INTRODUCTION

Most professional academics are moral, conscientious and hard-working. The pursuit of knowledge is reward in itself. Others are unethical. Some fraudulent and deceitful. A few, egomaniacal and fame-seeking, mercenary and abusive, lazy and careless. There is usually an ulterior motive for their academic endeavour.
The investigative case presented here concerns Mike Sutton, a criminologist at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), the impact that misinformation, produced by his poor and lazy research which he claims to be science, is having on the public perception of science, and the history of science, as it relates to a particularly sensitive period in the nineteenth century, closely associated with the development of our scientific understanding about evolution. Attempts to debate Sutton have failed. The usual platform for refutation of incorrect work is within the pages of relevant academic journals. That is going ahead, however, the lead time on a paper being published is typically months or years. Meanwhile, this website and its associated sites, provide a quicker, more widely available, and entirely comprehensive resource for anyone to see the many examples of Sutton’s mistakes. It would be excellent if the people reading this were to include those who have chosen not to heed several warnings, that maintaining an association with Sutton is helping him to perpetuate his misinformation. How do you communicate caution to someone, when they do not wish to hear what you have to say? Hopefully this website provides a solution.

MAIN CATEGORIES OF CONCERN

1. SUTTON’S RESEARCH IS POOR AND LAZY

On the face of it, the details of these topics, discussed across the hundreds of pages comprising this website, may seem trivial in their focus, academic in their triviality, and no more than one boffin taking swipes at another. After all, everyone knows that universities are jam packed with professional jealousy and ruthless ambition. Hopefully you’ll find that’s not the case as you work your way through this material, but you will need to objectively engage with the information for it to be made obvious. You will not require any qualifications to do so, other than basic literacy and some common sense, because what you will find here, will not be a complicated technical argument, but instead a clear exposure of the frankly huge number of mistakes made by Sutton whilst carrying out his research.

This is the type of research work that makes you cringe, not so much because of major failings and possible legal violation, such as fraudulent fabrication, although that does also feature, but more so from the profundity of “lazy and careless” mistakes that undermine almost every point made. This type of error is officially considered less of a misdemeanor, but is actually thought worse than fraud amongst professional academics, according to a recent survey (Bouter et al. 2016, [1]).

Sutton’s case is an intriguing example of extraordinarily poor standards, but typical nonetheless for an academic blinkered by ego and ambition: they are simply unable to see the problems with their work, evident to anybody else prepared to spend a little time and effort in taking a proper look.

2. SUTTON IS SPREADING MISINFORMATION

Bouter et al. (ibid.) considered the major contraventions of academic principles, Fabrication, Falsification, and Plagiarism (FFP), alongside less legislated examples which they collectively called, Questionable Research Practices (QRP).

Sutton’s case, presented here, has both, QRP in the main, but a sprinkling of FFP as well. Reasons for investigating the case are explained in the dossier forming the vast majority of this dedicated website. There’s so much of it simply because it catalogues Sutton’s very many silly mistakes (e.g., practical and lexical), major failings in scientific methodology (e.g., logic and procedure), and several instances of unprofessionalism (e.g., personation and fabrication).

This website forms an official invitation to the authorities concerned to familiarise themselves with the details of this case, and to please take action against the ongoing spread of misinformation. It is also an invitation for you to make an individual stand. What can you do? Publicise such cases: highlight them on social media, report them to local papers, exert pressure on those authorities to intervene and stop the rot. It is NOT an invitation to Sutton to respond here or anywhere else. He has had plenty of opportunity to discuss the scientific and historical details with qualified professionals, but resorted to insults instead.

3. HIS ASSOCIATES ARE ODDLY INCURIOUS

The parties most at risk as a consequence of Sutton’s activities continuing unchecked, are the reputations of his university, and the people who have endorsed his work. Despite my best efforts to bring these failings to their attention, it is evident that in a bizarre act of professional self-harm, and for whatever reasons, the following have yet to engage with the evidence presented them,

  • Kathie Moore (Professor and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at NTU).
  • Fiona Ross (Chair of The Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group with whom Sutton has been collaborating on a heritage project).
  • Mark Griffiths (Professor of Psychology at NTU, who has given his endorsement).
  • Michael Alexander (journalist at the Dundee Courier who has published articles publicising the work).
  • Bob Butler (founder and CEO of ThinkerMedia who published the 1st edition of Sutton’s work as an ebook.
  • Andy Sutton (cover designer for Sutton’s self-published, 2nd edition of his book).
  • Dariusz Sagan (an editor of Polish journal Filozoficzne Aspekty Genezy, FAG, who published one of Sutton’s papers).
There has also been a handful of people who have cited a flawed piece of work by Sutton, in their own writing, be it a book, article or thesis. When informed of the situation, few considered it sufficiently serious to issue an erratum for printed outputs, or make an edit to online versions. The lack of interest in protecting the literature base, by most of these people, is simply breathtaking, especially considering that each is assisting in disseminating these individual inaccuracies. The effects of Sutton’s professional transgressions are neither benign nor trivial, and can only become more damaging with time. Taken as a whole, the severity of the situation must warrant an investigation at NTU. Not least, Sutton has fabricated or falsified the historical record, in order to shape it to his agenda. He has done this multiple times, and each is an instance of academic misconduct. The latest consequence is that an award to The Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group, of lottery funding for a commemorative events programme, seems to have been awarded partly on false grounds, because it was decided by Sutton’s misinformation. That weekend commemoration of Patrick Matthew went ahead, successfully I hope, but with the unfortunate feature of Sutton and the equally misdirected Howard Minnick as guest speakers. The sole aim of this website is to provide evidence, particularly for the people mentioned above, to make an informed assessment of Sutton’s claims, to disentangle themselves from contributing to his fraudulent spreading of misinformation, and preserve the legacy of Patrick Matthew from further defilement.

References
[1] Lex M. Bouter, Joeri Tijdink, Nils Axelsen, Brian C. Martinson and Gerben ter Riet (2016) Ranking major and minor research misbehaviors: results from a survey among participants of four World Conferences on Research Integrity. Research Integrity and Peer Review 1:17.