Professional Responses to the Discovery that Matthew did Influence Darwin and Wallace
In the UK, some weeks after the Scottish Daily Mail reported on the presentation of my Bombshell News of Darwin's and Wallace's great science fraud at the Edinburgh Skeptics in the Pub event on the Fringe of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, The Daily Telegraph exposed the 2014 discovery of Darwin’s and Wallace’s great science fraud in greater detail (The Daily Telegraph, 2014, May 28th, p.12) :
“Darwin ‘stole’ theory of natural selection”Charles Darwin lifted his theory of natural selection from a book by a Scottish fruit farmer, a researcher has claimed.Decades before ‘On the Origin of Species’ appeared in 1859, Patrick Matthew wrote of “the natural process of selection”, explaining how “a law universal in nature” ensured the survival of the fittest.Darwin, although accepting that Matthew “anticipated” the theory, always denied plagiarism, maintaining that he arrived at the theory independently.But Dr Mike Sutton, a criminology expert at Nottingham Trent University, believes that Darwin must not only have been aware of Matthew’s 1831 work, On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, but borrowed from it heavily.He has spent years cross-referencing passages in both books, checking citations and studying the figures and studying the figures who influenced both men [Note: that last bit is not actually accurate, because I fully completed the entire project and wrote it up as a draft book manuscript inside one year], and claims to have unearthed information which proves the naturalist lied.“I have no doubt, based on the weight of new evidence, that Darwin read Matthew’s book and then went on to replicate his discovery and key themes.” Dr Sutton said: “Without Patrick Matthew, The Origin of Species would never have been written.”
The Daily Telegraph’s Science Correspondent, Saraha Knapton, who following a telephone conversation with me a few weeks ago, asked for and received the draft copy of my forthcoming book ‘Nullius in verba: Darwin’s greatest secret’ took the story forward on May 28th in her Daily Telegraph science blog.
[Postscript - 6th August 2014 - Nullius is now published - here]
The Apocryphal Semelweis Reflex
In Knapton's blog is to be found, in my opinion, the Semmelweis-Reflex response of Darwin “expert” Professor James Moore of the Open University. At least according to the information relayed in Telegraph blog, Moore, is apparently completely unaware of the wealth of science literature (e.g. Dawkins 2010) that fully accepts Matthew is the only author to have first fully discovered and fully articulated the theory of natural selection. In apparent absence of such knowledge, Moore, is quoted as saying that 'thousands of people were coming to the same understanding’. If The Daily Telegraph is quoting Moore accurately, then we really need to see Moore’s bibliography to prove it because that fantastical information is not yet in the public domain. Anyway, on the basis of his un-evidenced claim, Moore, apparently not having bothered with the scholarly chore of examining the detailed and fully referenced brand newly discovered evidence I have published in the public domain (Sutton 2014) , displays what might be the onset of an embarrassing Semmelwies Reflex. The Semelweis Reflex sufferer, allegedly, blurted “I would be extremely surprised if there was any new evidence had not been already seen and interpreted in the opposite way.’
I suspect Professor James Moore and other Darwinists would be extremely surprised if only they looked at the evidence. On which note, the response to the news in the comments to The Daily Telegraph science blog are most fascinating for anyone interested in studying cognitive dissonance and the apocryphal knee-jerk rejecting Semmelweis Reflex. On this blog you can even find a staunch anti-creationist computer scientist desperately resorting to Rupert Sheldrake's pseudo-scientific morphic resonance woo-woo to seek to explain away Darwin's and Wallace's obvious plagiarism.
A Classic Case of Cultural Cognitive Dissonance
Among all those comments on the Daily Telegraph's official science blog, if you care to look, you will find that I asked a leading Alfred Wallace expert at the British Museum of Natural History, Dr George Beccaloni, why he does not accept my proposition that Wallace cannot now be said to have independently discovered natural selection after it is newly discovered that Wallace’s Sarawak paper editor and publisher (Selby) had earlier read and cited Matthew’s book many times, and that Wallace’s greatest published influencer, Robert Chambers, had also cited Matthew’s book before going on to pen the influential Vestiges of Creation. Remembering folks – that’s two out of only seven naturalists who are currently known to have cited Matthew’s book – who clearly influenced and facilitated Wallace’s pre-1858 work on organic evolution and natural selection. In response to that question, Beccaloni writes his considered reply, given for the historical record:
‘I think your book is likely to 'score an own goal', by showing that 7 naturalists read Matthew's book yet failed to grasp his idea of 'natural selection'. Yes, I do think that Matthew probably DID propose the idea of natural selection as a mechanism of evolutionary change, the problem is that he did not explain it at all clearly or present it as being a new theory - which is indeed probably why those 7 naturalists (and others) missed it. Darwin and Wallace deserve the credit for explaining it sufficiently well to convince others of its importance. Note that Darwin, unlike Wallace, also accepted Lamarckism - something that always bothered Wallace who vigorously rejected Lamarckism in his 1858 paper and in his subsequent writings. It would make a very interesting study to examine the two men's attitudes to Lamarckism...’
Now that’s what I call an interesting response. For a start my goal (aim) is simply to set the record straight with my unique and veracious discovery that Matthew's book was cited by naturalists known to Darwin and Wallace. My conclusion is that they committed science fraud - but my conclusion is not my goal. Moving past Beccaloni's weirdly hostile assumptions, if he is right that my conclusions should be in the opposite direction – and of that I am far from sure – I wonder how in the world such an amazing-duel-coincidental-immaculate-conception could have occurred in the midst of such potential knowledge contamination from those who read Matthew's unique discovery of what he called 'the natural process of selection'? Did both Wallace and his influencers/facilitators wear tin-foil hats to stop Matthew's unique ideas and examples on organic evolution from spreading one to the other? How incredible it would be, would it not, if - tin foil hats aside - the unique ideas in Matthew’s book did not pass to Wallace’s work through his editor and through his greatest influencer? Particularity in light of the fact Wallace also uniquely replicated so many of Matthew's unique ideas, terms, phrases and explanatory examples.
My big data analysis of the literature shows that if Matthew's work did not influence Darwin and Wallace then it would have to be nothing more than a trifling tri-coincidence, amazing beyond rational belief, that three out of only seven naturalists proven to have read Matthew's book played pivotal roles at the very epicentre of influencing and facilitating both Darwin's and Wallace's later publications on the exact same same unique discovery, using word-shuffled Matthewian terminology and replicating Matthew's highly idiosyncratic collection of explanatory examples.
Beccaloni's mind-switch from the official Darwinst knowledge-belief that no one read Matthew's ideas is perhaps a result of cognitive dissonance. Once faced by the newly discovered reality that naturalists known to Wallace and Darwin had read Matthew's book (Sutton 2014) Beccaloni possibly feels compelled now to 'reason' that my newly discovered seven - and he now reasons apparently innumerable unknown "others" - had read Matthew's book, which means now what Beccaloni reasons must have happened in his newly imagined reality, speculatively switched-about, is that it must be the case now that it is now Matthew's fault that others never understood his unique discovery because for some unspecific reason Matthew is believed now to have failed to make his ideas clear. Clearly, to write such a desperate creation, Beccaloni surely can't have actually or properly read Matthew's (1831) Naval Timber and Arboriculture, which expresses his original ideas far more clearly than Darwin ever did. But as in all cases of unfortunate cognitive dissonance, Beccaloni's brain, it appears, had to make up this newly adapted explanation in order to cope with the bombshell evidence that his science-guru-heros are otherwise plagiarists and science fraudsters. In short, Beccaloni has invented a brand new un-evidenced and implausible Darwinist 'knowledge-belief' in order to cope with harsh reality and of dis-confirming facts for the newly debunked 'knowledge-belief' that no naturalist read Matthew's book. Beccaloni is not to be mocked for his unfortunate bias. We should not expect anyone who has been unfortunately labelled and accepted the name of 'Darwinist' to be capable of objectively weighting the possibility that their namesake is their namesake because someone not named Darwin should be their namesake. I suppose its a bit like asking a Christian to accept new knowledge that some other prophet, incidentally not called Jesus of Nazareth (Brian perhaps?) got there and wrote some influential scrolls first.
The British Museum of Natural History has much to lose, financially and facially, in light of the newly discovered fact that Wallace's carefully spun "independent discovery" story is unravelled by facts. Cognitive imbalance caused by the stake an employee and their institution has in a busted 'knowledge belief ' was seen before when the science con-man Charles Dawson duped the Museum's Arthur Smith Woodward with his own (in hindsight) ludicrously implausible tale of how he discovered Piltdown Man 1 and Piltdown Man 2. Of course both were fakes (see Walsh 1997 for a superb, and the best, account).
Once again, then, it seems to be Pilting Down in Britain. Because yet again the British Museum of Natural History credulously makes a bit of an exhibition of itself.
One solution to this unfortunate new international embarrassment would be for the British Museum of Natural History to put the plagiariser Darwin's overbearing statue in the basement. Better still, they should hang a sign around its neck bearing the words "counterfeit originator" and feature it in an exhibition on science fraud. They could do worse than to put Wallace's brand new portrait in that same exhibition and then later stick it in a box in the attic along with all their other mistakes. Then the UK should celebrate the only independent discoverer of natural selection by establishing the Matthew Collection along with commissioning a statue and portrait of Patrick Matthew - who is the greatest deductive thinker the World has ever known. Somehow I doubt that will happen until after the World has had a good old laugh at our expense. Mind you, they can't be too hard on us because Darwin and Wallace suckered the rest of the World too. At least the myth was busted by an English person - yours truly.
In sum, content for 154 years with the myth created by Darwin's and Wallace's story-telling that no naturalist known to them had read Matthew's book before 1859, Darwinists appear now to have a mutant argument that goes in the opposite direction in order to keep worshipping Darwin and Wallace. The mutant variety relies upon a new necessity for many, many, more naturalists than I have uniquely discovered to have read Matthew's book in order to make a new argument that Matthew's ideas were read but incomprehensible to all of the "new-unknown others" who read them, including the now known-citers (Loudon, Selby and Chambers) who influenced Darwin and Wallace on the exact same specific topic.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for his own future legacy, Beccaloni's desperate mutant variant argument is one that is unlikely to prove fit to survive outside the nurturing of his own biased-brain as curator of the Wallace Collection at the British Museum of Natural History. One reason Beccaloni's speculation will possibly not turn meme being because Matthew's ideas were very clearly stated - as the reviews of his book reveal. Indeed, some reviewers were up-in-arms over his heresy and wrote against it (Sutton 2014b - forthcoming). Matthew, himself told Darwin something about this in his 1860 reply to Darwin's letter to the Gardener's Chronicle (see Sutton 2014). Moreover, if so many more naturalists had read Matthew's book then it seems hard to imagine how Darwin and Wallace could have got away with plagiarising it, because they could not have got away with telling a lie that no naturalists had read it. But let's be balanced and consider Beccaloni's argument more closely. We can't know, but perhaps he is right that many, perhaps thousands - including many naturalists - did read Matthew's book in the 1830's and were either dead or else effectively retired by the time Darwin and Wallace published their "no naturalist read it" stories after 1859. It is not impossible that thousands of naturalists might have read and failed to understand Matthew's hypothesis (see Sutton 2014b for a discussion of this based on further newly discovered facts not yet in the public domain). Darwin provides some evidence to support such a possibility. In his letters to Wallace, following Wallace's complaint that none had shown any interest in his Sarawak paper, Darwin explained that most naturalists - himself, Lyell and Wallace aside, were obsessed merely with capturing, cataloguing and classifying specimens. This might indeed explain why many naturalists would have failed to attach any importance to what Matthew had to say on the problem of species. But we know for a fact that Wallace, Darwin,Selby, Loudon, Chambers and Blyth were all fascinated with the topic. They would have, as the new evidence linking them directly to Matthew's book suggests, see what Matthew had discovered.
To conclude, it is important to stick with the facts and not to get sidetracked with fascinating un-evidenced speculation, which merely leads us up the primrose path to more storytelling and consequent entrenchment of new 'knowledge -beliefs'.
I’m sure we are learning much here that is of great value about how members of the scientific community initially respond to career devastating bombshell discoveries with initial knee-jerk uninformed rejection followed by more carefully constructed newly created cognitive dissonance fuelled explanations. Moreover, I suspect that many historians of science, psychologists and sociologists will be interested in this most valuable new data. Criminologists, and historians of science, might be interested in the fact that the technology of 'big data' and associated technology, such as Google's Library Project and its facilitating Chrome search engine, has effectively handed redundancy papers to frauds of the type so easily conducted by Darwin and Wallace in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Dawkins, R. (2010). Darwin’s Five Bridges: The Way to Natural Selection In Bryson, B (ed.) Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society. London Harper Collins.
Sutton, M. (2014b) Nullius in verba. Darwin's greatest secret. ThinkerBooks.
Walsh, J. E. (1997) Unravelling Piltdown: The Science Fraud of the Century and its Solution. New York. Random House.
VISIT PatrickMatthew.com for more information.