Many writing on the history of the discovery of natural selection and Patrick Matthew, including Charles Darwin (1860), (1861)Alfred Russel Wallace (1879), Donald Forsdyke (2008), Milton Wainwright (2008), Christopher Hallpike (2008), Richard Dawkins (2010) William James Dempster (1983) and Mike Sutton (2014), discuss and conclude that Matthew (1831) - in his book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture - published the full theory of natural selection many years before Darwin and Wallace put pen to private notepaper on the topic and 27 years before Darwin and Wallace (1858) had their papers read before the Linnean Society.
Yet, in 1859 Charles Darwin published 'The Origin of Species'. In that book he referred to 'natural selection' as “my theory”.
Unsurprisingly, therefore In 1860, orchard owner Patrick Matthew laid claim in the press to having originated the same theory 28 years earlier in his 1831 book 'On Navel Timber and Arboriculture'.
Darwin apologized, acknowledging that Matthew had published the entire concept. Alfred Wallace, another who at the same time claimed to have independently discovered natural selection, agreed. However, Darwin and Wallace claimed no prior knowledge of Matthew’s ideas, excusing themselves by further claiming that no one had read them. Ignoring the principle of nullius in verba, scientists have always taken Darwin at his word alone that neither he nor any naturalist known to him had read Matthew's prior published theory.
Contrary to the myth debunked by Dempster (1996) that Matthew's ideas were merely briefly stated in the appendix to his book and busting the supermyth that Matthew's 1831 book, revealing and detailing his unique and full discovery of natural selection , went unread by any naturalists known to Darwin and Wallace, it was cited in the literature before 1858 by three naturalists (Loudon. Selby and Chambers), who each played key pre-1858 roles in facilitating and influencing Darwin’s and Wallace’s published ideas on natural selection.
What is a Supermyth?
Supermyths have very specific components (see Supermyths.com):
1. The creation of a fallacy, myth or error by an orthodox expert.2. Being used by another expert who in turn promotes it as being ‘true, and whilst still thinking that it is true either promotes it as a good example of the need to be healthily skeptical of bad scholarship, or else:3. compounds the myth by using it as a premise upon which to build one or more supporting myths.
Charles Darwin created the myth that Patrick Matthew's prior-publication of the full theory of natural selection had not been read by any naturalists before the publication of Darwin's (1859) Origin of Species. That myth was then turned into a supermyth as Darwin's Darwinists went on to create a myth about that myth by using what Darwin wrote as though it were some kind of unquestionable (mythical) 'gospel truth' just because Darwin had written it.
So much for Nullius in Verba, the ancient motto of the Royal Society that means we should not take anything as true simply on the word alone of anyone.
Amazingly, Darwin really did have the audacity to claim that Matthew's book on trees was literally unread by any naturalists before 1860.
Making excuses for not having read the one book in the world he most needed to read and cite because he replicated so much that had been published in it 27 years before he and Wallace replicated it, Darwin's letter of reply to Matthew's claim to priority was published in the Gardeners' Chronicle (1860). Penned on April 13, and forwarded to the Chronicle by his best friend Joseph Hooker (published on April 21 1860), Darwin wrote:
"I have been much interested by Mr Patrick Matthew's communication in the Number of your Paper, dated April 7th. I freely acknowledge that Mr Matthew has anticipated by many years the explanation which I have offered of the origin of species, under the name of natural selection. I think that no one will feel surprised that neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist, had heard of Mr Matthew's views, considering how briefly they are given, and they appeared in the Appendix to a work on Naval Timber and Arboriculture. I can do no more than offer my apologies to Mr Matthew for my entire ignorance of his publication.'
It is emphasised in my book (Sutton 2014) Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret that Darwin's claim about Matthew's book was a fallacy, because other naturalists - indeed important naturalists known to both Darwin and Wallace - did read and then cite Matthew's book pre-1860. Matthew did tell Darwin about Loudon's 1832 review in 1860, but that information, that Loudon was a naturalist, seems to have passed under everyone's radar as being a lead worth following up.
Before my 'game changing' discovery of 2014, that a further six naturalists read Matthew's book, many Darwinists, credulously reprinted Darwin's fallacy that none read it as though it is, of itself, answer enough without further commentary on its likelihood of being true. And with no commentary on the fact that Matthew's published letter of reply proved it untrue. In other words, Darwinists used their namesake's excuse that no naturalists read Matthew's book as a perfectly reasonable reason for Darwin supposedly not reading Matthew's book. Darwinists simply reprinted Darwin's letter claiming that no naturalist had read Matthew's book. By so doing, their behaviour was akin to Christians reprinting what they call 'the Gospel truth" as though it should stand, unquestioned, on its own as the literal truth.
I pick on the following four Darwinists merely to serve as examples of this credulous attitude and Supermyth-spreading behavior:
- Stephen J Gould (1987, p. 336, in 'The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History'.unquestionably reprints Darwin's letter as though it is unquestionably right.
- Michael Shermer (2002) In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Biographical Study on the Psychology of History also reprinted Darwin's explanation, without a word of doubt in the likelihood of its veracity, but claimed instead - incredibly - that it was good evidence that Darwin was hardly an ideological plagiarizer.
- Rebecca Stott (2012, p. 11) Simply reprints Darwin's fallacy verbatim as though it were true, failing to question the likelihood that it might not be the literal truth.
- Andrew Norman (2013, p. 169) in Charles Darwin: Destroyer of Myths admirably felt it necessary to investigate - and so affirm - Matthew's claim that his book received prominent reviews, but less admirably, Norman also unquestionably reprinted Darwin's letter as though Darwin's word alone that no naturalist had read Matthew's book was the unquestionable "gospel truth". In other words, Norman thought it necessary to investigate Matthew's claim that his book had been read and reviewed, but not to undertake a BigData facilitated review of the literature, as I did in 2014, to investigate the extent of the fallacy of Darwin's claim that no naturalists had read it. Moreover, Norman knew about the naturalist Loudon's review of Matthew's book but he failed to mention therefore that Darwin had written a fallacy by claiming no naturalist read Matthew's book. Moreover, Norman failed to follow up by failing to look at the intellectual links between Loudon and Darwin. Had Norman done so he would have found that after reading Matthew's book that Loudon edited two of Blyth's influential papers - that both greatly influenced Darwin - and he would have found that Loudon was well known to Darwin's friends William and Joseph Hooker and to their closest associates.
Picking up on Darwin's cue of 1860, some writers were not quite so audacious as to reprint without question Darwin's claim that literally no naturalists read Matthew's book pre-1860, Nevertheless, they greatly implied it had gone unread by naturalists.
Loren Eiseley (1957) in Darwin's Century (p. 127) writes: "Matthew's system perished, ...because it had been published obscurely by an obscure man..."Bowler (2013) in Darwin Deleted (p. 58) implies Matthew was unread: "Having a basic idea, even publishing it, has no effect if the publication is obscure..."Millhauser (1959) in Just before Darwin(p. 72) implies the same by dismissing it as some kind of working man's manual: "And there is that remarkable fellow Patrick Matthew, whose Naval Timber and Arboriculture (of all the practical books in the world)...."
Conclusion and reflections on the science-cult that worships Darwin
The Patrick Matthew Supermyth was born out of the egregious failure of Darwinists to abide by the motto of the Royal Society "Nullius in Verba". Instead, they literally believed without question what Darwin claimed in his defense for replicating Matthew's prior published theory, Namely, they believed - and so thought not to question - Darwin's audacious defense that literally "neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist, had heard of Mr Matthew's views."
Had they not credulously treated Darwin's claim as the literal "gospel truth" then Darwinist scholars would have, as necessarily skeptically open minded scientists, surely have done as I did in 2014. Namely, they would have investigated it. Had they investigated it, then they, before I, would have found that seven naturalists cited Matthew pre- 1858, and that four were known to Darwin and that three played major roles at the epicenter of influence of his pre-1858 work on natural selection.
The fact that I, a social scientist, proved Darwin's claim to be not only fallacious but highly suspect in light of which naturalists did in fact read Matthew's book pre-1858 is confirmatory evidence that Darwinists totally believed their namesake's claim that literally no naturalists had read Matthew's ideas before Matthew drew their attention to his book in 1860.
Before my research, it appears that only Matthew pointed out that John Loudon, who reviewed his book, was a naturalist (I'm grateful to Dr Mike Weale for pointing this fact out to me, because in an earlier draft of this blog post I plain forgot that Matthew, and not I, was the first to disprove Darwin's claim that no naturalist had read Matthew's book). However, it would be 154 years before further evidence was found that other naturalists, besides Loudon, had read Matthew's book. And then it was I who uniquely discovered the other 6 naturalists who cited it years before 1858. Amazingly, no one other than I appears to have picked up on the importance of Matthew's evidence that Loudon was, in fact, a naturalist who had read his book pre-1858. Had any before me done so, they would surely have looked at what Loudon did as a naturalist. And then they, not I, would have first discovered that Loudon, after reading and reviewing Matthew's book, was the editor of the journal that published Blyth's two influential papers on evolution and varieties - the two papers that so influenced Darwin pre-1858.
When we are aware that new data overturns prior knowledge beliefs, it is our duty to inform the world, so that in our culture veracious knowledge replaces fallacies and old myths.
Following my discovery that a total of seven naturalists did read it - and that three of those seven were at the very epicenter of influence on Darwin and Wallace - we should not now expect a single Darwinist to ever again deploy Darwin's words to convey their simple unquestioned belief that literally no naturalist read Matthew's book. Darwin's previous 'gospel truth' has been debunked as very untrue.
Perhaps now Darwinists will, with palpable cognitive dissonance, suddenly vary their position in light of the New Data and seek to argue next, for the first time ever, that they now think Darwin never intended that his particular statement that apparently no naturalists read Matthew's book was supposed to be taken literally. And on what premise might they base such a claim?
Well, according to one of several of my Darwinist correspondents, all of whom hold senior academic positions at prestigious universities, his personal position is now to be that Darwin did not mean it literally when he wrote that apparently no naturalist had read Matthew's book. This senior academic - who is a biologist and who has published on the question of Matthew's priority - has formed that opinion on the basis that he thinks Darwin would never have intended that his own ludicrous claim in his own defense against Matthew's serious claim to priority was ever meant by Darwin to be taken seriously as the literal truth by Mathew or anyone else.
Perhaps this kindly candid Darwinist correspondent and some of hs fellow Darwinists will now seek, ever so conveniently, to wriggle to another new position to argue, also for the first time ever, that those among their number who unquestionably reprinted Darwin's words in the past did not mean that they literally believed them to be true either? My Darwinist correspondent tells me know that this is also his own current belief.
I asked this honest Darwinist as nicely as I am able: Will you next be claiming also - to be even handed with your cognitive dissonance - that Darwin also did not mean it literally when he wrote that he had not read Matthew's prior-published views before Matthew brought them to his attention in 1860? According to my correspondent, he won't be doing that because he does not believe, personally, that the New Evidence comes close to establishing that Darwin probably read Matthew's book before 1860. But hold on a minute! What kind of wormy reasoning is that then? Surely, it is the kind that means that if ever more evidence turns up to 100 per cent prove that Darwin did read Matthew's book pre-1858 then this Darwinist will shamelessly wriggle-claim next that his namesake, in fact, did not mean it literally after all when he wrote he had not read it.
I think that any Darwinists, such as my one particularly honest correspondent, claiming in light of the New Data that proves Darwin was wrong, that Darwin did not, therefore, mean it literally when he wrote in his own defense that no naturalists had read Matthew's book will be judged by respectable scholars to represent painful confirmatory evidence for the Honest but Frozen Donkey Hypothesis .
I think the silly wriggling of this one particular Darwinist correspondent in question probably indicates that he loves Darwin far more than he cares for hard evidence, objectivity, new discovery, reason, rationality, justice, and truth. And that it suggests he is prepared to sacrifice his own reason to try to salvage the reputation of the object of his professional deification.
Let's face the painful facts. Darwin was a liar. Plain and simple. In my book I reveal the six easily provable lies that he told in order to achieve primacy for Matthew's prior discovery.
Here is just one of them. Darwin lied in 1861, because after Matthew informed him otherwise in 1860, he literally claimed that Matthew's 1831 book had "remained unnoticed" until after Matthew alerted Darwin to it in 1860. In fact, as we know, Matthew (1860) had earlier informed Darwin, by way of his published letter of reply to Darwin's letter of reply to the Gardener's Chronicle, that the naturalist John Loudon had actually reviewed his book and had a lot of good things to say about it. Matthew also informed Darwin in that same letter that an academic naturalist at a renowned university was aware of Matthew's ideas but that he had informed Matthew he dared not teach them for fear of a pillory punishment!
Notably, Matthew told Darwin in that published letter of 1860 about that review of his book in 1832 by the naturalist John Loudon - who was, incidentally, an associate of Darwin's friends William and Joseph Hooker of Kew and a close friend of the botanist John Lindley, who in turn was a close friend of William Hooker - had boldly written a review of his book. What Matthew was perhaps too polite to point out in a published letter to Darwin, however, was that in that book review Loudon had written that Matthew's book might have something original to say on "the origin of species" no less!
Yes, it's not a misprint dear reader THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES! That very famous phrase and book title is in the fossil record of Loudon's prominently published words about Matthew's book - about Matthew the proven originator of the theory of natural selection - back in 1832, 27 years before Darwin adopted it in the book that replicated Matthew's ideas by what Darwinists insist was a non-miraculous immaculate conception!.
Perhaps Loudon did not literally mean that Matthew had something original to say on that topic. What do you think dear reader? Where will this speculation about hard facts in the published literature all end? Should we be allowed to get away with interpreting the literal truth of what was literally written any way we wish and at any time we choose simply in order to write anything we wish to write so long as it serves our own ends in the history of science?
We might rationally conclude, however, by writing about the hard facts that: no wonder Darwin (1861) never mentioned that review by Loudon when he literally wrote from the third edition of his book by that very name "The Origin of Species" that Matthew's book - containing the same theory that Darwin replicated in The origin of Species had gone unnoticed. From 1861 onward every edition thereafter of Darwin's' Origin of Species' carried the following excuse:
"In 1831 Mr. Patrick Matthew published his work on 'Naval Timber and Arboriculture,' in which he gives precisely the same view on the origin of species as that (presently to be alluded to) propounded by Mr. Wallace and myself in the 'Linnean Journal,' and as that enlarged on in the present volume. Unfortunately the view was given by Mr. Matthew very briefly in scattered passages in an Appendix to a work on a different subject, so that it remained unnoticed until Mr. Matthew himself drew attention to it in the 'Gardener's Chronicle,' on April 7th, 1860."
Obviously, since he had been informed by Matthew a year earlier in the pages of the 1860 Gardener's Chronicle, Darwin clearly did not "literally" believe in 1861, when he penned his excuses in the Origin of Species, that Matthew's book had gone unnoticed, but he nevertheless literally, and so self-servingly, set about giving that firm impression to the world by lying without qualification and not giving so much as hint that he did not mean that this serious defense of his precious reputation as an honest and serious gentleman of science was not meant to be taken literally.
The telling question here is: Why did Darwin not tell the world in 1861 that Loudon had used a remark 28 years earlier about Matthew's prior publication of the full theory of natural selection that was to become the title "Origin of Species" - the title of the very book that replicated the original bombshell ideas in Matthew's prior-published book?
What kind or story might we spin for ourselves and our readership to fill in what we don't 100 per cent know? Perhaps we could write that Darwin never bothered to look up the famous John Loudon's review of the book that contained the full prior-published discovery of natural selection after he was told about it? Perhaps Darwin had no prior knowledge of it because perhaps he had not cared to carefully read Matthew's reply? Perhaps Darwin thought Matthew did not literally mean that Loudon had reviewed his book in 1832? Perhaps Darwin literally forgot about it? Hey, we could all be really, really, silly in order to rescue Darwin's reputation from the facts of what was written by suggesting now that perhaps he never even read Matthew's published letter of reply!
We can perhaps, literally, make up anything we want in order to fill in the knowledge gaps and create new myths to suit the literary tale we want to tell. But one thing is for sure. And that is that there do exist cold hard and independently verifiable facts to contend with. We can find those independently verifiable facts in the published fossil record of 'the vestiges of narration". And it is worth noting that no amount of Darwin worshiping post-hoc wriggling over to brand new defensive positions, by his now desperate Darwinists, can transmute that which was literally written by Darwin in a serious literary defense of his reputation.
Rationally, it is silly to argue all of a sudden in 2015 that what Darwin wrote in his defense 155 years ago was not meant to be taken literally back then simply because last year (2014) new facts were discovered that prove 100 per cent just how seriously, extensively and incriminatinglly wrong Darwin was in his own self-penned defense.
Mind you, fear of being plain silly and hypocritical does not seem to have deterred either Darwin or his adoring Darwinists from behaving and being so.
The Science Cult of Darwinism
Given that Darwinists believe in Darwin's immaculate conception of Patrick Matthew's prior published hypothesis, his name for it, his examples to confirm it and his unique and powerfulartificial versus natural selection analogy to explain it, whilst surrounded and influenced by those who read it, we should not be at all surprised if they move on to behave like committed doomsday cults do the day after the non-event of their predicted day for the end of their world.
In sum, in disappointed light of the dis-confirming hard evidence for their prior mere 'knowledge beliefs', we should now expect that some Darwinists will simply vary their prior position in order to desperately confirm their extraordinary Darwin worship beliefs.
If that does not happen, then we should be grateful that the history of science does not get dragged further along the gutter of Darwinist bias. And we can only hope that none will years from now replicate my unique discovery that bust the Patrick Matthew Supermyth and then write that they did so independently of my work because apparently no naturalist read my prior-published bombshell discovery in the history of science. And we can only hope that if such an immaculate conception miracle occurs that someone like myself will be skeptical enough to think and act on the motto: Nullius in Verba and go check the data for themselves, and be brave, honest and tenacious enough to set the bent record straight.
The failure of Darwin's Darwinists to investigate their namesake's claims that no naturalist read Matthew's prior published theory suggests that anyone calling themselves a Darwinist is at an obvious subconscious, and perhaps conscious, disadvantage when it comes to objectively and rigorously researching the audacious claims of independent discovery made by the man who replicated so much of Patrick Matthew's book, whilst surrounded and influenced by those who read that book years before he replicated its great discovery, the four words Matthew used to name it and the unique natural versus artificial selection analogy Matthew created to explain it!
Matthew uniquely named his bombshell discovery the 'natural process of selection' 28 years before Darwin uniquely four-word shuffled the exact same four words into their only possible grammatically correct equivalent scientific term: 'the process of natural selection'.
A great injustice was done to Patrick Matthew in his lifetime. That injustice continues to this day as Darwin's Darwinists and the 'Darwin Industry' continues to profit at the expense of Matthew's reputation. Matthew's living descendants are aware of and feel this injustice. They have formed among themselves the Patrick Matthew Society. The internationally renowned surgeon and scientist W. J (Jim) Dempster was assisted by that society in financing the publication of his research and dissemination of his findings on exactly how full and complete was Matthew's prior publication of the the theory of natural selection - and how amazingly similar was Darwin's replication of it. My own book Nullius provides a detailed text comparison between the work of Matthew and that of both Darwin and Wallace, which leads me to conclude that both appear to have significantly plagiarised Matthew's book, not only his ideas but his prose and his unique explanatory examples.
One explanatory device, in particular, that Darwin and Wallace replicated is Matthew's unique artificial selection to explain natural selection 'analogy of differences' Matthew - the Originator - (1831) wrote:
'Man's interference, by preventing this natural process of selection among plants, independent of the wider range of circumstances to which he introduces them, has increased the differences in varieties particularly in the more domesticated kinds...'
Supposedly never having read it or heard of it, or having been influenced by it via third parties who had read Mathew's book, Darwin (1859. p. 7) - the Replicator - used the exact same highly important explanatory analogy to open the 'Origin of Species' when he wrote:
‘When we look to the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals, one of the first points which strikes us is, that they generally differ more from each other than do the individuals of any one species or variety in a state of nature.'
In his excellent and most informative scholarly work 'The Illustrious Hunter and the Darwins 'Dempster (2005, p. 10) wrote:
'The suppression of the work of Patrick Matthew since 1831 raises doubts about the so-called intellectual integrity of many scientists.'
To their eternal shame and great intellectual discredit, leading Darwinists who read Dempster's work on Matthew and Darwin, and could not argue against the hard facts he presented in his unique synthesis of the literature, treated Dempster with the same lack of intellectual integrity.
Safe in their numbers, Darwinists cowardly subjected Dempster to their same cult-like wall of disdain that had earlier been deployed against Matthew. They all but totally ignored Dempster's work because he argued rationally with hard evidence against many of their beloved yet unevidenced mere beliefs in Darwin' originality and natural selection discovery priority.
History, will not, I think, serve Darwinists well for such shamefully deliberate pseudo-scholarly behavior. The work of those whose soft hooligan scholarship currently crows, cowers or snipes from among the safety in numbers of the massed ranks of Darwinists, who protect them from rigorous scrutiny by academics in other disciplines, will one-day stand-alone facing the hard facts on the reputation killing ground of massed academic and public scrutiny.
There is some emotion in what I have written in this blog post. I expect we may see some emotion in the further comments that follow it. I suspect that emotion has driven many Darwinists to forget their intellectual integrity. One thing is certain however, emotion can not contend with hard facts. And it is those hard facts - old and newly discovered.and yet to be revealed - with which we must contend if we wish to write a veracious account of the history of the discovery of natural selection.
Righting the great injustice perpetrated against the naturalist Patrick Matthew and his champion scientist Jim Dempster is an important task in the history of scientific discovery, because as Dr Martin Luther King wrote:
Read Nullius in Veraba: Darwin's greatest secret for the full details of this story.
I am very grateful to Dr Mike Weale, of Kings College London, for entering honestly into skeptical and inquiring debate with me to discuss, often from an alternative viewpoint, some of the issues covered in this blog post.
I am also equally grateful to my colleague at Nottingham Trent university, Andy Sutton (not a relative of mine, although we have the same surname) for discussing with me the ideas in this blog post and others that I have published elsewhere on the topic of Matthew's priority over Darwin for his own full prior discovery and explanation of the theory of natural selection.