In the c18th, the Marquis de Condorcet was writing pioneering Political Economy. He demonstrated the possibility that out of three candidates: A, B and C, in a one on one vote A can beat B, B can beat C, and yet C could beat A.
This occurence would be intransitive and violate a fundamental law of economics. Intuitively, if you prefer Fosters to Budweiser (A>B), and Budweiser to Guiness (B>C), transitivity says that you prefer Fosters to Guiness (A>C).
In Politics, if this doesn't hold we have the possibility of vote cycles, and no definate outcome. Alas, Condorcet's career ended with the steely blade of Mdme Guilotine and his insight was lost. In 1876 Charles Dodgson produced the same voting system, where the winner should be he who win's each pair-wise contest. It seems unlikely that he was aware of Condorcet, but his work too was lost.
In the 1940s Public Choice (the application of economic methodology to political science) pioneer Duncan Black encountered the work of Dodgson and also Condorcet. He submitted an article to 'Econometrica' around 1948, but the article was held up in the refereeing process for 18 months, after which he received a rejection on the grounds that the work of Kenneth Arrow had not been cited. In 1951 Arrow's dissertation "Social Choice and Individual Values" was published, somewhat behind schedule, and included "Arrow's Impossibility Theorem":
Arrow's theorem says that if the decision-making body has at least two members and at least three options to decide among, then it is impossible to design a social choice function that satisfies all these conditions at once. (source).
Black refused to cite Arrow, so his paper was lost from history, and a mystery developed as to how Arrow suddenly decided on his thesis, in a field somewhat removed from what he'd been working on.
What if the referee was Kenneth Arrow?