Smoking and Lung Cancer

  • R. Dennis Cook
Part of the Lecture Notes in Statistics book series (LNS, volume 1)


During the years 1957 and 1958, Fisher became involved in a controversy over the issue of whether or not it had been established that smoking causes lung cancer. The seeds of the controversy were planted in a series of reports by Doll and Hill in the British Medical Journal, which showed a significant association between the incidence of smoking and the incidence of lung cancer in a retrospective study. There ensued, in 1957, much alarum in the editorial pages of the British Medical Journal, which Fisher felt to be unjustified, in the sense that hard scientific evidence of causation was yet to be found. In a series of letters, exchanges, and lectures, Fisher attempted to criticize the weakness of the evidence for causation, and to propose possible explanations for the observed effects which needed to be investigated. He also pointed to a seemingly absurd aspect of Doll and Hill’s data. This lecture reviews Fisher’s participation in the controversy.


Lung Cancer Smoking Habit British Medical Journal Genetic Theory Editorial Page 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Dennis Cook

There are no affiliations available

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