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The Rule of 48 (all scientists are blind) August 6, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Idiots, Liberal self-loathing, Pharyngulism.

… some years before [Peter Leavitt] had formulated the Rule of 48. The Rule of 48 was intended as a humorous reminder to scientists, and referred to the massive literature collected in the late 1940s and the 1950s concerning the human chromosome number.

The Rule of 48

All Scientists Are Blind

For years it was stated that men had forty-eight chromosomes in their cells; there were pictures to prove it, and any number of careful studies. In 1953, a group of American researchers announced to the world that the human chromosome number was forty-six. Once more, there were pictures to prove it, and studies to confirm it. But these researchers also went back to reexamine the old pictures, and the old studies–and found only forty-six chromosomes not forty-eight.

–Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain (1969;1993), p. 125.

“Usually the number of chromosomes is constant in a given species, although it may vary between different species even of the same genus. In man the chromosome number is forty-eight….” [Human Genetics and its Social Import, by S. J. Holmes (1936), pp. 8. The illustration above appears on p. 9.]

“… the number of chromosomes is in general constant for any given species. Thus in each cell of a human being there are 48 chromosomes (24 pairs)….” [Principles of Heredity, 3rd. ed., by Laurence R. Snyder (1946), p. 26.]
“If you learned your biology a long time ago, you learned that men have forty-eight [chromosomes]–but the number has now been revised downward to forty-six (twenty-three pairs).” [The Language of Life: An Introduction to the Science of Genetics, by George and Muriel Beadle (1966), p. 89.] (Quotes taken from a lecture by Dr. Barbara Becker at the UC Irvine)

Modern illustration of the Rule of 48:

Little Paul Zachary Myers

Little Paul Zachary Myers


1. A Story In Song (Part 10—Peter Bradley Adams) | Nothing Any Good - March 9, 2017

[…] Maybe what we need is right in front of us, if we’ll only take a moment to actually look. Like Peter Leavitt’s Rule of 48, maybe it’s not just scientists that are blind; maybe we’re all blind. What if the happiness […]

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