Essay talk:Patrick Matthew: priority and the discovery of natural selection

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Potential Problems[edit]

I see a couple of potential problems with the logic here. First of all, the problem with the big data investigation is two-fold:

  1. Correlation does not imply causation and
  2. Six Degrees of Kevin BaconWikipedia

Just because it's possible to link Darwin/Wallace to Matthew through common third party citations does not mean that they were aware of Matthew's work. Secondly, I would be extremely surprised if such a correlation could not be found, given the size of the field in which they operated and the way in which such fields function.

Another thing is the conspiratorial note that crediting Darwin (and to a lesser extent Wallace) was all some sort of clever cover up. The problem here is again two-fold:

  1. The objection that Matthew had stuck his idea in an appendix on a book on a completely different topic and not actually developed it further is an entirely valid distinction from both Darwin and Wallace.
  2. Considering Darwin's reaction to Wallace's letter prior to Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species, where Darwin agreed to co-publish with Wallace, despite the latter having had the idea quite recently, as opposed to Darwin's long years of endless revision of Species, it seems unlikely that Darwin was lying when he said he had never heard of Matthew's appendix (which was why he ordered a copy of Matthew's book on Naval Timber and Arboriculture). Indeed, Darwin's subsequent reaction was hardly one of trying to suppress or deny the existence of Matthew's idea.

The fact remains, however, that Matthew did not publish anything other than what was at best an extremely brief hypothesis, stuck in an appendix of a book on a completely different topic. Contrast that with Wallace and especially Darwin who had done extensive research into the topic for years and presented their idea based on that research. Hell, you might as well credit the development of evolution (and the victim of suppression in the conspiracy version) as being Darwin's grandfather Erasmus, whose Zoonomia we know was read by Darwin. ScepticWombat (talk) 01:03, 22 January 2015 (UTC)


Should we start calling Darwinism Matthewism then? (talk) 14:52, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton's paper[edit]

Basically his essay is a brief version of this:

He says it is peer-reviewed but it appears to be a conference paper (I could be wrong), this needs to be further explored. More importantly, please see his Wikipedia article [1], and the recent edit warring on Patrick Matthew's Wikipedia article [2]. Mike has been using a user called "TheScienceFraudSquad" to insert his views but has been heavily reverted for "fringe" pushing by a Wikipedia administrator. It is not my mission to argue for or against Mike's interesting research as I am not experienced in this field but his position seems to be a fringe position and he may be using RationalWiki as a vent to promote his views. I am not opposed to him having an essay space but caution should be advised. One thing that should be made clear is that Sutton references Milton Wainwright who has had some controversial views (Wikipedia article here [3]), also see his 2008 essay [4] and this website claims Wainwright is an intelligent design apologist [5], the BCSE has him down as on the fence [6]. Cosmos (talk) 15:15, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton Replies to Cosmos[edit]

What "edit warring" is Cosmos referring to? The fact that he (it seems from his own admission)- as evidenced on the history page for researchers to read - deleted text I wrote on the Patrick Matthew page of Wikipedia. I saw it disappear in front of my eyes and then pressed the undo button once to restore it. He then deleted it again. And that was it. Is that an "edit war"? Seems a little overdramatic to me. By the way that page was first published by Dr Mike Weale of Kings College London. He and I are collaborating on collecting data about Matthew for the Patrick Matthew Project. For the record, we disagree on many points about what the New Data - regarding who actually did read Matthew's book - means. But we are engaged in a healthy academic dialogue. That is what proper scholars do if they are seeking to arrive at a veracious understanding of the world.

Specific answers from me - the author. (1) Here is the necessary proof that my 2014 paper was peer reviewed (if you doubt this evidence then please contact Professor Andrew Millie directly) (2) it is not a brief version of my peer reviewed paper at all. If you read both you will see that in the rational wiki paper I argue that the Royal Society's rules of priority have been ignored in the case of Matthew. I do not pursue that argument via the Arago Effect rule my BSC paper. (3) Where is there a conspiracy? I don't see one. My conclusion is the same as Secord's regarding Robert Chambers and the Vestiges. Namely that the rules and conventions of 19th-century gentlemen of science made it extremely difficult to write about authors who strayed into the forbidden ground of news, natural theology, deductive hypothesis and politics. Matthew did all of those things in 1831. In other words, there is no reason to cry conspiracy or to say I imply one. Because I state - elsewhere in my wider publication (my book) that it is explained quite simply by 19th century conventions of the British Association of Advancement of Science and the Royal Society at the time. So, in sum, there is a rational explanation that I am trying to get into Rational Wiki (4) What is the problem with me citing Milton Wainwright peer reviewed paper? Where in the world is there any evidence that Wainwright believes in intelligent design? IS there, anyway a policy of not citing the (non-intelligent design) peer-reviewed papers of "believers" on this site? Do you think I am a creationist now? Do you think I must believe in intelligent design now? Did I stray onto a conspiracy theory site by mistake? For the record I'm an atheist and I think natural selection is the single most important scientific discovery of all time. and I do not believe in ID - nor do I think it has any credibility. I am not a Lamarckian - nor an aquatic ape theorist either. I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm anti-conspiracy theories. (5) Correlation does not "prove" causation is the usual phrase. And, of course, that is right. But if you met with several people who read the one book in the world that you most needed to read - but later claimed never to have heard of, would it be wrong for us to ask questions about the likelihood of knowledge contamination from that book getting into your work via those you knew who read it? Perhaps epidemiologists had better start believing, in spite of all the contrary evidence in the universe, "everything is mere coincidence" in that case.

I have discovered a whole lot of new hard and independently verifiable disconfirming evidence for the orthodox opinion that Darwin and Wallace discovered natural selection independently of Matthew. Moreover, the New Data of who actually cited Matthew pre-1858 (that was weirdly deleted in Wikipedia) does completely disprove prior "knowledge beliefs", that were based upon no more than the unevidenced claims made by Darwin (1860 and 1861) that Mathew's ideas went unread. You may disagree with the conclusions I draw from my unique discoveries - and I would encourage you to do so. But shame on you if you seek to censor by deleting or persuading others to delete new facts simply because they go against prior unevidenced mere 'knowledge beliefs.' Down that route does not lie veracity nor progress my friend. Down that route lays the path to credulous worship of idols as science saints in the Church of the Immaculate Conception of a Prior Published Theory! Facts, not beliefs prove that none of us are saints - not even our heroes. Sticking with the facts, I have uniquely found lots of new ones. These "New Facts" are making some people - weirdly - very uncomfortable. Good, says I. Is that not how knowledge moves forward? By the way, all deletion of these New Facts is data for future scholars to judge how the new facts were received. Remember 'delete never means delete' in the Information Age.--Nullius 18:04, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Cosmos Replies to Sutton[edit]

Well to be fair dave souza is quite militant on a strict Darwinist view of evolution so your stuff on Wikipedia will not get very far there. My own view is that Darwin took most of his ideas from Lamarck (the Dempster book you cite has some useful info on this). But the whole Darwin thing is a touchy ground the man has become an icon and if you go after him expect trouble. I do not think you are a creationist but some people might say that because you are doing a bit of Darwin bashing by calling him a fraud and they may get the wrong idea unfortunately and lump you in with one, lol. But all very interesting historical research. I will respond in detail after I have read your paper and your website [7]. Have you got plans for putting your book in paperback? I am a shameless fan of old paperback books. Sorry not to keen on kindle.

I scanned RationalWiki for similar arguments and I found Hugh Dower, he has argued similar to you (you know each other?). See his webpage here [8]. Here is an additional point he mentions "In the famous Appendix, Matthew refers to the ‘plastic quality of superior life’, and that Darwin frequently describes organised life as ‘plastic’ in both the 1842 sketch and the 1844 Essay. That may seem insignificant, but I have put search engines through numerous natural history texts of the period on the internet (including Herbert’s “Amaryllidaceae” and Chambers’ “Vestiges….”), and have found no other use of the word ‘plastic’. Cosmos (talk) 18:11, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton Replies to Cosmos[edit]

If I believe Darwin committed science fraud - and my subjective weighing of the hard evidence is that it is more likely than not that he did - then I will say so. Anyone who does not hide behind a mask who publishes nonsense arguing that I am a creationist or that I believe in intelligent design had better remember that the "smart money is always on the suit". If we feared name calling from the fearful where would we all be?

I have no plans for a paperback book of Nullius, not for the next few years at least. My next book is on Robert Chambers. I do have plans for that to be a traditional book with a mainstream academic publisher. That forthcoming book contains references to the new data that Chambers read Matthew. It also reveals some amazing facts about how the life of Chambers, Darwin and Matthew very closely intersected. If you read my book "Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret"" you will see that I present all the evidence that shows Matthew's ideas - including the name for his hypothesis "natural process of selection" and his examples (replicated by Darwin) - including one among others of how trees raised in nurseries cannot survive in the wild as those that are selected by nature in the wild. Matthew's 1860 first letter in the Gardeners Chronicle included - verbatim - much text that was not from his book's appendix.He selected that text in order to prove that natural selection was his unique prior discovery. When Darwin wrote to Hooker asking him to approve and forward Darwin's reply to the Chronicle Darwin admitted that very fact. And yet in the third edition of the Origin of Species onward, Darwin wrote the fallacy that you - and many others - are credulously parroting to this day that Matthew merely buried his ideas in the appendix of his book. Moreover, if you actually read Matthew's book you will see that his ideas on natural selection, and his supporting evidences, are very far from briefly stated. If you don't read my book then please at least read Matthew's book before professing to know the first thing about it and using proven Darwinian supermyths to criticize my work in order to suggest it is poor scholarship. This is meant to be "Rational Wiki" after all, is it not? Or are you not rationally interested in truth? Perhaps rational propaganda is simply your agenda?

On the subject of Hugh Dower's evidences for Darwin's plagiarism that you ask about, I reveal in my book that the word "plastic" had in fact been used in the same biological context many times in the literature pre-Matthew. It's just that Dower and those before him failed to find those publications. I show where Dower and others are plainly wrong by committing "the etymological fallacy" in their arguments. Dower emailed me (I contacted him first to let him know that he was wrong about Matthew's use of the word plastic being unique ) to tell me more about the information that is on his website about Matthew. We exchanged 2-3 emails on the topic - in particular regarding his research and subsequent ideas about whether Darwin already had in his possession a copy of Matthew's book in 1860. I have no idea what Hugh Dower's religious beliefs are - or what any of his any other beliefs might be. And neither do I care. What I care about is the facts and how we seek to weigh them to try to arrive at what is more likely than not the case. Or at least to show where there is now doubt where before there was certainty. Dower - like many others (including several eminent professors of biology) who have written on Matthew have written to me to warn me in general - and some specific - terms that I will face hostility from Darwinists who control pages websites (such as Wikipeda) and who sit a gatekeepers of the peer review process on this topic on journals and as submission reviewers for the academic press. Agreeing with Dower and others on that topic should not be misconstrued by conspiracy theorists as meaning I agree with him, they, on any others.

My book shows that others who used etymological evidence to seek to prove Darwin's plagiarism can be shown also to be completely wrong with some of the examples they used, as were other scholars who sought to defend Darwin against certain etymological evidence.--Nullius 08:22, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

I'm assuming that it's me you reference in your claim that it's unreasonable to point to Matthew's ideas being stuck in a book on a different topic. You're of course right that not all of the text was from the appendix, and indeed there is a subtitle in Matthew's index in On Naval Timber and Arboriculture which deals with natural selection ("A principle of selection existing in nature of the strongest varieties for reproduction"), but again it references a passage stuck in a chapter on nurseries and whether or not tree seeds should be kiln-dried. So, the fact that not all of Matthew's ideas were stuck in an appendix, but some were stuck in a chapter on tree nurseries a quarter into a 400 page book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture; with critical notes on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting doesn't actually counter existing criticism.
Also, you mention that the (minor) error about the appendix only occurred in the third edition of Species, which, alongside Darwin's earlier acknowledgement of Matthew's ideas, hardly sounds like a suppression scenario to me.
The arguments presented so far are at best circumstantial, and the subsequent strong conclusions presented here sound more like conspiracy theories with their usual accompaniment of persecution complex, though I'll happily grant that Dawkins in particular seems to have a major Darwin fetish (not to mention that Dawkins has a long history of assholery). ScepticWombat (talk) 10:37, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton Replies to "ScepticWombat"[edit]

To get your last point out of the away - rationally - first. If I criticise a Wikipedia editor (I suspect this is the topic to which your refer?) for deleting proven facts and replacing them with an opinion that is 100% proven fallacious, in Wikipedia, on the Patrick Matthew page - for example, as in the case of Professor James Moore's uninformed yet supposedly expert knee-jerk response that he doubts I have discovered anything new, then you might wish to claim that's a case of persecution complex on someone's behalf. I don't feel persecuted and so I am not sure who you think has a persecution complex. If you mean me (and of that I am far from certain) I had better not point out facts in future to those who appear unaware of them.

Next. I am sorry that you write that you see conspiracies. I can't help you with that. I explained above why it is not one. Not in my eyes anyway - not in this story. Finally the fallacy Darwin wrote that you call a minor error is one that is repeated in countless publications today as though it is a veracious fact. Darwin knew in 1860 that Matthew's ideas were not solely in the appendix of his book - because (to repeat the point made above) Darwin admitted as much in his 1860 letter to Hooker. Darwin also knew that Matthew's unique ideas on natural selection had not gone unread, because in his letter of reply (Matthew's second letter to Darwin in the Gardeners Chronicle) Matthew told Darwin at length that two naturalists (Loudon and an unnamed professor from an esteemed university) had read them and commented upon them. Yet - not just in the 3rd edition of the Origin - but from the 3rd (1861) to the last edition - Darwin wrote two fallacies (1) that Matthew's ideas were hidden in an appendix and (2) that Matthew’s ideas went unread. Both of these fallacies are parroted to this day - in prestigious publications - as though they are truths. I do hope I do not give Darwinists persecution problems by pointing out the truth. That is not my intention. Nor is it my intention to turn Darwinists into conspiracy theorists. My concern is with the truth. My concern is with investigating the evidence both for and against the likelihood that either Darwin or Wallace did discover natural selection independently of it being a prior published theory. So far, my personal subjective weighing of the new and independently verifiable data (on who DID read Matthew pre 1855 and pre-1858) is that it seems more likely than not that both Darwin and Wallace – probably independently of one another – both committed science fraud by plagiarising Matthew. In addition, it seems to me to be beyond reasonable doubt (in my subjective opinion) that some form of knowledge contamination, from Matthew’s work on natural selection, to Darwin’s and Wallace’s work on the same, took place pre 1855.--Nullius 13:10, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

My points about persecution and conspiracy pertains to your depiction of reactions, not Darwin's responses. You immediately describe criticism as "kne-jerk" responses from "Darwinists" which is the same kind of conspiracy/persecution rhetoric used by creationists, or, for that matter, the way a certain RW user reacts when faced by criticism of his ideas on statism (which are admittedly idiotic, unlike yours). Note that I'm not saying or even implying that you're a creationist, firstly because I have no reason for believing that, secondly because your hypothesis pertains to the credit for the discovery of evolution which would be a rather nonsensical topic for a creationist.
However, what you call "some form of knowledge contamination" is not the same as "science fraud by plagiarising Matthew".
What you have presented so far is evidence that Darwin and Wallace read people who read Matthew, and you actually weaken your case for plagiarism by debunking the etymological evidence, because it is through etymology that plagiarism is usually demonstrated (just think of Karl-Theodor zu GuttenbergWikipedia).
I also think you're essentially molehill mountaineering by putting so much store in your points (1) and (2). As to (1), while it would not stand up in court to claim that Matthew only stuck his ideas in an appendix, it is still true that it was not presented as the main feature of Matthew's book, instead being interspersed with the book's main focus On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. The appendix is where Matthew came closest to present his theory of evolution as a distinct argument, rather than mentioning evolution in passing while discussing, for instance, tree nurseries. As for (2), the problem is similar: While it is not true that no one read Matthew, it is true that neither his readers nor Matthew himself apparently developed further on the evolutionary ideas contained in On Naval Timber. Considering the explosive reaction to Darwin & Wallace it's a bit odd that in 1831 Matthew could "get away with" publishing a similar theory with hardly a splash - if his theory of evolution was recognised as such among his readership, that is.
As I pointed out in my original post, you have at best shown some degree of correlation and unless literally no one read Matthew, I would find it more surprising, given the size of the field and the use of multiple citations, if you could not find such a correlation. To me your results actually suggest how small and interconnected the field of biology (and the natural sciences in general) was - just like you can see in politics, or the nobility of the time (or, indeed, the present). ScepticWombat (talk) 13:13, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton's reply to "ScepticWombat"[edit]

Knee-jerk reaction, in this case, alludes to the apocryphal Semmelweis Reflex. I am most surprised you think it is a sign of persecution. However, you appear to me to possibly have some kind of persecution complex about creationists. After all, you do know that Huxley coined the term "Darwinism" surely? If so (I assume you did know that), why do you feel I use it in any other way than to denote someone who believed Darwin independently discovered the theory of natural selection and should be given priority for it? Do I need to mock creationists for you to feel better? I mocked Matthew ( well - a tiny bit) for being one already. See this blog.. Does that make you feel better? Or is it worse that it shows I am at least trying to be even-handed with my new hero?

This is not a binary world (at least I hope not). I have not debunked ALL the etymological evidence - only the etymological evidence that is proven wrong. I have found far more other etymological evidence than anyone else has ever discovered in this story (it's in my book). So please do try to stick to facts carefully - rather than simply trying to win a debate by presenting things in an unreal binary format. On which note, consequently, we can have (a) innocent knowledge contamination and we can have (b) reckless knowledge contamination and we can have (c) deliberate knowledge contamination. I, personally, think it beyond all reasonable doubt (subjective opinion on my part) that at least the innocent kind took place. I believe it more likely than not that deliberate knowledge contamination (science fraud by plagiarism) took place. We can have more than one possible outcome in this story. We have New Data (about who DID read Mathew's book) how we interpret that data is a subjective matter. I have found new data and I have subjectively interpreted it. The only concrete fact so far is that I have found new data.

Let me ask a telling question, in answer your last point. We now know for sure that seven naturalists read Matthew's book ( I reveal them all in my book - name them and show where they cited Matthew pre-1858). If you are right that few read Matthew (1831) pre-1858 then we should not expect to find many more in the future. Do you, therefore, think it mere coincidence that three (named in my RationalWiki essay, and in my peer-reviewed paper) out of only seven naturalists who we know of who read Matthew's book played such major roles at the epicentre of influence and facilitation of Darwin's and Wallace's pre-1858 - admitted influence upon their thinking - and on their written work on natural selection?

Of course, we have coincidences (only conspiracy theorists think there is no such thing as coincidence), but what do we know of multiple coincidences of this kind? The answer is very little. The answer is that we do what juries do in such cases. We seek to draw on what we think we know about the likelihood of it being all coincidental. That's what I have done. Am I right? Who knows? This is what I write about. These are the questions I ask. And I have said what my opinion is. My opinion is based on the New Facts. You may have a problem with my opinion. That is fine by me. You may question how important the new facts are. That too is fine by me. But the New Facts are here to stay. And others will weigh them too.--Nullius 14:20, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

I don't have a persecution complex about creationists, and I really don't know how you got that idea. I simply pointed out that dismissing criticism of your conclusions by ascribing it to knee-jerk reactions from Darwinists sounds worryingly like the kind of ad hominem that are used by creationists and others who dismiss criticism of their ideas as being part of the establishment's ideological persecution.
But back to the actual topic: To invoke a counter-example to your Darwin plagiarism scenario, your evidence is extremely thin when compared to an actual case of plagiarism, namely the oneWikipedia that pulled Gregor Mendel's work from obscurity into the public (or at least scientific community's) eye. As has already been pointed out, evolutionary ideas had been around even before Matthew, and you have apparently demonstrated that Darwin's use of, for instance, "plastic" cannot be used to make an etymological case for plagiarism.
I'm not disputing your evidence, but your interpretation and to which degree it can substantiate your (very strong/bombastic) conclusion of plagiarism. You haven't really dealt with the fact that naturalists in mid-19th century Britain were not a huge community, and their high level of interconnection through (from most to least "intimate"): Personal relations (friends/family), correspondence, and citations. This is why I would be surprised if you could not link Darwin and Wallace with Matthew in two steps. Howerver, merely demonstrating such a connection is far from demonstrating causality, let alone plagiarism.
As I've already written, with a small and highly interconnected community, you will, on average, need very few steps in order to link two persons. But unless you can demonstrate that the "intermediaries" between Darwin & Wallace and Matthew:
A) commented on Matthew's theory of evolution, rather than on his aboricultural ideas, while simultaneously making a case that
B) Darwin and/or Wallace read these "intermediaries'" responses or other works by the "intermediaries" containing Matthew's evolutionary ideas,
you don't really have much of a case for plagiarism.
Just off the top of my head, I think your case (or rather your strong plagiarism-conclusion) would be strengthened if you could provide context that showed that such a correlation was a special or unusual feature of Matthew/Darwin&Wallace, or parallel cases in which we are (more) certain that plagiarism did occur and which shared the features of Matthew/Darwin&Wallace. ScepticWombat (talk) 14:33, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton's reply to ScepticWombat[edit]

Not wishing to sound patronizing - leaving aside the now humorous issue of creationism and persecution complexes that were first raised by your good self about me - you have some good points. This is exactly how my conclusions of deliberate science fraud might be examined and it is one way we might seek to understand what the new data about who read Matthew's book means. It would be interesting although I am not convinced it is at all a possible way to explore the question of deliberate science fraud (as you write). I am also not sure it is likely to produce much that can refute the "likelihood he read it arguments" because the point is that we now (contrary to prior knowledge beliefs) know Darwin did meet and corresponded with those who did read Matthew's book pre-1858. That's the point. Moreover, we will never know for sure what Darwin was doing and not doing on many days because (just like us) he was not a robot who thoroughly and accurately recorded everything he did and everyone he met. And many of his letters are missing. When this new evidence is combined with the results of a plagiarism check (its in my book) and the fact Darwin told six lies to achieve priority over Matthew (one is in my open-access peer reviewed paper - the other five in my book), those others he knew (besides those who cited Matthew's book) who were apparently "first to be second" to use apparently unique phrases and terms from Matthew's book, the combined evidence, I believe, makes deliberate plagiarism appear beyond reasonable doubt. How would your notion that Darwin would be expected to have come into contact with naturalists who did read Matthew's book deal with the following reasoning: The existence of any number of natural scientists who read Matthew's book, whether connected socially to Darwin or not, refutes his excuse for being unaware of Matthew's hypothesis within it. Moreover, the size of that number, connected socially to him, exponentially incriminates Darwin as a liar for saying that neither he nor any other naturalist known to him was aware of Matthew's ideas. To be quite ready to apply the unambiguous label liar to such an eminent, respected and iconic scientist as Darwin might appear rash. However, it is done with equanimity and in the enlightened spirit of Nullius in Verba

And all of that reasoning has nothing to do with any understanding of whether or not Darwin was particularly likely to bump into or know very well people who did read Matthew's book before Darwin replicated the unique ideas in it. It's simply about the fact that we now know that Darwin did know people who read the book that he claimed he did not read and that he claimed (fallaciously we now know) no one else read.

All that said, let me make one point very clear on what my Rational Wiki essay is about. It is about the question of priority. Namely, Matthew's priority over Darwin and Wallace. So we now know for a fact, at the least, that knowledge contamination from Matthew to Darwin and Wallace is now more likely than we once thought we knew. And, as said, that contamination could be "innocent" "negligent/reckless" or "deliberate".

On the precise topic of my essay here on Rational Wiki, the New Data disconfirms the prior-rationale for denying Matthew full priority over Darwin and Wallace. And that rationale was (a) no one read Matthew (b) certainly no one known to Darwin or Wallace read Matthew (c) Matthew buried his ideas solely in an appendix (d) his ideas were briefly stated. All of these excuses are now bust by facts.

You must remember that the list above of old Matthew denial excuses all implied that it was in some way Matthew's fault and not Darwin's or Wallace's for not reading Matthew. We now know Darwin's and Wallace' friends DID read Matthew. They DID read the one book in the world that Darwin and Wallace needed to read. And they needed to read it (that is if they never lied that they had not) because years later they replicated the very same discovery, named it with the same four words, used the exact same explanatory examples and much of the same terminology etc. So - given that Darwin and Wallace (pre-1858) did know people who read the one book in the world that they needed to read what were they? The telling question is: were Darwin and Wallace science-crooks or schnooks? I do think we have to choose on this binary.

As my Rational Wiki essay shows - under the accepted rules of priority, Matthew already has full priority. I showed that the informal and unsanctioned rationales for denying Matthew full priority (including Dawkins's Demand Rule) are all fallacious.

Others (perhaps your good self) will seek to explore your proposed "x-degree of expected association model" for networked 19th-century scholars. My first impression is that it is interesting, but unlikely to tell us much about the likelihood of actual knowledge contamination happening. Most importantly, on the topic of my Rational Wiki essay - it can't possibly provide a brand new set of informal rationales for denying Matthew the full priority he already should have under the existing rules.

What of the Innocent Knowledge Contamination possibility? You are still left with that conundrum. Are you not? And that is the very point of my Rational Wiki Essay. (1) Matthew has full priority anyway (2) at the very least it seems more likely than not that Darwin's and Wallace's ideas were contaminated by Matthew's ideas. Therefore: Matthew has full priority. That is all this essay is concerned with.

As said, science fraud by plagiarism is a separate topic. I don't dissociate myself from it at all, because I accuse Darwin and Wallace of it elsewhere (in my book and in my peer reviewed paper). But I don't need to accuse them of it - and I have not done so at all in this Rational Wiki essay in order to make the claim that I make in the essay that we must rationally, and in all fairness, abide by the rules and award Matthew with full priority over Darwin and Wallace for Matthew's prior-published discovery.--Nullius 10:08, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

The Point[edit]

Just stating my understanding first as from the looks of it Patrick Matthew proposed e theory of natural selection as a short idea in a single appendix in an esoteric book without doing the research needed to prove the theory. Even then what he proposed was dealing more with changes after mass extinction and not gradual changes over time. Animals changing over time was not entirely novel to Patrick either as pieces were proposed by thinkers such as Empedocles, Aristotle, Al-Jahiz, and more over a thousand years. They all get credit for their proposals as well in the history of the idea.

Darwin took this idea and expanded on it, found the needed evidence to take it from a blue sky idea to a real scientific theory, and made it into a fleshed out work. Like Newton did with gravity or laws of motion. These were not out of nowhere ideas.

With that basis I am just wondering what the point of this is. If Darwin fleshed out the idea and used the same words in a different order then it doesn't change the work he did, making it widely readable to the public, or the theory itself. It seems like quibbiling over the level of credit for part of the name. It also doesn't make much sense to make these proposals in a saterical wiki dedicated to discrediting pseudoscience since even if everyone comes to an agreement on the level of credit due to won't change books, professional groups, or historical lectures. Those would be the venues to do so since they can actually make the change wished in the essay. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 17:48, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Mike Sutton's reply to the "The Point"[edit]

Without rehearsing all the facts of the pre-cursors of Natural Selection here, I refer you instead to Richard Dawkins (2010). The full reference is in my essay. Dawkins admits only Matthew got the whole thing pre-Origin and he explains why that is the case.

Matthew originated the concept of Natural Selection in 1831 to explain the emergence and extinction of species between and after geological catastrophic events. He uniquely named it "the natural process of selection", which he described as a fundamental law of nature. He discussed divergence in terms of diverging ramifications, the mutability of species, rejected miraculous birth of new species following catastrophes, held to a steady state in nature interrupted by catastrophes, understood the importance of the complex multi-level phenomenon of power of occupancy and ecological niches, rejected simple development from nearly-allied species in favour of descent from common ancestor, recognized what constituted a species, recognized the difference between domestic and wild species and saw artificial selection as the key to both discovering and explaining the process of natural selection.

Moreover. you have to realize that because Matthew's role has remained very much hidden - as the originator - none have examined why it was that he was first to get the whole thing. The reason is - I suggest - because he was a hybridizing orchardist. It seems from the examples he provides that crab apple trees were the key. It is particularly notable that the first sentence in Darwin's Zoonomia notebook 1837-38 was on apple trees - Matthew's specialty. Not Darwins! Inside that notebook is Darwin's comment on on the golden pippin apple (misspelled by Darwin) as being the first clue that he understood natural selection. Here is the evidence for that.

So some professional induction as an orchard owner and forester preceded Matthew's deduced hypothesis. As Secord points out (see his book Victorian sensation on Robert Chambers' Vestiges) those who deduced hypotheses were despised in the 19th century. Indeed Darwin and Hooker discussed the issue of "hypothesizing without licence" in detail in their letters. That would be one reason for not citing Matthew and not discussing his book in print.

Now the point is not about Darwin's evidences to support Matthew's discovery. The point is that Darwin and Wallace went to their graves claiming that they each independently discovered Matthew's hypothesis. We now know all about the Darwin finch myth (Darwin did not discover natural selection from finch beaks - that's a 20th century myth). That myth was perhaps created to fill the knowledge gap about his missing Eureka moment. Wallace's self-proposed Eureka moment is that he conceived natural selection in the world's only recorded case of malarial fever cognitive enhancement. If veracity in the history of science is not important enough for you then what of the scientific need to gather data on where, how, by whom, in which way and why original breakthroughs in thinking and discovery are made? We have much to learn from studying Patrick Matthew.--Nullius 20:22, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

If it is so important...why are you writing it in a free to join internet wiki with the humor equivilent to Cracked? Einstien's theories were important so he published them in journals and went over them with scientists. The people who could evaluate and change things in the area of study. He didn't send them to comic book publishers or Mad Magazine. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 20:31, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton's reply to EmeraldCityWanderer[edit]

In the Rational Wiki essay you will see two references, one to my book on the topic and another to my journal article on the topic. In the journal article you will see the findings have been presented at international conferences and reported on in the Daily Telegraph by its science correspondent Sarah Knapton. My research on this topic has been presented elsewhere and reported on in other national newspapers also. I have written the essay for Rational Wiki because I believe in the use of this kind of media and others to disseminate and discuss new findings. Just as we are discussing them here. I value your opinions. --Nullius 07:57, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

I see several articles published on Best Thinking, a news blog, and 1 paper in a Criminology journal that doesn't seem to fit their mission in the references. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 18:05, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Reply to EmeraldCityWanderer[edit]

Sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what your point is. Can you be less cryptic and more specific please. What does "fit their mission in the references mean?" --Nullius 22:11, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Shoulders of giants[edit]

The big thing here is that Darwin proposed natural selection as a component of evolution as an explanation of the diversity of life. To say that one component of that theory existed as an idea beforehand isn't particularly staggering.

Science, as a medium, progresses not fantastically and instantly, but through combining and testing ideas. Progressive and incremental improvements, with(often tiny) critical new insights, are the hallmark of scientific progress. This argument of lifted terminology, and lifted ideas, passes over that Darwin proposed quite literally, an origin of species. If every component of that origin had already been discovered and documented, the synthesis would still be the crucial insight.

This essay argues, in the end, a minor matter of historical record. Ikanreed (talk) 18:10, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Sutton's reply "Shoulders of giants"[edit]

As I said earlier: only Matthew got the full complex theory of natural selection before Darwin and Wallace's papers were read before the Linnean Society in 1858. If you are a better judge of that than Darwin and Wallace themselves - who both admitted it (Wallace went so far as to write that Matthew had got even more of it than he and Darwin) then you are truly a remarkable scholar. Are you seriously claiming to know more on this topic than Darwin and Wallace themselves? Are you seriously claiming to be more expert on this topic than Richard Dawkins and more remarkable and better informed than the late William James Dempster? Please see the first paragraph of my essay for the references to the work where each of these scientists - and several other eminent professors of biology - assert that ONLY Matthew got there before Darwin and Wallace with the entire complex theory. That's good enough for me.

No amount of confirmatory evidences can miraculously transmute a prior-published discovery into your own. Fleming did not do the work to get penicillin produced it was Florey and Chain - nor even did Fleming prove it efficacious - that too was Florey and Chain. Yet Fleming is the celebrated discoverer - only because Florey and chain admitted they read Fleming's passing comment in an article!. And what of Higgs and the Higgs Bosun particle? Who got the Nobel Prize in that case and for what? Need I go on?

I have some sympathy with your point of view but it is not the view shared by all those who celebrate first discoverers. The literature and society celebrates Wallace and Darwin as independent discoverers of natural slection - yet no one can now prove that Matthew did not, indirectly, or directly, influence them. It seems to me to be more likely than not that he did. This question of priority is deemed important. Its in fact a major issue, not a minor one, for the historical record. We have the wrong man the back of the £10 note!

The incontrovertible fact of the matter is that Matthew has always had priority according to all the rules as accepted and applied and relied upon in the past by the Royal Society. Moreover, the informal excuses created by Richard Dawkins and his Darwinist predecessors for denying Matthew his rightful full priority over Darwin and Wallace are all newly proven to be completely fallacious or else totally ignorant of the social and political conditions of the first half of the 19th century.--Nullius 21:45, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Established Problems

The "research" underlying the claims that information passed from readers of Matthew (1831) to Darwin is invalid …— Unsigned, by: Jfderry / talk / contribs 17:49, 8 June 2017‎ (UTC)

On talk pages, please sign your comments using four tildes (~~~~) or by clicking on the sign button: SigButt.png on the toolbar above the edit panel. (You can indent successive talk page comments using one more colon (:) for each line.) Thank you.--JorisEnter (talk) 17:52, 8 June 2017 (UTC)

We Need to Talk About MICHAEL

This forum relates to the most recent challenge to Darwin's priority for natural selection, in favour of Patrick Matthew, namely that of Michael Robert Sutton, Nottingham, England. Each of the previous claims, especially Dempster and now Sutton, have attempted to spin a web of influence stemming from Matthew's book in 1831, with differing degrees of tortuosity, in transferring the concept of natural selection to Darwin, and sometimes Wallace. All that these authors have achieved is a net total nothing: evident to any Evolutionary Biologist or Science Historian, their ignorance of both the development of evolutionary ideas, and the passage of history for, philosophical naturalism, theological naturalism, scientific naturalism and pretty much any other concept of relevance, undermines their attempts. For William Dempster, this is something atypical of medical practitioners in general, and unexpected for surgeons in particular, given their years of scientific training. For Sutton, the briefest check of his sources reveals a capacity for incompetence that leaves Clouseau and Trump fighting for second place. Sutton has excelled to such a before unrealised standard of blundering and irrationality, that every institute, person and prokaryote professionally associated with him, ought to hold their heads and pseudopodia in shame. The "research" underlying Sutton's claims that information passed from readers of Matthew (1831) to Darwin is invalid, and riddled with error and supposition. The claim that naturalists did read Matthew (1831) contrary to Darwin's statement is undermined by the lack of academic approach to any attempt to trace the ideas through history (they don't lead anywhere because they are almost entirely founded on Matthew's forerunners), nor establish the nature of a naturalist. In its place we get ignorance and anachronism, "A botanist is a naturalist. Any member of the linnean society is a naturalist”. These criticisms are substantiated independently and will be disseminated at length, and references will follow. In the meantime, Natural Histories has a running archive. This investigation has occupied a year of dedicated work. It comprehensively refutes all of Sutton's claims. Jfderry (talk) 16:01, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

Decontamination squad report[edit]

A team has been picking through the mess claimed to be research, e.g.,, Nullius in Verba, and the equally worthless follow up paper, published in a creationist online journal, posing as a forum for philosophy, from philosophers such as Dembski, Johnson, Meyer, Behe, and now Sutton, who has gladly joined them, totally ignorant of their obvious programme. Claiming a paper is peer reviewed is meaningless unless you know exactly the standards to which it was tested. In this case they were lower than a mole's rectum. The first was simply looked over for copyediting. This must be the case, because anyone who knows anything about evolutionary study would fail to reach the end of the abstract without inhaling coffee,

  • This article is about the devastating Big Data facilitated 2014 discovery that the world’s most celebrated and studied natural scientist Charles Darwin, and his lesser known associate Alfred Russel Wallace, more likely than not committed the world’s greatest science fraud by apparently plagiarising the entire theory of natural selection from a book written by Patrick Matthew and then claiming to have had no prior-knowledge of it.

Okay, stebber by stebber, walk this way, single file, no shoving at the back,

devastating Big Data facilitated 2014 discovery : alarm bells ring, this is not the language of a scientist. incautious, proceed with care.

natural scientist : not entirely incorrect by dictionary definition, but never seen it used, wouldn't expect to see it used. Hope never to see it used again. It doesn't say anything. There's a field of natural history that attracts natural historians, if that's what he means.

lesser[sic] known associate : not lesser[sic] known to any natural historian nor science historian. If Wallace is less well known (correct expression) to someone, then it's because that person took a wrong turning, and shouldn't be writing on this subject.

more likely than not : what the hell is that supposed to mean? What is the probability it happened? What likelihood estimate did you use? Stop waving your arms around and dribbling, like an expectorating windmill.

world’s greatest science fraud : compared to what? If it's the greatest, then by what measure? What's the second greatest? Are there any wannabe science frauds? Is there a Britain's Got Science Frauds? By whose moral code is this being set? Is it really the world, or just Western Science? Because, I'm sure if you were to ask a physicist within the last decade, they'd probably spit out the name Jan Hendrik Schön, while an anthropologist might be hard pressed to see past the Tasadays, etc., etc., etc..

apparently plagiarising : is that somewhere between seemingly plagiarising and to all intents and purposes plagiarising? The aspect of uncertainty in science is best used to ensure accuracy and care throughout, especially the processes involved in data collection. Being uncertain to the point of paranoid at those procedural stages allows the scientist to interpret and draw conclusions with confidence. The stark difference in approach here is to be careless during measurement, and then find there's nothing supporting statements one wants to make to fit an a priori outcome. The only option at this late stage is to temper the bravado with which one can deliver the analysis. Hence the snivelling, more likely thans and whimpering apparentlies.

entire theory : okay. I'm calling bullshit on this one. a theory is a theory. it's no bigger and better because you stick a dimensional adjective in front of it. That is because, to make it theory, a great deal of dedicated development, from many sources will have contributed to a better understanding of the relevant phenomena (doo doop, de do do). This means that the work is already done, and an interloping, conjecturing amateur with dreams of stature, will have no impact on "what it is, that it is". Ooh, look at my long theory. My, that is a big theory. Do you like my spangly theory? With that, we'd better clear up this idea that Matthew had a theory at all. He stated the mechanism for adaptation leading to speciation occurred to him as an axiom (Oxford definition: a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true). Well it was already established, partly. As is oft quoted, since Empedocles and his Tzatziki Trio (Ρίτσαρντ Φάινμαν on bongos), staying alive has been understood to be more of a challenge to the sick, weak and less robust instances of life (the filtering effect of negative natural selection), than say us bronzed adonides. This was made more formal when Lucretius produced his legendary De rerum natura (The Nature of Bottoms), and so on, expounded via the jazz hand shadow puppetry of al-Jahiz, and taken to great heights, literally, by those Titans of the tightrope, David Hume and James Hutton, eventually being integrated wholesomely into the rounded theory of evolution by natural selection in the nineteenth century. So the Ancient Greeks did it first? No, they did most other things, but they were kind enough to relinquish the details of nature. Of course, the weevil is in the detail, and in this case it comes down to (and in the left corner) Darwin's Principle of Divergence versus (in the blue spotty trunks) Matthew's Power of Occupancy[1]<ref="Weale"></ref>. *Seconds out Round One*. Basically what it whittles down to is that Matthew didn't leave himself an getaway, an escape route. Under his scenario, a great catastrophe wipes out most of life, for it then to recolonise the newly vacant ecological nîches, the best suited (adaptable through positive natural selection with a tendency to increased complexity) to those local patch circumstances will have power of occupancy, keeping out incursions by other species, otherwise known as competitive exclusion. With all patches occupied, a stalemate occurs ("Stale mate? Fresh this morning mate!"), leaving the only option to get the system restarted being a huge shakeup and depopulation. Hence Matthew's adoption of Cuvier's catastrophism. Modern evolutionary theory does accommodate a range of rates, and many mass extinctions are known to have occurred, but the main temporal rate can be described as nothing other than gradual. Darwin applied his mind's eye for deep time and detail, allowing him to see a myriad of species all juxtaposed within a confined space, a quadrat of Down's lawn the result of countless epochs, not constrained to the limits of one. He also saw that the dispassionate individuality of nature was manifest even at that small scale. Natural selection takes no prisoners, so his concept allowing for displacement of parents by their progeny simply added to an already high death toll. Divergence was an option for Darwin within the ecological bounds of habitat, but this was an interaction at too fine a scale for Matthew to have considered. Matthew worked at the patch scale and above. A pixelated map of the landscape which he was forced to wipe clean and begin his procedure towards complete competitive exclusion all over again. Unfortunately, he also neglects to define an what the new starting point will be, therefore it's not clear how regressed in terms of complexity his surviving organisms, nor the fate of humans from one catastrophe to the next. You simply cannot leave out such fundamental details and claim an "entire theory". Matthew was a more cautious scholar than those that would champion him. Hence, what he states in his initial notification letter to the Gardeners’ (Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 7 April 1860), upon having learned of Darwin's publication via a review in the previous edition, is precise and clear. Of Darwin's theory, he wrote, that the,

discovery recently published as “the results of 20 years’ investigation and reflection” by Mr. Darwin turns out to be what I published very fully and brought to apply practically to forestry in my work “Naval Timber and Arboriculture,” published as far back as January 1, 1831.

There is no contention that it is very fully described, but not completely. It did provide a solution to the species problem, namely by what mechanism nature could introduce novelty without God, but not the correct mechanism. He did apply his concept to his tree management, but that is where the analogy between artificial and natural selection broke down because it didn't reveal his mistakes with power of occupancy, and it's not surprising that he didn't observe those finer spatiotemporal dynamics. A plantation with maintained stands wouldn't be the appropriate experimental design. A footnote here, contrary to yet another incorrect claim, Matthew was not the first to draw an analogy between husbandry and nature in terms of selection. Hutton pre-empted him by several decades.

natural selection : amazing that some people purport to be experts on evolutionary theory, and even have it on their university staff pages as "Press expertise". As above, natural selection long recognised to filter populations to maintain 'God's perfection'. Matthew saw a way it might also promote adaptation, so he gets the points for that, but failed to test his ideas, thinking them only axiomatic, and so got the mechanistic details wrong. Points deducted. Darwin did the rest of the job.

by Patrick Matthew : by his own admission, the book was cobbled together, and wandered of focus. See Wiki account for only realistic analysis to date.

no prior-knowledge : why think Darwin any more likely to see the book and it's tucked-away message when no one else did? Where are they, these hoards of Matthewites? When Darwin stated he knew of no other naturalists, he would have measured naturalists against himself. Scientific naturalism, not Natural Theology.

Every single point made throughout those publications, arguing for deceit, plagiarism, theft, conspiracy, all fall into the waste bin as soon as some actual understanding about Natural History, and the History of Science is shaken in their general direction. And there's so much more to reveal.

Jfderry (talk) 18:43, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
  1. Comparing Matthew's and Darwin's theories