Pobre Mendel, não tinha suficiente QI (Quem indica)

quarta-feira, fevereiro 18, 2009

Quem disse que ter QI (Quem indica) não é fator preponderante para acesso em determinados escalões na Akademia? então leia este pequeno artigos sobre Mendel, Huxley e a aceitação de novas teorias científicas.

Não sei por que, mas cheira muito à história da atual rejeição da Teoria do Design Inteligente e a atual Nomenklatura científica.



by Richard Milner, M.A.

”My time will come,” said the brilliant scientist-monk Gregor Mendel. Working with thousands of pea plants in the monastery garden at Brunn, Austria, he made the crucial breakthrough (1865) in understanding how heredity works. But no biologist recognized his achievement until thirty-five years later, though it was the key to evolution they had all been seeking. Why?

To begin with, Mendel published very little, only two short papers in the journal of a local natural history society. Although he sent reprints to some of the important botanists of his day, many ignored it simply because he wasn’t at a major university, had no prestigious friends in science and did his work out in the boondocks.

Charles Darwin, in contrast, had taken infinite pains to cultivate a friendly circle of influential biologists. Quick acceptance of his evolution theory followed years of ingratiating letters and a carefully managed campaign to convince the scientific community. In addition to being a great scientist, Darwin was also a consummate diplomat, tactician and public relations man.

Mendel put his faith in the merit of his work, naively believing qualified scientists would surely recognize its worth. He sent a reprint of his paper to the day’s leading botanist, Carl Nageli, who was also working with hybrids. Although Nageli then conducted a long correspondence with Mendel, encouraging him to pursue his work, in reality he was no friend to him.

First, he encouraged Mendel to continue testing his theory on hawkweed, instead of pea plants. Hawkweed has a complicated type of inheritance, which was certain to lead to confusing results. And when Nageli published his big book on inheritance and evolution in 1884, there was not a single reference to Mendel.

Ernst Mayr, in 1882, pointed out that Nageli had a complex theory of his own and was one of the few biologists of the time who believed in pure blending inheritance. “To accept Mendel’s theory,” Mayr concludes, “would have meant, for Nageli, a complete refutation of his own.” (Growth of Biological Theory, p. 723.)

The cloistered cleric could have used some of the worldliness of the young Thomas Henry Huxley, who made certain to keep one of his papers out of the hands of the great authority in his field, Richard Owen. On March 5, 1852, Huxley wrote a friend:

“You have no idea of the intrigues that go on in this blessed world of science.

Science is, I fear, no purer than any other region of human activity; though it should be. Merit alone is very little good; it must be backed by tact and knowledge of the world to do very much. For instance, I know that the paper I have just sent in is very original and of some importance, and I am equally sure that if it is referred to the judgment of my “particular friend” Professor Owen that it will not be published. He won’t be able to say a word against it, but he will pooh-pooh it to a dead certainty. You will ask with some wonderment, Why? Because for the last twenty years [he] has been regarded as the great authority on these matters, and has had no one to tread on his heels, until at last, I think, he has come to look upon the Natural World as his special preserve, and “no poachers allowed.” So I must maneuver a little to get my poor memoir kept out of his hands.

Huxley also used his savvy to “maneuver” his friend Darwin’s work from rebel theory to scientific respectability. If Mendel had had a Huxley, his “time” would certainly have come a lot sooner.