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Ray Comfort, plagiarist?

Did Ray Comfort plagiarize part of his "special introduction" to the Origin of Species? That's the charge of Stan Guffey, a lecturer in biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who told the Knoxville Metro Pulse (December 2, 2009), "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 added that 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."

The Metro Pulse observed, "A few sentences were chopped or shortened, and a paragraph on Darwin's youth was rearranged and reworded, but most of the passage appears taken directly from Guffey." Alert bloggers detected the apparent plagiarism months ago and confronted both Comfort and the publisher about it, but Guffey was never asked for permission to use his biography of Darwin. When copies of the book were distributed on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Guffey offered, "Would you like me to autograph this?" The Metro Pulse reported, "Guffey is preparing a cease-and-desist letter through an attorney to prevent further distribution of the book and is contemplating further legal action."

NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott previously criticized Comfort's introduction as "a hopeless mess of long-ago-refuted creationist arguments, teeming with misinformation about the science of evolution, populated by legions of strawmen, and exhibiting what can be charitably described as muddled thinking." Likewise, David Quammen, the author of The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (W. W. Norton, 2006), commented, "Comfort's confused polemic ... will do a severe disservice to anyone who takes it for an entryway to Darwin's great book." For further criticisms of Comfort's "special introduction" to the Origin, visit Don't Diss Darwin, created and maintained by NCSE.