Wednesday, 10 August 2016


Here is my reply to an ad hominem of Mike Sutton. For some mysterious reason this, my response, keeps vanishing from Larry Moran's blog called Sandwalk. So I decided to put it on here together with some preliminaries. Now it's back up there making for a double posting.

[Update 10.08.2016: The Sandwalk swallowed it all again. Anyway, it seems to be more stable here.]

Preliminary comments to which I replied:

Patrick Matthew: Plagiarist or Knowledge Contaminated Miscreant?

Big Data research using Google has revealed that Scottish fruit grower and self-proclaimed discoverer of the principle of natural selection, Patrick Matthew, 'lifted' his supposed breakthrough from fellow Scott James Hutton (1726 - 1797). Hutton, a fellow agriculturalist and noted naturalist, is the first person known to have published the theory of natural selection. He proposed the idea in his 1794 book "An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge and of the Progress of Reason, from sense to science and philosophy", some 37 years before Matthew published the same concept in his work "On Naval Timber and Arboriculture" (see

It is probable that the "very well read" Matthew studied Hutton's book, after all Hutton was not only a fellow Scott, but a famous naturalist and an agriculturalist to boot. Evidence that Matthew probably plagiarised Hutton was provided by mysterious blogger "Joachim D." on his site "Natural Histories" ( Joachim D. demonstrated how Matthew used suspiciously similar phrases to Hutton when discussing evolutionary change, such as:

"adapted to the locality" (Matthew) vs "adapted to the particular situation and circumstances" (Hutton

"organized matter/ being/ existence" (Matthew) vs "organised bodies" (Hutton)

"infinite variety" (Matthew) vs "indefinite variety" (Hutton)

Even if Matthew did not read Hutton's work and the similarities between the above phrases are merely three coincidences, the likelihood is that many of Matthew's friends and colleagues would have studied Hutton's book and therefore Matthew was "knowledge contaminated" via them. Either way, Matthew can no longer be regarded as an independent discoverer of natural selection...


  1. You cannot be serious? The phrases are nothing alike. And the fact you cite such silliness by Dr Dagg (aka Joachim D.) of all people sums you up George. Fools of a feather flock together.

    You had to replicate the silliness of another abusive and trollish bitter and unoriginal person. That's the best you have?

    Moreover, it is you who repeatedly reveal your own incredible ignorance in your own field of self-proclaimed expertise (again and again and again), because Hutton never even originated macroevolution by natural selection - only Matthew did that. Ask a proper scholar. Go read a proper journal article etc. Not a troll's silly bitter and unoriginal blog.

    Next after Matthew came Darwin and Walace - whose friends and influencers and their influencer's influencers DID read Matthew - and I originally discovered that.

    Was Matthew in some way knowledge contaminated by Hutton. I suspect he was. It seems reasonable. But where is the evidence George. You and Dagg have zero evidence. The terms are completely dissimilar. And even if you got identical terms you would need to show that out of 35 million publications Hutton apparently originated the term and Matthew was apparently second with it. Now he fact neither you nor Dagg can do that shows something doesn't it George. It shows how hard it is to discover such a finding.

    So you went away to find someone who Matthew knew who cited Wells (Wells came closest but missed a lot that Matthew later got). Did you find anyone? No. Why not? 
My reply from 9 August 2016:

I am just exposing the many mistakes of Mike Sutton so that other scholars know what they are talking about, when Sutton claims “facts.” To highlight these mistakes on Sutton’s part is neither bitter nor trollish (as he claims above) but scientific, because the discussion right here [that is, at Sandwalk] is conducted as if all the things that Sutton has written in his book were absolutely true and “facts” to be taken note of by deluded Darwinians.

The list of mistakes is long and therefore their exposure comes in a series with, now, 7 parts. 

Part 1 is a blog post showing that Sutton misread Matthew (1831) and Part 7 is another. A highlight in the latter is when Sutton does not even realize where Matthew is only quoting Steuart, in order to criticize and ridicule him, and re-quotes it as if it was originally from Matthew.

Part 2 is a blog post showing that Sutton misidentified authors as re-using phrases of Matthew without citing Matthew (1831). Some highlights are a foreign minister of the USA recounting a parlor game among British politicians and diplomats, in which the question was about the staff of the High Lord carrying it in order to “beat off intruders,” that Sutton mistook to be a re-use of Matthew’s phrase used when Matthew discussed trees that can, after having established themselves, beat off intruders, but will not establish themselves in certain soils in the first place, because of frost or other environmental conditions preventing their establishment.
     Other highlights are his mistaking a theater critique with a scientific writing, his mistaking a judges verdict with a scientific writing etc. etc. This post is extremely long, but it is well worth reading to get a gist of Sutton’s scholarship.

Part 3 and Part 4 are blog posts showing that even when authors did actually cite Matthew (1831), they usually did so in relation to practical matters of pruning trees, transplanting them, manuring them, but not in relation to the idea of natural selection (survival of the fittest) and never in relation to the idea that natural selection might transform species. The only exception is an anonymous review in the "Gardener’s Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette" in 1832 said to be of John Loudon.
     Selby, in particular, completely misunderstood Matthew’s point about competitive exclusion and dismissed it. If anything, Selby is evidence of the opposite of what Sutton claims. He put on record that he did not understand Matthew’s idea about natural selection and species transformation as clear as possible (same goes for Chambers).

The blog post (Part 5) showing that Hutton used strikingly similar phrases as both Matthew and Darwin has already been mentioned by George Beccaloni (P.S. most people know that Megaloblatta is Beccaloni, no conspiracy there).

Part 6 is a blog post showing that the application of pure logic leads to the conclusion that Darwin did NOT regard Loudon as a naturalist. Admittedly, when you ask ten scholars with credentials in history of the meaning of the term naturalist to Victorians, you get 20 different opinions. But that is irrelevant. The question is whether Darwin did or did not regard Loudon as a naturalist. There’s no clear external evidence that he did. He never called him one in any of the preserved letters. It may be interesting to note that Walther May, in 1912, translated the term naturalist with “Naturforscher.” This means “natural scientist” or “natural researcher” or “natural explorer” rather than simply “Naturalist.”  

And by the way, here is a translation of Walther May's review from 1912 of Matthew's book from 1831.

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