heredity of coat-colour or eye-colour. Or that albinotie eyes were those without any granular pigment, and individuals possessing them would breed true.

r a iii   11


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