History of Statistics section: The statistician and the 'stats’ - RA Fisher and the RSS

On 20 February 2019 John Aldrich of Southampton University, author of several works on the history of statistics in the twentieth century, spoke on 'The Statistician and the “Stats” - RA Fisher and the RSS.'

Ronald Fisher's work was the inspiration behind the move towards Statistics as Research Methodology and when he died in 1962, the RSS recognised him as the 'most famous statistician in the world'. Yet his four decades of transactions with the Society were generally troubled: in the 1920s he joined, left and re-joined, in the 30s he was uncomfortably present - arguing with Bowley and Neyman - in the 40s he was usually absent and in the 50s he was President and contributing to the Society's journals. The troubles were rooted in personalities - Fisher’s was 'notoriously contentious' - but also in conflicts over ideas in statistical inference.

A lively question and answer session followed. A highlight of the discussion was the contribution of Robert Curnow: he recalled the first time he presented at a meeting (in 1957) with Fisher and Jerzy Neyman both present and how Fisher rubbished everything Neyman said.

Download the slides from John Aldrich's talk (PDF).

Download the paper (PDF).


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