R. A. Fisher on the history of inverse probability

Sandy L Zabell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


R. A. Fisher’s account of the decline of inverse probability methods during the latter half of the 19th century identifies Boole, Venn and Chrystal as the key figures in this change. Careful examination of these and other writings of the period, however, reveals a different and much more complex picture. Contrary to Fisher’s account, inverse methods—at least in modified form—remained theoretically respectable until the 1920‘s, when the work of Fisher and then Neyman caused their eclipse for the next quarter century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-256
Number of pages10
JournalStatistical Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


  • History of statistics
  • Inverse probability
  • R. A. Fisher

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • General Mathematics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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