R. A. Fisher, Lancelot Hogben, and the Origin(s) of Genotype-Environment Interaction

Journal of the History of Biology 41 (4):717-761 (2008)

James Tabery
University of Utah
This essay examines the origin of genotype-environment interaction, or G×E. "Origin" and not "the origin" because the thesis is that there were actually two distinct concepts of G×E at this beginning: a biometric concept, or \[G \times E_B\], and a developmental concept, or \[G \times E_D \]. R. A. Fisher, one of the founders of population genetics and the creator of the statistical analysis of variance, introduced the biometric concept as he attempted to resolve one of the main problems in the biometric tradition of biology - partitioning the relative contributions of nature and nurture responsible for variation in a population. Lancelot Hogben, an experimental embryologist and also a statistician, introduced the developmental concept as he attempted to resolve one of the main problems in the developmental tradition of biology - determining the role that developmental relationships between genotype and environment played in the generation of variation. To argue for this thesis, I outline Fisher and Hogben's separate routes to their respective concepts of G × E; then these separate interpretations of G × E are drawn on to explicate a debate between Fisher and Hogben over the importance of G × E, the first installment of a persistent controversy. Finally, Fisher's \[G \times E_B\] and Hogben's \[G \times E_D \] are traced beyond their own work into mid-2Oth century population and developmental genetics, and then into the infamous IQ Controversy of the 1970s.
Keywords analysis of variance (ANOVA)  biometry  developmental biology  eugenics  genetics  genotype–environment interaction (G × E)  IQ controversy  Lancelot Hogben  nature–nurture debate  population genetics  R. A. Fisher
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DOI 10.1007/s10739-008-9155-y
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The Analysis of Variance and the Analysis of Causes.R. C. Lewontin - 1974 - American Journal of Human Genetics 26:400-11.
Genetics and Reductionism.Sahotra Sarkar - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.

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