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RAW-FOOD  October 1997

RAW-FOOD October 1997


Science or science? Wolfe/NFL plagiarism--PART 2


Ward Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>


Sun, 12 Oct 1997 20:55:45 -0500





text/plain (450 lines)





I have to confess here that I almost had to admire David's ingenuity in
cutting and splicing so many different passages from all over Johnson's
book into a completely different order. I am not sure whether this was done
to intentionally throw any potential trackers off the trail, or whether
David just thought he had a better and more convincing way to sequence the
material than Johnson did, or simply that it worked out that way for some
reason due to the many outtakes lifted from so many different locations. At
any rate, after examining a number of the plagiarizations, one can begin to
envision or imagine David having read through the book and highlighting or
underlining passages to his liking--then later when plagiarizing Johnson
for his posting, going back and taking these marked passages and fitting
them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

To me it comically almost seemed like it would have been more work doing
things this way and getting everything to fit together just right in a
reasonable logical sequence, than to just write something from scratch in
one's own words. But then maybe David has had a lot of practice at this and
has become something of a zen master at it. I don't know. Regardless, I
hope the rest of you will find this tour through the mind of a plagiarizer
to be as fascinating and, at times, as enjoyable as I did--even though it
was a lot of work and something I don't want to repeat again.

Since there is probably no foolproof way of easily referencing particular
page numbers, line numbers, and so forth for an internet posting, I'll here
go sequentially through David's internet paper from start to finish in
comparing it with Johnson's book.

The paper starts off in its introduction, appropriately or inappropriately
enough (I am not sure which :-) ), with a direct quote from Johnson that is
properly acknowledged as such, and comes from page 155 of "Darwin on Trial"
(hereafter "DOT") [last several lines of the page]:

> Introduction
> "As the creation myth of scientific naturalism, Darwinism plays an
> indispensable ideological role in the war against fundamentalism.  For
> that reason, the scientific organizations are devoted to protecting
> Darwinism rather than testing it, and the rules of scientific
> investigation have been shaped to help them succeed." -- Phillip Johnson,
> Darwin On Trial

I would only comment here that even where direct quotes are credited to a
particular book or article as they are above, they really ought to
reference the page number as well. I won't waste time with this, however,
because David doesn't either, beginning the plagiarizations with the very
next paragraph:

> Scientists believe that scientific investigation is either the exclusive
> path to knowledge or at least by far the most reliable path, and that only
> material phenomena are real; thus, what science cannot study is
> essentially not real.  Let's assume this is true and from a strictly
> scientific materialistic view analyze the theory of evolution.

Now compare the above with the last three lines from footnote #2 on p.116
from DOT:

> All these terms imply that scientific investigation is either the
> exclusive path to knowledge or at least by far the most reliable path, and
> that only natural or material phenomena are real. In other words, what
> science cannot study is effectively unreal.

Here, David's first sentence in the paragraph clearly plagiarizes, with but
a few words substituted or rewritten very slightly. I couldn't find any
evidence his second sentence was lifted, so we'll credit it to David.
(Actually, believe it or not, that sentence will be one of only a
relatively small number of sentences and paragraphs in the essay (outside
of comments to me personally) that was not either quoted directly or
plagiarized from Johnson.)

The next paragraph turns out to be a bit of a hodgepodge in terms of
originality and plagiarization:

> Both the theory of evolution and creationism are forms of pseudo-science.
> However, the creationists are for more objective in confronting and
> attempting to explain the facts of Life as they exist on Earth. The
> Darwinists are far more interested in protecting their theory: they hide
> the facts; they try to explain them away. The Darwinist imagination has
> played an important role in construing the evidence to support the
> Darwinian theory.

Now compare the above with these two sentences from DOT:

> [p.10, 2nd para.]: Patterson suggested that both evolution and creationism
> are forms of pseudo-knowledge. [p.82 end of 2nd para.]: ...the Darwinist
> imagination might have played an important role in construing the evidence
> which has been offered to support Darwin's theory.

Whether David's first sentence is a plagiarization is perhaps not quite
conclusive enough to judge, although I think it probably is, but I'll give
David the benefit of the doubt, as I will his second sentence, for which I
could find no comparable passage at all in DOT. It should be apparent,
though, the third sentence is a clear plagiarization, the term "Darwinist
imagination" being unique enough, especially in conjunction with the phrase
"construing the evidence," to establish little doubt.

David's next para.:
> First, one must consider the economic, political, and cultural aspects of
> the Darwinian theory.  The story of human evolution is not simply a
> scientific hypothesis; it is the (un)scientific (un)naturalist
> materialistic equivalent of Adam and Eve, and a matter of massive cultural
> significance.  Propagating the story of gradual evolution via
> micromutations and natural selection requires books, television shows,
> museums, etc.  It also requires the Science priesthood, in the form of
> thousands of white-clad researchers, professors, and graphic artists who
> fill in the unexplainable "gaps" in the fossil record with imaginative
> stories and pictures so as to carry on the charade to the general public.
> The needs of the established profession and now the public ensure the
> confirming evidence "must be found" (or will be made to fit). Darwinists
> have consistently taken basic life principles, such as natural selection
> within a species, claimed it as proof of evolution (that natural selection
> has turned insects into humans over millions of years) and then they have
> ignored all the difficulties.  Only an analysis done by those not
> committed to the Darwinian framework can objectively determine whether the
> evidence supports the theory, because to Darwinists, evolution is a fact
> beyond question, an article taken upon faith without scientific support.

Now match the above to these various paragraphs from DOT:

> [page 85, 2nd para.]: also has to consider the cultural and
> economic aspects of the situation. The story of human descent from apes is
> not merely a scientific hypothesis; it is the secular equivalent of the
> story of Adam and Eve, and a matter of immense cultural importance.
> Propagating the story requires illustrations, museum exhibits, and
> television reenactments. It also requires a priesthood, in the form of
> thousands of researchers, teachers, and artists who provide realistic and
> imaginitive detail and carry the story out to the general public. The
> needs of the public and the profession ensure the confirming evidence will
> be found... [p.86, 3rd para.:] The Darwinist approach has consistently
> been to find some supporting fossil evidence, claim it as proof for
> "evolution," and then ingore all the difficulties. [p.85, end of 2nd
> para.]: ...only an audit performed by persons not committed in advance to
> the hypothesis under investigation can tell us whether the evidence has
> any value as confirmation.

Though some words and phrases have been changed, still we have easily
apparent plagiarization going on here.

One very curious phrase that appears in David's paragraph above and also
one other place later in "Science or science?" that appears nowhere in
Johnson's "Darwin on Trial" is the snide and fanciful depiction of
evolution as purporting to have transformed "insects into humans"--and we
can safely assume this is not a plagiarization. Why? For one thing, it does
not appear in Johnson's book, but more importantly, evolutionary theory
does not even propose that insects evolved into humans! The evolutionary
"tree" of familial relationships in the animal kingdom set forth by
evolutionary theorists has insects and humans in two completely separate
branches with no possible line of descent, which could have been discovered
by checking a basic text on evolution.

The idea that evolution somehow proposes insects could have been
transformed into humans is a fabrication (perhaps inadvertent, but a
fabrication nonetheless, borne of misunderstanding) that not only shows
NFL's ignorance of basic evolutionary theory, it's also a typical example
of their penchant for misrepresentation and/or making up ludicrous-sounding
phrases that distort information simply for rhetoric effect in an attempt
to make the opposition look absurd. In this case, combined with
simultaneous wholesale plagiarization throughout, it shows what is the real
absurdity: David's pretense of understanding much about the subject of
evolution in any detail. Though perhaps, of course, this might be one good
reason for him to plagiarize: If he doesn't, then there seems to be the
real risk of introducing distortions through NFL's characteristic
negligence, sloppiness, the tendency to erroneously exaggerate or deceive,
or through basic ignorance.

Moving on to David's next para.:

> Second, to clarify: Science must be separated from science.  What is the
> difference?  Let us look at an example: Darwinism states biological
> diversification is the product of an accumulation of micro-adaptations
> through natural selection.  But the creative power of this theoretical
> mechanism has never been shown.  The philosophically important part of the
> Darwinian theory, its mechanical mechanism for creating complex things
> which did not previously exist, is not a part of science at all (it has
> not been demonstrated by the scientific method), rather it is a
> philosophical deduction from (un)scientific (un)naturalist materialism or
> Science.

Compare the preceding with this passage from DOT:

> [p.158, 2nd para.]: Darwinian theory attributes biological complexity to
> the accumulation of adaptive micromutations by natural selection, but the
> creative power of this hypothetical mechanism has never been
> demonstrated... The philosophically important part of the Darwinian
> theory--its mechanism for creating complex things that did not exist
> before-- is therefore not really part of empirical science at all, but
> rather a deduction from naturalistic philosophy.

A few comments here: It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to see that the
pattern of minor modifications introduced by David into Phillip Johnson's
narrative (aside from the many word-for-word copies) incorporates mainly
simple word substitutions or slight elaborations of the vocabulary. While I
wouldn't want to state this as a certainty, one of two or three things
seems to be the case: (1) Either David seems to think these minuscule
changes somehow confer upon him the status of full right to authorship and
copyright of what he is otherwise lifting straight out of DOT--quite a
conceit considering the heavy dependence throughout on Johnson's syntax,
sequence of logic, conceptual depictions, phraseology, and sentence
structure; or (2) the word substitutions are designed to throw those who
might be suspicious of plagiarism off the trail; or (3) both.

Another comment. Lest I be too harsh, there is one original contribution
above from David, which is the translation of a few of Phillip Johnson's
more straightforward terms such as "naturalistic philosophy" into the
rather more hyped-up mouthful "(un)scientific (un)naturalist
materialism"--as well as the not normally capitalized pseudo-mythological
term "Science." (These terms are sprinkled through the narrative
periodically to maintain some coherency and to tie in with the title of the
essay.) On the other hand, even when attempting to write a more studious
essay, it seems here David/NFL just can't resist taking things a little bit
too far over the top with phrases like this designed to hype. (My vote,
though, has to go to the aforementioned and deliciously ludicrous phrase
"insects into humans" as my personal favorite here, which gave me a good
chuckle each time I read over it again. :-) )

Next up on the rostrum from David:

> And this is the important point: Science includes science AND
> philosophical deductions which are not science and are not supported
> empirically.
> Another example is the common ancestor idea, which sounds great to a
> materialistic mind, but is not supported by the fossil record.  The common
> ancestor idea contains science (quantifiable similarities between species)
> AND Science the philosophical deduction that they share a common ancestor
> which has not been shown empirically.

Lo and behold, above it turns out that we have two entire consecutive, if
rather brief, paragraphs that don't seem to be plagiarized. At least I
couldn't find any similarities in DOT. But savor them while you can,
folks--because we will be finding as we proceed that this is such an
infrequent occurrence as to actually constitute one of those rare "missing
(transitional) links" the creationists are so determined to show do not
exist! :-)

On to our next specimen from "Science or science?":

> What makes me oppose the theory of evolution is that I point out the
> difference between science and Science, and oppose the latter when it
> comes disguised in the former.

Ah, but is this "me" that is speaking really David, or is it perhaps
Phillip Johnson? See what you think...

>From DOT:
> [p.158, end of 2nd para.]: ...what makes me a "critic of evolution" is
> that I distinguish between naturalistic philosophy and empirical science,
> and oppose the former when it comes cloaked in the authority of the
> latter.

Again, we have a switcheroo in the reversal of "former" and "latter," and
the word "Science" substituted for "naturalistic philosophy" and "science"
for "empirical science," but otherwise it looks like--to use a metaphor--we
have here Phillip Johnson speaking through David in the manner of a

Next paragraph: [from David]

> Most scientists do not understand there is a difference between science
> and Science. One reason they are not able to see the difference is because
> they fear the spread of religious fanaticism if the power of Science is
> weakened. Thus, they become fanatical about Science and feel compelled to
> force the choice: Science or Religion?

Compare with the following from DOT:

> [p.156, 2nd para.]: ...most scientists do not understand that there is a
> difference between the scientific method of inquiry, as articulated by
> Popper, and the philosophical program of scientific naturalism. One reason
> that they are not inclined to recognize the difference is that they fear
> the growth of religious fanaticism if the power of naturalistic philosophy
> is weakened. But whenever science is enlisted in some other cause--
> religious, political, or racialistic--the result is always that the
> scientists themselves become fanatics.

Here again we see some word substitution, some streamlining, and the
transplanted word "science" for Johnson's terminology (this time "the
scientific method of inquiry") and "Science" for Johnson's "naturalistic
philosophy," and this is a more extensive paraphrase than some of the
examples here, but the plagiarism of the paraphrase is still evident.

> Additionally, most people outside the fields of biology, anthropology,
> paleontology, and related fields have had little opportunity to discover
> how much philosophy is being taught to them in the name of scientific
> fact. Darwinists are teaching philosophy -- not facts -- about common
> ancestors, transition types, natural selection generating new species,
> etc.

Compare with Johnson:
> [p.146, end of 3rd para.]: Most persons outside the profession had little
> opportunity to learn how much philosophy was being taught in the name of
> science...

David's last sentence above appears to be original here. In the first
sentence, however, we have more word substition/elaboration from Johnson
that is still recognizable plagiarism.

David once again:

> Science has stole the show and few realize its pervasive religious
> influence. Science is not fact and neither is its creation story, the
> theory of evolution.  When we state the theory of evolution as a
> hypothesis requiring empirical confirmation, the supporting evidence is
> absent.  Let us break it down piece by piece...

Compare the 3rd sentence above to Johnson:

> [p.176, end of 3rd para.]: When the theory is stated as a hypothesis
> requiring empirical confirmation, the supporting evidence is not
> impressive.

What becomes interesting as things proceed here is that it almost seems as
if there is a heavy dependence on Johnson for even very simple statements
like the plagiarized sentence above in a paragraph that is otherwise
David's original. It has to make you think there is either (1) a
considerable amount of laziness going on in not being willing to put in the
effort to think for oneself and put very many of the ideas here into one's
own words; or (2) David is unsure of being able to come off sounding
scholarly enough or consistently polite enough to others when writing in
his own words; or else (3) he just doesn't give much of a damn about
plagiarizing virtually anything. It's sad almost.

David's next paragraph is credited to DOT--however, here too there is some
deception involved. First, a look at the paragraph:

> The Fossil Record
> "A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology
> and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record
> is far more Darwinian than it is.  This probably comes from the
> oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: low-level textbooks,
> semi-popular articles, and so on.  Also, there is probably some wishful
> thinking involved.  In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find
> predictable progressions.  In general, these have not been found -- yet
> optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks..."
> [later he wrote] "We actually may have fewer examples of smooth
> transitions [between species] than we had in Darwin's time, because some
> of the old examples have turned out to be invalid when studied in more
> detail." -- David Raup, one of the world's most respected paleontologists,
> based at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum.

What is deceptive about this is that if you didn't know otherwise, it would
certainly look like David had read widely enough to have gotten this quote
from a book or article written by Raup himself, the man quoted. However, it
actually comes from two different passages in DOT, one on p.186 and one on
p.187. What makes it obvious that the quote comes from DOT is David's
description of Raup--rather obviously lifted from the following passage in

> [p.186, 2nd para.] Raup, based at the University of Chicago and the Field
> Museum, is one of the world's most respected paleontologists.

Johnson's words here are the same as in David's author-credit lines, with
only a reversal of the two phrases from Johnson's version to David's.

Up next we have another quote from a famous paleontologist--Stephen Jay
Gould--which might also otherwise appear to have come from one of the many
articles and books by the prolific Gould himself. (Boy, that David Wolfe
sure must be into evolutionary stuff and read a lot of books and articles,
hey?!] Except that we find it actually comes from DOT [p.50, 3/4ths the way
down the page]:

> "The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly
> inconsistent with gradualism:
> 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure
> on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking pretty much the same as
> when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and
> directionless.
> 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise
> gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at
> once and 'fully formed.'"

And the above quote was credited to Gould by David in this manner:

> -- Stephen J. Gould, Darwinian developer of the evolutionary "punctuated
> equilibrium" theory which deals with the embarrassing fact that the fossil
> record is devoid of transition types.

How can we be almost certain this is from DOT, and not from some original
Gould source? Again, as with the Raup quotation, the above description of
Gould contains two key phrases from DOT occurring one after the other in
close conjunction [the words "embarrassing fact" and "fossil record"]:

> [p.50, 4th para.]: Gould and Eldredge proposed a new theory they called
> "punctuated equilibrium" deal with an embarrassing fact: the fossil
> record today on the whole looks very much as it did in 1859..."

David again:
> All those who have been taught in school that the fossil record was a
> bulwark for evolution, will be surprised to find out it is a liability
> which needs to be explained away by Darwinists. Modern paleontologists
> seem to think it is their duty to protect us from the conclusions we might
> draw if we knew the actual state of the evidence. Gould described "the
> extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record" as "the trade
> secret of paleontology." The rather objective Darwinist, Steven Stanley
> explained that the doubts of paleontologists about gradualistic evolution
> were for long years "suppressed."

Compare the above with DOT:
> [p.58, 3rd para.]: Just about everyone who took a college biology course
> during the last sixty years or so has been led to believe that the fossil
> record was a bulwark of support for the classic Darwinian thesis, not a
> liability that had to be explained away. [p.59, 2nd para.]:
> Paleontologists seem to have thought it their duty to protect the rest of
> us from the erroneous conclusions we might have drawn if we had known the
> actual state of the evidence. Gould described "the extreme rarity of
> transitional forms in the fossil record" as "the trade secret of
> paleontology." Steven Stanley explained that the doubts of paleontologists
> about gradualistic evolution were for long years "suppressed."

Not much need for comment there.

>From David:
> What of the gaps between the major groups: phyla, classes, orders?
> "Punctuated equilibrium" might explain a lack of many fossils, but it
> cannot explain a lack all transition fossils! The gaps are pervasive and
> immense. Is evolution so punctuated and ingenious that it left NO trace in
> the fossil record spanning these gaps?

>From DOT:
> [p.54, 2nd para.]: some point we need more than ingenious excuses to
> fill the gaps. The discontinuities between the major groups--phyla,
> classes, orders--are not only pervasive, but in many cases immense. Was
> there never anything but invisible peripheral isolates in between?

Above is another instructive way to plagiarize: Don't think up your own
line of reasoning in constructing sentences. Instead rip off the author's
logical sequence, slice and dice a few phrases, scatter the words around a
bit like so many condiments, and then bake it in your brain till half-done:
by george, it's almost like COOKING, come to think of it! :-) But NFL
wouldn't have ever had any experience at THAT, would they? ...would they?
Hmmm? :-)


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

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