PART 3 OF 5
DAVID WOLFE / NFL PLAGIARIZATION
OF PHILLIP JOHNSON'S "DARWIN ON TRIAL" (continued)
Next we come to, from what I can tell, an original paragraph of David's:
> Another fact of the fossil record, Gould failed to mention is inconsistent
> with gradualism, was catastrophic extinction. Extinction has occurred
> primarily by catastrophe rather than gradual elimination.
Ah, another of our few original statements from David, but there's only one
big problem with it: the part about Gould isn't true. It's another NFL
distortion of the facts they seem so prone to when they write in their own
words. (Perhaps better to plagiarize after all.) Johnson doesn't say this
about Gould in his book--in fact, he says just the opposite. Here is
Johnson explaining Gould's position:
> [p.57, 2nd para.]: According to Gould, paleontologists have known about
> these "great dyings" all along, but they have tried to minimize their
> importance because "our strong biases for gradual and continuous change
> force us to view mass extinctions as anomalous and threatening.
> Catastrophic explanations of extinction are making a strong comeback,
> however and many researchers now report that the mass extinctions were
> more frequent, more rapid, and more profound in their effects than had
> previously been acknowleged.
How David's distortion that "Gould failed to mention" this could have been
gotten from DOT (or elsewhere), I don't know, but one has to wonder how
much careful reading was actually occurring alongside the plagiarisms here.
> The great French scientist Cuvier, the father of paleontology, believed
> the geological record showed a pattern of catastrophic events involving
> mass extinctions, which were followed by periods of creation in which new
> forms of life appeared without any trace of evolutionary development.
Compare the above with this from DOT:
> [p.45, 1st para.]: ...the great French scientist Cuvier, the father of
> paleontology, believed that the geological record showed a pattern of
> catastrophic events involving mass extinctions, which were followed by
> periods of creation in which new forms of life appeared without any trace
> of evolutionary development.
Gee, is it just me, or do we have a mynah bird here (perhaps a parrot!)?
:-) At any rate, it's virtually a word-for-word copy, with only the removal
of the word "that" after "believed."
> According to Gould, paleontologists have known about catastrophic "great
> dyings" such the Permian extinction which wiped out 90 percent of all
> species (245 million years ago) and the "K-T" extinction which finished
> off the dinosaurs (65 million years ago) all along. But they have tried
> to minimize their importance because "our strong biases for gradual and
> continuous change force us to view mass extinctions as anomalous and
Here David directly contradicts what he said about Gould just two
paragraphs above, plagiarizing from the paragraph I quoted to show Gould
was in fact very aware of the conflict between catastrophic extinctions in
the fossil record with a strict gradualistic interpretation of evolution.
So it looks like David did read it, but somehow it didn't register, or the
distortion was intentional. Hard to say. The second phrase of David's first
sentence above beginning with "such [as]" was plagiarized from the
> [DOT, p.57, 1st para.]: Two catastrophes in particular stand out: the
> Permian extinction of about 245 million years ago, which exterminated half
> the families of marine invertebrates and probably more than 90 per cent of
> all species; and the famous "K-T" extinction at the end of the Cretaceous
> era, about 65 million years ago, which exterminated the dinosaurs...
In beginning his next section, David furnishes a quotation from DOT to set
his theme, and manages a rare token attribution for it. Let's give him a
big hand, folks--there won't be too many other opportunities! :-)
> Common Ancestors?
> [p.66, 2nd para]: "Darwinists assume that the relationship between, say,
> bats and whales is similar to that between siblings and cousins in human
> families. Possibly it is, but the proposition is not self-evident...
> [p.67, 2nd para.]: We observe directly that apples fall when dropped, but
> we do not observe a common ancestor for modern apes and humans. What we
> do observe is that apes and humans are physically and biochemically more
> like each other than they are like rabbits, snakes, or trees. The ape-
> like common ancestor is a hypothesis in a theory, which purports to
> explain how these greater and lesser similarities came about. The theory
> is plausible, especially to a philosophical materialist, but it may
> nonetheless be false. The true explanation for natural relationships may
> be something much more mysterious." -- Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin On Trial
Gee, that applause sure did sound great while it lasted, didn't it? I guess
it was a nice breather, anyway. Well, so much for that, though--back to
plagiarism as usual with the next paragraph:
> Based on the fossil record, the general picture of animal history is a
> burst of general body forms followed by stasis or extinction. We may
> hypothesize that relationships between these forms comes from common
> ancestors, or from ancestors which were transformed by some means other
> than the accumulation of small mutations, or from some process altogether
> beyond the scope of human understanding at this point. If Darwinists
> truly wanted to be scientific they would have to define the common
> ancestry idea as an empirical fact rather than as a "logical" deduction
> from material classifications. No common ancestors have been found
> between any species on Earth. The common ancestry idea remains a
> hypothesis to this day -- not a fact -- no matter how strongly it appeals
> to a materialist's reasoning. As a hypothesis it deserves our attention
> and after rigorous testing for nearly 140 years it fails due to a lack of
> empirical scientific proof in the laboratory and in the fossil record.
> [p.55, middle of 3rd para.]: The general picture of animal history is thus
> a burst of general body plans followed by extinction. [p.154, last
> sentence thru p.155, 1st line]: Relationships may come from common
> ancestors, or from predecessors which were transformed by some means other
> than the accumulation of small differences, or from some process
> altogether beyond the ken of our science. [p.154, 4th para., 1st
> sentence]: If Darwinists wanted to adopt Popper's standards for scientific
> inquiry, they would have to define the common ancestry thesis as an
> empirical hypothesis rather than as a logical consequence of the fact of
> relationship. [p.155, 1st para., 2nd thru 4th lines]: Common ancestry is a
> hypothesis, not a fact, no matter how strongly it appeals to a
> materialist's common sense. As a hypothesis it deserves our most
> respectful attention, which, in Popper's terms, means that we should test
> it rigorously.
One thing that really ought to be commmented on here is that even when
plagiarizing, David, here and elsewhere, displays a tendency to subtly
tweak, distort, or overhype some of Johnson's statements--such as in the
last sentence here--to depict them in a worse light than Johnson does.
Assuming one takes Johnson's statements at face value (which can be a big
if, depending on how much knowledge one may already have of evolution), he
already makes perhaps as strong a debater's case against common ancestry as
can be made, but it still isn't enough for NFL. Johnson is saying that as a
hypothesis, common ancestry deserves serious respect, but it should also be
fairly and rigorously tested. To read David's version, however, in which
the words "most respectful" have been dropped entirely, the hypothesis of
descent from common ancestors seems to be slyly implied as somehow dubious
or suspicious from the get-go. That is not what Johnson is saying, even if
he does depict the evidence supporting common ancestry as thin--and thus
it's not a fair paraphrase.
Furthermore, David goes beyond Johnson himself (in his only original
sentence in this paragraph) in stating that, "No common ancestors have been
found between any species on Earth." Now if David had said something like,
"Well-accepted common ancestors have to date been found between relatively
few species on Earth," that would have been within the bounds of reason.
But I guess that would be too balanced and not dramatic enough for NFL's
tastes--not absolutist enough, not suitably breast-beating. Instead, the
statement is pushed to the absolute extreme and thereby into the realm of
falsehood, losing the credibility and defensibility it might have otherwise
Johnson says on p.81 that despite his objections he actually might be
willing to credit Archaeopteryx (as most evolutionists do) as the
transitional ancestral form linking reptiles to birds; he apparently (it is
not at all clear) might be willing to credit the sequence of ancestral
forms in the horse line (p.49) (although he glosses over this impressive
bit of evidence in favor of evolution with only one phrase in the entire
book with hardly a mention--quite an oversight that's glaringly apparent if
you've read more widely); and he acknowledges that at least in the
well-known cases of Hawaiian fruitflies and Darwin's finches on the
Galapagos (p.19), micromutations and natural selection have indeed likely
created a range of fruitfly and finch species (which implies common
ancestors) in these cases. (Though of course, Johnson doesn't believe the
same micromutational mechanisms can be extended to account for larger
macromutational changes between more widely divergent species, or the
development of complex new organs or anatomical features such as eyes or
David's next two paragraphs:
> Darwin posed this question to himself: "...why, if species have descended
> from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see
> innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion
> instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?"
> Darwin also wrote: "Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the
> frequent discovery of her transitional and linking forms."
Again, the implication here would be that David actually read Darwin's "The
Origin of Species" or "The Descent of Man." What are our grounds for
believing this is not the case? These same two Darwin quotes, including a
telltale knock-off of the initial lead-in sentence (in DOT, it is "Darwin
posed the question to himself, asking...") appear on consecutive pages in
DOT, the first quotation (including the lead-in) from p.46, 3rd and 4th
paras., the second quote from p.47, 4th para.
David's next passage:
> Pre-Darwinian classifiers cited the lack of intermediaries as a conclusive
> reason for rejecting biological evolution.
Compare to DOT [p.89, 1st para.]:
> Pre-Darwinian classifiers cited the absence of intermediaries as a
> conclusive reason for rejecting biological evolution.
<echo> <echo> <echo> :-)
Exact match except for the substitution of "lack" for "absence." (Evidence
for our metaphorical mynah bird keeps getting a little more insistent. :-)
) You know, since most of the matches we've seen here that would otherwise
be 100% exact, are exact but for the substitution of perhaps a single word,
it seems here that David may be under the comical delusion that if he
changes at least one word in a sentence, he can somehow ethically justify
what he is doing, and doing so thereby makes him a bona fide author of the
cosmetically altered sentence. Sorry, I don't think so. Theft of another's
words is still theft, whether one leaves a token word behind on the way out
the back window or not when leaving the scene of the burglary. :-)
> Darwin's theory predicted not only that transition types would be found,
> but that the fossil record would be mostly transition types! His theory
> also predicted a pattern of extinction even more gradual than the pattern
> of emergence. Both of these predictions clearly contradict the stasis of
> the fossil record.
Johnson's next from DOT:
> [p.48, last para. thru p.49, 1st para.]: Darwin's theory predicted not
> merely that fossil transitionals would be found; it implied that a truly
> complete fossil record would be mostly transitionals... Darwinism also
> implied an important prediction about extinction, that necessary corollary
> of the struggle for existence. Darwin recognized that his theory required
> a pattern of extinction even more gradual than the pattern of evolutionary
Yet more paraphrased plagiarism. Let's give credit where credit is due here
to David, though, for his own 12-word concluding sentence to the paragraph.
Cheers for another monumental contribution to the all-encompassing
originality of "Science or science?"! :-O
David's next section (or should that be, "selection"? :-) ):
> The Species Boundary and Natural Selection
> The natural selection theorem goes: variations with favorable effects on
> reproduction will succeed, those with unfavorable effects will fail, and
> by survival of the fittest organisms will change.
Compare with DOT: [p.23, point #4]
> 4. Therefore variations with favorable effects on reproduction will
> succeed, those with unfavorable effects will fail, and organisms will
(By the way, the above was part of a lengthier quotation of the
paleontologist Colin Patterson, acknowledged as such by Johnson.)
> This theorem does not actually establish that organisms will change. The
> range of hereditary variations may be slim, and the variations which
> survive may be just favorable enough to keep the species the same -- this
> is homeostasis, one of the basic life principles. The effect of natural
> selection may be to keep a species from changing and this is supported by
> the prevailing characteristics of the fossil record which is stasis or the
> absence of change.
Compare the above with these various phrases lifted from Johnson in DOT:
[p.23, last para. thru line 1 of p.24]
> Actually, the theorem does not even establish that organisms will change.
> The range of hereditary variations may be narrow, and the variations which
> survive may be just favorable enough to keep the species as it is.... That
> the effect of natural selection may be to keep a species from changing is
> not just a theoretical possibility. As we shall see in Chapter Four, the
> prevailing characteristic of fossil species is *stasis*--the absence of
> Natural selection, as observed in operation, permits variation only within
> species boundaries. It operates also to preserve those boundaries. The
> theory that natural selection has the creative power necessary to fuel the
> changes necessary to turn one species into another is unsupported by the
> empirical scientific evidence (to believe so is an article taken on faith
> -- Science religion). No case has ever been observed of a species
> "adapting" itself to change its anatomy or physiology, which "adaptation"
> then resulted in more "fitness" and was passed on by heredity with the
> result of a new species.
Johnson in DOT: [p.98, 2nd para.]
> Whenever natural selection is actually observed in operation, it permits
> variation only within boundaries and operates as effectively to preserve
> the constraining boundaries as it does to permit the limited variation.
> The hypothesis that natural selection has the degree of creative power
> required by Darwinist theory remains unsupported by empirical evidence.
Again, even in his paraphrased plagiarism, David oversimplifies here to the
point of distortion. Johnson actually does not say here, as David does,
that, "The theory that natural selection has the creative power necessary
to fuel the changes necessary to turn one SPECIES [emphasis mine] into
another is unsupported...". In places where evolutionary mechanisms have
likely been responsible for producing various, but only slightly differing
species, such as fruitflies in Hawaii (p.19, p.53) and various species of
Darwin's finches on the Galapagos that have been observed or strongly
implied by the circumstantial evidence in our day (p.19), Johnson
acknowledges that fact, for example.
What Johnson actually maintains throughout the book (a conscientious
reading would reveal this) is that he thinks these kinds of species changes
mentioned above that evolution *has* so far been acknowledged to be
responsible for, do not amount to the "creative power" necessary to fuel
more major changes such as the evolution of new types of organs or
anatomical structures (eyes and wings are the two classic examples), or
more significant divergences between new species than the smaller ones
between various similar species such as the ones between fruitflies and
finches. Fair reporting would acknowledge this point, not attempt to
distort it to make one's case appear stronger than it really is. David gets
a little closer to what Johnson is saying in his original concluding
sentence of the paragraph, but still seems to be confusing evolutionary
changes sufficient to produce new but closely related species with ones of
greater magnitude that would be necessary to produce larger macromutational
> Darwinists claim however, they can demonstrate "evolution in action."
> This idea is simply the observation of local fluctuations of genotypes
> within a single species. Fluctuations as a result of circumstances, with
> prior modification of the genome, do not imply evolution. We have
> definite proof of this in many species which have existed unchanged for
> eons and still exist and are studied today.
Compare the above with Johnson from DOT:
> [p.27, 4th para.--which is actually a quote of Pierre Grasse] The
> "evolution in action" of J. Huxley and other biologists is simply the
> observation of demographic facts, local fluctuations of genotypes,
> geographical distributions.... Fluctuation as a result of circumstances,
> with prior modification of the genome, does not imply evolution, and we
> have tangible proof of this in many panchronic species [i.e. living
> fossils that remain unchanged for millions of years]....
Again, little need by now for comment on why the above constitutes plagiarism.
> To be more specific, we know certain circumstances favor drug-resistant
> bacteria, or big birds as opposed to little birds, or black gypsy moths as
> opposed to white gypsy moths. In such circumstances, the population of
> drug-susceptible bacteria, small birds, and white gypsy moths may become
> reduced as long as circumstances prevail, but they do not disappear. If
> circumstances change their portion of the genome could again come to
> predominate and the population would fluctuate back.
The last sentence above is original as far as I can tell, but compare the
rest of the paragraph with this from Johnson in DOT: [p.26, last para. thru
end of same para. at top of p.27]
> ...peculiar circumstances can sometimes favor drug-resistant bacteria, or
> large birds as opposed to small ones, or dark-colored moths as opposed to
> light-colored ones. In such circumstances the population of drug-
> susceptible bacteria, small birds, and light-colored moths may become
> reduced for some period of time, or as long as the circumstances prevail.
David's next paragraph:
> The Darwinian creation of species is no more observable than supernatural
> creation by God. Natural selection exists, but no one has evidence it can
> accomplish anything remotely resembling the creative ability to form a new
> species. The Darwinian Theory, which explains complex life as the product
> of small genetic mutations and "survival of the fittest," is known to be
> valid only for variations within the biological species. The idea that
> Darwinian evolution can gradually transform one kind of species into
> another is merely a biological hypothesis -- not a fact.
Compare the foregoing with the following mix-and-matched passages from DOT:
> [p.117, beg. of 4th para.]: ...creation by Darwinist evolution is no more
> observable than supernatural creation by God. Natural selection exists, to
> be sure, but no one has evidence that it can accomplish anything remotely
> resembling the creative acts that Darwinists attribute to it. [p.10, last
> para.]: Kristol observed that Darwinian theory, which explains complex
> life as the product of small genetic mutations and "survival of the
> fittest," is known to be valid only for variations within the biological
> species. That Darwinian evolution can gradually transform one kind of
> species into another is merely a biological hypothesis, not a fact.
Note yet again in his first two sentences paraphrasing DOT, David's
persistent distortion of Johnson that evolution has not been observed or
acknowledged to have produced at least a few new species (modest though the
differences may be between them) that have occurred in the short slice of
time available for observation in our own day. While Johnson does seem to
be (and in fact may be) contradicting himself on this point in the excerpt
from p.10 of the book above (perhaps giving rise to David's absolutist
interpretation), the real problem here is that myopically plagiarizing
things via cut-and-splicing is liable to take them out of context, which is
what seems to have happened here. Careful overall reading of the book makes
apparent, as we've seen before, that Johnson himself is willing to admit a
few limited examples of what he views as the microevolution of slightly
differing species due to natural selection acting on small variations (as
we have mentioned), even if at the same time he does not think major
macroevolutionary breaks between them are possible that rely on the kind of
"creative power" he believes is necessary to produce them.
We continue with the first paragraph in David's next section:
> "A very large yet undefined extension may safely be given to the direct
> and indirect results of natural selection; but I now admit...that in the
> earlier editions of my "Origin of Species" I probably attributed too much
> to the action of natural selection or the survival of the fittest...I had
> not formerly sufficiently considered the existence of many structures
> which appear to be, as far as we can judge, neither beneficial nor
> injurious, and this I believe to be one of the greatest oversights as yet
> detected in my work." -- Charles Darwin, The Descent Of Man
Nice that David was thoughtful enough to attribute the quote to Darwin
here, but as the quote can be found on p.178 of DOT, does anyone still
believe David actually ran across it himself through studious reading of
Darwin's "The Descent of Man," as it might appear, given that his quotes of
other authors have so far all come from DOT? I can't say that I do.
> Darwinists and Darwin himself, have consistently stated natural selection
> is not the exclusive means of evolution, but they have been totally vague
> about what else is allowable and how important it could be.
Compare to DOT: [p.90, beg. of 2nd para.]
> Darwinists have consistently said that natural selection was not the
> exclusive means of evolution, but they have often been vague about what
> else was allowable and how important it could be.
Yessirree, stretch the truth again by dropping the softening modifier
"often," and by making "vague" into "totally vague," and now the statement
passes NFL muster as something absolutist enough they can feel comfortable
putting their own name on. :-)
END PART 3
--Ward Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>