The Case of Patrick Matthew

patrick_matthewMatthew became extremely interested in trees and how to best grow them for the Royal Navy’s benefit. Wood was used to build the Navy’s warships and without them the British empire would cease to advance. The navy required the best trees and these were the trees that were cut down to supply its demands. Matthew saw a problem in this. If you have a forest of trees and you cut down the best ones then you are left with the weak trees, or those you would not want to use.

What Matthew proposed was a method that would replenish the forest with trees of only the best quality. By systematically removing the trees of poor quality first you could allow the best trees, and the best timber, to propagate. Over time you would have a forest of desirable trees. Perhaps even new varieties of desirable trees.

Matthew published his ideas in a book titled On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. There were a few positive reviews but they were somewhat tepid in their praise. Only a couple happened to notice something else that Matthew had mentioned in his book. A certain passage that appeared in the book’s appendix.  This passage would catch the eyes of Charles Darwin after a letter written by Matthew prompted a mini-drama to play out in the pages of Gardener’s Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette.

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Suggested Reading

Read On Naval Timber and Arboriculture online.

Read The Gardener’s Chronicle article that started the controversy.

Music in the Episode

All music in this episode was composed by Rick Coste

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Rick Coste

Rick Coste is a writer & producer. He is currently producing the audio dramas 'The Behemoth' and 'Scotch'. Future projects include 'Bryar Lane', 'The Fiona Potts Interview', 'Charlie's Mailbox', and 'The Behemoth II'.

46 thoughts on “The Case of Patrick Matthew”

  1. Rick’s podcast is a great introduction to the main points about Matthew’s story. He really brings it to life!

    For anyone eager to learn more, and in particular to read about the section at the end of Matthew’s book that described how natural selection could drive evolution on the grand scale, please check out:

  2. Rick

    Ths is a nice overview but some errors.

    Matthew was not born on the farm he took over. He was born on Rome farm in the grounds of the palace of scone. He took over Gourdiehill house and its orchards (several miles along the Carse of Gowrie from Rome farm.)

    It is quite possible that Matthew aged just 13, met John Loudon. Because in 1803 Loudon, also the son of a farmer, completed his studies at Edinburgh University and begun a career as a landscape gardener

    with proposals for improvements to the grounds of Scone Palace. Loudon’s plans might have included demolishing Rome Farm, because, as said, today the site of Matthew’s birthplace is engulfed by Scone Palace’s extended parklands.

    The polymath engineer, publisher, gardener and botanist John Claudius Loudon – reviewed Matthew’s 1831 book and noted it might have something original to say on “the origin of species – no less. Matthew told Darwin this in his second letter to the Gardeners Chronicle in 1860. Darwin published a fallacy ( a downright deliberate lie I argue) in the third edition of the Origin of species (and every edition thereafter) when he wrote that Matthew’s ideas had passed unnoticed. In all seven naturalists cited Matthew’s book pre-1858, four were known to Darwin/Wallace and three played major roles at the epicentre of their work on natural selection pre-1858. (see Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s greatest secret for these and many more details about who really did read Matthew’s book pre-1858 that disconfirm prior beliefs that Darwin and Wallace discovered natural selection independently of Matthew).

    Your notion of Matthew’s book having a boring an inappropriate name is nuanced in post 19th-century culture. Books on naval timber and books on growing fruit trees were actually deemed very interesting to the Gentlemen of science of the 18th and first half of the 19th century. Do you not know that the two oldest books of the Royal society – and among its most important -are on both silviculture and apple growing?

    Moreover, Matthew’s ideas on natural selection were not limited to its Appendix. In the main body of his book

    his unique term for it “natural process of selection” is in the main body of his book. Darwin (1858) uniquely re-shuffled those exact same four words into “process of natural selection” . In Darwin’s unpublished essay of 1844 Darwin also replicated Matthew’s (from the main body of Matthew’s book) analogue of artificial selection in the form of trees raised in nurseries versus those grown and selected by nature in the wild.

    This and a great deal more evidence besides suggests it is moe likely than not that Matthew DID influenced Darwin with his prior-published theory.

    The “professor of the celebrated university” could well be Matthew’s old schoolmate David Low. See here for the evidence for that:

    I could write far more. But this should be enough to arouse the interest of any open thinker.

    Mike Sutton

  3. Mike: Thanks for the link to your latest verbose, jargonistic and insulting diatribe. Shame you seem unable to present your ideas in a concise and objective way! To reiterate what I have said several times before: there is not a shred of hard evidence that any one of the few people known to have read and cited Matthew’s book actually understood his poorly explained passages about natural selection (if that’s indeed what it was) *OR* that they passed this information on to Darwin or Wallace. As I said in the blog post I referenced above:

    “It is my assessment that IF Matthew did propose natural selection (and this is open to doubt), then it was presented in such a poorly explained way that readers of his book did not know what he was on about. This is why no one discussed Matthew’s idea in print for 27 long years. The way the idea was presented by Matthew was a bit like if Einstein had first published his mass-energy equivalence relation E = mc2 in the middle of a treatise about growing turnips. People may have seen it and thought “what’s that all about?” – and then promptly ignored it.”

    Give us some *hard* evidence that Darwin and Wallace knew about Matthew’s ideas and we will naturally accept what you are (unsuccessfully) attempting to argue. For example, a letter from Loudon to Darwin saying something along the lines of: “My Dear Darwin, I believe you are interested in the subject of species transmutation. Well, have you read Mr Matthew’s intriguing book in which he presents a most curious theory for how one species can transmutate into another? Of course only a heretic would possibly believe in what Mr Matthew proposes…”

  4. Not much to say in response George other than that you clearly don’t know your own topic. Which is weird. But that may explain your palpable pseudo-scholarly panic. Let’s let the New Facts that I discovered speak for themselves. History will decide George.

  5. I don’t suppose you have heard of David Low. After all it is strange is it not that I as a criminologist seem to know so mush more about this topic of your salaried expertise than you do. But look up what Matthew originated, what he replicated of Matthew’s work and look up what Darwin then copied of both. Then study just how closely Low and and Matthew were associated. Then consider the fact that Low influenced Darwin. Does the hard fact induced notion of clear and present knowledge contamination evade your comfortable consciousness so much?

    Let me try to help you out (yawn):

    Firstly let me explain what “knowledge contamination” from a prior published book is and how it happens.

    A typology of knowledge contamination (what follows for Darwin applies equally for Wallace)

    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.

    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 – who told him they came from a book, but Darwin failed to ask the name of the author and book.

    Deliberate Knowledge Contamination (science fraud): Darwin read Matthew’s book, took copious notes, knew that he had done so at a later date, but always pretended otherwise.

    OK – so moving on:

    Logically, the more naturalists who Darwin and Wallace knew – who had read the one book in the world (Matthew 1831) that they most needed to read because they replicated so much from it – exponentially increases the probability that Darwin and Wallace lied when they each claimed to have no prior knowledge of Matthew’s book.

    The highly esteemed science historian Loren Eiseley wrote a famous Darwin celebratory book in 1958 , but as his research deepened he became convinced that Darwin was a downright plagiarist (Eiseley 1981 ) . Eiseley was convinced that Darwin plagiarized Blyth’s two early papers. However, he did not make the connection, as I uniquely have, that Loudon (who cited Matthew in 1832) edited both of Blyth’s early papers. Eiseley was also convinced that Darwin’s (1844 – private essay) replication of Matthew’s artificial selection explanatory example of the inferiority of trees selected in nurseries compared to those selected naturally in nature was taken from Matthew’s unique arboricultural expert and unique use of that example to explain natural selection in his book of 1831 . What Eiseley also never discovered – as once again I uniquely have – is that David Low had most definitely read Matthew’s book because he took so much unique content from it, including unique Matthewian terms, and was first to replicate (without citation) Matthew’s unique prior-published, artificial selection, nursery grown trees analogue, in his own book of 1844 . Most crucially, Darwin knew Low and recommended his book (successfully) to the Royal Society – precisely because of his work that stressed the lessons to be had from studying artificial selection. Moreover, Low – a fellow of the Royal Socety of Edinburgh – was closely networked with both Robert Chambers and Prideaux John Selby – who had both cited Matthew (1831) pre-1858!

    Darwin’s far from comprehensive notebooks of books he wanted to read and books he read have no record of Low’s books that contain two apparently unique Matthewisms that Low was apparently first to replicate. The terms are “Long continued selection” (In Low’s 1834 book ‘ The Elements of Practical Agriculture’) and “Overpowering the less” (In Low’s 1842 ‘On landed property and the economy of estates’). However those notebooks do record the following from Darwin: “Advertised. David Low “Treatise on Domestic Animals”; also Illustrations of the Domestic animals of Gt. Britain [D. Low 1842]. must be read carefully.” Strangely, or not as the case may be, given that he recommended Low to the Royal Society, there is also no correspondence to or from Low in the much decimated Darwin correspondence archive.

    David Low died in May 1859, six months before Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published. He is buried in relative obscurity .

    And if that is not enough to convince the credulous mule-headed Darwin worshipers of the Church of the Immaculate Conception of a Prior Published Theory, then how about the fact that Professor David Low and Matthew were Perth Academy school mates? No – still not enough? Then weigh-in, along with all the other Low connections mentioned so far, the fact that Darwin also replicated the unique Matthewism ‘long continued selection’ that Low also replicated without citation (see Sutton 2104 ); only Low hyphenated it, whereas Darwin used it just as Matthew did when he first coined it. Still not convinced? What if I told you that Low and Matthew shared the same London publisher – Longman and Co (e.g. here or that Low also shared Matthew’s Black’s of Edinburgh publisher ?

    Matthew’s 1831 book was published by Blacks of Edinburgh and Longman and Co of London – exactly as was Low’s (1847) fifth edition of The Elements of Practical Agriculture. If all of that happened, under those circumstance of close social networks, without Matthewian knowledge contamination passing to Darwin pre-1858 through his admitted reading of Low’s work, then surely it would not be irrational to claim that a supernatural miracle really did happen. Because If not directly from reading Matthew’s 1831 book (which he never admitted to doing pre 1860) or through reading Low (as he admitted he did do pre 1858), how could Darwin have replicated Matthew’s artificial selection analogue of trees raised in nurseries without Matthew’s prior-published influence? Perhaps in answer to this mythbusting dis-confirming evidence, Darwinists will be publishing papers claiming that a bearded sky dwelling god intelligently designed Darwin’s brain to work completely independently of all such newly discovered highly-likely influences from Matthew? Of course, the bearded granter of such Darwinist-only “special privileges” would have similarly made an exception for Darwin’s friend David Low, thereby making Low’s replications of Matthew’s two unique terms and nursery trees analogue into miraculous immaculate conceptions.Perhaps they happened in a stable on a farm? Was an angel involved? Alternatively, maybe no god intervened. Perhaps a great wizard did it all instead?

  6. I think history is very likely to conclude that Matthew’s ideas are a short dead twig on the tree of human knowledge – whereas Darwin and Wallace’s ideas, presented jointly in 1858, are the base of a vigorous, thick, living branch of the tree…

  7. Firstly, no amount of confirmatory evidence for a prior published hypothesis can magically transumate that hypothesis into your own. That is why we have the Arago Effect rule as laid down by the Royal Society of London. Being first is everything (read Merton 1957 on priority in science). Matthew was first. Just as Flemming was first, as Mendel was first and as Higgs was first. Flemming, Mendel and Higgs were not the ones who gathered all the important confirmatory evidences for their own hypothesis. The only difference is that those who proved their hypothesis correct, with far more work and published outputs than the originator’s put in or out, admitted the originator’s influence upon them.

    Secondly, no amount of wishing it were otherwise can put Darwin’s and Wallace’s cats back in the bag. They have both been 100% proven wrong when they each claimed that Matthew’s ideas went unread by naturalists before he brought them to Darwin’s attention in the Gardeners Chronicle 1860.

    Moreover, Darwin’s 1860 Gardener’s Chronicle claim that no naturalist known to him had read Matthew’s ideas pre-1860 is also proven wrong. Chambers cited Matthew in 1832. Darwin knew, met corresponded and was influenced by him. Wallace admitted Chambers was his greatest influence. Selby – a friend of many of Darwin’s best friends (including Leonard Jenyns and Darwin’s father and David Low [mentioned above]) cited Matthew pre-1858 and then went on to edit Wallaces’s Sarawak paper. Loudon reviewed Matthew’s book in 1832 and then edited Blyth’s two highly influential papers on species variation.

    Not only does Matthew have full priority by virtue of being first anyway, but every botched DIY- Darwinists attempt to cook up special privileges for Darwin and Wallace along the lines of mere faith in the miraculous notion of a dual immaculate conception of a prior published theory have been blown to smithereens by the bombshell New Data discovered with newly available BigData research technology.

    Matthew clearly has full, complete and appreciable priority over both Darwin and Wallace for his own prior published hypothesis that Darwin and Wallace both replicated, claimed as their own and then claimed to have known nothing about – whilst those around them – we newly know – had in actual fact read it and cited it in the literature.

  8. Even if Patrick Matthew really *did* discover natural selection and publish it first, no conclusive evidence has been presented by you or anyone else to prove that this idea or ‘meme’ directly led to the modern theory (although you inconclusively argue that it did via the minds of the ‘plagiarists’ Darwin and Wallace). Rather, Matthew’s idea seems to have been an intellectual dead end. It was the Darwin-Wallace meme of natural selection that spread through other people’s minds and led to the modern theory. So although Matthew deserves to be mentioned, Wallace and Darwin deserve the credit for presenting the idea in such a way that their colleagues understood what they were saying – ultimately leading to the acceptance of the idea and the development of modern evolutionary biology.

  9. I can see an intellectual “dead end” alright. It’s the desperate and daft-as-a-brush blind belief in Darwin’s and Wallace’s miraculous immaculate conception of Matthew’s prior published hypothesis” in light of all the new disconfirming evidence for it.

  10. Georgie…it’s too bad that you fail historically to realize the diversification and evolutionary changes in the political, social, economical and technological stages of 1831 as compared to that of 1858 / 59 /and 60. Had you been afforded that insight then you would realize just how redundantly absurd your comments are. The effects of those evolutional changes and the diversification brought with them was like tearing down the Berlin Wall. Had Matthew been afforded the freedom from the oppression of a hard, militaristic, tight fisted aristocracy allied with a State religion with it’s own policing capability almost similar to that of the inquisition itself to suppress free expression…then I think dear sir that you would have been enlightened by the BFO ( Blind Flash Obvious ) that 1858-60 was indeed a much more tolerant, benign time which afforded a wider freedom of unsuppressed freedom of expression.

  11. Quite right “Wheresstockton”

    Darwin, (1861) from the third edition of the origin of Species onward, admitted that Chambers’ anonymously authored “Vestiges” paved the way for the public acceptance of the “Origin”. And whose book did Chambers cite before authoring the heretical “Vestiges”? It was Matthew’s (1831) On Naval Timber and Arboriculture!.

    Robert Chambers also cited Matthew’s (1839) book “Emigration Fields” pre 1858. That book took Matthew’s ideas forward for human emigration. So Matthew influenced Chambers – who was Wallace’s fully admitted great influencer.

    George Beccaloni as Curator of the Wallace Collection should know the fact that Chambers cited Matthew’s book, which contained the full hypothesis of natural selection.. But George never until I published it. It fell to a social scientist and criminologist – myself – to discover it in the literature and I was first to publish the fact. The reason I discovered it and not a Darwinst is – in my opinion – because they are too lazy to do original research on this subject on which they claim to be expert. In reality Darwinists are just re-publishing the fallacies that came off the end of their namesake’s fallacious pen 155 years ago.

    Despite the fact that Matthew told Darwin in 1860 in the Gardeners Chronicle that there was great prejudice towards his ideas in the first half of the 19th century – for example that one naturalist of an eminent institution feared the “cutty stool” pillory treatment if he dared to teach Matthew’s discovery – Darwinists daftly continue to claim “special privileges” for their namesake and Wallace by stubbornly insisting that Matthew (supposedly unlike Fleming, Mendel and Higgs) should have trumpeted his discovery from the rooftops in order to be acknowledged as an immortal great thinker in science. See:

    Intellectual dead-ender Darwinists and Wallacists have self-servingly and nonsensically ignored the historical realities and insisted that Matthew was some kind of poor sucker who never understood what he bothered to write down and publish – despite its obvious great heresy. The intellectual shame of it!

    As I said, the Darwin and Wallace cats are out the bag and no amount of Darwinist or Wallacist demonstrations of their wishing it were otherwise, by claiming “special privileges” for Darwin and Wallace, can put them back.

    With the New Facts that naturalists known to both Darwin and Wallace did read Matthew’s book pre-1858 now in the public domain, it is time now in the 21st century to move forward towards veracity and leave the palpable self-serving Darwinist mythmongery behind as a sad, yet remarkable, layer in the fossil record of extinct science dysology.

  12. Howie:- Two comments: 1) Matthew was extremely outspoken so it would surprise me if he was that worried about publishing his views – in any case he *did* publish them in his 1831 book, so your argument collapses!; 2) he could easily have published them anonymously if he thought they were so important and he was worried about the comeback – just as Robert Chambers did with his’heretical’ book “Vestiges” in 1844!!!

  13. You not only need to try to think logically, George, you need also to argue from an informed historical position – because what Matthew did and did not do can only be understood in the social and political context in which he lived. You keep forgetting that for some weird reason.

    Logically: why would Matthew publish again anonymously that which he had put his name to in 1831?

    He simply wanted to be attributed with his discovery. Listen to the podcast again.

    Why on Earth would Matthew next give it away anonymously? There would be nothing in it for him to do that. That would be a backwards step for him.

    With the benefit of hindsight about what Darwin and Wallace did it might possibly have paid him to publish anonymously a pamphlet that replicated tracts from his 1831 book and cited it. However, he could not have known then what he learned in 1860. However, had he even considered the idea of an anonymous letter in the press (if any respectable publisher would print such a thing in those days is doubtful), or an anonymous pamphlet – anonymous authors of pamphlets were in fact fairly easy to detect and name and shame. Matthew would have known that. He was certainly no fool. He was a dignified gentleman. He was a businessman. A respected laird. He had an international reputation as an agriculturalist. He was not a red Lamarkian with nothing else to lose or worry about. Matthew stood openly in the field and faced his opponents.

    Think George. Wishing to be acknowledged for his prior openly authored publication is exactly why Matthew came out of the woodwork in 1860 to claim recognition for. It is why he wrote to the Dublin University Review in 1860 and it is why he wrote also to the Gardeners Chronicle that year. Darwin’s replication – without citation – of his prior published – openly authored -hypothesis is what Matthew was concerned about.

    Matthew was chasing the glory that was due to him.

    Matthew was a heroically brave scholar. He was bragging about that in 1860 in his letter to Darwin in the Gardener’s Chronicle.

    Had Matthew published his hypothesis anonymously after 1831 that would have undermined his own Regency-gentlemanly sense of heroism and veracity chasing pugnacity for the idea he openly put his name to in 1831.

    OK- moving on.

    Let’s consider next the historical context (what follows is all covered in far greater detail and with full citations to support it – citations to the work of expert historians – in my book George – the book you claim to have read). Perhaps you have forgotten?

    Remember George – Matthew TOLD Darwin in his published letter to him in the Gardeners Chronicle about all the editors etc who were biased against publishing his heretical ideas. Read James Secord’s superb book “Victorian Sensation” because Secord explains why Chambers was forced to publish his book anonymously after 1831. It was the very year in which Matthew published his book – 1831 – that things became very unstable in Britain. The Reform Riots swept Britain in 1831 (note the date George it answers your weirdly uninformed question).

    The Reform Riots of 1831 were followed by the much feared and despised (by Darwin and his cronies) Chartism movement that grew from the very same cause. The very cause of social inequality that Matthew railed against in his book by blending biology with politics. What explains Chambers’ great fear of persecution for heresy and sedition after 1831 explains it at a far greater level for Matthew:.

    If you trouble yourself read Matthew’s book for yourself, George, you will see that Matthew openly invited naturalists to conduct experiments to see how his hypothesis of random adaptations being most circumstance suited and so selected by nature stood up against Lamarkian notions of evolution through purposive action. In doing so Matthew had fulfilled his aim. Any further “trumpeting from the rooftops” after 1831 would have brought trouble down upon him. Exactly as Desmond and Moore explained why Darwin was afraid of being imprisoned or else blackballed for heresy, sedition and blasphemy. Matthew’s 1831 work was far more radical than anything Chambers or Darwin ever wrote. Matthew wove his natural slection ideas into a Chartist political reform explanation for the socially inherited positions of influence and dominance of inferior artificial selection of men in positions of authority over others. Matthew mocked priests. Unlike Darwin and Chambers (who both wrote that “God” had designed the respective evolutionary processes they proposed) Matthew actually handed “God” his redundancy papers in the Appendix to his book. .

    You really can’t have your cake and eat it George. These same socio-political conditions were not suspended in some way for Matthew but not for Darwin. Not unless some kind of quantum miracle existed above the sub-atomic level! Are you claiming such a miracle happened? Would quantum physics ‘Many Worlds Theory’ explain it do you think?

    Matthew was not solely obsessed with his discovery. He tried many ventures. The Chartist inspired Scots New Zealand company collapse made him bankrupt.

    In 1831 Matthew published his great idea, moved on with his life and simply waited.Sometimes, we know, he went off trout fishing with the sons of famous authors. Having published the “natural process of selection” as a hypothesis inside his book was like baiting a hook for a naturalist to read it and then do all the hard work for him. He published it and waited. He was getting on with his political work and his agricultural work. He was a Scottish representative for the Chartists – following the publication of his book. That was a dangerous occupation. I suggest you come up to speed with your history about what that meant and why he resigned that position. Look up the “reform riots” of 1831 and the swing riots. Look at what has been written on how close the Chartists brought Britain right up to the brink of revolution. That is why Matthew could not promote his work. But in reality he would probably not have felt the need to do so. It seems reasonable to speculate that Matthew may have simply expected those who took up his published offer to prove his hypothesis would cite him after doing so. Just as years later Florey and Chain did for Fleming’s obscurely published discovery, and as biologists did for Mendel’s similarly obscurely published discovery.

    Compared to Fleming and Mendel published discoveries, Matthew’s book was the least obscure by far. His – after all – was read and cited by the friends and associates of those who replicated and then claimed no knowledge of its existence for themselves but also for those who HAD read it!

    In setting out to gather confirmatory evidence for the natural process of selection, Darwin and Wallace set about doing exactly what Matthew had openly and plainly invited naturalists to do in 1831. Darwin did so for over two decades. Darwin and Wallace did – almost – exactly what Matthew hoped naturalists would do. But not quite.

    The problem for Matthew is that Darwin (I deal with Wallace’s proven dishonesty also in my book) was not at all an honest gentleman of science. For example, he told a self-serving lie (one of six) when he wrote in 1861 in the 3rd ed. of the “Origin” and every edition that followed, that Matthew’s ideas had gone unread – because Matthew told him otherwise – and named-his reviewer, John Loudon, in the Gardeners Chronicle only the year before. Perhaps, George, you would like to claim it was not a lie because Matthew did not lower his dignity to call Darwin on it? Did Matthew need to publish an anonymous pamphlet calling Darwin a liar for the lie to be a lie? Was it not a lie because Matthew never trumpeted Darwin’s published falsehood from the rooftops? That is – is it not – the way Darwinist logic operates within the pleading for “special privileges” for Darwin and Wallace parameters of this particular story?

    Under the Arago Effect – a rule that Wallace so clearly showed he fully understood in his correspondence to Darwin after the Linnean Debacle – being first is everything. Darwin is noted for admitting he wanted to make his mark. How could Darwin make his mark if he admitted that all he had been doing was plodding along and collecting evidences to support Matthew’s great prior discovery? He could not. That explains his plagiarism and his lies to cover it up.

    Merton (1957) saw the Arago Effect rule of priority as a pernicious motivating influence for science fraud though plagiarism. How right he was.

    Facts trump claptrap every-time George. I have lots of facts. Many of my facts are new, unique and independently verifiable. In contrast, what have you got – besides wishes and newly disconfirmed fallacies?

  14. You do seem to not realize you just proved my point Georgie. Not only was he tenaciously outspoken but he dared to not hide behind a cloak of concealment as Chambers did. Again you resort to over simplify but still conceded his tenacity. He knew what he was doing…but wasn’t looking to wait out what would most certainly be a long wait for one lifetime in order to see the dawning of a new age of tolerance.

  15. The concept and formulation of think tanks is as old as the dawning of time. Inner circles of friends discussing their ideas and looking to glean from others is nothing new. Many a campfire has been erected and used to cover the many aspects of life in every imaginable context as possible including to know who you wish to borrow from. Darwin isn’t necessarily a genius because he used that methodology…it served him well…but was it for a totally immersed cause for the real truth…That is the question that is being pursued.

  16. Shame you are so ignorant Mike – if you had read van Wyhe’s paper “Mind the Gap” ( you would realise that Darwin was not afraid of publishing his ‘heretical’ views because of the church etc. In fact he openly told people he hardly knew that he was a transmutationist! This goes against all your fancy historical blather about him being “afraid of being imprisoned or else blackballed for heresy, sedition and blasphemy.” (yes Moore is incorrect too!). The real reason for his delay in publishing was that he was simply trying to gather a mass of evidence to back up his ideas. So your arguments above are hogwash I’m afraid. Rather than verbose rants such as: “You really can’t have your cake and eat it George. These same socio-political conditions were not suspended in some way for Matthew but not for Darwin. Not unless some kind of quantum miracle existed above the sub-atomic level! Are you claiming such a miracle happened? Would quantum physics ‘Many Worlds Theory’ explain it do you think?” Why don’t you try to be more concise as your readers would be better able to follow your fallacious arguments?

  17. Since you seem unable to write anything clearly and concisely Mike, I’ll try to sum up the salient points of your current rant: 1) Pre-1831 when Matthew was writing his ‘heretical’ book, it was not so dangerous to publish such heretical views; 2) in 1831 and afterwards it became ever so dangerous to publish such views so Matthew published nothing further; 3) In 1844 “Vestiges” was published anonymously and this made it more acceptable to publish such views….. This begs the question then as to why Matthew didn’t publish anything further *after* 1844 i.e. between c. 1844 and 1860 – why didn’t he “trumpet his idea from the rooftops”, especially when he realised that absolutely nobody had picked up on his ideas for more than a decade?; also why (if you believe what Desmond and Moore say, which you clearly do) did Darwin not publish anything until 1858 even though he realised ‘the coast was clear’ for him to now publish his plagiarised (according to you!) ideas on natural selection?

  18. “Begs the question?” You do know that you just demonstrated on a public forum that you don’t know what that means, philosophically, don’t you George.

    Moreover, George you wrote total gibberish. I can understand why. The New Facts that I uniquely discovered make you look like a total fool.

    Would you like a second try?

    Why not delete the gibberish above and try again.

  19. Mike – I really did not appreciate the following remarks you emailed to me:

    “I see thank you George. Very enlightening. Are you high or drunk? It must, rationally, be one or the other.”

    “Oh dear. “Begs the question?” You really don’t even know what that means, philosophically, do you George. How shameful for you. I’m truly sorry you made such a total fool of yourself.. But you do deserve it. You could not sum up a salient point if you sat in the Red Sea at your best. Are you a stoner George? You write like one.”

    I think you need to pay a visit to a doctor and I’m very surprised that the Nottingham Trent University continues to employ such an offensive, unprofessional twerp like yourself…

  20. No George – as you are fully aware that was not an email. It was an earlier draft published message on this website. I thought better of it and edited to the one that is here now.I sent nothing to you by email – as you well know. I do stand by that earlier draft message, however. But I thought better of embarrassing you any more than your own remarkable capabilities in that regard – so I edited it here. Since YOU re-published that edited comment here let’s let it stand.

    Thank you for inquiries into my health George. What do you suppose I should tell my Doctor exactly?

  21. Yes it does. Matthew must surely have read Lamarck – its a dreadful shame he was so bad at citing his influences. But – as we can see – Matthew called for experiments to test Lamarck’s ideas. Do you agree George?

  22. Oh dear Gearge, You can do better than that can’t you? Have you re- read what YOU have written on this website George?

    What next will you be desperately deploying – rather than dealing with the New Facts that have so disturbed you? What about Godwin’s Law – why don’t you resort to that rather than address the logic and New Facts that have – apparently – sent you into this tailspin?

  23. Mike. I am not interested in engaging you in any further dialogue. It would have been an interesting discussion had you not started to resort to personal attacks – which I merely defended myself against. And don’t bother to engage in ‘Soviet-style’ editing of your posts to remove your offensive remarks as I have copies of all the originals.

  24. Good job all your “comments” have been saved George. You got quite close to a version of Godwin’s Law in the end with “Soviet-Style” editing. I’m not really surprised.

    I will not waste my time by pointing out your personal insults George, because, as anyone reading this record can see, I simply ignored them as I proceeded to show you the new and independently verifiable New Facts that dis-confirm your prior mere “knowledge beliefs” and I also showed you where your arguments were illogical.

  25. “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.”

    Mike, you still misinterpret that sentence?

    It’s the end of a long passage of Matthew (1831, p. 308) criticizing a long passage from Sir Henry Steuart’s book on arboriculture quoting Loudon. Matthew (1831, p. 295-298) re-quoted it himself. Here, Matthew criticized Loudon “in limine,” that is, he criticizes Loudon’s assumptions (pp. 298-307). In attacking Loudon’s particular assumption that pruning up a tree can do any good for
    it, Matthew (1831, pp. 307-8) works himself up one of the rare insights informed by his
    idea of natural selection. The “natural process of selection” passage. But that does not alter the fact that Matthew did in fact mean Loudon, when he wrote “As our author’s premises …”

    Matthew only said that he thinks it superfluous to criticize Loudon’s conclusions after having shown his premises to be false in the first place.

    See also here for a comparison of Steuart’s quote and Matthew’s re-quote and the strange fact that Matthew did not pick up all of Steuart’s alterations in re-quoting, but reverted to Loudon’s original usage in places:

  26. It is enlightening as we begin to see what happens when Darwinists have their mere soft “knowledge beliefs” dis-confirmed by new new, hard, and independently verifiable disconfirming evidence about who really DID read Patrick Matthew’s complete, full and appreciable prior published hypothesis of the natural process of selection.

    So far in this forum we have seen how “Beccaloni’s Argument” is one such early response that reveals Darwinists and Wallacists appear now have nothing left but to demand “special privileges” for Darwin and Wallace and to demand “special prejudices” against Patrick Matthew. See

  27. Yes. Thank you Dr Dagg. That is one very plausible and alternative interpretation of what Matthew might have meant. And I did forget that you had raised the point before – albeit anonymously. To be fair and complete, your interpretation of it – and your initial, anonymously authored, evidence to support your interpretation – should have been added-in to my reply to Dr George Beccalin’s effective demand for special privileges for Darwin and Matthew.

    By the way – I see you are to be cited along with myself in a forthcoming Linnean Society paper. Congratulations. Are you to be named in that paper – or just cited under your anonymous persona?

  28. No I’m not George Beccaloni – Curator of the Wallace Collection at the Museum of Natural History, London – you sir are the “bully”. It is just that you tried to bully the wrong person. Once beaten you cry. Might I point out also to readers of this site that you claim here – and in many places elsweher – to write a review of my book that I have already “bullied” you into confessing that you never even read before writing it – see the written record

    I’ve been told, also, that my publisher pursued you onto one of Richard Dawkins forums and “bullied” you likewise into admitting your deception.

  29. Mike wrote:
    “I disagree with your interpretation, however, because it is in the
    preceding paragraph that Matthew uses his unique natural selection terms
    “natural process of selection”.

    My reply:
    The re-quote of Loudon via Steuart ends at the bottom of page 298 of On Naval Timber. Matthew then opens his criticism of it as follows:

    “We differ from the author of the Encyclopaedia of Gardening here, even in limine, in his assumption that pruning […]” (Matthew 1831, p. 298, I spare the arboricultural details).

    Three and a half pages of criticizing Loudon’s first assumption follow. The second paragraph on page 302 opens Matthew’s criticism of Loudon’s second assumption as follows:

    “Our author’s next implied assumption, […]”

    This shows that Matthew means “the author of the Encyclopedia of Gardening” by “our author.” Matthew again addresses Loudon thus at page 305 and 306. The last reads:

    “We would ask how our author is enabled to assume, as an axiom, that trees produce the best timber in their natural locality?”

    You can hardly believe that Matthew is schizophrenically referring to himself as “we” and “our author” in one sentence and airing a debate amongst his multiple personae. “Our author” is simply Matthew’s way (coward, you would say if it had been Darwin or Wallace) of criticizing Loudon without naming him.

    The fact that he works himself up from criticizing pruning, over advising the removal of competitors to a rare insight about natural selection and the survival of the fittest, does not alter this. On the contrary, the beginning of his disagreeing in limine, before the trial even started, and the end of declining to discuss “our author’s conclusions and corollaries” forms one long ellipse.

  30. Dr Dagg

    I don’t think this extra detail you supply adds more to support the admirable and compelling evidence you first supplied to support your interpretation of what Matthew meant.

    As I see it, there are the two other possible interpretations that I supplied. As I said I favor my own interpretation that he was referring to himself. Your stated reasons for disagreeing with me are perfectly rational and logical. I believe, however – based upon what he had just written – that Matthew was referring to his own unique and highly important insights into what he had just named “the natural process of selection.” As I am sure you know, this is what is called a difference of opinion regarding how we interpret the fact of what Matthew wrote. You are very welcome to rationally disagree with my interpretation – just as I disagree with yours.

    Regarding the third, and as I wrote earlier, probably least plausible, explanation that he wrote that because he privately meant both Loudon and himself, I don’t think doing so would indicate he had schizophrenia – only that he was being a little perverse and in so doing having a private joke. It is a possibility. And that is all.

    You wrote above:
    “Our author” is simply Matthew’s way (coward, you would say if it had been Darwin or Wallace) of criticizing Loudon without naming him.”

    I have no idea where you get the word coward from in your interpretation of what you merely “believe” I would say. But believing you know what I would say, and believing you know my mind is something you make a habit of embarrassing yourself with on your blogsite. I do think believing “our author” has the power to read the mind of another might suggest some symptoms of schizophrenia. What do you think Dr Joachim Dagg AKA Joachim_D?

    Whatever the case, I do suggest you brush up on the difference between facts and opinion, particularly when it comes to what you write about me. You may believe you know my mind sir, but “our author” (whoever that might be) would delusional to believe such a thing possible and might find the mistake ruinously expensive. Consider yourself forewarned. If I were you I’d put my house in order.

    Dr Mike Sutton 24.02. 2015 20.42 GMT

  31. Dr. Weale

    Now that Dr. Sutton and Mr. Beccaloni are recovering from round one of their bout… a bout I didn’t wish to further interrupt, so withdrew momentarily wanting to see where things would lead. I took it upon myself in the interim to inform Rick Coste of the Peace Corps information from chapter X Pages 137-149 of Patrick Matthews Emigration Fields that no doubt is the premise material used by the Kennedy Administration and Kennedy himself to organize his Peace Corp Volunteer Program in 1961. There’s absolutely no doubt. In fact Patrick Matthew’s own 2nd Great Grandson Horace Matthew Bills…(my father’s first cousin)… at the time of Kennedy’s short lived term in office… was a researcher and lawyer for the CIA. I’m sure that he is the principle channel through which the Peace Corp information got from A. Patrick Matthew to B. JFK. I was attempting to correlate to Mr. Beccaloni the fact that Darwin’s existing circle of friends obviously like any modern day think tank afforded Darwin opportunities from which he could have easily borrowed ideas and other material for his works. I strongly feel that to be true…and there also is reason to suspect not only why but the very motives as well.

    I went ahead today and added the historical significance of the Emigration Fields information to the Peace Corp Wikipedia site and wrote a letter to the Public Affairs office of the Peace Corps to update the significance of P. M.’s “Emigration Fields” on the very organization itself. I’m a stratigist as well as an engineer Mike. I can’t see trying to win the war in one svelte swoop. If it’s going to be done…it has to be done in incremental battles. Dr. Sutton has his methods…and I have mine. Another project is to get the same recognition Admiral Horatio Nelson got from The Woodland Trust on his 200th anniversary of his victory at Trafalgar for the promotion of obtaining superior stands of timber for the Royal Navy in order to continue it’s domination of the high seas by utilizing these superior stands to build and maintain the Royal Navy’s ships. To me that’s an obvious objective not to bypass.

    Let’s not forget that the HMS Beagle was a Cherokee Class Brig and that well above what may have happened on it’s voyage to Darwin’s advantage… it’s first and foremost mission was to maintain that superior presence and domination…and in the course of so doing it’s next priority was that even longer standing mandate of the Admiralty itself that it was to seek out, record and to lay claim if possible, to any superior stands of possible naval timber it discovered on it’s journey. The third standing order was to survey the coastline of South America, the Falklands and the Galapagos between every port of call encountered. The collection of fossils and biological specimens was but an after thought in priorities to the Admiralty.

    A road of successful battles is the only way I see of winning the war…and I know how to build roads believe m I’ve done it in Central America on several occasions.


  32. Okay, then I will call it cowardice on Matthew’s part, because it is a rather strange case of avoiding to name the person being criticized by a man who, otherwise, seemed to fear nobody and has been very outspoken against anybody. But back to the central sentence:

    “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.” (Matthew 1831, p. 308)

    The meaning of this sentence is not a minor matter of mere opinion. If Matthew did not refer to himself, here, then the preceding paragraph containing the phrase “natural process of selection” cannot be charged with the central importance you are arguing for.

    It would be an insight slipped into a rant against arboricultural practices without Matthew having any premonition that “natural selection” would eventually become the central term of evolutionary biology. The phrase “natural process of selection” would surely not be the name that Matthew has chosen to give to his idea. And he would not have made a claim for others’ to test this hypothesis on his behalf. On the contrary, it seemed by his own admission so obvious to him that it needed no diligent testing. Any thinking man would, so thought Matthew, arrive at the same insight.

    If anything, Matthew has called it a “a law universal in nature” (Appendix, Note B, p. 364) or “a circumstance-suiting power” (Appendix to appendix of end-notes, p. 382).

    Regardless of the question whether or not Darwin has plagiarized Matthew and word-shuffled his phrase “natural process of selection,” a historian must try to start with a reading of Matthew (1831) that is not retrospectively distorted by the knowledge that “natural selection” did eventually become the central term of evolutionary theory.

    That said, Matthew (1831) does of course have priority for the idea of macro-evolution through natural selection. So what? Darwin had no priority, but his book had the impact that was crucial on a historical scale. It was “On the Origin of Species” that became a paradigm example for how to do natural history studies and not “On Naval Timber and Arboriculture.” Hence it was Darwin’s book that got imitated, cited and thus received the major part of the credit. That is not special pleading because impact is as general a concept as priority. Mendel’s papers had the priority and – after their rediscovery – also the impact (they were imitated and cited as paradigm examples for how to do genetics research). Alas, priority and impact do not always fall together. What’s a historian to do other than to stop painting monochromatic pictures and add some other colors?

    I just don’t think that priority is all that matters in the history of science. Furthermore, priority is not even all that matters in the daily business of scientists. Their own concern with impact factors confirms this, and so does their habit of citing a Nature or Science paper rather than searching out and citing roots of these publications hidden in some proceedings or abstracts of a congress or in some Ph.D. theses. So, priority is not all that matters to scientists and it is not all that matters to the history of science.

    Of course, historians should correct misconceptions such as poor popularizations that confuse priority with originality with impact and make a hash of everything. But even if Darwin had cited Matthew in the very first edition of his On the Origin, we’d still be calling it Darwinism and Matthew would today still be somewhere alongside Wallace and not at the top over-towering all other evolutionists. That’s because his book had only a minor impact on the science of natural history/evolutionary biology.

    Sure, do correct misconceptions of Darwinists, but don’t try to re-write history in a way that it never took place.

  33. I think you overestimate your ability to understand Darwin’s perception of the situation as well Georgie. Granted he was afforded the time… 27 years to be exact… to build upon his varying hypothesizing…but let’s get real Georgie. Regardless of what your opinion may be Darwin’s delay was purposeful and intentional…and in the actual historical setting both he and Matthew published in two separate worlds politically, socially, as well as on two different levels of religious tolerance. For you and others to continue to redundantly dismiss the elements of actual time and space defies sensibility.

  34. In light of a recent surge of interest in the New Data, regarding who really did read Patrick Matthew’s full, complete and appreciable prior published hypothesis of natural selection, I have been invited to write a position paper. One core argument in my paper is that Darwin’s Darwinists – just like Christ’s Christians – absolutely need to demand “faith belief” in an unevidenced and highly improbable act of immaculate conception. My “position” is open to honest discussion and debate:

  35. Darwinist defenses simply cannot stand up against the weight of the New Facts about who really did read Matthew’s book before Darwin and Wallace replicated its unique hypothesis and his world changing unique analogy of artificial slection to explain natural selection. I have received 20 general attempted defenses against the conclusions that (1) some form of knowledge contamination more likely than not happened and (2) Darwn and Wallace each committed science fraud by plagiarism.

    Each defense so far deployed can be easily refuted with hard facts.

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