Charles Davenport letter to Karl Pearson, defending roles of mutation and environment in evolution in paper rejected by Biometrika (6/5/1903)
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University College London, KP, 674/1
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Charles Davenport letter to Karl Pearson, defending roles of mutation and environment in evolution in paper rejected by <i>Biometrika</i> (6/5/1903)

[stamped]University College Pearson Papers[end stamp] Univ. Chicago June 5, 1903 674 11 Dear Pearson:-- First let me thank you for your letter of May 23 and to express my admiration of your energy and devotion to the cause that has led you to go into papers received so thoroughly. While all obvious and certain error must, so far as possibly be kept out of Biometrika, I conceive that it would be prejudicial to the advancement of science to reject all reflections or not to permit an author to state what conclusions he draws from his data; so long as the reflections and conclusions are kept apart from the objective results of the study of the data. In my paper, for example, following my universal custom, I have presented the results in [crossed out 'all'] as objective a matter as possible and have reserved a little corner (6 1/2 out of 38 pages) for the confessedly subjective part. A paper without such a subjective part may be immensely valuable; it in [illegible] be seen valuable [illegible] stimulating effect upon science if it contained "the author's views". "Beobachtung und Reflection" is von Baer's subtitle of his great work in Embryology; and I think it may well serve as a motto for the biologist. But then the question may arise, Shall we publish reflections that are not correct? Of course if their method is not scientific, if they are slovenly in form and introduce clear errors of fact they must be rejected; but if the general method and logical form are satisfactory, then they may not be rejected because they do not conform to some accepted theory. In other words the author has the widest liberty to hold and express opinions, confessedly such. And although a journal like Biometrika has a legal right to reject papers whose conclusions are distasteful to the Editor; yet such a practice will be fatal to its scien- [end]

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