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Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.
Posted in Science / Social Sciences / Sociology

On the Inverse-Sokal Semmelweis Reflex

May 5, 2014 5:42 am

Trumpet from the RooftopsAttribution

What if You are Right and They are Wrong?

In the Spring of 1996, New York University physics professor Alan Sokal revealed that his published post-modernist academic journal article 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity' was in fact, unbeknown to the journal editors, written as a hoax.

The cultural studies journal that Sokal hoaxed is called Social Text. His entire article, submitted in 1994, was written as a parody of the daft post-modernist position that the search for veracity in scientific knowledge is, and should be, subordinate to a political agenda on the grounds that there is no 'knowledge' only power. As The Museum of Hoaxes neatly puts it:

'In his spoof Social Text article, Sokal had made the case that recent developments in the scientific concept of 'quantum gravity' pointed the way toward a future in which science would be freed from the "tyranny of 'absolute truth' and 'objective reality.'" Or, to put it another way, he argued that the traditional concept of gravity was just a capitalist fiction that would be made irrelevant by the socialist/feminist/relativist theory of 'quantum gravity.

Sokal assumed that this argument should have been self-evidently absurd.'

When they published his spoof paper as though it was a serious scholarly contribution to their knowledge, Sokal blew the whistle on the editors of Social Text and the hoax was reported on the front page of The New York Times on May 18th 1996. The editors of Social Text responded with indignant anger, but that succeeded only in throwing more laughing stock fuel into the unfolding story of this hilarious episode.

Weinberg (1996) wrote:

'The targets of Sokal's satire occupy a broad intellectual range. There are those "postmoderns" in the humanities who like to surf through avant garde fields like quantum mechanics or chaos theory to dress up their own arguments about the fragmentary and random nature of experience. There are those sociologists, historians, and philosophers who see the laws of nature as social constructions. There are cultural critics who find the taint of sexism, racism, colonialism, militarism, or capitalism not only in the practice of scientific research but even in its conclusions. Sokal did not satirize creationists or other religious enthusiasts who in many parts of the world are the most dangerous adversaries of science,3 but his targets were spread widely enough, and he was attacked or praised from all sides.'

I have every sympathy for Sokal and entirely agree with the principle of what he did. To prove the point, as Editor in Chief of The Internet Journal of Criminology (IJC), I once published an article revealing the same kind of absolute rot that was infecting so-called post-modern criminology (see Cowling 2006). That said, if any post-modernist criminologist would like to publish their ideas in the IJC we would send it to experts in that field for peer review and then, if it passed review with or without amendments, we would publish it, because the IJC is a genuinely scholarly duel-open access criminology journal with no censorship or biased promotion agenda.

Sokal's Hoax Compared to the Semmelweis Reflex

What Sokal did was to reveal that the editors of Social Text had a journal that celebrated the style of its publications over the veracity and sense of their content.

Because Sokal wrote his article as a parody of the journal's style, and because Sokal's article's content appeared to match the polemical 'knowledge beliefs' of the Journal's editors, it was published. Had he merely written his article in the 'house style' but criticised the underlying premise-rationale of the journal that all 'knowledge' is a subjective social construct, it might have been rejected.

The natural sciences suffer from the same kind of bias. Although the myth of Semmelweis has been bust (e.g. see Sutton 2012), the associated - so called - Semmelweis Reflex, where the first reaction of the scientific community is to knee-jerk reject any new discoveries that refute their orthodox 'knowledge beliefs', is still a problem in need of a solution.

By way of example of this pernicious social science problem, on 21st March 2014 I submitted an article to the Journal of the History of Biology on my brand new discovery that, contrary to exiting knowledge, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace definitely did not 'independently' discover the theory of Natural Selection.

Unlike Sokal, I put newly discovered verifiable and fully referenced hard-facts into my article that are 100 per cent veracious. Namely, that the published work of Darwin and Wallace on natural selection could not have been discovered independently of Patrick Matthew's prior published discovery of the 'natural process of selection', simply because I newly discovered a number of naturalists, who actually cited Matthew's book containing his discovery. And that three of those naturalists were at the acknowledged epicentre of influence on Darwin's and Wallace's thinking on the topic of natural selection.

Unlike Sokal, I did not specifically tailor the style of my article to the style of articles published by the Journal that I sent it to.I did however abide by their specific submission requirements, including their idiosyncratic referencing style. The new discovery was very clearly and plainly stated in my paper's title, in the abstract and also in a sub-section within the main body of its text.

What happened next is best revealed by the two emails that followed.

Email 1 - sent Fri 21/03/2014 16:55

'Dear Mike,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript, "A Bombshell for the History of Science: Patrick Matthew's book, revealing his discovery of natural selection, was cited in the literature before 1858 by three naturalists who played key pre-1858 roles in facilitating and influencing Darwin's and Wallace's published ideas on natural selection.", to Journal of the History of Biology

During the review process, you can keep track of the status of your manuscript by accessing the following web site:

Your username is: *********

Your password is: **********

With kind regards

Springer Journals Editorial Office

Journal of the History of Biology'

Email 2 - sent Sun 23/03/2014 02:36

'Dear Mike,

I have received the decision from the Editor on your manuscript, HIST-D-14-00010 "A Bombshell for the History of Science: Patrick Matthew's book, revealing his discovery of natural selection, was cited in the literature before 1858 by three naturalists who played key pre-1858 roles in facilitating and influencing Darwin's and Wallace's published ideas on natural selection."

With regret, I must inform you that the Editor has decided that your manuscript will not be accepted for publication in Journal of the History of Biology.

I would like to thank you very much for forwarding your manuscript to us for consideration and wish you every success in finding an alternative place of publication.

With kind regards,

Michael Dietrich

Springer Journals Editorial Office

Journal of the History of Biology'

Why on Earth did the Journal of the History of Biology not want to publish a paper that reveals an irrefutable new discovery that overturns all prior-knowledge on the discovery of natural selection? All the science books are currently wrong on that topic. Surely the journal editors have a scholarly duty to the journal's subscribers and publishers not to platform-block new, important, pertinent, verifiable and veracious knowledge?

Whereas Sokal's paper was sent to a social science journal and then accepted on the grounds that it was written in the right style regardless of the utter claptrap of its content, my article - sent to a history of biological sciences journal - appears to me to have been rejected either because the Editor of the Journal of the History of Biology (a) simply disapproved of the style of my article, regardless of the hugely important historical value of my new discovery, or else (b) because he suffered a typical attack of Semmelweis Reflex Syndrome, which was brought on by the shockingly new, unique and irrefutable verifiable evidence that both Darwin and Wallace are now absolutely 100 per cent proven to be counterfeit discoverers. More likely, ours not often being a binary world, I suspect the Editor might possibly have suffered from (c) some complex hybrid. If so, perhaps to the relief of algebra phobics everywhere, (a) + (b) really does equal (c).

Seriously, I'm not sure whether (a), (b) or (c) is the explanation for why a history of science journal would not want to publish such a pertinent bombshell of a new veracious discovery. Perhaps the Editor,or one of his assistants will one day be asked to explain. Meanwhile, curious about being rejected outright pre-peer review, I sent the so rapidly-rejected paper to two senior professors of biology, both with international reputations in the field and both experts on the study and history of organic evolution, to ask for their opinion on its rejection. One, from England, informed me that my paper is "first rate" and the only reason it was rejected is "brute censorship." The other, from Canada, said that he would have rejected my article, regardless of its ground breaking contents. His reason being that he disapproved of its brash style and lack of 'jurisprudence'.

On being rejected, I just couldn't help myself and must confess that true to form I brashly re-wrote some of the article to adopt a more robust critique of the credulous Darwinist belief-premise that Darwin and Wallace had no-prior knowledge of Matthew's prior, prominently published, advertised, widely read, reviewed and cited discovery. You can read that re-written article here on Best Thinking (Sutton 2014) . However, the entire unedited original version that I submitted to the Journal of the History of Biology is attached below - see Appendix 1. You might wish to judge it for yourself.

The peer review process for scholarly journals, research monographs and textbooks is widely accepted by the academic community in general as the best option we have to ensure published work is academically sound and veracious. The problem is that many of us have negative experiences of the process that go unreported because it is taboo to blow the whistle on miscreant editors and publishers. Anyone who does so is likely to be labelled a trouble maker, crank and someone to be avoided. Which means keeping silent about academic irregularities is a good career decision.The trouble with that approach is that if we remain silent then powerful yet unethical deviants in our field can silently go on doing unethical things to us and others.

While any and all rejection of our work by editors and publishers is a disappointment faced by every academic, it is not one that has ever before led me to complain in the public domain - that is, until now. Because I feel it is both timely and in the general and specific public interest to share another example besides the one from the new-knowledge-rejecting Journal of the History of Biology. I do so in order to reveal some of the problems that can and do occur in the editorial and anonymous peer review process operated by scholarly journals published and funded by large publishing houses. My personal revelations are made in the same spirit of the hugely important work published by Goldacre (2012) on the inherent harmful bias that results from peer-reviewed academic journals refusing to publish inconclusive and negative findings in clinical trials.

Several years ago, a myth busting article that I sent to the academic journal 'Policing and Society' was - in breach of that journal's publisher's regulations on conflict of interest - sent to one of the authors of the fallacy in question for 'independent' peer review! The professor in question deemed himself fit to review that article despite the obvious conflict of interest and then backed-up his self-serving rejection of it by firing off an indignant email to myself and my two co-authors, the most junior of whom withdrew his co-authorship accordingly. Moreover, he then asked us to agree to free him from the ethical constraints of peer-reviewership so that he could write to other academics in the field to alert them to what we had written about him and his co-author. I told him in no uncertain words that I was shocked by his conduct and his request and then declined to grant him what he wanted.

I am not sure who the second 'anonymous' reviewer of that article was, but they wrote in their review that they believed the author's of the article would deem their rejection review as being a case of the reviewer "getting the retaliation in first"! Once again, hardly the language of a reviewer without a massive personal conflict of interest - wouldn't you agree?

Needless to say, our draft myth-busting article had been thoroughly and unethically mistreated in the supposedly anonymous and supposedly independent peer review process. We felt as though we had been intellectually mugged!

Unsurprisingly, our article was rejected out-rightly by the so-called 'scholarly' journal in question on the sole grounds of what their two reviewers had written. I expect at that point many authors would have been sufficiently intimidated to give up. Rather than put the draft article away in a dusty drawer, I responded carefully to the events by having a team of expert academic lawyers go over it with a fine tooth-comb. I then, with the help of an expert legal team, simply re-wrote some of it to deal with any vague possibility, in event of publication, of a gagging legal suit for defamation of character regarding implying motive for why the myth had been started in the first place and why its author's remained silent about its lack of veracity despite the obvious misconceptions of many authors who cited it as evidence of British "Home Office research". I then sent the edited version back to the journal - pointing out that they had unethically breached their peer review process as had one of the peer reviewers. I also pointed out that the weirdly childish "retaliation in-first" comment of the second reviewer was highly inappropriate and also suspiciously suggested that they too had a conflict of interest.

The editor of the journal then made a number of hugely embarrassingly and rather pathetic excuses for what his team had done in his absence. I will not be so cruel as to re-publish those excuses here. The editor then offered to send our draft article back out for anonymous peer review, on the grounds that by him so doing we accepted that the journal's unethical debacle would not be formally pursued. The article was once again rejected. Only this time, not completely.

This time the journal's editorial team wrote to say they would consider publishing our article, but only now if we extensively re-wrote it as one that discussed, sociologically, the wider issue of myths and fallacies.

Guessing or implying motive in such cases is likely to lead to a law suit for defamation, so all I can safely say is that it seemed to us - in our opinion - that the motive of the peer reviewers, seemed to us at least, apparently, to be based upon a protective desire to take the spotlight in our article off the specific mythmongering miscreants of the Zombie Cop Myth and to dilute the importance of our very specific and detailed mythbusting research by focusing the theme instead upon the wider, general, problem of academic fallacies underpinning policy in the criminal justice system. That might work to everybody's mutual satisfaction and do well to serve the truth and evidence-led policy making in a textbook of 100,000 words, with a chapter devoted to the Zombie Cop Myth in question that we uniquely bust, but in a journal article limited to 10,000 words there would be no room left to prove just how pernicious and embarrassingly misleading the Zombie Cop Myth was. It would have been a case, at least in our opinion, of effective - if not intentional - network rank-closing, damage limitation, mission accomplished. In other words, and again I must stress, in our opinion, an effective cover-up of information necessary to inform veracious evidence-led decision making in crime reduction policy making and policing.

On the grounds that the peer reviewers in question could conduct and publish such grandiosely extensive new academic research themselves if they so wished to conduct and publish such a dramatically wider and different piece of work, my co-author and I simply had our twice rejected article open peer reviewed by a number of experts on policing. We then published that article, along with the reviews of it, in the Internet Journal of criminology.You can read it and those reviews here.

As is always the way, the facts will out in the end!

Our Zombie Cop Myth article is now widely read, for example, via Global Criminology.Com. Accordingly, we hope that this pernicious beat policing myth will now have less unwarranted influence on important evidence-led crime reduction policy making and policing. Publishing such myth-busting serves the public safety.

And so today, we are here observing the platform-levelling of the communications revolution in action. This is a new and positive phenomenon that will only get worse for those sly and cowardly self-serving wrigglers who seek to bury in oblivion embarrassing new discoveries about pernicious old myths.

I think it perhaps important to emphasise at this point that I at least believe that I have no reason to feel any concern or bitterness about having any work rejected by any journal or publisher, because I have a h-index score of 10 for citations of my scholarly work, which means that I have at least 10 publications which have all been cited at least 10 times. And at the time of writing my scholarly work has been cited, in total, over 600 times. While I am not a professor, mine is, according to the London School of Economics, more than twice the citation index score of an average professor of sociology, which the London School of Economics, most surprisingly, found to be as low as just 3.67.

I believe, therefore, that my motive for reporting the rejection of my jointly authored article on the Zombie Cop Myth by the Journal of Policing and Society and the most recent rejection of hugely important newly discovered facts by the Journal of the History of Biology is not one of embittered disappointment. Rather, I am whistle-blowing on these two journals because I think it important for the historical record to provide facts to inform contemporary and future historical understanding about how a policing journal nearly buried in oblivion the busting of a proven policing myth, and how a journal specializing in the history of science showed zero interest in publishing one of the most important discoveries ever made in the history of science. We should at least try to understand how and why such things happen in order to seek to reduce the probability of such dysology continuing to occur in all fields of scholarly enquiry.

The discovery of natural selection - supposedly 'independently' by Charles Darwin and supposedly 'independently' by Alfred Wallace - is hailed by many scientists as among the top five scientific discoveries of all time. Does it not follow that my uniquely discovered proof that neither Darwin nor Wallace discovered that theory 'independently' of Patrick Matthew is one of the most important of the 21st century? If so, is it not rather shocking that the Journal of the History of Biology, without a word of comment or explanation, showed zero interest and declined to publish this relevant and hugely important discovery?

The Sokal Hoax is broadly, although over-simplistically, understood to have been pulled-off because the physicist Sokal wrote claptrap in the correct idiosyncratic style demanded by the post-modernist sociologists who then judged it worthy of publication on style alone. By way of contrast, when the dysological spotlight is turned back upon the scientific community by a sociologist, perhaps the observable phenomenon of major, new, relevant and fact-based discovery rejection by science 'experts', on the grounds that the discovery is not reported in a desired idiosyncratic style is a social phenomena that we might name the "Inverse-Sokal Semmelweis Reflex". Others can now make of that what they will, refine it, reject it and and look for confirming and dis-confirming examples if they so wish.

The irrefutable facts are now in the public domain, and that is my sole aim. Perhaps some will say "Hell hath no fury as a discoverer spurned'. Whatever the case, facts trump rhetoric every time. As the Sokal Hoax so ably demonstrated, no matter how they are stylised for consumption, both claptrap and facts will 'out in the end'.

In Gross, Levit and Lewis’s ‘The Flight from Science and Reason', Christina Hoff Sommers (1996 p.369) quotes from a 1932 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry:

‘According to Langmuir: ‘These are cases where there is no dishonesty involved but where people are tricked into false results …being led astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking, or threshold interactions.’ Pathological science as Langmuir noted never issues in a fruitful research program. No new discoveries are made; pathological science either dies out or just goes “on and on”.’

And the same goes for the current pathological voodoo-history of science in all the journals and science and history books on the discovery of natural selection.

As Herndon (no date) reveals, learning from the process of scientific discovery is important for scientists hoping to make new breakthroughs, which means science is inseparable from the history of science and scientific discovery. Therefore, in the interests of science, I respectfully suggest that Darwinists, particularly those who serve as effective gatekeepers of the scholarly press on organic evolution, should consider changing their in-group name in order to avoid corresponding in-built bias when judging the value of the fact that another - incidentally not named Darwin - now has full priority over their namesake for the independent discovery of natural selection. All the new evidence suggests they should now be calling themselves Matthewists.

Darwin's and Wallace's great science fraud is finally exposed. It will take some time for the duped scientific community to recover its senses and respond appropriately to this newly discovered fact. As Walsh so ably noted in his account of the greatest science fraud of the 20th century (Walsh 1996 xvii):

‘A clever antagonist…working underhandedly as he preys on trusting colleagues, can almost always score an initial triumph, even with victims otherwise astute. How long such an imposture may live thereafter depends less on the skill of the forger, or the gullibility of the target, than on the circumstances beyond the immediate control of either.’

Although they did triumph for 154 years, the power to deal with the newly discovered guilt of Darwin and Wallace is now in the control of the scientific community.

In the case of the discovery of the World's greatest science fraud, we are currently observing how the process of initial rejection of veracious new discoveries by those with a vested financial and career interest in denying anything of importance has been discovered. What this blog reveals is that experts in the field of the history of biology sought initially to censor publication of the bombshell discovery of irrefutable new evidence that Darwinists are, most embarrassingly, all named after the wrong scientist.

To be necessarily brash with the truth, Darwinists are named after a now proven counterfeit discoverer, serial liar and science fraudster!



Goldacre, B. (2012) Bad Pharma: How Medicine is Broken, and How We Can Fix It. London. HarperCollins.

Hendon, J. M. (no date) Inseparability of Science History and Discovery, BestThinking,com.

Sommers, C. H. (1996) Pathological Social Science: Carol Gilligan and the Incredible Shrinking Girl. In Gross, P. R., Levitt, N. and Lewis, M. W (eds) The Flight from Science and Reason. New York Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 775.

Sutton, M. (2014) Internet Dating with Darwin: New Discovery that Darwin and Wallace were Influenced by Matthew's Prior-Discovery. Best Thinking.March 26th,

Sutton, M. (2012)Expert Skeptics Suckered Again: Incredibly, the Famous Semmelweis Story is Another Supermyth. Best Thinking. November 3rd.

Walsh, J. E. (1996) Unravelling Piltdown: The Science Fraud of the Century and its Solution. New York. Random House.

Weinberg, S. (1996) The New York Review of Books, Volume XLIII, No. 13, pp 11-15, August 8.


A Bombshell for the History of Biology and Scientific Discovery: Patrick Matthew's book, revealing his discovery of natural selection, was cited in the literature before 1858 by three naturalists who played key pre-1858 roles in facilitating and influencing Darwin’s and Wallace’s published ideas on natural selection.

Dr Mike Sutton


Darwin and Alfred Wallace claimed to have discovered natural selection independently of Patrick Matthew. Matthew's discovery of the 'natural process of selection' was published 27 years before Darwin's and Wallace's papers were read before the Linnean Society in 1858. In 1861, in the third edition of the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote: '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.' To date, there has been no hard evidence suggesting that Darwin’s or Wallace’s work was influenced by Matthew. However, newly discovered literature reveals seven naturalists cited Matthew's book before 1858. Three played key pre-1858 roles facilitating and influencing Darwin’s and Wallace’s published ideas on natural selection. They are: Loudon who edited and published Blyth’s acknowledged influential articles on evolution; Chambers, author of the 'Vestiges of Creation' which both Darwin and Wallace also acknowledged influenced their work; and Selby who, in 1855, edited and published Wallace's Sarawak paper. These new discoveries mean that Matthew now has full scientific priority for the theory natural selection.


In the field of evolutionary biology, Patrick Matthew (1831) is acknowledged as the first discoverer of the theory of natural selection (e.g.: Clarke, 1984, Dempster 1983, 1996, Wainwright, 2008, 2011, Dawkins 2010). He discovered the process, and then fully articulated and disseminated it in his book: ‘On Naval Timber and Arboriculture’ (hereafter NTA) with major Edinburgh and London publishers, 27 years before Charles Darwin’s and Alfred Wallace’s papers were famously read before the Linnean Society (Darwin and Wallace 1858), and 28 years before Darwin (1859) principally reproduced Matthew’s hypothesis, albeit supported by a great and unique synthesis of confirming evidence, in the Origin of Species (hereafter Origin).

The current consensus of scientific opinion is that Matthew should not be attributed with full priority over Darwin and Wallace, nor should he be ranked alongside them as an immortal great thinker in science; because it is believed that he failed to influence anyone with his ideas. For example, Judd (1909; p.342) wrote:

‘…Matthew anticipated the views of Darwin on Natural Selection, but without producing any real influence on the course of biological thought…’

Charles Wells and Edward Blyth are the only other contenders for priority for the theory of natural selection. Like Matthew, Wells (1818) wrote upon the subject of adaptation to environment and subsequent varieties within species. Like Matthew, he saw the important difference between artificial and natural selection. Like Matthew, he wrote about humans and mentioned other animals, but unlike Matthew, he made no mention of trees or plants and most crucially, did not write about new species emerging over millions of years by way of divergence from a common ancestor. Critically, as Eiseley (1959 p. 122) observed, ‘There is no clear expression of unrestricted deviation in unlimited time.’

Eiseley (1979, p. 96) made much of Blyth having a direct and major influence upon Darwin’s ideas on natural selection:

‘The historical documents which establish Edward Blyth as not merely a Darwinian precursor but in fact a direct intellectual forebear in a phylogenetic line of descent are to be found in aging files of periodicals in grimy cellars of old libraries. Originally published in the Magazine of Natural History in 1835, 1836 and 1837, the essays…show that Blyth indeed belongs to the royal line’

Blyth (1835, 1836), whose work was published after Matthew’s, was one of Darwin’s prolific correspondents and influential informants. He wrote about adaptive varieties of different animals. However, as an unwavering creationist, Blyth believed that variation occurred only within existing species. Much has been made by a few (e.g. Eiseley 1979; Davies, 2008) of Darwin’s acknowledgement of some of Blyth’s articles and failure to cite others. Yet none who note areas of Blyth’s certain un-cited influence upon Darwin take account of the fact that all of Blyth’s ideas were published at least four years after Matthew’s published breakthrough of 1831. More tellingly, that his two key papers (Blyth 1835. 1836), which reveal an understanding of the natural process of selection, were published in the Magazine of Natural History in the time that it was both owned and edited by the Scottish botanist John Loudon. That fact, though previously unremarked, is significant. Because Loudon (1832) had earlier reviewed Matthew’s book (see also: Matthew 1860a) and remarked positively upon its author’s unique ideas on what he referred to as ‘the origin of species.’ Consequently, the likelihood of Blyth’s work benefiting from Matthewian knowledge contamination via Loudon is, if not absolutely certain, at the very least, enormously high. Therefore, both the post-NTA date of Blyth’s published papers and his editor’s prior-knowledge of Matthew’s unique discoveries must, in absence of obvious bias, now engender highly significant doubt that Blyth’s published work on the topic came independently of Matthew’s unique discovery and original ideas.

We can now see why, at the time of writing, Darwin and Wallace are commonly, yet fallaciously, believed to have each discovered natural selection independently of Matthew and independently of one another. Because, taken alone, the information about Loudon, which is presented here for the first time, absolutely refutes Dawkins' articulation of the Darwinian knowledge-belief that Blyth, Darwin and Wallace discovered natural selection independently of Matthew (Dawkins 2010, p.107):

‘I singled out Darwin and Wallace as the two nineteenth-century naturalists who independently solved the riddle of life. But claims of priority have been made on behalf of at least two other nineteenth-century writers, Patrick Matthew and Edward Blyth. If those claims are upheld, it should be a matter of some national pride that all four independent discoverers of natural selection were British.

Darwin is hailed as an immortal great discoverer and thinker on the subject of organic evolution because he alone is recognised as first to take his own discovery of the theory of natural selection forward, with many confirmatory evidences, knowingly convincing others of its veracity and phenomenal importance.

Darwin made a number of excuses for not having read NTA. However, a careful examination of the literature refutes all of those excuses. Additionally, this article challenges the current knowledge consensus that Darwin and Wallace discovered natural selection independently of Matthew. Because new evidence proves that NTA was read by at least seven naturalists, three of whom were at the epicentre of influence and facilitation of Darwin’s and Wallace’s published ‘discoveries’. Furthermore, two of those three were personal associates of Darwin and Wallace. This discovery of the Citing Seven was made in 2014 only because it is now possible to search over 30 million documents in Google’s library project for precise words and terms by precise publication dates. Without this hi-tech breakthrough, what I found in a few weeks could not have been discovered in a dozen lifetimes of expert library research. For the first time we can begin to understand exactly what 19th century naturalists really did with Matthew’s discovery of natural selection in the previously shrouded 27 years between its publication and Darwin’s and Wallace’s claimed immaculate conception and replication of it (Darwin and Wallace 1858).

The disconfirming evidence for Darwin’s excuses for not having read NTA is considered in Part I of this article. Part II presents newly discovered information about who did read NTA pre-Origin. Finally, Part III presents a conclusion that is nothing less than a bombshell for the history of science. Namely that, despite Darwin’s and Wallace’s claims to have discovered natural selection independently of NTA, those claims are impossible to sustain rationally in light of newly discovered incontrovertible facts about the naturalists they knew who read NTA and the acknowledged roles played by those naturalists in influencing, editing and facilitating their published ‘discoveries’.

Part I

Darwin’s and Wallace’s Excuses Examined

Contrary to currently accepted ‘knowledge’ that Matthew’s (1831) ideas on natural selection went unread pre-Origin because they are contained solely in the appendix of NTA (e.g. Mayr 1982, Gould 2002, Bowler 2003) any complete reading of the book proves this to be a myth. By way of example, the following samples of text from the main body of NTA are sufficient to disconfirm the Appendix Myth:

Matthew (1831, p.301)

‘Our author's next implied assumption, that a tree produces best timber in a soil and climate natural to it (we suppose by this is meant the soil and climate where the kind of tree is naturally found growing), is, we think, at least exceedingly hypothetical; and, judging from our facts, incorrect The natural soil and climate of a tree, is often very far from being the soil and climate most suited to its growth, and is only the situation where it has greater power of occupancy than any other plant whose germ is present. The pines do not cover the pine barrens of America, because they prefer such soil, or grow most luxuriant in such soil; they would thrive much better, that is, grow faster in the natural allotment of the oak and the walnut, and also mature to a better wood in this deeper richer soil. But the oak and the walnut banish them to inferior soil from greater power of occupancy in good soil, as the pines, in their turn, banish other plants from inferior sands – some to still more sterile location, by the same means of greater powers of occupancy in these sands. One cause considerably affecting the natural location of certain kinds of plants is, that only certain soils are suited to the preservation of certain seeds, throughout the winter or wet season. Thus many plants, different from those which naturally occupy the soil, would feel themselves at home, and would beat off intruders, were they once seated. We have had indubitable proof in this country, that Scots fir grown upon good deep loam, and strong till (what our author would call the natural soil of the oak), is of much better quality, and more resinous, than fir grown on poor sand (what he would call the natural soil of the Scots fir), although of more rapid growth on the loam than on the sand; and the best Scots fir we have ever seen, of equal age and quickness of growth, is growing upon Carse land (clayey alluvium).’

And (p.302-303)

‘The use of the infinite seedling varieties in the families of plants, even in those in a state of nature, differing in luxuriance of growth and local adaptation, seems to be to give one individual (the strongest best circumstance-suited) superiority over others of its kind around, that it may, by overtopping and smothering them, procure room for full extension, and thus affording, at the same time, a continual selection of the strongest, best circumstance-suited, for reproduction. 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 difference in varieties, particularly in the more domesticated kinds; and even in man himself, the greater uniformity, and more general vigour among savage tribes, is referrible to nearly similar selecting law – the weaker individual sinking under the ill treatment of the stronger, or under the common hardship.

As our author's premises thus appear neither self evident, nor supported by facts, it might seem unfair, at least it would be superfluous, to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and corollaries.’

As demonstrated, page 302, which from the main body of NTA, not its Appendix, is where Matthew named his discovery the ‘natural process of selection.’ Incidentally, his term has only one grammatical correct anagram: ‘process of natural selection,’ which is the term Darwin (1859) used nine times in the Origin.

Pages 301 to 303 of NTA reveal that Matthew saw the competition between species as a struggle for existence identified by two closely related concepts: that successful species have a ‘power of occupancy’ being ‘most circumstance suited’ to their environment. These ideas were later represented by Herbert Spencer’s (1864) phrase: ‘survival of the fittest’, which is not entirely dissimilar to a sentence Matthew penned for NTA’s appendix (1831 p.385): ‘Nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind by reproduction.’

Reproducing large swathes of text from NTA in a letter published in the Gardener’s Chronicle, Matthew (1860a) made Darwin aware that his unique ideas about natural selection were in the main body of NTA as well as its appendix, Darwin acknowledged that fact when he wrote, in turn, to his friend and botanical mentor Joseph Hooker, asking him to approve, sign and then forward to the editor of the Gardener’s Chronicle his response to Matthew’s claim of scientific priority (Darwin 1860a):

The case in G. Chronicle seems a little stronger than in Mr. Matthews book, for the passages are therein scattered in 3 places. But it would be mere hair-splitting to notice that.— If you object to my letter please return it; but I do not expect that you will, but I thought that you would not object to run your eye over it.— My dear Hooker it is a great thing for me to have so good, true, & old a friend as you. I owe much to science for my friends.’

The seed of the myth that Matthew’s discovery was buried solely in the appendix of NTA was perhaps planted 28 years earlier in Loudon’s[1] review (1832):

‘One of the subjects discussed in this appendix is the puzzling one, of the origin of species and varieties; and if the author has hereon originated no original views (and of this we are far from certain), he has certainly exhibited his own in an original manner.

Despite his private acknowledgement to Hooker that Matthew’s ideas were in various parts of NTA, Darwin’s subsequent public reply to the Gardener’s Chronicle no doubt propagated the myth that Matthew’s wrote only briefly about natural selection and that his discovery was hidden solely in an appendix to an ostensibly unsuitable book (Darwin 1860b):

‘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 that they appeared in the appendix to a work on Naval Timber and Arboriculture.’

In a letter to the French naturalist Quatrefages de Bréau, Darwin (1861), Darwin again excused himself for not having read NTA. This time he portrayed Matthew as an obscure writer and, by immediate association, implied that forest trees was an inappropriately obscure topic to enclose the discovery of the unifying theory of biology. Only this time Darwin portrayed the record of the discovery as briefly scattered rather than appendix bound:

‘…an obscure writer on Forest Trees, in 1830, in Scotland, most expressly & clearly anticipated my views – though he put the case so briefly, that no single person ever noticed the scattered passages in his book.’

Then, in the third edition of the Origin, Darwinswitched-back to portraying Matthew’s discovery as being brief and scattered in an appendix only. By so doing he created the full blown Appendix Myth, which serves to this day as the best solution to the otherwise unsolved science problem of Darwin’s and Wallace’s independent replication of Matthew’s published prior-discovery of the ‘natural process of selection’ (Darwin 1861a):

‘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.’

Most interestingly, Wallace later admitted that Matthew had first discovered natural selection and additional laws of evolution. That admission appears to have passed without further remark by Darwin and Wallace scholars, which is surprising since Wallace went on to dub Matthew one of the most original thinkers of the first half of the 19th century (Wallace 1879, p. 142):

‘Mr. Matthew apprehended the theory of natural selection, as well as the existence of more obscure laws of evolution, many years in advance of Mr. Darwin and myself, and in giving almost the whole of what Mr. Matthew has written on the subject Mr. Butler will have helped to call attention to one of the most original thinkers of the first half of the 19th century.’

In a letter to Samuel Butler, about Butler’s book: ‘Evolution Old & New’, Wallace went so far as to rank Matthew at least equal in importance to Darwin as an original thinker (Wallace, 1879a):

‘My dear Sir

Please accept my thanks for the copy of "Evolution Old & New" and of "Life & Habitat" you were so good as to send me.

I have just finished reading the former with mixed feelings of pleasure & regret. I am glad that a corrected account of the views of Buffon, Dr. Darwin & Lamarck and especially of Mr. Patrick Matthew, should be given to the world; but I am sorry that you should have, as I think, so completely failed in a just estimation of the value of their work as compared with that of Mr. Charles Darwin; – because it will necessarily predjudice [sic] naturalists against you, & will cause "Life & Habitat” – to be neglected, & this I should greatly regret.To my mind your quotations from Mr. Patrick Matthew are the most remarkable things in your whole book, because he appears to have completely anticipated the main ideas both of the "Origin of Species" & of "Life & Habitat".’

If Wallace was right to describe Matthew as one of the greatest original thinkers of the first half of the 19th century, then it follows that Matthew must surely rank high amongst the greatest of that entire century. And if Matthew was among the greatest original thinkers of an entire century then he is most surely an immortal great thinker of science.

Wallace’s statement about Matthew’s greatness was made by a Victorian naturalist who would have known best on that precise matter second only to Darwin and certainly more than Wells (1973), who alone prosecuted a thesis that Matthew and Darwin failed to understand each others ideas. The implications, therefore, of Wallace’s admission are astounding. Specifically, that if he and Darwin were not influenced by Matthew then they were not influenced by the greatest original thinker there has ever been on the very discovery they each replicated, affirmed with further evidences and then claimed as their own independent discovery.

In light of his prior breakthrough, the sole rationale for denying Matthew a place above or alongside Darwin and Wallace is that he failed to influence anyone with it. And the accepted explanation for why, pre-Origin, all 19th century ‘gentlemen of science’ including Darwin and Wallace were completely unaware of Matthew’s solution to the problem of species, is that he obscured it away in the appendix of an inappropriately titled and highly specialised manual on naval timber and arboriculture, a book which naturalists would be extremely unlikely to read. Moreover, according to this solution, to what is effectively the science problem of Darwin and Wallace’s independent replication of Matthew’ ideas, Matthew failed to sufficiently promote his discovery. Typical examples of this ‘blame Matthew’ solution can be found in Darwin (1861a), Wallace, (1871), Hamilton (2001) and Dawkins (2010).

Turning first to examine the claim that Matthew’s discovery was hidden solely in the appendix of NTA, as this article has already as demonstrated, that claim is completely disconfirmed by pages 301-303 of NTA. It is further disconfirmed by many other examples within NTA (see Appendix One, Sutton 2014). Having disconfirmed the Appendix Myth, it is appropriate to examine the veracity of Darwin’s second excuse that no naturalist would have read Matthew’s book because it was on a subject unlikely to appeal to naturalists. Dawkins’ articulation of this rationale typifies it well, because he dually seeks to explain that the reason why no naturalist would have read NTA was due to Matthew’s failure to understand the great importance of his own discovery. Dawkins (2010. p.209):

Did he see the explanation for all of life, the destroyer of the argument for design? If he had, wouldn’t he have put it in a more prominent place than the appendix to a manual on silviculture?’

The general acceptance of this obscure topic argument clearly has its provenance in Darwin’s (1861a) deployment of the same excuse. In reality, this excuse is more remarkable in its inaccuracy than the simple Appendix Myth. Whilst it is beyond the scope of this article to provide a lengthy explanation of just how historically misinformed this excuse is, sufficient criticism to disconfirm its veracity can be furnished by just a few key facts. Wainwright (2011), for example, correctly notes, the subject of naval timber was an important subject for the British Empire in the first half of the 19th century. Timber was the raw material that drove the industrial revolution.That Matthew had chosen the subject of timber to publish his great hypothesis is not at all incongruous. Contrary to popular modern opinion, it was timber, not textiles, that was the most important product and prime mover of the Industrial Revolution (Brineley pp. 72-73). Timber was required for ship building and in even greater quantities for production of alkalis for textile manufacture. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Robert Lindley, the economic botanist and great friend of William Hooker, who had his own book reviewed directly above a review of NTA (Loudon 1832), went on to write two books that included the subject of naval timber (Lindley 1839, 1853).

Growing oak for naval ships was an important concern of science in the first half of the 19th century. This is no better evidenced than by the fact that Martin Rees, current President of the Royal Society, in his chapter within the same book in which Dawkins (2010) claims Matthew’s big scientific idea was inappropriately published in a book on silviculture, reveals that in 1662 John Evelyn – a founding member of the Royal Society presented a scientific paper of major importance before the Society entitled: ‘Sylva or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty's Dominions.’ Two years later, Evelyn (1664) published his paper as a seminal book (see Rees 2010) entitled: ‘Sylva, or a discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber’.

Most tellingly, Darwin’s 1838-1851 notebook of books read proves that Darwin read Evelyn’s book on silviculture. Hard facts such as that trump rhetoric and prove that, far from being on an inappropriate and obscure topic, the title and subject matter of Matthew’s book was outwardly ideal for the inclusion of his discovery and a scientific call for others to conduct empirical research and experimentation to test it. Naval Timber and Arboriculture was a title and topic indubitably as likely as Evelyn’s to attract naturalists such as Darwin to gather evidence to test Matthew’s hypothesis, which is clearly what Matthew intended (Matthew 1831 p.386):

‘In the first place, we ought to investigate its dependency upon the preceding links of the particular chain of life, variety being often merely types or approximations of former parentage; thence the variation of the family, as well as of the individual, must be embraced by our experiments.’

Having refuted Darwin’s excuses that Matthew hid his discovery solely in the appendix of NTA, and that both NTA’s title and subject matter were inappropriate to contain unique ideas on organic evolution in the first half of the 19th century, it is perhaps useful to examine why Matthew did put so much of his discovery, and his discussion of its implications, into the appendix. He may have done so for two reasons. It seems likely that he believed it was the right place for a deductively derived hypothesis, as apposed to an inductive theory inspired and supported by sufficient confirmatory empirical evidence. If so, that would explain why he wrote the following in the main body of NTA (Matthew 1831, p. 303):

‘As our author's premises thus appear neither self evident, nor supported by facts, it might seem unfair, at least it would be superfluous, to proceed to the consideration of his conclusions and corollaries.’

Those further conclusions and corollaries were saved for the appendix, which may also have been used so extensively because it seemed the appropriate place for heresy. Matthew could not trumpet his discovery of natural selection from the rooftops without the prior publication of Chambers’ (1844) Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, which so effectively prepared the general public and scientific community for a godless explanation of species (see: Millhauser 1859, Secord 2000). Nor could he have safely done so without a network of sympathetic and influential supporters. Furthermore, Matthew lacked any such sort of scientific support network of the kind afforded to Darwin and Wallace by way of membership of key scientific associations and powerful patrons such as Lyell, Gray, the Hooker’s, Baden Powel and Huxley. Consequently, Matthew had to be subtle in his dealings and where he placed his words. NTA’s appendix contained so much godless heresy (Matthew 1831, p.381):

‘Geologists discover a like particular conformity – fossil species – through the deep deposition of each great epoch, but they also discover an almost complete difference to exist between the species or stamp of life, of one epoch from that of every other. We are therefore led to admit either of a repeated miraculous creation; or of a power of change, under a change of circumstances, to belong to living organized matter, or rather to the congeries of inferior life, which appears to form superior. The derangements and changes in organized existence, induced by a change of circumstance from the interference of man, affording us proof of the plastic quality of superior life, and the likelihood that circumstances have been very different in the different epochs, though steady in each tend strongly to heighten the probability of the latter theory.

Contrary to Dawkins’ (2010) claim that Matthew did not see that his discovery provided the explanation for all life and that it destroyed the argument for design, the above paragraph proves that Matthew did fully understand, appreciate and articulate the great significance of what he had discovered. Dempster (1996) makes the same argument and provides a wealth of further evidence that Matthew fully understood the significance of his discovery. On another point of related detail, Chambers’ (1844) Vestiges was less heretical than NTA, because Chambers expressly assigned the grand design and creation of the process of organic variety and species development to the Abrahamic God. And yet, even such clear inclusion of a creator in the process remained problematic for the Church, which at the time so dominated society, including the universities. Millhauser explains why (1959, p 91):

‘ “Development” reduces the Creator almost (or completely) to a passive spectator of His own automatic universe; it abolishes miracle and special intervention, approximates the Deity to an impersonal principle like gravitation, and hovers perilously on the brink of atoms and void. Or (to rephrase the philosophical objection in practical terms) it presents an entirely unfamiliar conception of the Godhead, to which mere intellectual inertia, supported by profound emotions, is bound to offer vehement resistance.’

In his reply to Darwin’s letter in the Gardener’s Chronicle, Matthew explained precisely why notions of heresy prevented him and other naturalists from promoting his discovery in the first half of the 19th century (Matthew 1860b, p. 433):

I notice in your Number April 21st Mr. Darwin's letter honourably acknowledging my prior claim relative to the origin of species. I have not the least doubt that in publishing his late work he believed he was the first discoverer of this law Nature. He is however wrong in thinking that naturalist was aware of the previous discovery. I had occasion some 15 years ago to be conversing with a naturalist, a professor of a celebrated university, and he told me he had been reading my work “Naval Timber,” but that he could not bring such views before his class or uphold them publicly from fear of the cutty-stool[2], a sort of pillory punishment…’

Matthew focused his most heretical ideas on natural selection in the appendix of NTA, which is not at all indicative that he failed appreciate their enormous implications. What better place to put heresy than in an appendix? What better way for any reader to know exactly where to look first to find dangerous ideas? Were NTA to face a ban, the appendix could be severed without spoiling the entire book. Indeed, there is evidence from other cases that this was Matthew’s likely motive. For example, John Whitehurst (1778) writing at the time of Darwin’s grandfather did the exact same thing with his heresy on evolution. And more than two decades before Lord Mondobbo’s (1774) and Buffon’s (1775) heretical assertions on the topic of apes resembling humans, the same appendix ploy was used to contain an argument that humans are the same species as apes (Edwards 1751).

The, failure to take it forward argument against Matthew’s claim to greatness

Having disproven Darwin’s excuses for why no one would have read NTA, it is pertinent to examine another argument for denying Matthew full priority and scientific recognition as an immortal great thinker. This next argument has it that Matthew failed to develop his ideas beyond what he wrote in NTA, which, incidentally, ignores the fact that he did take those ideas forward for humans in Emigration Fields (see Dempster 1996). This ‘failure to proceed’ argument, blended with a ‘no impact whatsoever’ belief, can be seen in Mayr’s (1982, p. 500) reasoning:

‘Patrick Matthew undoubtedly had the right idea, just like Darwin did on September 28, 1838, but he did not devote the next twenty years to converting it into a cogent theory of evolution. As a result it had no impact whatsoever.’

Contrary to Mayr’s thinking, the conventions of scientific priority (Merton 1957) do not demand that a discoverer must personally take their discovery forward, or to demonstrate that they fully appreciated what they discovered. If simply taking one’s own discovery forward is a necessary condition of scientific greatness then Higgs would not have won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics, because other scientists, not Higgs, found proof of his hypothetical Higgs-Boson particle. And Fleming should not be hailed as the discoverer of penicillin. Instead, we should be celebrating Howard Florey and Ernst Chain. Because it was they who discovered Fleming’s obscure published comment on his discovery. And it was not Fleming but they who then did something further with that discovery (Fletcher 1984). Furthermore, Mendel was 16 years dead before anyone understood what he had discovered (Hasan 2005) . Today, therefore, it seems that there are essentially two generally accepted conditions that are necessary for a scientific discoverer to be attributed with absolute incontestable priority. What we might term Condition I is being first to publish (see Merton 1957) and Condition II, as evidenced in the rationale for denying Matthew full priority over Darwin and Wallace, is proving the originator significantly influenced the work of subsequent and important pioneers in the field.

Whilst it is important to note that the history of scientific discovery has many typical examples of precursory influence not being a zero-sum game (Shermer 2002), what is different and most unusual in the story of Matthew, Darwin and Wallace is that Darwin and Wallace each claimed that it was a zero sum game, because, despite Matthew fulfilling Condition I they claimed absolutely zero prior-knowledge of NTA. Therefore, contrary to the scientific principle of nullius in verba, enshrined within the motto of the Royal Society since 1663, on the word alone of Darwin and Wallace, yet in the historical absence of any disconfirming evidence, Matthew is effectively said to have failed to satisfy Condition II. However, we now know that Matthew did fulfil Condition II, by way of influencing the naturalist who influenced the naturalist. Because Loudon (1832), reviewed NTA, then edited and published Blyth’s (1835; 1836) hugely influential journal articles.

Part II of this article examines the influence of six further naturalists who read NTA, revealing that two played roles far greater than Blyth’s in Darwin’s and Wallace’s published ‘discoveries.’ Before then however, having established that other naturalists did read NTA, and having disproven Darwin’s excuses for not reading the book, it is necessary to examine further evidence in order to determine the likelihood that Wallace and Darwin could have avoided reading the one book, above all others, that both really needed to read.

Advertised, reviewed and cited: If seven other naturalists could read and then cite NTA pre-Origin then why not Darwin and Wallace?

Wainwright (2008) provides disconfirming evidence for Darwin’s excuse that NTA was an obscure book by an obscure author by identifying two anonymously authored reviews: one in the Edinburgh Literary Journal (1831) and one in the Gardener’s Magazine (1832). The latter, as Matthew informed Darwin, was in fact authored by Loudon (see Matthew 1860a). In addition to those valuable findings, NTA was advertised in the London Literary Gazette (1831), and The Magazine of Natural History and Journal[3] (1831, p.571), both of which mention the topic of varieties, species and their geographic location. NTA was cited in Arcana of Science and Art (1832), and in an eight volume collection on the trees and shrubs of Britain (Loudon 1838). It was cited in an encyclopaedia on gardening (Loudon 1835). NTA was even listed within the Library of Congress (1840 p.127), having been cited two years earlier (Woodbury 1838) in a United States Congress debate.

In addition to many more reviews and citations, NTA was advertised for years by its Edinburgh publisher Adam and Charles Black. Whenever Matthew’s Emigration Fields (1839) was advertised in a publication, NTA was promoted via the strap-line: ‘By Patrick Matthew, author of Naval Timber and Arboriculture’. Both books were typically advertised together as follows (Roger, 1849 p.250):


North America, the Cape, Australia, and New Zealand, describing these Countries, and giving a comparative view of the advantages they present to British Settlers. By Patrick Matthew, Author of "Naval Timber and Arboriculture." With two Folio Maps, engraved by Sydney Hall. Post 8vo, 3s. 6d. cloth." The information contained in this work is of such a nature, that every one who has an intention of emigrating, should, before fixing upon any country as his future residence, consult the EMIGRATION FIELDS."



Being a Treatise on that subject, with Critical Notes on Authors who have recently treated the subject of planting. By Patrick Matthew. 8vo, 12s. cloth’.

The Athenaeum, which was the journal of Darwin’s and Joseph Hooker’s favourite gentleman’s club of the same name[4] advertised NTA and Emigration fields, then published a two page review of the latter (The Athenaeum 1839, p.v; pp. 476-477). Darwin’s co-authored book (King et al 1839) was advertised and reviewed on pages 446 to 449 in this very edition of the Athenaeum. We know Darwin read that publication, because his private notebook of ‘Books to Read and Books Read’( Darwin 1838 -51) reveals that he had extensive knowledge of what was in this particular 1839 edition of the Athenaeum. Darwin wrote in his ‘books to read’ section of his notebook:

‘Athenaeum 1839. p. 546[5] — Mr Conrad has published work on fossil shells of N. America. And ‘Dr Moreton's Crania Americana. with remarks on geograph distrib of Man. Mentioned by Athenaeum 1839 p. 765. in Geograph. Soc??’

Contrary to the impression given by Vorzimmer (1977), Darwin was not at all meticulous in recording which books he read, because the Athenaeum (1839) is not included in Darwin’s ‘books read’ section of his private notebook. We know he read it, however, because in the ‘books to read’ section of that same notebook he used it several times as a source of references for other sources.

We should further note that there is no mention of NTA in any of Darwin’s ‘Books to Read and Books Read’ notebooks until Matthew’s (1860a) claim to priority letter was published in the Gardener’s Chronicle (see: Darwin 1852-60). However, those notebooks were not started until 1838. Returning from the voyages of the Beagle still believing that species were immutable, it is by way of what Darwin wrote in his 1837-38 private Zoonomia notebook, that it is generally agreed that 1837 was the year he appears to have first come to terms with the probability of natural selection being the solution to the origin of species (see Sulloway 1982, 1984). Most notably, Matthew’s expert subject of fruit trees is the very first topic covered in first sentence of that notebook (Darwin 1837-1838.p. 1):

‘Two kinds of generation the coeval kind, all individuals absolutely similar, for instance fruit trees, probably polypi, gemmiparous propagation, bisection of Planaria, &c., &c.’

Later in the same notebook he wrote about pippin apples:

‘Never They die, without they change; like Golden Pippens [sic] it is a generation of species like generation of individuals.’

Two years before the publication of NTA, Matthew (1829 p.467-477) sent the Caledonian Horticultural Society of Edinburgh an account of the varieties of apples and pears in his famous orchard in the highly fertile Carse of Gowrie in Scotland. Besides extensive information on grafting and hybridizing, here Matthew wrote of the rarity of his own Scarlet Golden Pippin, of which he possessed only one tree, believed to have come from the seed of the common Golden Pippin variety ‘sporting in the progeny’. Most importantly, Darwin actually read Matthew’s (1829) account, because his notebook (Darwin 1838 to 1851) – records that he read the Memoirs of the Caledonian Horticultural Society of Edinburgh for the years 1814-32.

Further contrary evidence to disconfirm the myth of Matthew being an obscure writer on an obscure subject of no interest to Darwin, or other naturalists, the literature reveals that pre-Origin, Matthew’s name and his books were advertised and cited on the very same page with the World’s most famous writers – incidentally, some of whom were Darwin’s friends and correspondents. For example:

  1. With Charles Lyell in The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c. 1839. On page 56.
  2. With William Hooker (1850). Loudon's Hortus Britannicus: a catalogue of all the plants indigenous in or introduced to Britain. (Part 1). On page 477.
  3. With John Lindley in Loudon’s (1835) An Encyclopædia of Gardening: Comprising the Theory and Practice of Horticulture, Floriculture, Arboriculture and landscape Gardening. On Page xxxii.
  4. With Captain FitzRoy of the Beagle in The New Zealand Journal April 29th (1843). On page 98.
  5. With Darwin’s publisher John Murray, in The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, Etc (1831). On Page 47.
  6. With the ‘Vestiges of Creation’ (anonymous author Robert Chambers) The Edinburgh Literary Journal: Or, Weekly Register of Criticism .Volume 4. July – December (1830). On page 48.
  7. With Sir Humphrey Davy in Scientific Books Published in 1831. In Arcana of Science and Art (1832). On page 303.
  8. With Samuel Pepys (Loudon 1844). in ‘List of books referred to’ of Arboretum et fruticetum britannicum: or, The trees and shrubs of Britain. Vol. 1 On page ccxi.
  9. With Sir John Frederick William Herschel. The Quarterly Review[6]. Volume 60. (1839). On page 345
  10. With Aulus Cornelius Celsus, the 1st Century Roman medical encyclopaedist, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1842). Volume 4. On page 407.

Far from being obscure in the first half of the 19th century, NTA was extensively and prominently advertised. One such advert takes up three quarters of one of the opening pages of the then extremely influential Encyclopaedia Britannica (1842). This advertisement is particularly pertinent because it informs the reader that NTA is a scientific book about species:

Scientific Arboriculture for the use of The British Proprietors. A Treatise on Naval Timber and Arboriculture

By Patrick Matthew

In embracing the Philosophy of Plants, the interesting subject of Species and Variety is considered, – the principle of the natural location of vegetables is distinctly shewn, – the principle also which in the untouched wild “keeps unsteady nature to her law” inducing conformity in species and preventing deterioration of breed is explained, – and the causes of the variation and deterioration of cultivated forest-trees pointed out.

Sample of Venom – “A vulgar, petulant and outrageous abuse” (of recent writers on Arboriculture) To give any idea of the coarseness, the virulence, the malignity, and utter absurdity, of the style of attack that is here opened upon them, is impossible.” – “Waspish spirit”!!!! Edinburgh Literary Journal.

A heart of oak sort of frankness which we richly value and we relish, moreover the characteristic manliness of his style, albeit from turning from analysis to synthesis, he dissects several well known authorities with such keenness, that were their names suspended over our timber nurseries they would act as beacons rather than decoys. The terseness of his language, from its fullness and patriotic bearing, need's no apology.” –“ In thus testifying our hearty approbation of this author, it is strictly in his capacity of a forest-ranger, where he is original, bold, and evidently experienced in all the arcana of the parentage, birth, and education of trees.” – Mr Matthew successively treats of the wood suitable for plank and for timber, and of the best modes of treating British forest trees so as to procure straight boards, bends and crooks, with a decision evidently conferred by a practical knowledge of the subject. The whole of his advice on these needs will be thankfully received by those who properly estimate the value of durability in vessels destined to buffet the ocean. United Service Journal.

“In recommending this work to landed proprietors we shall therefore only remark that it displays an intelligent and cultivated mind, and an evident practical study of the subject –.” Farmer's Journal.

“This is a sensible and clever practical work. We find in Part IV. judicious notices of the authors who treat of Arboriculture, who have already appeared before the public on these there are very just comments – Every timber grower will read Mr Matthew's work to advantage. It is earnestly and rationally written.” – Metropolitan Magazine.’

The ‘books read’ section of Darwin’s (1838 1851) notebook reveals that he read at least five publications that cited, or else had in them, articles about both Patrick Matthew and NTA. They are:

1. The Athenæum (1839) (Block advertisement for NTA and Review of Emigration Fields).[7]

2. Loudon (1831) (Citing Matthew in Bibliography).

3. Loudon (1838) (Article citing Matthew).

4. The Gardener’s Magazine (1841) (In response to NTA, article throwing down a challenge to Matthew on tree pruning).

5. Memoirs of the Caledonian Horticultural Society of Edinburgh (1814-1832) Published letter by Matthew (1829) on fruit and hybridizing trees. Also block advertisement for NTA (1831).

The same notebook reveals that Darwin read at least 10 books on forest trees, fruit trees, olive trees and arboriculture. Namely: Loudon (1838); Eveyln (1664); Boutcher (1775); Forsyth (1791); Barck (1762); Loudon (1822); Knight (1797); Agricola (1721); Head (1829) and Hillhouse (1818). An online search through all the annotations that Darwin pencilled on the books in his personal library at Down[8] reveals that he wrote, either in the margins or elsewhere on the page, at least 62 annotations on the subject of trees. Many of these are notes about fruit trees and hybridization, core themes in NTA.

This data further disconfirms the myth that Darwin missed reading NTA because it was on a different topic to books that he was likely to read. Furthermore, Darwin’s unpublished essay of 1844 reveals his great interest in trees as key to understanding natural selection as an analogue of artificial selection, was remarkably similar to Matthew’s discovery. Matthew, who elsewhere in NTA (p. 280-285, 366) wrote about the relative hardiness of naturally selected crab apple trees compared with artificially selected hybridized apple trees, wrote (Matthew 1831, p. 308):

‘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…

In his unpublished essay of 1844, Darwin wrote:

‘In the case of forest trees raised in nurseries, which vary more than the same trees do in their aboriginal forests, the cause would seem to lie in their not having to struggle against other trees and weeds, which in their natural state doubtless would limit the conditions of their existence…’

Eiseley (1979) thought that this replication of ideas alone was sufficient proof that Darwin had read NTA and plagiarised Matthew.[9]

Darwin and his great friend, Joseph Hooker, had almost three decades before the publication of the Origin to respond to the many reviews, advertisements and citations, all of which encouraged those interested in species and economic botany to read NTA. That fact should not be allowed to pass without seeking to weigh the likelihood that either scientist, so obviously interested in trees and species, could avoid reading NTA when their friends and associates, had read it. The evidence is overwhelming: Darwin and Wallace had no reasonable excuse for not reading the book containing the ideas they replicated. On which note, we turn now to Part II of this article in order to reveal the names and examine the relevant details of the seven naturalists who did read NTA. The premise behind the rationale for conducting the research that informs Part II is that the existence of any number of naturalists who read NTA further refutes Darwin’s and Wallace’s excuses for being unaware of Matthew’s ideas. Moreover, the size of that number, connected socially or professionally to either Darwin or Wallace must correspondingly to each, exponentially implicate them as science fraudsters and liars for claiming that neither they nor any other naturalist known to them was aware of Matthew’s ideas pre-Origin.

Part II

The Seven Naturalists who cited NTA pre-Origin: An analysis of their social and professional associations with Darwin and Wallace

The seven naturalists who read NTA before Darwin’s and Wallace’s papers (Darwin and Wallace 1858) were read before the Linnean Society are, in date order of their citing Matthew’s book: Robert Chambers (1832), John Loudon (1832), Edmund Murphy (1834), Cuthbert Johnson (1842), Prideaux John Selby (1842), John Norton (1851) (see Stephens and Norton), and William Jameson (1853).

Robert Chambers

In March 1832 Robert Chambers was the first of at least seven naturalists to read NTA and comment upon Matthew’s unique ideas (Chambers 1832). He cited NTA, on the subject of arboriculture. We can discern that Robert Chambers, rather than his brother William, wrote the column that cited Matthew, because Robert did all the writing for Chambers’ Journal at its inception, before entering into partnership in the journal with William (see Secord 2000).

Chambers is the anonymous author of the Vestiges of Creation (1844). Darwin (1861a p. xv-xvi) and Wallace (1845) acknowledged that the Vestiges was a major influence on their work on organic evolution.

Millhauser, who wrote the authoritative text on the Vestiges, failed to discover that Chambers read and cited NTA, He did, however, think it likely that Chambers knew Matthew (Millhauser 1959, p.82):

As for Patrick Matthew, his Naval Timber had involved him in a feud (over methods of transplanting) with Chambers’ friend Steuart of Alanton, whose own work on arboriculture the Journal had reviewed; it is thus altogether probable that he knew Matthew too.

Chambers (1840) followed Matthew’s later work, citing Emigration Fields (Matthew 1839) regarding the ill-effects of tobacco smoking.

In 1844, the year in which Darwin penned his second unpublished essay on natural selection, Chambers anonymously published the Vestiges – a book described by one great authority on the subject as ‘the most widely discussed work on science ever published’ (Secord 2000, p. 460).

Chambers and Darwin met, conducted personal correspondence and Darwin was fully aware, as early as early as 1847, that Chambers was the secret author of the heretical Vestiges, because Chambers gave Darwin a copy of the book, leading him to ‘know’ that he was its secret author.[10] Darwin (1847) shared that intelligence with Joseph Hooker. Most significantly, Chambers, being a gentleman geologist, was a friend and correspondent of Darwin’s great friend and Geological mentor, Charles Lyell.

Another fact of particular note is that in 1848 Chambers was mentored in his political career by NTA’s Scottish publisher Adam Black (see Secord 2000). Most remarkably, Black, like Chambers, was part of Darwin’s social network. This is established by way of what happened when, in 1845, Darwin’s best friend Joseph Hooker applied for the Chair of Botany at the University of Edinburgh. The professorial appointment that Hooker sought included responsibility for the Royal Botanic Gardens of Scotland, which meant that local politicians had considerable influence regarding who should be appointed. Hooker collected some 153 testimonials to support his application, which the Town Council sought to block since it had not been consulted on the fact that the Crown invited Hooker to apply (see Huxley 1918, pp. 204-205). Professor Forbes, of Edinburgh University, sent-on Darwin’s letter of support for Hooker to Adam Black, who was then Lord Provost of the city (Darwin 1845). When Hooker’s application was unsuccessful, Darwin was both shocked and angry (e.g. see: Darwin 1845b).

Of particular note is the fact that Darwin asked Chambers to review the Origin, and in his review Chambers (1859) was apparently the first to second publish Matthew’s unique term ‘natural process of selection’, rather than Darwin’s unique anagrammatical replication: ‘process of natural selection.’[11]

John Loudon

In November 1832 the famous gardener, botanical naturalist, editor, publisher and engineer, John Loudon, wrote a very positive book review of NTA in The Gardener’s Magazine (Loudon 1832). Wainwright (2008; 2011) emphasised the fact that, contrary to Darwin’s claim that Matthew’s ideas went unread, NTA was reviewed at least twice, though anonymously. In actual fact, Matthew’s first letter in the Gardener’s Chronicle informed Darwin that one of those anonymous reviewers was Loudon (Matthew 1860a p.312):

…reviewed in numerous periodicals, so as to have full publicity in the "Metropolitan Magazine," the "Quarterly Review," the "Gardeners' Magazine," by Loudon, who spoke of it as the book…

In 1803, when Matthew was just fifteen years of age, Loudon drew the plans for landscaping what are now the parklands of Scone Palace (Canfield 2002), which bordered Matthew's aristocratic birthplace of Rome Farm. It seems likely they would have met.

A prolific author and fellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal Society and a corresponding member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Loudon was a friend and correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks (Canfield 2002) and William Hooker (Loudon 1839). William Hooker’s close friend and fellow economic botanist, John Lindley, greatly assisted Loudon (1829) to compile his Encyclopaedia of Plants (See Holway 2013).

Lindley was a correspondent of Darwin’s (see: Darwin Correspondence Project 2014) and another who was a great friend of William Hooker. Both Hooker and Lindley had their own works reviewed in the same volume in which Matthew’s NTA was reviewed (Loudon 1832). As noted earlier in this article, the review of Lindley’s book was directly above that of NTA, and Lindley (1859, 1853) then went on to write two books that dealt with the topic of naval timber.

William Hooker was a friend of Darwin and was the father of Darwin’s best friend and botanical mentor Joseph Hooker. Moreover, Wallace was a friend, correspondent and supplier of specimens to William Hooker, who kindly wrote a letter of introduction (Knapp, Sanders and Baker 2002. p. 110) for Wallace and his associate Bates:

‘Hooker wrote a letter of introduction for both men to use in Brazil (Bates & Wallace 1848), which would be useful for opening doors that would otherwise be closed to two impecunious young Englishmen.’

It seems quite likely that Loudon would have discussed NTA’s unique ideas on the ‘origin of species’ with Lindley since both were, according to Millhauser, interested in the problem of species. Millhauser (1959, p.72):

‘Four academic botanists – E.M. Fries, James E. Smith, J.C Loudon, and John Lindley – subscribed about 1828, to the opinion that certain plant species might, under environmental stimulus, metamorphose into one another.’

Edmund Murphy

Murphy (1834), landscape gardener, agricultural scientist and journal editor, was the third naturalist to cite NTA. He cited it on the topic of tree pruning. Murphy held appointments as Professor of Agriculture at Galloway College and Queens College Cork. He was Editor of 'The Agricultural and Industrial Journal' and authored many works, including his "Treatise on the Agricultural Grasses,' and of 'The Farmer's Guide.' Murphy is perhaps most famous for authoring The Agricultural Instructor in 1849, which sought to connect scientific knowledge with practice in agriculture.

Cuthbert Johnson

Johnson (1842) cited Matthew on the subject of pruning. He was joint founder of the Mark Lane Express and Agricultural Journal. Like Darwin, he was a fellow of the Royal Society. Johnson published many books, including a farming encyclopaedia.

Prideaux John Selby

The ornithologist and wildlife artist Prideaux John Selby cited NTA 23 times in his own book on trees (Selby 1842). Selby went on to edit and publish Wallace’s (1855) Sarawak paper.

Whilst compiling his 1842 book on British Forest Trees, Selby wrote to his friend William Jardine on 19th December 1840 (see Jackson 1992 p.86): ‘Would it be giving you too much trouble to look out for me a copy of Matthew’s treatise of Naval Timber…’ In his own book, Selby, (1842; p. 391) would criticise Matthew’s (1831) notion of ‘greater power of occupancy’, but elsewhere in the tome his many comments about NTA were positive.

A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Selby sat on numerous committees with Darwin. He, as likely as not, knew Darwin by way of their long-standing mutual senior capacities at the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Linnean Society. He was a friend and correspondent of many in Darwin’s inner circle, including William Hooker, (see: Brock and Meadows 1998). Selby was also a friend of Darwin’s great friend and prolific correspondent Leonard Jenyns. What's more, Darwin’s father was a guest at Selby’s house (Jackson 1992). Selby and Darwin’s good friend Thomas Huxley (AKA Darwin’s Bulldog) were also members of the Ray Society. Selby was an associate of Darwin’s geological mentor Charles Lyell, in the capacity of being an 1831 founding member and Vice President of the British Association, at the time Lyell was a member of its council.

Eight months after Selby edited and published Wallace’s Sarawak paper, Lyell visited Darwin in order to persuade him into publishing his research on natural selection sooner rather than later.

John Norton

In 1851 John P Norton, the agricultural scientist, cited NTA regarding the benefit of growing naval timber in hedgerows in “the Book of the Farm” which he co-authored with the agriculturalist Stevens (Stephens and Norton 1851). In 1846 Norton was Professor of Scientific Agriculture and Vegetable and Animal Physiology at Yale. He produced a series of books including ‘Elements of Scientific Agriculture’ and published many papers. Norton undertook two study tours of Europe whilst working on soil science. For his important contribution to science, a small statue commentating Norton is on the Edmond Amateis bronze doors at Washington DC.

William Jameson

In (1853) Jameson cited NTA with regard to economic botany. Jameson was a botanist, Deputy Surgeon-General, and Garden Superintendant for the East India Company at Saharanpur, India, from 1844 to 1875 (see Rose 2009). He enjoyed an international reputation as a first-class natural scientist and administrator, famously pioneering tea planting in India. Jameson published widely, including in the Transactions of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (Jameson 1866). He also supplied seeds to William Hooker at Kew. One such particularly important delivery of seeds was notably received by Robert Lindley (see: Curtis’s 1863)[12].

If William Hooker, whose job at Kew was to keep abreast of knowledge on economic botany for the benefit of the British Empire, had not read NTA pre-Origin, and was unaware of Matthew’s international reputation as a ground-breaking economic botanist, the lapse is somewhat astonishing, because Jameson (1853 p.307) wrote on Matthew’s unique discovery that natural selection, through power of occupancy by other species, actually prevents certain trees from growing in the wild in soil far more suitable to their vigorous growth:

This opinion regarding the value of sites where Pine trees are grown is not, we are aware, in accordance with those of many: but we here give facts as exhibited in the Himalayas. Matthew in his treatise on naval timber, states that the Pinus sylvestris, if grown on good or rich soil, attains rapidly large dimensions and its best timber properties.’

In 1854, the year after Jameson cited that unique and valuable commercial forestry information from page 301 of the main body of NTA,[13] William Hooker, who was empowered to make such decisions for the East India Company, refused Jameson’s request for promotion in favour of his own protégée (see Arnold 2006, pp. 161-162).

Overall, the degree of Darwin’s and Wallace’s scientific and social involvement with those who had read that book is damming, so too is the extent of their involvement with other naturalists closely associated with those who read it.

Dempster (2005 p. 125-183) uniquely synthesised the literature in the field of pre-Origin organic and inorganic evolution to explain the influence of Cuvier and Lamarck upon Matthew’s thinking, and which of their ideas he rejected. The reason that Matthew, who was fluent in French, failed to cite those French influencers is undoubtedly in no small part due to a British moral panic in the first half of the 19th century that such heretical authors helped fuel the French Revolution. What the new evidence presented in this paper reveals is that Matthew’s (1831) improvement on the ideas of those great French naturalists is the missing link that was both Darwin’s and Wallace’s genuine Eureka! moment, because, as Dempster (2005, p.154) explains:

‘The second evolutionary paradigm is that of Patrick Matthew (1831), being a modified Cuvier-Lamarckian evolutionary paradigm. Matthew:

  • accepted the catastrophes and mass extinctions of Cuvier;
  • continued Cuvier’s concept of divergence of species;
  • agreed with Cuvier’s stability of species;
  • rejected Cuvier’s miraculous creation of species;
  • rejected Lamarck’s transmutation of species and presents a completely naturalistic view of earth history.
  • Introduced the new concept of natural selection – a universal law of nature.’

In the year following NTA’s publication, Darwin’s great friend, the famous geologist, Charles Lyell, was active in denying all evidence of geological catastrophes. Lyell’s active catastrophe denial coincided with his denial of the phenomenon in volume II of his Principles of Geology (Lyell 1832). Darwin, adopted Lyell’s uniformitarian belief that catastrophes, of the kind we now believe wiped out many species in different epochs, were a myth. Matthew, however, fully- incorporated catastrophic species extinction into his 1831 conception of natural selection. Rampino (2011) argues on these grounds that Matthew’s writing on this matter is, obviously, now proven superior to Darwin’s. Dempster (2005) notes that since Darwin and Lyell were completely wrong about catastrophes, what is now known as ‘punctuated equilibrium’ (Gould and Eldredge 1977) is essentially another example in a long line of instances of unethical suppression of the facts of Matthew’s influence on Darwinists and neo Darwinists, because Gould and Eldredge do no more than consign Matthew to a footnote, while incorporating his ideas as their own seemingly original thinking.

Part III

A Bombshell for the History of Science


Darwin’s and Wallace’s excuses for having no prior-knowledge of Matthew’s work are refuted by an overwhelming number of disconfirming facts. It is difficult to believe, in light of these newly discovered facts, that Darwin or Wallace could have avoided reading the one book in the world that each really needed to read. The number, prominence and content of advertisements for NTA suggest that Darwin and Wallace would have seen them and would have been sufficiently intrigued; particularly since Darwin spent 28 years hunting down and reading related literature in search of any kind of evidence that might confirm, or disconfirm, the theory of natural selection. Unsurprisingly, therefore, he did read at least five publications that mention NTA.

Contrary to currently accepted knowledge, other naturalists, including at least three known personally to Darwin and Wallace, did have pre-Origin knowledge of Matthew’s discovery. Moreover, those three naturalists were at the centre of Darwin’s and Wallace’s involvement in the field of organic evolution. The most influential papers of Blyth, a naturalist who Darwin (1861a) admitted had served him as a most valuable informant and influencer, were edited and published by John Loudon, who read and cited NTA (Loudon 1832) pre-Origin. Robert Chambers (1832), who both Darwin and Wallace freely admitted was a great influence on their work, read and cited NTA pre-Origin. Matthew’s prior discovery of natural selection undoubtedly directly influenced Chambers to write the Vestiges, and from that cause can we be certain that Matthew did, at the very least, indirectly influence Darwin and Wallace to find further evidence to support Matthew’s hypothesis and turn it into a theory. Wallace’s (1855) Sarawak paper’s editor and publisher, Prideaux John Selby (1842), read and cited NTA thirteen years earlier. Moreover, the naturalist William Jardine, co-editor of Wallace’s Sarawak paper, had the book in his possession for some time because he purchased Selby’s copy.

The fact that Loudon, Chambers and Selby, three out of only seven naturalists known to have definitely read NTA pre-Origin, played such dynamic roles at the very core of influence and facilitation of Darwin’s and Wallace’s published work on natural selection can have beyond seeking to explain it away as a coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence pile-up only one rational explanation. Namely, that it is now established beyond any reasonable doubt that Matthew’s discovery influenced both Darwin and Wallace. Matthew’s discovery and his influence fulfil both Condition I and Condition II of the protocols and conventions of scientific priority, thereby satisfying all required criteria for Matthew to be awarded full priority over Darwin and Wallace.

On the haunting question of whether or not Darwin and Wallace deliberately plagiarised NTA and then lied to claim independent discovery, the findings presented in this article together with further evidence regarding other non-naturalist writers who read NTA has been weighed with a comparative computer-mediated plagiarism analysis of Darwin’s and Wallace’s published and unpublished work. Findings from an analysis of that wider investigation lead the author (Sutton 2014) to conclude that Darwin and Wallace committed the World’s greatest science fraud


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[1] Although the actual review was anonymous, in his 1860 letter in the Gardener’s Chronicle Matthew explained that it was penned by Loudon, the magazine’s editor.

[2] In late 18th and early 19th century Scotland, heretics, fornicators and other ‘sinners’ were obliged by the church authorities to stand upon three legged wooden stools, known as cutty, or cuttie, stools, as a mark of shame.

[3] Wallace went on to publish in 1855 his Sarawak paper in this journal.

[4] The Athenaeum was founded by the father of Darwin’s publisher John Murray (Carpenter 2008).

[6] Published by John Murray, the publishers of Darwin’s Origin of Species.

[7] This is the journal of the Gentleman’s club. Of which Darwin had been a member since 1839. Joseph Hooker joined in 1850.

[8] Available at Click on the Darwin Collection, then on ‘annotations’.

[9] Note also that Matthew’s paragraph is from the main body of NTA, not from its appendix.

[10] This gift is evidence that Chambers knew Darwin was working in the field of the origin of species. Why else would he risk giving Darwin a gift of his anonymously authored book, which covered the same heretical subject?

[11] From an analysis based upon a precise term and date filtered search through the scanned documents in Google’s archive of 30 million publications.

[12] Coincidentally, the relevant edition of that copy of Curtis’s, which is available in Google’s Library, was donated to the University Harvard Herbarium by none other than the US Botanist and friend of Darwin and the Hookers - Asa Gray.

[13] The relevant text is reproduced in Part I of the article you are currently reading,

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