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RAW-FOOD  October 1997

RAW-FOOD October 1997

Subject:

Science or science? Wolfe/NFL plagiarism--PART 1

From:

Ward Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 12 Oct 1997 20:50:15 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (296 lines)

PART 1 OF 5

DAVID WOLFE / NATURE'S FIRST LAW PLAGIARIZATION
OF PHILLIP JOHNSON'S "DARWIN ON TRIAL"

Synopsis: This is a long post, in 5 parts of from 300 to 500 lines each.
Those who invest the time to read through this series, however, will find
clear and detailed evidence demonstrating that the recent 2-part post on
the Raw-Food listgroup of 9/28/97 titled "Science or science?"--which David
Wolfe/NFL has claimed authorship of--was in actuality extensively
plagiarized from creationist Phillip E. Johnson's 1993 book "Darwin on
Trial." The many side-by-side comparisons of passages that are examined
here document the plagiarization unmistakably, and also show the
alterations Wolfe/NFL made for his/their own purposes. In addition, some of
the instances provide an inside look at a few of the practices Wolfe/NFL
use in distorting information from original sources.

Overall, this post should provide--for those not yet aware of it--clear
documentation of the claims that those of us who are dismayed at NFL's
deceptive practices have sometimes made: that the promotion of their views
through dishonesty and abuse of information is conscious and intentional.

----------

BACKGROUND

Recently David Wolfe of the group Nature's First Law (hereafter simply
"NFL") posted a response here on the Raw-Food listgroup titled "Science or
science?" on 9/28/97 challenging me to a debate on evolution. This post was
a response to earlier comments of mine that listhost Peter Brandt had
posted to Raw-Food for me on 9/15/97 addressing David's "On Form &
Actuality" posting, which appeared on a few internet lists earlier this
summer claiming there is no such thing as evolution.

For reasons that will become very clear shortly, devoting time to a debate
with David or NFL simply does not interest me. There are a couple of
reasons for this, but most specifically it has to do with the
unscrupulousness, deceit, and dishonesty involved in much of the
"scientific" information NFL and David post. Not least of all, as it turns
out, David's recent "Science or science?" posting, which I discovered has
proven to be an extensive cut-and-splice plagiarization job, presented as
if it were mostly the words of David Wolfe, but was in fact mostly a
plagiarization directly from creationist and lawyer Phillip E. Johnson's
book "Darwin on Trial." [For those interested in the book, here is the
publishing info: Johnson, Phillip E. (1993) Darwin On Trial (2nd edition).
InterVarsity Press: Downer's Grove, Illinois. Paperback, 220 pp. including
index.]

Due to such demonstrated disregard for honest representation of facts and
their sources (and this is not the first time David and/or NFL has
seriously misrepresented information in one way or another), there are a
number of us who feel strongly that NFL and its members are not worth
taking seriously or to be trusted. I for one do not want to take too much
time anymore (as I did for awhile last year) legitimizing them by taking
much time on any kind of ongoing basis to address their postings.

However, I have decided due to the circumstances here, and the hard proof
almost handed to me on a silver platter, that it is worth making a response
demonstrating in unmistakable terms just how deceitful NFL can be (in this
case, David Wolfe specifically, though I am not sure how involved or not
the other two members, Stephen Arlin and Fouad Dini, may have been), so
that others can perhaps see why there are those of us who feel it's a waste
of time paying them much attention.

I've also decided to come out of lurk mode temporarily and make this post
(or series of posts, actually, since it will have to be done in multiple
parts) directly to the listgroup myself. In recent months even though I
have been subscribed to the Raw-Food list and lurking, I've let others
repost to the list (at their request, not mine) occasional comments of mine
that had first been made via private email to individual acquaintances.
This has been because in recent months I haven't had much interest getting
actively involved in the ongoing internet diet debates anymore, other than
lurking and observing, because my interests have been turning elsewhere
these days. I simply don't have the time, sustained level of interest, or
desire anymore to get directly involved in extended debates given new areas
of focus demanding my attention.

This particular response, though, is something I want to post to the list
myself so others will know how strongly I feel about the NFL/David Wolfe
issue. (I do not want this to be interpreted as a signal, however, that I
intend to get dragged back into the dietary discussions here on an ongoing
basis. While I continue to lurk, and like to observe, I don't have much
time to respond.)

I ought to mention in this connection another compelling reason why I
simply won't take much time with NFL anymore: It is exasperating and takes
far too much time tracking down and pointing out the deceit in their
writings in order to get to the real issues of substance that might be
worth debating. It may be deceit that is obvious to those of us familiar
enough with the evidence to be aware of it, but to point it out and prove
it with documentation so it is also unmistakably apparent to others takes
large amounts of time. The time it took after first realizing the "Science
or science?" post was heavily plagiarized to actually track down all the
plagiarisms and write them up here was considerable enough that I don't
want to do anything like this again soon. The last time I did something
similar--in refuting NFL's many distortions about the dietary habits,
longevity figures, etc., of chimpanzees (see my post of 12/7/96 on Raw-Food
titled "Re: Chimps and meat" rebutting a post of theirs from the preceding
few days) and referenced the actual facts to scientific journals and
sources--it took me well over two hours just to make one single post. Not
something you want to repeat often.

It doesn't take long doing that before you realize it's a thankless task,
since NFL's style is generally to pump out the deceits at a rapid pace
without bothering to supply easily traceable reference data so that others
can verify their statements with a minimum of scutwork. If when debating or
responding to them, one is to convincingly point out for others such deceit
or distortion on their part, it requires of the respondent painstaking
research that is very time-consuming. It is of course regrettable that when
responding to a post by NFL, one is forced to check for intentional
distortions and deceits in doing so, but they have brought it on
themselves, and this more than anything else makes it unlikely I or anyone
else with scientific interests is going to be interested in responding
seriously to someone who can't be honest in the first place.

With that preface then, I trust people will understand why I hope this will
be my final posting on NFL for hopefully a long time, after which I intend
to retire back to lurking if possible. Until such time as they demonstrate
they can be consistently honest and above-board and build a new track
record based on those qualities, I would hope others will also not bother
further taking them too seriously. With all this as preface out of the way,
I'll now turn to...

A BRIEF INTRO ON DAVID WOLFE'S PLAGIARIZATION OF "DARWIN ON TRIAL"

When I first skimmed David's "Science or science?" posting, I at first
thought perhaps David, or maybe NFL in general, was at last realizing there
might be an advantage in toning down their habitual demogoguery and
in-yer-face, ad-hominem-attack posting style so as not to appear so rabid,
if they were to get some respect for their representations of "scientific"
information. And perhaps they are in fact beginning to realize this to some
small degree. They are, after all, toning down that kind of rhetoric a bit
when forwarding their money-making speaking schedule dates to the listgroup
(for which you have to sound nicer if you want people to come and hear you).

But when I slowed down and read the "Science or science?" posting
thoroughly at a normal rate of speed, it became obvious--to me, at
least--that the sentence construction, the rhythm and flow, the syntax, the
use of vocabulary, etc., were far different than David's or anyone in NFL's
usual fare. He was just faking it.

This was actually handed to me on something of a silver platter--because
not only was David brazen enough to plagiarize, as it turns out, he was
even more brazen in listing the source of the plagiarization as one of his
references, one of which was Phillip Johnson's "Darwin on Trial." And when
I checked my own copy of Johnson's book, I discovered that much more than
just being a reference source, it was instead heavily plagiarized, the
proportion amounting to roughly two-thirds of the main "essay" sections of
the post. (This is not counting the quotations actually identified as such,
which when accounted for, take the actual amount of original material in
the essay portion itself down to about one-fifth.) In the separate section
of the post addressed to me, it turned out that about one-quarter of these
passages in which David was supposedly responding *personally* were also
plagiarized.

That is not scholarship or merely using a reference source in any kind of
honest way--it is out-and-out plagiarism. Now lest I be accused of going
too far here in my charges of plagiarism, it is certainly true that *some*
of the passages in the 2-part "Science or science?" post--the ones that
were actually surrounded by quotation marks as they should have been (which
I will note in due course when dissecting which parts of the book the post
came from) *were* quoted and attributed to Johnson's "Darwin on Trial." But
I think you will all be able to see--as the numerous examples to be given
here will demonstrate--that whatever few passages were clearly quoted, that
in no way absolves the lack of attribution for the many other, and
considerably more numerous, passages that were blatantly plagiarized and
presented as words and writing coming straight from David Wolfe and/or NFL
themselves. Furthermore, the cut-and-splice nature of the plagiarization
(which will become quite evident as we get into the actual examples) shows
just how conscious and intentional it was.

And just in case David or NFL protest that they didn't know any better
(which in itself ought to be laughable), ignorance constitutes no excuse
for plagiarism. In fact, even if one were to grant that the plagiarism was
done in ignorance of the ethics regarding it, it would just go to show how
inbred and automatic NFL's tendencies to deceive actually are, so that
perhaps the deception didn't even register with them. (This, however, I
seriously doubt.) Any self-respecting author, or authors, of a book (the
NFL trio have a book out on the market) would not show such blatant
disregard for ripping off the words of another and then presenting them as
completely their own. What especially takes this clearly over the top and
into the realm of deceit--you have to marvel at NFL's gall here--is that
not only did David infringe on Johnson's copyright, but he then turned
right around and *specifically* copyrighted the plagiarization *as
his/NFL's very own* with a copyright notice on the post containing all the
plagiarisms.

For a long time, I had not known for sure whether some of the apparent
disregard for getting scientific evidence straight that has been displayed
by NFL in the past was simple negligence due to their shoot-from-the-hip
style--resulting from what many of us view as their extremism and
fanaticism (I was willing at one time to concede basically good, if
negligent and overenthusiastic, intentions on their part)--or whether it
was due to dishonesty. But with the comparisons of the passages in David's
posting with those from Johnson's book you'll be seeing, I think it's now
clear that the deceit and dishonesty, at least at times, though in a
different form this time (plagiarism and not simply distortion or lack of
credible attribution for evidence or "facts") is very conscious and
deliberate here.

Another note I should make before getting into detailing all of the
plagiarizations here: The passages of Phillip Johnson's that were
plagiarized might be worth addressing under different circumstances.
Johnson's book "Darwin on Trial" does make some good philosophical points.
I have the book myself, and have found it instructive in this area. Johnson
is at his best and most instructive when discussing the inherent
philosophical assumptions contained within science and the program of
scientific naturalism. Of course, all approaches of inquiry into knowledge
must contain some assumptions or the other on which the rest of the
discipline is based; otherwise you have no foundation for inquiry. Johnson
himself has assumptions (religious, theistic, Christian ones), but he of
course has to withhold examination of those if he is to cast the kind of
intense doubt he intends on evolution. Because if one were to compare
whatever flaws he may believe to exist in the scientific account of
evolution with his own Christian theistic philosophical predispositions, it
would of course reveal that the position of Christian theism in regard to
evolution is empirically untestable and unscientific *in its very
principle.* (You simply can't design a falsifiable empirical test intended
to test or reveal the influence of a supernatural God on a physical
creation or the sequence of evolution as Johnson would like to see.)

At any rate, it's possible after detailing NFL's plagiarizations that I may
include a final posting in this series summarizing the critiques others
have made of Johnson's book, but if so it will of necessity be something of
a summary one, given my limited time and interest in the internet debates
these days. I would assume those who are interested can follow up any such
leads for themselves.


WHAT PLAGIARISM IS

Prior to getting into the plagiarisms themselves, it would be a good idea
to briefly make clear just what kinds of things constitute plagiarization,
so there is no mistaking, denying, or wriggling out of it. A very nicely
done and concise web page summarizing the subject is the "Bates College
Statement on Plagiarism," available at
http://sneezy.bates.edu/pubs/Plagiarism/plagiarism.html. (According to info
on the website, Bates College is located in Lewiston, Maine 04240.) This
site has the best summary overview defining just what plagiarism is that I
was able to find on the net without putting in too much time, how to avoid
it, etc. Important among the definitions of plagiarism listed on the site
(which I summarize here) used in analyzing David's/NFL's plagiarism here
(frankly, these really ought be common knowledge, based as they are on
common sense) are that:

(1) Merely listing a source as a reference in no way absolves plagiarizing
from it. (I.e., the fact that David/NFL listed "Darwin on Trial" as a
source is no excuse for his/their wholesale plagiarization of it.)

(2) Paraphrases of another's words without acknowledgment constitutes
plagiarism just as much as word-for-word copying does. Copying of the
author's sentence structure or sequence of logic and syntax while merely
substituting somewhat different words or rearranging some of the
phraseology is still plagiarization. (Most of NFL's plagiarizations contain
a high level of direct word-for-word copying, but many of the
plagiarizations are also composed of a mixture of such copying combined
with close paraphrasing.)

(3) Quotations from an author's work for which one does not have access to
the original source, but which have been gotten from other sources that one
*does* have access to, should always be acknowledged as having come from
those secondary sources. Normally, the accepted form is something like:
"Quoted-author, quoted in: name-and-references-for-secondary-source." (To
do otherwise is to promote deception by making it appear as if one has
researched more widely or has more breadth of knowledge than they actually
have. This is another practice Wolfe engaged in when quoting Stephen Jay
Gould, David Raup, Colin Patterson, and other individuals whose words from
other works were reproduced in "Darwin on Trial" that leads the reader into
assuming he had read more widely than he had.)

For the record, and to avoid any confusion for those interested in
verifying the page and paragraph numbers furnished here in detailing the
plagiarisms from "Darwin on Trial," they have been referenced to the 1993
paperback printing (2nd edition) of Johnson's book, which was originally
published in hardback in 1991. This detail is important since the 2nd
edition contains an epilogue that was added to the 1st edition, and the
epilogue was a source for some of David's/NFL's plagiarizations that you
would not know about if you only had a copy of the 1st edition. Also, the
2nd edition of the book has two extra pages of material inserted beginning
on page 71, which--along with the epilogue inserted prior to the "Research
Notes" section at the end--alters the page numbering compared to the 1st
edition of the book. (To be as clear as possible, in citing a paragraph
number, I am counting as the first paragraph on a page any initial
paragraph, including fractional ones that are the last part of a paragraph
beginning on the preceding page.)

END PART 1

Part 2 will begin taking a look in detail at how David Wolfe and/or NFL
plagiarized and stitched together the "Science or science?" posting from
Phillip Johnson's book "Darwin on Trial."

--Ward Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>


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