Stigler's law of eponymy

Last revised by Joshua Yap on 7 Sep 2022

Stigler's law of eponymy states simply that no discovery in science is ever named for its primary originator. There are many examples of this throughout science, including the biomedical sciences. A few, such as Job syndrome or Terry Thomas sign, were deliberately named for someone other than the discoverer.

It is unsurprising that across the centuries of biomedical research, a few eponyms have been correctly named after the actual originator of the idea.

Stephen M Stigler (b. 1941), an American economist at the University of Chicago, first posited his law in an article in 1980 1. He intended his "law" to be self-consistent i.e. that other individuals had previously stated similar sentiments 2.

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