[Ed. note: Thirty years ago, the eminent geneticist and statistician Ronald A. Fisher approached blood testing specialist Arthur Mourant with the idea for a joint research project. Why not use blood groups to see if smokers differed genetically from nonsmokers? Mourant was tempted for a number of reasons, not the least of which was maintaining his long and fruitful professional relationship with the famous Fisher, author of the classic textbook The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (Oxford University Press, 1930). But the proposed study raised serious ethical questions, and after careful consideration Mourant felt compelled to decline.

Now 84, Mourant lives in retirement on the island of Jersey in the English Channel He has had a distinguished career in three countries—Great Britain, France, and the United States. Although trained as a geologist, he later switched sciences and his fame rests on a rich body of original work on blood groups...

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