Article ID: CBB001420141

The Curious Case of Blending Inheritance (2014)


For more than a century, geneticists have consistently identified the origins of their science with Gregor Mendel's experiments on peas. Mendelism, they have said, demonstrated at long last that biological inheritance was not, as had so often been supposed, blending, but particulate. Many historians of biology continue to interpret the conflict of biometricians and Mendelians at the start of the twentieth century in these terms, identifying biometry with the (incorrect) blending mechanism. But this view of blending is history as war by other means. While Francis Galton's contrast between blended and alternate inheritance had become familiar by 1905, he and his interpreters understood the two forms as differing outcomes of breeding, not as rival theories. Only a few biologists in this period went beyond blending as a description of results of breeding to a blending mechanism, and these were not biometricians. Recognizing this, we can see also that statistical methods and models were central to evolutionary genetics right from the start. The evolutionary synthesis, while reshaping their role, did not create it.

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Authors & Contributors
Maas, Werner Karl
Rushton, A. R.
Ruiz Gutierrez, Rosaura
Guazo, López
Suárez, Laura
Allen, Garland E.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Oxford University Press
Trafford Publishing
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Maryland, College Park
Galton, Francis
Mendel, Gregor Johann
Pearson, Karl
Bateson, William
Weldon, Walter Frank Raphael
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
17th century
18th century
20th century, late
Great Britain
Soviet Union
United States
Human Genome Project
Royal Society of London
Genetics Society of America
Cambridge University

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