The Journal of Heredity 77:138. 1986
Rebuttal to to A.W.F. Edwards' Communication
Dr. Edwards considers my arguments to be "superficial".
He is entitled to his opinion. I do not consider them superficial,
particularly when the reputation of an honest man is involved.
He further states that my arguments can be countered. He has not
He pointed out that I was in error when I stated that Fisher multiplied
the P-values from several experiments. I stand corrected. I believe
,however, that my point is still valid with regard to combining
data from all of Mendel's experiments. If data are honest and
"good", adding the Chi-squares will increase the probability
value, making good data seem excessively good.
Edwards has, in essence, reiterated Fisher's argument. I agree
with him that "One can applaud the lucky gambler; but when
he is lucky again tomorrow, and the next day, and the following
day, one is entitled to become a little suspicious." -However,
one had better have a good deal more evidence (such as a set of
loaded dice or perhaps the information that the man is a known
cheat) before accusing someone of cheating -which is what Fisher
did to Mendel, and those who are citing Fisher are doing now.
Having had a good deal of experience with experimental data, I believed, empirically, that Mendel's data were not improbable. I have received several communications from other investigators who have observed that Mendel's data were not out of line with the kinds of data that they have obtained in genetic experiments. I was not able to show why Fisher was mistaken, so I settled for showing that there were paradoxical elements in his reasoning. I now believe that I can show why Chi-square is an inappropriate tool for the detection of falsified data and that Mendel's data were not improbable at all when viewed with a more appropriate method for determining whether data are "too good". Mendel was not excessively "lucky"; his data are what one might expect from the sample size and an honest sampling. This will be documented in a communication that will be submitted in the near future.
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