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Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.

On Knowledge Contamination: A note of explanation for the story of Matthew, Darwin and Wallace

Jan. 24, 2015 2:16 pm

The Newly Discovered Likelihood of Matthewian Knowledge Contamination is the Skeleton at Darwin's and Wallace's Feast of their Independent Discovery of Natural Selection


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Skeleton at the Feast

Natural scientists like to tell us that it is not possible to 100 per cent prove or disprove something. If you make such a claim some love to bray at you that you are no scientist. But it is they that are wrong. Because I have 100% disproved the Darwinist myth (started by Darwin in 1860) that no naturalist known to him had read Patrick Matthew's prior-published hypothesis of natural selection pre 1858. And I have 100% proved it so that they did!

Although I am of the opinion that the combined weight of the New Evidence presented in my book, Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret, is enough to conclude that it is more likely than not Darwin and Wallace committed science fraud by plagiarizing Patrick Matthew's 1831 prior-published hypothesis of natural selection, it is important to stress that deliberate plagiarism is just one type of possible knowledge contamination in this and any other story of the replication of a prior published original idea..

In Nullius I reveal many examples of new discoveries about who we newly know did read Matthew's book, and what books they subsequently wrote that included natural selection relevant information. In light of these new facts, Matthew's unique prior-published knowledge could have passed to Darwin and Wallace in three broad ways. Although Darwin only is mentioned in these typical examples as the potential recipient, Darwin and/or Wallace may each have been subject to any one, two or all of these three sub-types before 1858, which is the year when their papers on the same topic were read before the Linnean Society, and the year before Darwin's Origin of Species was first published.

A typology of knowledge contamination

  1. Innocent Knowledge Contamination: The spread of unique ideas from Matthew's 1831 book via (a) other published sources on the topic, which failed to cite Matthew as their source, (b) word of mouth and/or correspondence to Darwin by those who read Matthew's book - understood its importance in whole or simply in part - but failed to tell Darwin about the existence of the book.
  2. Reckless or Negligent Knowledge Contamination: (a) Darwin read Matthew's book, absorbed many ideas and examples and terms from it, but forgot all about having read it - and never did remember (b) read it and took notes but forgot the source of the notes, (c) was told about ideas from Matthew's book by someone - who understood their importance in whole or simply in part - told they came from a book, but failed to ask the name of the author and book.
  3. Deliberate Knowledge Contamination (science fraud): Darwin read Matthew's book, took copious notes, remembered what he had done but always pretended otherwise.

Among all the authors, revealed uniquely in Nullius, that I have discovered did both read Matthew's book and also influenced, directly, Darwin and Wallace - and/or influenced those who we know influenced them - are the following important naturalists.These three played major roles at the epicenter of Darwin's and Wallace's pre-1858 written work on natural selection theory:

  1. Loudon And so...(my reasoning goes)
  2. Selby
  3. Chambers


From Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret


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Nullius in Verba

The fact that Loudon, Chambers and Selby, three out of only seven naturalists known to date 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 only one rational explanation—beyond seeking to explain it away as a coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence pile-up. Namely that it is now established beyond any reasonable doubt that Matthew's discovery influenced both Darwin and Wallace. This finding alone means that Matthew's prior-published discovery and his influence on others undoubtedly fulfills, indeed surpasses, all the conditions, protocols and conventions of scientific priority, thereby satisfying all required criteria for Matthew to be awarded full priority over Darwin and Wallace.

You can vote on my open letter to the Royal Society on this issue. Here

Further Reading on Priority and Knowledge Contamination in the Story of Matthew and Darwin

  1. My RationalWiki essay on the topic: Here
  2. The "Talk Page" on my RationalWiki essay on the topic: Here
  3. My Position paper on the new hard data versus the soft old 'knowledge belief' that Darwin and Wallace each immaculately conceived Matthew's prior published hypotheses: Here
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