Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Jun 17, 2014.
fascinating... can totally see how that would work like that.
Hate to be pernickety, Alex, but a couple of amendments you made went a bit awry. This bit:
"So the firm he is talking about actually took the mail from Singapore and delivered to the Archipelago. I am saying that the other firm fetched the mail from the Archipelago from the firm fetched the mail from the Archipelago, from the firm at Surabaya, on Java, delivered it first to Jakarta, which was then Batavia, and then to Singapore."
Should read (with some clarifying punctuation):
So the firm he is talking about actually took the mail from Singapore and delivered to Ternate and to the Archipelago. I am saying that the other firm fetched the mail from the Archipelago - from the firm at Surabaya, on Java - delivered it first to Jakarta (which was then Batavia), and then to Singapore.
Also, "Sarawak Lawin" should read "Sarawak Law in"
Has anyone mentioned this guy yet? And how does this effect things? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Matthew
I'd like to know more about a couple things.
1. What precise information did Darwin plagiarize?
2. Why didn't Wallace accuse him of plagiarism?
Also, I'm curious about Davies stance as an atheist. He was pretty adamant about that, and I was hoping Alex might take him to task on it. Maybe grill him on consciousness research a bit.
From Davies (he's on vacation until late July... hemay add more comments when he returns)
Apart from the Book I have written two controversial articles for the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society of London. The first was published in January 2012 as a response to claims by John van Wyhe that Wallace's letter to Darwin sent from Ternate on March 9th 1858 not only did not get onto the mail packet on that day but did not leave Ternate for another month. This then allowed Van Wyhe to claim that when it did leave Ternate on April 5 1858 sheer coincidence had the mail arrive on mainland Java (Surabaya) on the very day a boat from a rival firm left that port for Singapore. He then claimed that it was this ship that took Wallace's letter to Singapore to meet the P+O liner which left Singapore at the beginning of May which allowed Darwin insist the letter arrived at his home in the middle of June 1858. Hence his letter that same day to Lyell claiming Wallace's letter had just arrived.
It had been intended, and agreed with the Editor of the Linnean Journal, that Van Wyhe's article and my own rebuttal should be printed side by side in a future edition of the Journal since my objections to Van Wyhe's lack of evidence was so strong. However, fate interceded and Van Wyhe's was printed one month before my own thereby allowing every Darwin fan to claim that their hero had been vindicated and was not guilty of the charge of lying about when Wallace's letter reached his home. By the time my response had been published it made virtually no impression on the minds of anyone interested in this subject.
However, on July 1, last year another article was published under my name in the BJLS. This not only revealed that Van Wyhe's claims were false by proving - with documented evidence - that two different companies were involved in delivering and collecting mail between the islands of the archipelago and Singapore in 1858.
One shipping line always carried the mail arriving at Singapore for delivery to the Malay Archipelago but never carried mail from the archipelago back to Singapore.
The second shipping line always carried the mail from the islands to Singapore but never carried mail from Singapore to the islands.
In order to get Darwin off the hook Van Wyhe made the first shipping company not only take the mail to the islands but also made that same line responsible for the mail from the islands getting back to Singapore.
Any amateur researcher would be able to spot the error in Van Wyhe's analysis of what happened. The fact that no one with an open mind has gone back to check my research for faulty interpretation - or might have done but kept quiet about their findings - only makes me feel that it is only a question of time before an independent academic with some standing in the field does exactly that.
Professor Janet Browne of Harvard University, the principle biographer of Charles Darwin, is on record as having told Christopher Hitchens the British writer before his death that - and here I am paraphrasing - if there was one question she wished she knew the answer to it would be the exact date on which Wallace's letter from Ternate had arrived at Darwin's home in Kent. This interview was published shortly before Van Wyhe's claim in December, 2011, that that letter had arrived in the middle of June and not at the beginning of the month which I had claimed. This allowed Hitchens to refer back to his discussion with Prof Browne and then confidently claim that the true date of arrival of that letter had been settled once and for all by John van Wyhe. Whether Hitchens read, or had a chance to read, my response is unknown. And as far as I know, apart from Hitchens' article Prof Browne has never voiced, publicly, her concerns about when the letter arrived.
You can use the above as an answer to some of the critics on your forum if you wish.
I suppose some people are more excited by historical controversies - 9/11, Kennedy, or Darwin's plagiarism - than I am!
To me, the most exciting podcasts are those that try to push forward our understanding now!
For example, I'd far rather hear you interview Stephen Meyer about evolution - or indeed Rupert Sheldrake!
I know we don't all feel the same way, but I wonder how many others feel the same way.
I see your point David, but I think sometimes historical controversies do push forward our understanding. Like Alex pointed out this episode, this particular question is relevant because, although subtle, Darwin & Wallace did have two very different/distinct perspectives on evolution. The one we've adopted put cut-throat individualism and competition above all else, Wallace emphasizes the importance of the group dynamics and cooperation as the driving force of evolution. One reinforces our cultural, capitalistic bias, the other challenges it and insinuates that its ass-backward. Is it any mystery why social engineers would emphasize one over the other? I think that opens up all kinds of avenues for people to explore and to gain a deeper understanding of their culture, world, themselves, and how they fit into the bigger picture.
With that said I too wouldn't mind another episode with Dr. Sheldrake where evolution is the exclusive topic of conversation, as he talks about it in length in his book Morphic Resonance.
Isn't this a little bit like saying gravity is evil because we can drop things on people's heads? When does a scientific truth become a guide for social behavior?
Also, it seems to me that you are suggesting that Darwin only plagiarized the part of Wallace's theory that you don't agree with.
I don't think so. Your point about concepts having the ability to "cut both ways" so to speak is not without merit, but the theory of Gravity makes no hardline philosophical suggestion about "who we are" as creatures on this planet and what our teleology is. I don't think the 1:1 correspondence you're suggesting holds. When a theory begins to make concrete suggestions about how we should define ourselves, and what our goals should be both individually and collectively, then we can begin to question whether it's "productive", "dangerous", or somewhere in between.
The reductionist-materialistic fad in science has become irreconcilably entangled with economics, politics, social engineering, etc. arguably ever since Descartes' quest to make the world submit to categorization & measurement began to gain popularity amongst the intelligentsia (i.e. societal influencers & academics). Even the humanities have tried to give their fields of study more "credibility" by adopting tools/methods of the "objective" Newtonian-Cartesian reductionist-mechanistic view of reality (categorization, compartmentalization, objectivism, reductionism, statistics, abstraction, and so on). When historical trending suggests that a certain set of scientific ideas/theories are elevated and seen as "superior" across a wide spectrum of human thought/endeavor then you could say that's the "moment" when "scientific truth becomes a guide for social behavior." However I think defining an exact chronology or "moment" is impossible.
I'm not making any claims about who plagiarized exactly what. I haven't engaged with the scholarship on the subject enough to have an informed opinion one way or another. All I know is that while their co-developed theories appear extremely similar (which is why this controversy about who poached who's ideas exists in the first place), there are definitive distinctions between Wallace & Darwin that are important that seem to have been largely ignored and/or whitewashed.
I suppose so, but I guess the chances are that science would have wound up in the same dead end whichever man had 'won'.
NS provided such a clean explanation of evolution, with no mystery left. The real problem is that science gets stuck in ruts, so even as it became obvious that NS couldn't explain a lot of modern biology - such as the origin of the genetic code itself, or the combinatorial explosion involved in creating each type of protein, there was no way to back out without massive loss of face.
Indeed. Fair points.
Interesting that no one has followed-up on your post. It appears that both Darwin and Wallace weren't above a little . .umm . .inspiration from elsewhere.
Hey! Saiko is back!!
Not really. Though it's nice to see a dining set demonstrating standard-state awareness.
Great interview Alex. There are few subjects that have been so prosaically interwoven into social thinking as Darwin. It's very pleasing knowing you are paving the way with topics like this and Roy Davies that are otherwise treated as persona non grata in skeptical discussions.
Looking forward to the next rabbit hole....
more from Roy while on vacation:
to each of the points made, in turn, would be the following:
"Careful scrutiny of Davies’s claims finds them lacking credibility. The similar terminology between Darwin and Blyth/Matthew are inconclusive. Darwin could have derived the incriminating words from other sources."
Which sources, exactly? Stop throwing sand and read the list of various species in Blyth's essays and then compare them with those in Darwin's first species book written only a few months later. There can be no mistaking the almost exact same list of some very unlikely examples changed only by Darwin for his own use to avoid exact copying. These examples can be found in my book and even the experts in the field must still be embarrassed by Darwin's purloining of Blyth's original list.
The mail schedules presented by Davies are unverifiable since the letters in question are no longer extant.
The mail schedules were constant and precise and do not rely on the receipt or sending of any particular letter - lost or extant. Read my book on when mail boats left Singapore for England and how those letters got to Singapore from the Malay Archipelago. My recent response to another critic should also give you the information you require.
Given the weakness of Davies’s argument, Darwin is unlikely to have plagiarized any component of his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Exactly where is my argument weak and my charge of plagiarization unlikely? Up until the end of May 1858, Charles Darwin had written nothing into his Natural Selection 'big book' about divergence and its effect on species change since the puerile sentence he wrote in March 1857 following the receipt of Wallace's first letter which he claimed to have received only six months after Wallace had sent it. Once Wallace's Ternate letter arrived at his home on June 3, 1858, Darwin suddenly wrote 66 new pages on Divergence into his manuscript. 41 of these pages dealt with divergence itself and 25 further pages dealt with a connected subject that only Wallace - in the entire world - had dealt with at that time. Darwin hadn't moved from his Kent home in search of new evidence for years. Wallace had observed these exact examples while on the island of Gilolo only months before. Only when these new ideas had been copied from Wallace's letter did Darwin write in his diary and in a letter to Hooker that he had suddenly realized that divergence along with natural selection were now the keystones of his theory.
All this happened between late May and June 18th, 1858. If my argument is weak please explain how and when Darwin came across these ideas rather than charge me with insufficient evidence while producing none of your own.
Moreover, just in case you feel that Darwin understood Natural Selection at this same stage in his career read the evidence of Dov Ospovat in my book that Darwin's understanding of Natural Selection in the Origin of Species was a completely different idea than that held by him in his Essay of 1844. There is no connection between both ideas. And Ospovat admitted there was no indication in Darwin's papers of how the first idea morphed into the second as found in the Origin. Where did it come from? Ospovat does not discuss Wallace and his ideas. Had he done so he would have found it impossible to have dismissed Wallace's description of the process long before the Origin was ever written.
It would be interesting to hear Sheldrake's take on it. He's made no secret of his admiration for Darwin, both of his life and his work. My guess is that he, like a lot of people, will have a hard time accepting that Darwin may have been a plagiarist, just like many people have a hard time accepting that Freud may have manufactured evidence. It's hard to let go of our heroes!
I can remember many times how Darwin's theory has been referenced and incorporated across many social ideas and constructs from my youth and continue too. The meme Survival of the fittest has been a popular belief that has been canonized by academia and backed by the authority of the state.
So, I could not agree more that it is extremely important, as a species, society, and civilization, we collectively step back and reexamine such ideologies that are incessantly drummed into our core thinking. Then, I think we should also harder questions, why?
Interesting that Randi, for a time at least, saw a connection between Darwinism and Social Darwinism:
James Randi Social Darwinist Deceiver And Liar & The "Skeptics" Who Eternally Cover Up For Him
Now he apologized about his post saying he was glad kids would OD on drugs b/c it would save him some tax money, but it's interesting to me that he was so focused on natural selection saving him some cash.
I also thought this bit about his dishonesty was poignant:
IMO James Randi represents the worst kind of conman. He's an establishment $hill that portrays himself as the righteous indignant champion of ❝science❞ and people too. But, it is clear he is neither. Randi's deceitful behavior and dishonest claims have been caught and called out from his failed attempts to
sway and slander Targ and Puthoff to Rupert Sheldrake forcing Randi to admit his falsehoods.
He doesn't deserve a mention in this forum.
Separate names with a comma.