(Photograph by Denise Till)

The Fisher Memorial Trust was set up to promote interest in the life and work of the great statistician, evolutionary biologist and geneticist, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962) and to maintain his scientific legacy by encouraging discussion of the scientific fields in which he was active.

Charity Commission charity number 313536

Society | Representative | Position |

Biometric Society | Prof Rosemary Bailey | |

Biometric Society | Prof Vern Farewell*** | |

Biometric Society | Mr Andrew Mead * | |

Genetics Society | Prof Brian Charlesworth, FRS | |

Genetics Society | Prof Adam Eyre-Walker | Treasurer |

Royal Society | Sir Walter Bodmer, FRS | Chairman |

Royal Statistical Society | Prof Peter Diggle ** | |

Royal Statistical Society | Prof Stephen Senn | Secretary |

I | Dr. F. Yates | 23.3.66 | Computers, the second revolution in statistics. |

II | Dr. R. R. Race | 6.3.68 | Blood groups in human genetics |

III | Prof. E. A. Cornish | 3.9.69 | Developments from the Fisher-Cornish expansions. |

IV | Prof. K. Mather | 18.12.70 | Biometrical genetics. |

V | Prof. G. A. Barnard | 19.9.72 | Statistical inference and its historical development |

VI | Prof. L. L. Cavalli-Sforza | 24.6.74 | Cultural versus biological evolution |

VII | Prof. R. Hide | 17.11.77 | Motions in planetry fluids |

VIII | Prof. D. J. Finney | 20.9.78 | Bioassay and the practice of statistical inference |

IX | Prof. J. Maynard Smith | 19.3.81 | The evolution of the sex ratio |

X | Prof. J. H. Bennett | 3.6.81 | R. A. Fisher and The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection |

XI | Prof. S. Karlin | 20.4.83 | Kin selection and altruism |

XII | Prof. D. R. Cox | 5.4.84 | Regression and the design of experiments |

XIII | Prof. S. M. Stigler | 22.9.86 | Francis Galton and the unravelling of the normal world |

XIV | Prof. G. E. Box | 23.3.88 | Quality improvement, an expanding domain for the application of scientific method |

XV | Sir Walter Bodmer | 23.3.90 | Genetic sequences |

XVI | Prof. D. Lindley | 17.9.92 | Statistics of the market place |

XVII | Prof. A. J. Jeffereys | 16.8.93 | Molecular sleuthing: the story of genetic fingerprinting |

XVIII | Dr. A. W. F. Edwards | 20.10.94 | Fiducial inference and the fundamental theorem of natural selection |

XIX | Prof. M. J. R. Healy | 3.4.95 | The life and work of Frank Yates |

XX | Prof. J. A. Nelder | 5.9.96 | Computers and statistics: the continuing revolution. |

XXI | Sir John Kingman | 16.11.98 | Mathematics of genetic diversity: before and after DNA. |

XXII | Prof. B Efron | 12.9.00 | The essential Fisher |

XXIII | Sir Richard Doll | 29.10.01 | Proof of causality: Deductions from epidemiological evidence |

XXIV | Dr. Oliver Mayo | 26.06.02 | The realisation of Fisher's research programme |

XXV | Prof. Warren Ewens | 7.04.03 | Statistics and the transformation from genetics to genomics |

XXVI | Prof. Adrian Smith | 8.09.04 | Towards an Evidence-Based Society: the Role of Statistical Thinking |

XXVII | Prof. E.A.Thompson | 4.12.06 | 1953: an unrecognized summit in Human Genetic Linkage Analysis |

XXVIII | Prof. R.A. Bailey | 15.07.08 | Design of dose-escalation trials |

XXIX | Prof B Charlesworth and Prof D Charlesworth | 6.01.10 | Fisher and Modern Evolutionary Genetics |

XXX | Prof Philip Dawid | 10.11.11 | Causal inference from experimental data |

XXXI | Prof Peter Donnelly | 14.11.12 | Genetic Variation in Human Health and Disease |

XXXII | Prof David Spiegelhalter | 3.07.13 | Putting life into numbers: the highs and lows of communicating statistics to the public |

XXXIII | Prof Bill Hill | 8.01.14 | Applying quantitative genetic and genomic information to animal improvement |

XXXIV | Prof Peter McCullagh | 27.10.15 | Empirical phenomena and universal laws |

XXXV | Prof Nancy Reid | 27.10.16 | Statistical science and data science: where do we go from here? |

XXXVI | Prof Stephen Senn | 04.09.17 | And thereby hangs a tail: the strange history of P-values |

However, tail area probabilities were calculated long before Fisher and naively and commonly given an inverse interpretation. It was Fisher who pointed out that this interpretation was unsafe and who stressed an alternative and more conservative one, although even this can be found in earlier writings such as those of Karl Pearson.

I shall consider the history of P-values and inverse probability from Bayes to Fisher,
passing by Laplace, Pearson, Student, Broad and Jeffreys, and show that the problem
is not so much an incompatibility of frequentist and Bayesian inference,
as an incompatibility of two approaches to dealing with *null hypotheses*.
Both these approaches are encountered in Bayesian analyses,
with the older of the two much more common. They lead to very different inferences
in the Bayesian framework but much lesser differences in the frequentist one.
I conclude that the real problem is that there is an unresolved difference of practice
in Bayesian approaches. This does not, of itself, constitute a defence of P-values but
it does suggest that some of the problems for which they are blamed will not be resolved merely by abandoning them.

The RA Fisher Digital Archive University of Adelaide

Figures from the history of statistics Site maintained by John Aldrich

A Guide to R.A. Fisher Specific Fisher guide maintained by John Aldrich

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher MacTutor History of Mathematics Biography

Ronald Aylmer Fisher Monash University Fisher pages

COPSS Awards Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies Awards (including Fisher lecture)

Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies list of Fisher lecturers History of the COPSS Awards

Chance, risk and healthOpen University series of 4 podcasts on RA Fisher and his legacy

Page of quotations from the works of Fisher collected by Anthony Edwards

This page last updated 17 Oct 2017

Page maintained by Stephen Senn stephen@senns.demon.co.uk