Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ray Comfort: Plagiarist

I recently had a look at Ray Comfort's "special introduction" to Origin of Species, and, I got to thinking that the first part of the introduction sounded a little too smart to be Ray Comfort. So I did some googling and found that Ray's introduction looks suspiciously like "A Brief History of Charles Darwin" by Dr. Stan Guffey. Here are some quotes from Ray's intro followed by their parallels in Stan Guffey's work:

Ray: Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England.

Stan: Charles Robert Darwin was born February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England.

Ray: ...[Y]oung Charles showed less interest in studying than in hunting, natural history, and scientific experimentation. In 1825, he enrolled at Edinburgh University.

Stan: Early in his youth he demonstrated predilections for hunting, natural history, and scientific experimentation. In 1825, after public school education, he enrolled at Edinburgh University.

Ray: On returning to England in 1836, Darwin set to work examining and disseminating the extensive collection of specimens he acquired during the voyage. He quickly established a reputation as an accomplished naturalist on the London scene. In 1839 he married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. That same year he published his journal of the voyage of the Beagle, which brought him immediate celebrity among London’s intellectuals. In 1842 he and Emma moved to Down House in Kent. It was there that she bore ten children and she and Charles spent the rest of their lives.

Stan: On returning to England in 1836, Darwin set to work examining and disseminating the extensive collection of natural history specimens acquired during the voyage. He quickly established a reputation as an accomplished naturalist on the London scene. In 1839 he married Emma Wedgwood, and saw his journal of the voyage of the Beagle published. In 1842 he and Emma moved to Downe house, Kent where Emma would bear 10 children and she and he would live for the rest of their lives.

Ray: During his great adventure as the Beagle’s naturalist, Darwin had studied certain aspects of the morphology and biogeography of the many species of plants and animals that he had observed. He eventually concluded that species exhibited varying degrees of similarity because they were to varying degrees related.

Stan: On his great adventure as the Beagleʼs naturalist Darwin had noted and begun to ponder certain aspects of the morphology and biogeography of the many species of plants and animals that he had observed. In particular, he had begun to explore the possibility, and eventually concluded, that species exhibited varying degrees of similarity because they are to varying degrees related.

I've found other similarities, but I think for now this is sufficient to prove that Ray Comfort is a plagiarist and is totally dishonest.

Edit: Since this is one of my most viewed posts in the entire history of the blog, I thought I'd let readers know that I am the author of a book called Atheism and Naturalism, about atheism, the arguments for God (including an extensive section on evolution) and a bit of my own personal philosophy. I also recently released a book called Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence, and the Resurrection of Jesus which takes on the claim that one can prove the resurrection of Jesus with historical evidence and debunks it.

40 comments:

howgoodisthat said...

http://howgoodisthat.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/ray-comfort-plagiarised-his-creationist-introduction-to-on-the-origin-of-species-from-a-brief-history-of-charles-darwin-by-dr-stan-guffey/

Nathan said...

I don't think the first one really counts, but hey the rest is a bit suss.

I did a quick online text compare and here are the results(for some of the extracts):

http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/9349/compare.png

Matt Prewitt said...

What about this:

http://www.examiner.com/x-21239-Oakland-Skepticism-Examiner~y2009m9d29-Ray-Comforts-new-book-is-he-a-plagiarist?cid=exrss-Oakland-Skepticism-Examiner

Anthony said...

PZ Myer's has linked to your post over at Pharyngula

BathTub said...

Yes this has been known for a while, and Ray has been informed that we knew BEFORE he rewrote the intro. He didn't change anything so he doesn't care.

Luke said...

Nice!

VnS said...

More plagiarism?

I found this url:
http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c018.html

Point 6 in this piece contains text very similar to text found in Comfort's introduction, e.g. the line "The amount of information in the 3 billion base pairs in the DNA in every human cell is equivalent to that in 1,000 books of encyclopedia size" appears to be completely lifted from the above web site.

Sure that web site is a christian website, but that web article appears to be authored by a Dr. Don Batten, Ph.D.

I found this on my first go - just how much of Comfort's intro is lifted from other sources, all without acknowledgment? And he wants to give this out on university campuses? This sets an extremely poor example for undergrads... not to mention creationism is pure sh*t anyway.

BathTub said...

Oh he's lifted from all over the place. but he has attributed most of it. Just check that first.

VnS said...

yeah you may be right. Still - quoting word for word, without some " and " is not right.

BathTub said...

Oh yeah, I am not defending Ray's intro in any way. In fact the plagarism here stands out simply because of the lengths Ray went to to attribute everything else.

He has 103 attributions in the intro. 1 more wouldn't have altered anything.

BathTub said...

Here is a new example of his scunginess. He's just posted on the blog that he earns and average wage, and doesn't own a car.

He has a base salary of $120,000 and has use of a car. And of course all his family work for LW too.

Mike Beidler said...

To Ray's credit (boy, do I hate saying that), he did cite his source for the brief history of Darwin's life. However, in the original version, it was word for word. In the revised version, he changed things up a little bit, probably to avoid looking too derivative.

Mike Beidler said...

Disregard. I was confusing the prose text with the timeline, which was credited to this source: http://www.darwin200.org/press-releases/darwin-timeline.doc

Craig McGillivary said...

The strange thing here is that he didn't just copy and paste. He actually reworked it a little bit. Its like he thinks that makes it OK.

Craig McGillivary said...

I have to say some of the commentators here seem to have a bogus view that if Comfort had attributed this stuff it would be OK. You have to either put the ideas in you own words with an attribution or you have to quote with an attribution. If you lift the words directly and then attribute without quotation that's still plagiarism.

Aaron said...

If he stole, he stole.

File a lawsuit, and make it very public. Discredit them thoroughly and publically.

badrescher said...

I've failed students for less than this.

Bridget4Jesus said...

There are 103 endnotes at the end of his introduction, that cite quotes of most of what he says.
I'm sure it was just an over site on Ray's part. I've been following Ray's ministry for several years, and I know for a fact that he would not deliberately deceive anyone!

I'm sure that if Ray intentionally did not cite Guffey's article, he probably thought he was covered under the "Fair Use Law." http://onlinecopyrightlaw.info/

BathTub said...

Again Bridget, Ray was informed of this BEFORE he rewrote the intro. If he cared he could have corrected things.

AIGBusted said...

Hey Bridget,

As one commenter put it,

"I have to say some of the commentators here seem to have a bogus view that if Comfort had attributed this stuff it would be OK. You have to either put the ideas in you own words with an attribution or you have to quote with an attribution. If you lift the words directly and then attribute without quotation that's still plagiarism."

He's exactly right on this. Doing what Comfort did does not fall under "fair use". I know Comfort's ministry probably means a lot to you, but when Comfort does things like this he is making his own faith look bad. If I were a Christian, I wouldn't have anything to do with Comfort. He is a dishonest conman, and, no offense, but if you'd open your eyes a little you could see that.

Brian said...

Nice job on finding Comfort's plagiarism. However, he also lifted parts of my introduction to the 2005 edition of the 'Autobiography of Charles Darwin'.

Brian Regal

BathTub said...

Well no doubt you will be interested to know he's aiming for another million copies.

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20091124/creationists-to-give-out-1m-copies-of-darwin-s-origin/

Barry said...

Has anyone heard any followup about this story? Has Ray mentioned it?

BathTub said...

No, but the pdf has been removed from his website for some reason.

AIGBusted said...

No, the pdf is still up:

http://assets.livingwaters.com/pdf/--OriginofSpecies--.pdf

Barry said...

I guess he was caught red-handed, but people who are willing to believe the rest of his nonsense will have no problem with a little academic dishonesty.

BathTub said...

well that's a change of url.

up until a week ago it was http://assets.livingwaters.com/pdf/OriginofSpecies.pdf

Where did you find that one?

Brian said...

The 'new' version now available from Comfort might be revised after it was discovered he palgiarised. Hopefully someone will go through this version to what is there now.

AIGBusted said...

Hey Brian,

He didn't alter the new version. With my pdf reader I can search the text, and search for some of the plagiarized text and it was STILL THERE.

BathTub said...

http://www.metropulse.com/news/2009/dec/02/ut-professor-considers-legal-action-over-use-charl/

Apparently Stan is considering legal action.

Brian can you elaborate on the plagiarism from your book?

Brian said...

As someone who follows the creation/evolution debate I knew of Comfort's project back in the spring and naturally read his intro. Right off I got the whiff of deja vu. At the time I was busy with several projects and was preparing for a trip to the UK for the Darwinopalloza at Cambridge so I put it aside with the idea of going back to it later. Over the summer several people contacted me about Comfort stealing my work, then a few weeks back a writer for Salon.com--Laura Miller--contacted me. She was preparing an article and had independently found my work being lifted. I have yet to do a close comparison of the text for my Dawrin Autobiography intro to see exactly what was used...so anybody out there please have at it. I am currently swamped with research and final exam grading. I also have a nagging desire to avoid this fool Comfort.

Brian said...

Oh and as I did the original Autobiography intro on a work for hire basis, I no longer have any legal control over it. Barnes&Noble will have to sue for me.

BathTub said...

Ok it's a pity I haven't seen anyone elaborate on your claim, Stan Guffey's is pretty well covered.

Is the text of yours available online anywhere (legitimately). I haven't read yours.

Perhaps through this blog we could organize a run through.

Brian said...

One more thing. I thought I would get at least something out of all this idiocy. I contacted Living Waters--Comfort's org--and asked for twenty copies of the book I could hand out to students in my Darwin course here at Kean in the spring. I figured he's planning to give away a million copies what's twenty more? I was contacted by a lovely woman who works for Comfort who told me they would not be giving away any more copies as it is too expensive.

Brian said...

you used to be able to read my intro through the B&N site, but it's blanked out now. Maybe B&N sees a little attention being paid my edition so they want people to buy it. It's about six bucks now.

BathTub said...

Yeah see here is how Ray works. He doesn't exactly give stuff away. His faithful flock buy the stuff off him, then he gives them away.

He's done this a few times. Including just a few days ago

"Someone has kindly donated money to make it possible for the first 200 atheists who request a book. If you would like a free copy, send us your name and address, formatting it as you would address an envelope--in three or four lines, caps and lower case. This will speed up the process. Please state if you would like the book signed."

from thursday.

Brian said...

I just wrote to the address to ask for copies for my class. I'll let you know what the response is.

howgoodisthat said...

UT Professor Stan Guffey Considers Legal Action Over Use Of Charles Darwin Bio:

“I am party to a scam,” Guffey says. “The introduction begins with a nice, sweet little biography, then degenerates into intellectually lame, lazy distortions, selective reading of the literature, picking and choosing of facts, and misreadings of the historical record.” He says Comfort “gently moves folks into the notion that they don’t want to read what comes after the introduction. He just wants his 50 pages read, 47 of which are anti-intellectual, dishonest drivel, the first three of which are pretty good because I wrote them.”

http://www.metropulse.com/news/2009/dec/02/ut-professor-considers-legal-action-over-use-charl/

http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/adoti/ut_professor_considers_legal_action_over_ray/

Haewood Jathink said...

Bathtub,

Did you post anything on Ray's blog about this issue? I tried but he wouldn't let it go through.

And he makes $120,000 per year for his work? Why do I suddenly want to vomit?

BathTub said...

Yeah, there have been plenty of posts about it on the blog, probably why he's clamping down on it now.