William Bateson Quotes

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William Bateson Quotes

If I may throw out a word of counsel to beginners, it is: Treasure your exceptions! When there are none, the work gets so dull that no one cares to carry it further. Keep them always uncovered and in sight. Exceptions are like the rough brickwork of a growing building which tells that there is more to come and shows where the next construction is to be.
— William Bateson —

In Darwin's time no serious attempt had been made to examine the manifestations of variability. A vast assemblage of miscellaneous facts could formerly be adduced as seemingly comparable illustrations of the phenomenon "Variation." Time has shown this mass of evidence to be capable of analysis. When first promulgated it produced the impression that variability was a phenomenon generally distributed amongst living things in such a way that the specific divisions must be arbitrary. When this variability is sorted out, and is seen to be in part a result of hybridisation, in part a consequence of the persistence of hybrids by parthenogenetic reproduction, a polymorphism due to the continued presence of individuals representing various combinations of Mendelian allelomorphs, partly also the transient effect of alteration in external circumstances, we see how cautious we must be in drawing inferences as to the indefiniteness of specific limits from a bare knowledge that intermediates exist.

— William Bateson

Of the contributions made during the essayist period three call for notice: Weismann deserves mention for his useful work in asking for the proof that "acquired characters" or, to speak more precisely, parental experience can really be transmitted to the offspring. The ocurrence of progressive adaptation by transmission of effects of use had seemed so natural to Darwin and his contemporaries that no proof of the physiological reality of the henomenon was thought necessary. Weismann's challenge revealed the utter inadequacy of the evidence on which the beliefs were based. They are doubtless isolated observations which may be interpreted as favouring the belief in these transmissions, but such meagre indications as exist are by general consent admitted to be too slight to be of much assistance in the attempt to understand how the more complex adaptive mechanisms arose.

— William Bateson

Treasure your exceptions.

— William Bateson

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