This article scrutinizes in detail much of the extant historiography on the controversy between biometricians and Mendelians, considering in particular how this controversy is related to the evolutionary synthesis. While the historiographic critique concentrates on William Provine’s standard account, it also extends to the proposal by Donald MacKenzie and Barry Barnes. What Provine and these sociologists of scientific knowledge have in common is a set of unquestioned assumptions about the nature of Darwinism, about William Bateson’s anti-Darwinism, and about the very idea of an evolutionary “synthesis.” While these assumptions make for a compelling history of the synthesis, they engender an endemically asymmetrical perspective and bias historiography toward the mere confirmation of antecedent expectations, which renders the years from 1859 to 1929 an age of ignorance and misunderstanding. In contrast, a return to what was probably the original meaning of evolutionary “synthesis” allows for a symmetrical account. It yields an appreciation of the positive contributions made both by Mendelians and biometricians to the gradual development of Darwinism. The article concludes with a synopsis of this alternative account.
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June 01 1994
The Evolutionary Analysis: Apparent Error, Certified Belief, and the Defects of Asymmetry
University of South Carolina
Online Issn: 1530-9274
Print Issn: 1063-6145
©1994 The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
Perspectives on Science (1994) 2 (2): 131–175.
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Alfred Nordmann; The Evolutionary Analysis: Apparent Error, Certified Belief, and the Defects of Asymmetry. Perspectives on Science 1994; 2 (2): 131–175. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/posc_a_00455
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