Calling out Jane Goodall for a plagiarism and error-filled book

Jane Goodall's new book isn't just filled with plagiarism, writes Michael Moynihan at The Daily Beast, it also drastically misconstrues agricultural science and presents poor sources — for instance, books published by the Maharishi University of Management and written by people with no scientific training at all are probably not the best sources to use if you're trying to build a legitimate case against the technology of genetic engineering.


  1. As a (very) great person’s career lengthens the probability that they’ll put their name to dubious enterprise increases (geeks will recognize this as the limited supply of butter scraped over too much bread phenomenon) -sigh-

    1. GMO butter enables better coverage over a wider surface of bread using less product than non-GMO butter. GMO butter is clearly superior.

    2. I think that it’s just when people get older, they find that they just don’t give as much of a shit about criticism of their beliefs and how much it’ll affect their career, so are much more inclined to say what they want to say. 

  2. All discussions of GMOs must eventually come around to complaints that GMOs are not useful as tools of social engineering to create the personal vision of utopia being demanded by the critic.

  3. As people’s careers wind down, they often latch onto paranoid fantasies, which can be fairly profitable for them.  i’m sure there are people that still totally belive that Jenny McCarthy is a reputable authority on how vaccinations cause autism, because former Playmates make the best neuroscientists.

    The best example is probably FA Hayek who actually won the Nobel Prize for economics, which nobody remembers. Instead he is best known for his humiliating plunge into sociology – well he’d be humiliated today but it was quite lucrative for him in the 1950s when he wrote “The Road To Serfdom.”  He said that the Social Democrat parties of Europe would iinevitably degenerate into death camps.  60 years later, the Social Democrats still run much of Europe and the death camps never materialized.  Despite this, “The Road To Serfdom” is still one of the main books of paranoid kooks who plan for that apocalyptic showdown with the United Nations.

    This did not come up last week in the discussion of the intellectual emptiness of Libertarianism, but it’s relevant.

    1.  E. O Wilson is doing this too with respect to group selection, and I seem to recall one of the DNA guys getting pretty interested in Vitamin C as a cure-all.

        1. who would have been more clearly “one of the DNA guys” if he hadn’t been iced out of the loop due to his political/anti-war efforts (or so the story goes)

          1. Pauling was looking at a different set of x-ray crystallography  data.  I think he may have favored a triple helix model. 

    2. Freeman Dyson is still cool, isn’t he?

      And then there’s Richard Feynman, but readers of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman will likely recall how his first impulse upon being informed of his Nobel Prize was to attempt to decline the offer.

        1. Yes, it’s him. But Dyson has always had this thing against climate research for some reason even before global warming (back in the 1980s he was a opponent of the nuclear winter theory). Not “clean” enough for a physicist I suppose.

        2. Yikes. I noted that above after failing to read all of the comments.
          You are right on Maggie.

    3. I was with you until you got to the part about Jenny McCarthy’s career winding down.  Did I miss the part where it wound upwards?

      1. Well she was married to Jim Carrey.  Some people are born great and others have greatness thrust into them. 

        1. They weren’t married. And his move into significant dramatic roles begins about when he started a relationship with her.

    4. Actually, it was written in the early 40’s as a response to national socialism.  And there have been several libertarians who criticized it for exactly the reasons you state above.

      Libertarianism, like socialism, capitalism, communism, and most other “isms” (in all their variety) is only as “intellectually empty” as the person espousing it.

      1. The economists pivoted from praisng Fascism to critizing the Nazis to criticising Socialism pretty much instantly and nobody lost their jobs! A little White-Out and the same people were back in business.  Overnight, the academic establishment went from “Never forget!” to “Whaaaaaat?” Sociologists who tried to make sense of the period risked their careers as America quickly rediscovered (at least some of ) its worry about the wiley Jews

        Hayek would later become a big fan of Peron, who had his death squads killing leftists.

        You should check out the story about “Coop” for comments on Libertarianism.

        1. I actually first learned about Hayek’s approval of “free market” dictators at Reason, who did not approve at all.  Let me hasten to add that I’m not a libertarian.  But I think on many subjects like foreign policy, civil rights, and criminal justice, libertarian thought is as liberal as mine (and most folks I know).

          I have a hard time with knee-jerk condemnation of libertarians and libertarian philosophy.  It’s identical to knee-jerk condemnation of socialists and leftist philosophy.  I think there are honest, intelligent people making good arguments on both sides, and the rush to judge them (usually based in ignorance) is frustrating to me.

          Anyway, sorry for getting off-topic.

          1. I think there are honest, intelligent people making good arguments on both sides

            But they don’t seem to have internet access.

          2.  “Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.” – Plato

            This 2500 year old chestnut has totally stumped Libertarians, often in the most embarassing manner.

  4. Wilhelm Reich was another one – a pioneering psychoanalyst who described the way society shapes sex, gender roles, family and vice versa.  Some of his work reads like Women’s Studies cliches, but he was inventing this stuff during the 1930s.

    Then around 1944 he “discovered”  Orgone Energy and detoured into loopy New Age metaphysics, inventing devices like the Orgone Box and the Cloud Buster.

      1. I  prefer Hawkwind’s “Orgone Accumulator.”
        And Goodall recently wrote an article in Smithsonian (IIRC) that was all ‘Gee whiz ain’t life grand?”  weepy kinda stuff.  Sometimes people should know when to quit when they reach the sentimentalist stage…  are you listening, Werner Herzog?!?!?

  5. Radiolab had a fascinating podcast a couple weeks ago about Henry Heimlich, the inventor the Heimlich Manuever. Dr. Heimlich now lives in Cincinatti and he’s as advocate of treating HIV by infecting people with malaria. He has tarnished his reputation so badly that it’s not really called the Heimlich Manuever anymore.

    It’s a disquieting story. Radiolab producer Pat Walters — who would have died as a child had a school nurse not saved him with the Heimlich maneuver, er, I mean, abdominal thrusts — interviews Dr. Heimlich, his children, and yes, the school nurse.

  6. I met Jane Goodall as a graduate student about twenty years ago. She gave a lecture at our campus and then after at a meet a greet. I spoke with her. I remember at the time being struck at her naivete. I was in the hard sciences and she spoke in a language and with certainty about things that would have been at home in any crystal healing shop. I think her heart’s in the right place and there is no doubt that she made huge contributions to our understanding of anthropology and the study of primates, but she is not a bulwark of the scientfic method or methodologies.

  7. I’ll cut Linus Pauling some slack because he really was someone that could successfully cross disciplines.  Pauling was someone that was willing to be wrong and collect the experimental evidence that could prove himself wrong, rather than making dogmatic statements and collecting groupies.

    “……….Pauling is the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, one of only four individuals to have won more than one (Marie Skłodowska-Curie, John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger are the others) and one of only two people awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields (the Chemistry and Peace prizes), the other being Marie Curie (the Chemistry and Physics prizes)….”

    And he managed to do that despite losing the race to discover the double helix (his model was wrong).

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