The Monkey Quote in New Scientist

The "Monkey Quote" debate made a brief 1991 appearance in the pages of the science magazine New Scientist. (Note that the Price and Wieland letters cited below appeared in a Science & Education supplement which is included only in the Australian and New Zealand editions of New Scientist.)

After New Scientist mentioned Ritchie's (1991) findings about the Boule quote, Barry Price wrote a letter to the editor saying:

In September 1990, the Queensland-based Creation Science Foundation ... produced the original Boule quote by O'Connell which Gish had used. Moreover they claimed this proved Gish had quoted word-for-word from Boule. (Price 1991)
The Creation Science Foundation (1990) had stated, twice, that O'Connell's quote of Boule was "a word-for-word match" to "Gish's quote of Boule". Price's statement therefore seems to be accurate, and matches my understanding of the CSF booklet.

Carl Wieland of the CSF disagreed with it however, saying:

Price states that the Creation Science Foundation claimed that the original Boule quote "proved Gish had quoted word-for-word from Boule". In fact we wrote that it proved he quoted O'Connell verbatim, not Boule. (Wieland 1991)
Wieland's statement appears to be flat-out false. CSF (1990) contains no statements that Gish had copied verbatim from O'Connell. On the contrary, it twice refers to "Gish's quote of Boule", along with other statements which imply that Gish had quoted Boule. If they were actually arguing, as Wieland claims here, that Gish had copied the quote from O'Connell, why would the CSF (1990) have claimed that O'Connell's quote was support for Gish's quote from an "independent authority"? (my italics) (It was not until their 1991 revised edition of A Response to Deception that the CSF admitted that Gish had copied from O'Connell.)

Plimer commented on Wieland's statement in his book:

Later, Carl Wieland (1991/2) denied that the Creation Science Foundation wrote 'It is a word-for-word match of Gish's quote of Boule ...', and claimed that the Creation Science Foundation said it was a word-for-word quote from O'Connell. Readers might care to check the quote from Response to Deception to prove that Wieland was most economical with the truth. (Plimer 1994)
This seems entirely accurate to me.

Answers in Genesis (the renamed CSF) disagreed, and defended Wieland with some remarkably tortuous logic:

What about Plimer's claim that Carl Wieland was 'bending the truth'? He is referring to a New Scientist Letter to the Editor (published 23 March, 1991) in which Wieland wrote the following:
'Price states that the Creation Science Foundation claimed that the original Boule quote "proved Gish had quoted word-for-word from Boule". In fact we wrote that it proved he quoted O'Connell verbatim, not Boule.'
Plimer correctly quotes CSF from our A Response to Deception, that (referring to the O'Connell quote) 'it is a word-for-word match of Gish's quote of Boule' but he is not correct when he says that Wieland's letter to New Scientist denied that we had said this. A careful comparison with what Wieland wrote (reproduced above) shows that there is a very significant difference. Wieland was denying Price's accusation that we had admitted that Gish had quoted from Boule, whereas what we were saying was that the O'Connell quote was a word-for-word match of Gish's quote of Boule! In other words, Wieland did not deny what Plimer says he denied, but something which was subtly close, but substantially different. (AIG 1997)
I have spent some time trying to decipher this, and am still not sure if I understand it. But I think the AIG is claiming that they never said Gish quoted from Boule; they merely claimed that O'Connell's quote was the same as "Gish's quote of Boule". The significance of this distinction is beyond me, since referring to "Gish's quote of Boule" would seem to imply that Gish had indeed quoted Boule.

Whatever distinction they are trying to make, I do not see how it can alter the fact that Wieland (1991) claimed that the CSF (1990) had written that Gish had quoted O'Connell verbatim, when such is not the case.

As a side issue, Wieland also claimed that:

[Gish's] quoting from a secondary source resulted in no significant gain. Patrick O'Connell's translation (which Gish quoted) was sloppy, but did not change the thrust of Marcellin Boule's French. Would anyone deceive for no advantage? (Wieland 1991)
The gain from Gish's (unwitting) misquoting of Boule seems obvious. Gish wanted to prove that the Peking Man skulls were from apes, or monkeys. O'Connell's misquote seemed to provide a respected scientific source saying what Gish wanted to hear. It was virtually the only 'evidence' Gish could come up with, which was why Gish (1979) referred to Boule's supposed statement that the skulls were "monkey-like" on no fewer than four occasions.


AIG (1997): AiG's point-by-point rebuttal of Plimer's Book (see the section for pp.64-68)

CSF (1990): A response to deception. Creation Science Foundation.

Gish D.T. (1979): Evolution: the fossils say no! Ed. 3. San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers.

Plimer I. (1994): Telling lies for God. Australia: Random House.

Price B. (1991): Strong statement. New Scientist, 23 February 1991, Science & Education supplement

Ritchie A. (1991): The creation science controversy - a response to deception. Australian Biologist, 4(1):16-21.

Wieland C. (1991): Creative tension. New Scientist, 23 March 1991, Science & Education supplement

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