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Colin Cowell's letter (July 2002 JRSM1) repeats inter alia the common misconception that Gregor Mendel's work of the 1860s languished unread for 40 years. Not so! As Årno Gustafsson pointed out over 30 years ago2, Mendel's work was referred to in the scientific literature a dozen times between its first publication and its ‘rediscovery’ around 1900. Indeed, as Peter Portin details in his comprehensive study of the development of the concept of the gene3, by the beginning of the 19th century it was already recognized by von Niessel and others that Mendel's long-lasting experiments were in no way unknown or hidden but rather were actively put aside on the basis of others' views prevailing. A phenomenon not unknown today.