theories under stress: the evolution of early genetics

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    The Science of Evolution and the Evolution of theSciences, 13/10/2016

    Charles H. Pence

    Department of Philosophyand Religious Studies

  • How can we understand thestructure of scientificcommunities duringtheoretical crises?


  • color by Mads Madsden

  • Fleeming Jenkin, in 1884, from memoir by R.L. Stevenson

  • William Bateson, in 1905

  • W.F.R. Weldon

  • Karl Pearson and Francis Galton

  • From Weldon (1893)

  • Gregor Mendel

  • St. Cross Church, Holywell

  • The basic idea: (e.g., Provine 1971)

    1867: Jenkins review of the Origin

    1892: Batesons Materials

    1893: Weldons first biometrical work

    1901: Rediscovery of Mendel

    1906: Death of Weldon

    1930: Beginning of Synthesis


  • Kyung-Man Kim, 1994

  • After Fig. 2, Kim 1994

  • New emphasis: paradigm articulators those whoarticulated the still inchoate paradigms byextending and elaborating the theory, but withoutevaluat[ing] their mentors theory (Kim 1994, 35)

    Five of these Darbishire, Schuster, Yule, Pearl, andShull converted from biometry to Mendelismbetween 1903 and 1910.

  • Kims focus: structures ofeducation, training, and theory


  • Good! But this is an activedebate in the literature.

    Can we detect its signal there?


  • From previous work (Pence 2011, 2015) Iknew some of this debate played out inNature. Lets find more.

    A network of around 100 biologists workingon heredity published around 2,000 articlesin Nature between, roughly, 1870 and 1940.

  • Aside: Check out the data! The network I will bedescribing can be interacted with live at:

    And all data is at:

  • (data: full network, animated network,time slices)

  • 1894: No robust clustering, standardcenter-periphery network

    189599: Cluster of people involved in debatepulled out of broader conversation

    190004: Bateson and Weldon completelyseparate from remaining network

    190509: Last biometrical analysis,Pearson/Pearl working together; Weldonretreats to experimental work, dies

    1910: Back to a cluster-free network


  • Community structure isreflected in the structure ofthe network of discourse

  • But! Its not straightforward,and the networks of discoursegive us interesting questionsto ask about the community.

  • Paradigm debaters?Paradigm warriors?

    Participating in debatesbetween paradigms pulls youout of the broader network.

  • Networks of discourse dontsort paradigm A from paradigmB, nor do they give us Kims

    sociological structure.

  • After Fig. 2, Kim 1994, line weight proportional to edge weight in network of discourse, dashed line indicatesconnection present in Kim but missing in new network. Pearson-Pearl line reduced for clarity.

  • You get a variety of linksacross paradigms, and thoseconnections can be difficult todescribe in any other robust


  • Problems and Next Steps:

    This is just one journal, broadly based in the UK.Cant see Davenports school in the US very well.

    Another siloing effect: biometricians found anew journal, Biometrika. Working on dataaccess now.

    Just one case study! Need more!

  • QUESTIONS?charles@charlespence.net



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