Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



The American Naturalist, Vol. 47, No. 557 (May, 1913), pp. 307-311


Copyright 1913 R. A. Emerson


I was somewhat surprised by 'Morgan's and Castle's suggestions for a simplification of Mendelian formulae. My surprise was not occasioned so much by the forms these suggestions took as by the fact that any pronounced changes were deemed necessary. I had not only employed the usual formula in my own work but had found no difficulty worth mentioning in understanding the formula used by most other workers in Mendelian fields. My experience with students in elementary courses in genetics had not prepared me for the idea that such formula were particularly difficult. Nevertheless I believe in simplifying the formulae if some system can be found that will be applicable to all sorts of Mendelian inheritance. I believe, however, that I have no right to adopt formula for my own cases, no matter how simple they might be, if the same type of formula could not readily be applied to the materials with which other investigators are working. Such procedure on my part would result in no end of confusion if followed by any considerable number of workers each using his own special type of formula. The important question now is not whether I prefer a new style of formula that fits my case but whether it will fit all sorts of cases so that, if it is an improvement on the old style, it can be adopted by others and not necessitate the use of two styles where but one sufficed before.