Ronald Fisher: a Biography

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Ronald Fisher has been hailed as “a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science”, “the greatest of Darwin’s successors”, and even “the greatest biologist since Darwin”. Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher was a renowned English statistician, evolutionary biologist, eugenicist and geneticist. Fisher was born February 17, 1890 to George and Katie Fisher in East Finchley in London, England. George Fisher was a successful fine arts dealer. Ronald had a happy childhood, being the youngest of five siblings with two loving parents. Unfortunately, Fisher’s mother died when he was only 14 years old, and his father lost his business 18 months later according to the biography by Fisher’s daughter. Although Fisher had very poor eyesight as a child, he was a very precocious student, winning numerous academic awards throughout his schooling. Because of his poor eyesight, he was tutored in mathematics without the use of paper and pen, which developed his unique ability to visualize problems in geometric terms, without contributing to his interest in writing proper solutions. He also developed a strong interest in biology, and, especially, evolution. In 1909 he won a scholarship to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. There, he learned of the newly rediscovered Mendelian genetics theory; he saw biometry as a potential way to resolve the discontinuous nature of Mendelian inheritance with continuous variation and gradual evolution. However, Fisher’s greatest concern was eugenics, which he saw as a pressing social and scientific issue that comprised of both genetics and statistics. In 1911, he took part in the formation of the Cambridge University Eugenics Society alongside John Maynard Keynes, R.C. Punnett, and Horace Darwin (Charles Darwin’s son). The group was very active and often hosted addresses by leader of mainstream eugenic organizations. After his graduation, Fisher was eager to join the army and defend Great Britain in World War I;...
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