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delboy

Darwin/Wallace plagiarism theory

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I've only just learnt that Patrick Matthew pre-empted Darwin and Wallace on natural selection. Surprised it wasn't in the Desmond/Moore biography.

 

Is this theory that they deliberately stole his idea taken seriously at all:

 

http://britsoccrim.org/new/volume14/pbcc_2014_sutton.pdf

 

Seems unconvincing and unscientific to me. It seems the only real evidence is that 3 naturalists known to Darwin and Wallace cited his book - 'On Naval Timber and Arboriculture', where he gives a brief but perfect description of natural selection in an appendix - in their literature. Sutton appears to think this is proof of deliberate and concealed plagiarism, since, in his opinion, they must have known of it.

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Yeah, Sutton is a hack. He's not to be taken seriously. There is no doubt that Matthew did come up with the idea in Naval Timber that Darwin noted in Origin of the Species. He is not the only one either. Some form of the idea was put forth by Darwin's grandfather as well.

 

In my copy of OOS I find, after Darwin acknowledges (in a another publication) that Matthews had "anticipated me" he quotes Matthews himself;

 

"to me the conception of this law of Nature came intuitively as a self evident fact almost without an effort of concentrated thought. Mr. Darwin seems to have more merit in the discovery than I have had; to me it did not appear a discovery. He seems to have worked it out by inductive reason, slowly and with due caution to have made his way synthetically from fact to fact onwards. while with me it was by a general glance at the scheme of Nature that I estimated this select production of species as an a priori recognisable fact an axiom requiring only to be pointed out to be admitted by unprejudiced minds of sufficient grasp." (any typos mine)

 

This passage; "He seems to have worked it out by inductive reason, slowly and with due caution to have made his way synthetically from fact to fact onwards" is key. Darwin had many influences including his grandfather Erasmus (a renowned botanist), Wallace, Lamarck, Malthus, George Luis LeClerc, Charles Lyell and James Hutton among others. It is possible that some of them may have read Matthews and through them he influenced Darwin. But the BIG difference between Matthews and Darwin (and Wallace) is that while Matthews wrote about the idea once, almost as an afterthought, Darwin (and Wallace) collected actual data, spend decades analyzing that data and synthesizing the theory.

 

Sutton plays on ambiguity, wishful thinking and meta analysis to do same to Darwin as those who claim Shakespeare didn't write any of the plays attributed to him. No historian of science takes his work seriously.

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Thanks.

Matthew seems a bit of a character - natural selection was obvious, why didn't everyone see it!

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Thanks.

Matthew seems a bit of a character - natural selection was obvious, why didn't everyone see it!

 

 

"requiring only to be pointed out to be admitted by unprejudiced minds of sufficient grasp." Oh we wish that minds today were so unprejudiced - 150 years later too many minds are still so bigoted as to refuse to accept this recognisable fact. I agree he seems a real character

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