From science writer Daniel Engber at Five Thirty-Eight:
Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?
Sutton, a criminology professor at Nottingham Trent University, started his career of doubting very young: He remembers being told when he was still a boy that all his favorite rock stars on BBC’s “Top of the Pops” were lip-synching and that some weren’t even playing their guitars. Soon he began to wonder at the depths of this deception. Could the members of Led Zeppelin be in on this conspiracy? Was Jimmy Page a lie? Since then, Sutton told me via email, “I have always been concerned with establishing the veracity of what is presented as true, and what is something else.”
But he went too far. He came undone.
In the last few years, Sutton has himself embarked on another journey to the depths, this one far more treacherous than the ones he’s made before. The stakes were low when he was hunting something trivial, the supermyth of Popeye’s spinach; now Sutton has been digging in more sacred ground: the legacy of the great scientific hero and champion of the skeptics, Charles Darwin. In 2014, after spending a year working 18-hour days, seven days a week, Sutton published his most extensive work to date, a 600-page broadside on a cherished story of discovery. He called it “Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s Greatest Secret.”
Sutton’s allegations are explosive. He claims to have found irrefutable proof that neither Darwin nor Alfred Russel Wallace deserves the credit for the theory of natural selection, but rather that they stole the idea – consciously or not – from a wealthy Scotsman and forest-management expert named Patrick Matthew. “I think both Darwin and Wallace were at the very least
sloppy,” he told me. Elsewhere he’s been somewhat less diplomatic: “In my opinion Charles Darwin committed the greatest known science fraud in history by plagiarizing Matthew’s” hypothesis, he told the Telegraph. “Let’s face the painful facts,” Sutton also wrote. “Darwin was a liar. Plain and simple.”
Gosh, in the age of the criminalization of dissent, will the authorities need to think up a special fiendish punishment for him?
Maybe this rethinking evolution thing is going too far if icons are toppling like snow loads falling off the roof…
On the other hand, when it happens, just get out the shovel.
See also: What the fossils told us in their own words
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