Ronald Fisher quotes

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Ronald Fisher

Birthdate: 17. February 1890
Date of death: 29. July 1962

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher was a British statistician and geneticist. For his work in statistics, he has been described as "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" and "the single most important figure in 20th century statistics". In genetics, his work used mathematics to combine Mendelian genetics and natural selection; this contributed to the revival of Darwinism in the early 20th-century revision of the theory of evolution known as the modern synthesis. For his contributions to biology, Fisher has been called "the greatest of Darwin’s successors".From 1919 onward, he worked at the Rothamsted Experimental Station for 14 years; there, he analysed its immense data from crop experiments since the 1840s, and developed the analysis of variance . He established his reputation there in the following years as a biostatistician.

He is known as one of the three principal founders of population genetics. He outlined Fisher's principle, the Fisherian runaway and sexy son hypothesis theories of sexual selection. His contributions to statistics include the maximum likelihood, fiducial inference, the derivation of various sampling distributions, founding principles of the design of experiments, and much more.

Fisher held strong views on race. Throughout his life, he was a prominent supporter of eugenics, an interest which led to his work on statistics and genetics. Notably, he was a dissenting voice in the 1950 UNESCO statement The Race Question, insisting on racial differences.

Wikipedia

Works

„The analysis of variance is not a mathematical theorem, but rather a convenient method of arranging the arithmetic.“

—  Ronald Fisher

Discussion to ‘Statistics in agricultural research’ by J.Wishart, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Supplement, 1, 26-61, 1934.
1930s

„Fairly large print is a real antidote to stiff reading.“

—  Ronald Fisher

31 May 1929, in a letter to K.Sisam, Oxford University Press. Printed in Natural Selection, Heredity, and Eugenics, p. 20, ed. J.H.Bennett, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983.
1910s–1920s

„After all, it is a common weakness of young authors to put too much into their papers.“

—  Ronald Fisher

Contributions to Mathematical Statistics, New York: Wiley, 1950, p. 10.308a.
1950s

„To consult the statistician after an experiment is finished is often merely to ask him to conduct a post mortem examination. He can perhaps say what the experiment died of.“

—  Ronald Fisher

"Presidential Address to the First Indian Statistical Congress" https://www.gwern.net/docs/statistics/decision/1938-fisher.pdf, 1938. Sankhya 4, 14-17.
1930s

„Natural selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability.“

—  Ronald Fisher

Reported by J. S. Huxley in Evolution in Action, London: Chatto and Windus, 1953.
1950s

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„Faith Is Not Credulity.“

—  Ronald Fisher

Subtitle to Science and Christianity, Friend 113, 995–996, 1955.
in full: ‘Christian children should … be taught that faith does not mean credulity; but is a quality, very like courage, which makes one hold fast to that which is good, … .
1950s

„[…] the uncontrolled causes which may influence the result are always strictly innumerable.“

—  Ronald Fisher, book The Design of Experiments

The Design of Experiments (section II.9, eighth edition, 1971, Hafner Publishing Company, New York) as quoted by George Casella in Statistical Design (p. 18, 2008, Springer).
Since 1960s

„In organisms of all kinds the young are launched upon their careers endowed with a certain amount of biological capital derived from their parents. This varies enormously in amount in different species, but, in all, there has been, before the offspring is able to lead an independent existence, a certain expenditure of nutriment in addition, almost universally, to some expenditure of time or activity, which the parents are induced by their instincts to make for the advantage of their young. Let us consider the reproductive value of these offspring at the moment when this parental expenditure on their behalf has just ceased. If we consider the aggregate of an entire generation of such offspring it is clear that the total reproductive value of the males in this group is exactly equal to the total value of all the females, because each sex must supply half the ancestry of all future generations of the species. From this it follows that the sex ratio will so adjust itself, under the influence of Natural Selection, that the total parental expenditure incurred in respect of children of each sex, shall be equal; for if this were not so and the total expenditure incurred in producing males, for instance, were less than the total expenditure incurred in producing females, then since the total reproductive value of the males is equal to that of the females, it would follow that those parents, the innate tendencies of which caused them to produce males in excess, would, for the same expenditure, produce a greater amount of reproductive value; and in consequence would be the progenitors of a larger fraction of future generations than would parents having a congenital bias towards the production of females. Selection would thus raise the sex-ratio until the expenditure upon males became equal to that upon females.“

—  Ronald Fisher, book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection

On natural selection acting on sex ratio: Fisher's principle, Ch. 6, p. 141.
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930)

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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