Amazingly, Darwin really did have the audacity to claim that Matthew's book on trees was literally unread by any naturalists before 1860.
Making excuses for not having read the one book in the world he most needed to read and cite because his own work replicated so much that had been published in it 27 years before he and Wallace claimed to have independently discovered the same complex theory, alighted upon the same four words to name for it and highly idiosyncratic examples to support and explain it, Darwin's letter of reply to Matthew's claim to priority was published in the Gardeners' Chronicle (1860). Penned on April 13, and forwarded to the Chronicle by his best friend Joseph Hooker (published on April 21 1860), Darwin wrote:
"I have been much interested by Mr Patrick Matthew's communication in the Number of your Paper, dated April 7th. I freely acknowledge that Mr Matthew has anticipated by many years the explanation which I have offered of the origin of species, under the name of natural selection. 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 they appeared in the Appendix to a work on Naval Timber and Arboriculture. I can do no more than offer my apologies to Mr Matthew for my entire ignorance of his publication.'
It is emphasized in my book (Sutton 2014) Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret that Darwin's claim about Matthew's book was a fallacy, because other naturalists - indeed important naturalists known to both Darwin and Wallace - did read and then cite Matthew's book pre-1860. Matthew did tell Darwin about Loudon's 1832 review in 1860, but that information, that Loudon was a naturalist, seems to have passed under everyone's radar as being a lead worth following up.
Before my 'game changing' discovery of 2014, that a further six naturalists read Matthew's book, many Darwinists, credulously reprinted Darwin's fallacy that none read it as though it is, of itself, answer enough without further commentary on its likelihood of being true. And with no commentary on the fact that Matthew's published letter of reply proved it untrue. In other words, Darwinists used their namesake's excuse that no naturalists read Matthew's book as a perfectly reasonable reason for Darwin supposedly not reading Matthew's book. Darwinists simply reprinted Darwin's letter claiming that no naturalist had read Matthew's book. By so doing, their behaviour was akin to Christians reprinting what they call 'the Gospel truth" as though it should stand, unquestioned, on its own as the literal truth.
I pick on the following four Darwinists merely to serve as examples of this credulous attitude and Supermyth-spreading behavior:
- Stephen J Gould (1987, p. 336, in 'The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History'.unquestionably reprints Darwin's letter as though it is unquestionably right.
- Michael Shermer (2002) In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Biographical Study on the Psychology of History also reprinted Darwin's explanation, without a word of doubt in the likelihood of its veracity, but claimed instead - incredibly - that it was good evidence that Darwin was hardly an ideological plagiarizer.
- Rebecca Stott (2012, p. 11) Simply reprints Darwin's fallacy verbatim as though it were true, failing to question the likelihood that it might not be the literal truth.
- Andrew Norman (2013, p. 169) in Charles Darwin: Destroyer of Myths admirably felt it necessary to investigate - and so affirm - Matthew's claim that his book received prominent reviews, but less admirably, Norman also unquestionably reprinted Darwin's letter as though Darwin's word alone that no naturalist had read Matthew's book was the unquestionable "gospel truth". In other words, Norman thought it necessary to investigate Matthew's claim that his book had been read and reviewed, but not to undertake a BigData facilitated review of the literature, as I did in 2014, to investigate the extent of the fallacy of Darwin's claim that no naturalists had read it. Moreover, Norman knew about the naturalist Loudon's review of Matthew's book but he failed to mention therefore that Darwin had written a fallacy by claiming no naturalist read Matthew's book. Moreover, Norman failed to follow up by failing to look at the intellectual links between Loudon and Darwin. Had Norman done so he would have found that after reading Matthew's book that Loudon edited two of Blyth's influential papers - that both greatly influenced Darwin - and he would have found that Loudon was well known to Darwin's friends William and Joseph Hooker and to their closest associates.
Picking up on Darwin's cue of 1860, some writers were not quite so audacious as to reprint without question Darwin's claim that literally no naturalists read Matthew's book pre-1860, Nevertheless, they greatly implied it had gone unread by naturalists.
Loren Eiseley (1957) in Darwin's Century (p. 127) writes: "Matthew's system perished, ...because it had been published obscurely by an obscure man..."Bowler (2013) in Darwin Deleted (p. 58) implies Matthew was unread: "Having a basic idea, even publishing it, has no effect if the publication is obscure..."Millhauser (1959) in Just before Darwin(p. 72) implies the same by dismissing it as some kind of working man's manual: "And there is that remarkable fellow Patrick Matthew, whose Naval Timber and Arboriculture (of all the practical books in the world)...."
Conclusion and reflections on the science-cult that worships Darwin
The Patrick Matthew Supermyth was born out of the egregious failure of Darwinists to abide by the motto of the Royal Society "Nullius in Verba". Instead, they literally believed without question what Darwin claimed in his defense for replicating Matthew's prior published theory, Namely, they believed - and so thought not to question - Darwin's audacious defense that literally "neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist, had heard of Mr Matthew's views."
Had they not credulously treated Darwin's claim as the literal "gospel truth" then Darwinist scholars would have, as necessarily skeptically open minded scientists, surely have done as I did in 2014. Namely, they would have investigated it. Had they investigated it, then they, before I, would have found that seven naturalists cited Matthew pre- 1858, and that four were known to Darwin and that three played major roles at the epicenter of influence of his pre-1858 work on natural selection.
The fact that I, a social scientist, proved Darwin's claim to be not only fallacious but highly suspect in light of which naturalists did in fact read Matthew's book pre-1858 is confirmatory evidence that Darwinists totally believed their namesake's claim that literally no naturalists had read Matthew's ideas before Matthew drew their attention to his book in 1860.
Before my research, it does not appear that any other scholar has pointed out that John Loudon, who reviewed Matthew's book, was a naturalist.
Note a more detailed account of these events and Darwinist errors in interpreting them can be found in my blog post The Patrick Matthew supermyth
More details about Matthew can be found on Patrickmatthew.com