Review of Flannery’s book on Wallace:
Review of Wallace bio
Wallace is a much neglected figure in the history of evolutionary biology, and this book attempts to set the record straight after many mendacious biographies in the mainstream of the paradigm have done their best to downgrade the so-called co-discoverer of Darwin’s theory, so-called. Wallace’s later dissent from natural selection obsessions as to the descent of man is greatly to his credit and shows that he had a deeper understanding than Darwin who became fixated by the mythology of random evolution and adaptationist scenarios.
But the truth is strange, stranger than Flannery can allow, for his otherwise charming book fails to consider the strong evidence of plagiarism by Darwin of the real source of the theory in Wallace. This evidence is summarized in The Darwin Conspiracy by Roy Davies. In a comment to a review of this book at Amazon Flannery states his position here, for anyone who wishes to follow it. I am puzzled by his hesitation here. Why? An entire generation of suspicious Darwin scholars has worked hard to uncover the evidence of the complot and the near perfect crime of Darwin. To refuse to deal with it is still one more blow to the reputation of Wallace, who is made out to be some kind of associate of the Discovery Institute. C’mon.
The distortions never seem to end with Wallace. The case for this plagiarism is tricky and perhaps hard to follow for many, but the evidence is clear that Darwin held very retarded, almost creationist, views until very late, when in 1855 he began receiving letters from Wallace, climaxing in the famous Ternate letter. One of the confusions is the way Darwin rewrote his earlier books to give a false impression, and another is the way he used the term ‘natural selection’ very early, but with an entirely different meaning, one very far from his later usage.
I am not sure why the Intelligent Design and Creationist critics of Darwin are reluctant to see this aspect of the paradigm’s history. We need to face the fact that Wallace most probably created the Darwinism we know, and that he is therefore responsible for its side effects and un-glorious history. That he, as the more intelligent scientist, renounced his earlier views should be a caution to all scientists, but instead we see that he is simply sidelined and ridiculed by those who are fixated by the limited theory that Wallace created. We need to grasp the context here: everyone was totally confused by the evolution phenomenon and stuck in a kind of Platonic metaphysics about speciation. Wallace’s acute observational research broke the deadlock and came to the gist of the divergence theory. But this breakthrough ended up becoming an obstacle to a still larger perspective.
In any case, Wallace deserves a break here, and while this work partially restores the man to some accurate accounting, the problem of the horrific Darwin and his scientific crime needs to be brought into all biographies of Wallace.
Amazon link: The Darwin Conspiracy: Origins of a Scientific Crime