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According to author Roy Davies, former head of factual programming for BBC Wales, new evidence demonstrates that Charles Darwin stole his theory of evolution from a Welsh scientist working in Indonesia.
And according to Australia’s Northern Territory News, Davies’ publisher is launching a campaign to have the Australian city of Darwin renamed after the Welshman.
If Davies and his publisher get their way, the theory of evolution may soon be known as “Wallace’s Theory,” and the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory will become some derivation of Alfred Russel Wallace’s name.
Roy Davies, author and Darwin critic
“I researched the book for 12 years,” Davies told the Welsh newspaper Western Mail. “At the beginning, I believed Darwin was a genius. By the time the book was finished, I had long since realized that it was Wallace who was the genius and Darwin, 14 years his senior, who was the plodder.”
Davies’ book, “The Darwin Conspiracy: Origins of a Scientific Crime,” accuses Darwin of incorporating ideas from Wallace’s letters to him into his writings and claiming the ideas as his own. The publisher’s website describes The Darwin Conspiracy as “a true story about deceit and deception and stands as an outstanding metaphor for the idea of survival of the fittest.”
Historians have long known of the letters from Wallace to Darwin but have generally accepted Darwin’s testimony that they arrived from far-off Indonesia after Darwin published his famous theory.
According to Davies, however, newly examined shipping records demonstrate that two crucial letters written by Wallace – who was struck feverishly with malaria and wrote to his colleague Darwin, explaining his ideas – actually arrived before Darwin published his Origin of Species.
Darwin’s treatise on evolution that launched a scientific revolution was published 15 months after Wallace wrote those letters.
Alfred Russel Wallace was born in Llanbadoc, Wales, in 1823 and became an explorer, collector, naturalist, geographer and biologist who studied nature in the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago, from where he wrote to Darwin. Experts generally believe he came up with the idea of evolution by natural selection at the same time as – but entirely independent of – Darwin, but has since been overshadowed.
Indeed, both men presented their theories to the scientific Linnean Society of London in 1858, but when Darwin’s manuscript of Origin of Species was published the following year, Darwin’s fame rose, while Wallace’s name diminished.
“It is terribly unfair on Wallace,” said George Beccaloni, a curator at London’s Natural History Museum and founder of the Alfred Russel Wallace Memorial Fund, to the Western Mail. “The fact of the matter is they both simultaneously published the theory of natural selection in 1858, 15 months before Origin of Species.”
“But everyone credits Origin of Species as being the place the idea was first published, which isn’t true. Wallace definitely deserves half the credit for the idea. On the face of it, it certainly seems there are questions that should be answered by historians,” Beccaloni said.
Davies believes he has answered those questions, and the answers cast serious doubt on Darwin’s integrity and honesty as a scientist.
Paul Hannon, a publicist for Golden Square Books, the company publishing Davies’ book, is taking the doubts a step further. He’s calling for an Australian city named in honor of Darwin to change its identity.
The city of Darwin was first named after Charles Darwin by his one-time shipmate Commander John Clements Wickham, who surveyed the Australian coast and named the place Darwin Harbour almost 20 years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species. 30 years later, a town was built on the site and called itself Palmerston. Then, in 1911, the town reverted its name to again honor the famous naturalist, and it has been known as Darwin ever since.
Hannon, however, says its time to change again.
“The city of Darwin will need to do some soul-searching if it does not want to be associated with theft and plagiarism,” he said in an email to Australia’s Northern Territory News.
The city’s mayor scoffs at the idea. “Welcome to the realities of the world,” he told the newspaper. “We’ve absolutely no plans to change the city’s name.”