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My favourite person Who has contributed the most?

#1 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-February-16, 20:11

When applying for jobs - something I had to do every four years in the Research Fellow biz, a common question was:
Who's your favourite scientist (other than yourself hahaha)?

Mine is Ronald Aylmer Fisher, born today 17th February 1890.

Fisher is someone familiar to most people on this Forum, without him, many of the Discussions that we have here would be just guess-work.
In common with some other members of the Forum (and other great scientists), Fisher was prone to harbouring ideas that were somewhat unacceptable.
We sometimes take the good with the bad.

RA Fisher was a statistician but was also a eugenicist.
Of all the famous people born in 1890 (DD Eisenhower, Ho Chi Minh, Groucho Marx and 'Colonel' Sanders) My favourite is Ronald Aylmer Fisher.
On the list of famous people born on the 17th of February, Fisher ranks at 67. (https://www.thefamou...bruary-17th.php).
Paris Hilton ranks number 5. Rene Laennec comes in at 106 and he invented the stethoscope. The other Colonel (Oberst) Sanders (later General) Otto Liman von Sanders pops up at 121. (Yes, not German - Henry Oakley Howard (formerly Sanders) was born in Surrey.)

Fisher worked with and argued with luminaries such as Gossett and Pearson. He also examined Turing.

In his final years, he worked and lived in Adelaide. In fact, he worked at the Waite Agricultural Institute (of the University of Adelaide). Also situated in the same block of land was the last school I attended Unley High Scool.

Fisher was not the only 'great' to have had brushes with strange, even criminal, ideas.
Two others were:

Carleton Gajdusek 9 9 1923
Nobel prize for prion disease, Child molester

Kary Mullis 28 12 1944
PCR, climate change and AIDS denier

Without these three, Alan Turing and JCR 'Lick' Licklider, modern medicine would not exist as we know it.
Whenever I think that I've thought of something new or cool I usually discover that (at least) 10 others have thought of it first.

Statistical thinking is the most important element for any rational discussion - and even then there is considerable variance in the outcome.

I searched a bunch of Library sites and here are a couple of documents from Fisher's correspondence that you may enjoy.
In one he lavishes praise on Turing, in the other he obtains a photograph of Sealy Gosset from Gossett's widow Marjory.
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non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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