August 8th, 2007

Bruce, Caroline

The History of Genetics

Once upon a time there was an idiot named Mendel. Mendel was a monk. Most monks were content to sing Gregorian chants and not talk about it. But was that good enough for Mendel? Oh no, it was not. "Gregorian chants aren't good enough for a snooty monk like me," he said. "I'm gonna discover genetics, so there!"

And so our sanctimonious busybody began to raid the vegetable gardens, denying some good Gregorian chanters their peas and their inevitable nine-day-old
poridge, either hot or cold, in the pot.

So our loser started to experiment with his stolen peas, setting the art of minding one's own business back by millennia.

Now, rather wisely I think, Mendel's contemporaries ignored Mendel's work. They had better things to do: wars to fight, countries to raid and plunder, you  know, the sort of things enlightened civilizations do to distinguish themselves from the barbarians. But, I guess things got boring again right around the
turn of the last century, because some wisenheimer went and dug up Mendel's work, where it had been peacefully collecting bookworms, and rediscovered it.  This last should have been a crime, but the justice system was starting to crumble, even then.

As if this deplorable situation weren't bad enough, people not only studied the twaddle produced by the meddlesome Mendel, they added to it. The outhouse  of knowledge was rapidly accumulating residue. Other people came along, people like Punnett, a real square.

The icing was finally put on the cake, moving away from the outhouse analogy, when some stuck-up teachers decided to write a book on the subject. It seems  one of the teachers was doing a thesis on <i>Boring your Students into Submission</i>. And when the book was written, some poor slob had to proofread the blighted
thing, right? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the history of genetics, right up to this very day.