Some comments on deliberate misinformation, lies and serious scientific fraud perpetrated by Messers David Williams and Wolfgang Wüster
A scientific paper is not normally the place to "attack" another person and/or launch a defence of oneís own good name. However the circumstances surrounding the activities of David Williams and Wolfgang Wüster in the period 1998-2001 are hardly ordinary and thus have to be addressed (refer to the Wüster, Williams and other relevant citations at the rear of this paper).
The two men have "spammed" thousands of e-mails and internet posts falsely accusing this author of innumerable crimes, various unethical and improper acts and other general misdeeds.
By virtue of the sheer number of posts, their wide dissemination through use of the new technology and the "venom" in some of these posts, it is appropriate that some of the more serious lies and outlandish claims made, be formally corrected for the public record.
Wüster and Williams have attempted to mask some, but not all of their posts as "scientific comment", but even a cursory assessment of their statements (some of which are cited at the end of this paper) which are replete with lies, half-truthís, distortions and blatant double standards, reveal that their agenda has absolutely no scientific component whatsoever and is instead one purely of attack on this authorís character and integrity.
In 1993 this author published Smuggled: The Underground Trade in Australiaís Wildlife which detailed warts and all the Australian wildlife trade, both legal and illegal.
In that book this author detailed some of the smuggling activity by Queensland snakie David Williams, who in February 1992 pled guilty and was convicted of the relevant smuggling charges in a Queensland court.
In the sequel Smuggled-2 this author detailed more of Williamsí activities; this time his failed Austoxin venture in New Guinea which turned out to be nothing more than a front for smuggling snakes from New Guinea to the northern hemisphere.
This author chose not to detail other criminal activities by Williams on the basis of relevance.
Williams didnít sue, presumably because all that was published about him had long been on the public record (including having been reported in the tabloid daily papers) and was true and correct.
However because he was adversely named in two "Hoser books" Williams has since then made innumerable cowardly attacks on this author and his credibility at every opportunity.
This has included on various internet forums, where more recently he has been joined by his small band of followers including the likes of Wolfgang Wüster et. al..
And for the record, in this country (Australia), the credibility of Williams as a herpetologist (or much else) is very little.
Wüster, an academic based in a British university, similarly has little, if any documented expertise in Australian reptiles. And based on his writings, Wüsterís alleged qualifications can only be called into serious question.
In early 2001, when the above-mentioned "debate" turned against Williams and Wüster, principally when the Williams scientific fraud was exposed (see below) he cut off access to his list server for those who were posting against him. When the same thing happened on John Fowlerís much larger Australian Herps list and Kingsnake.com forums Williams threatened to sue the list managers if they allowed the posts to remain, so they were wiped.
When Victorian herpetologist Neil Davie pointed out fraudulent and/or unethical practices by Williams and Wüster on the Kingsnake forums, Williams petitioned list owner Jeff Barringer to have Davieís access cut off and it was.
Otherís who similarly pointed out fatal flaws in arguments by Williams and Wüster were similarly vilified and attacked by the pair, including Bernard Frome, Pete Brammell, Paul Hackett, Benjamin Dowse, and Scott Eipper (a small number of their posts are cited at the end of this paper) and others.
Wüster, an erstwhile ally of Williams also posted lies and misinformation about this author on various lists, with a spamming ability that most mass-marketers would only envy, and yes, now some of the same lies have since even been published in "hard copy" in the generally resepcted journal Litteratura Serpentium in June 2001.
This mass posting activity didnít help Williams and his case completely as other correspondents, including Bernard Frome and Pete Brammell had also got onto the case and then independently exposed Williams and Wüster for all they had. Williams then made threats and had all posts pointing out his misdeeds wiped from the various servers.
We sought legal advice in relation to suing Williams for defamation way back in 1999 in relation to another unrelated character assassination by him of this author on the internet. We were advised against suing him on the basis that he had a bad credit history (debts totaling tens of thousands of dollars) and we would be unlikely to recover any financial damages from him in the event that we won.
Bearing in mind the fact that this author and his publishing company, Kotabi successfully got court issued damages awards against two other persons, namely Neil Mayger (For $7,000) and Adam Anthony Zoccolii (for $24,000), the latter in a defamation action, and we were then unable to recover our money because they both declared bankruptcy, we were not keen to go down this path again.
And hence Williams and his cohorts continue to peddle lies and other defamatory statements against this author, safe in the knowledge that we have effectively no legal redress.
Effectively the same Wüster piece published in Litteratura Serpentium in June 2001 was first published on Kingsnake.com in January the same year (on January 22, 2001 at 11:29:07 to be exact), and then widely circulated elsewhere. It was rapidly discredited by numerous correspondents (e.g. Frome (2001a, 2001b), Brammell (2001a, 2001b, 2001c, 2001d)).
Notwithstanding this, Wüster then "shopped" the piece among friends and people who owed him favors in order to get some other "names" as "co-authors" to give his wild claims added credibility, before it was re-sent to the editor of Litteratura Serpentium on 5 May 2001 (four months later) (see van Aken 2001a, 2001b).
This editor (Gijs van Aken), fell for the ruse, and so Wüsterís already discredited lies got a second running.
This author sent the editor of Litteratura Serpentium a response systematically rebutting all Wüsterís lies and allegations and of the same length as Wüsterís original piece.
But the editor, who had in fact invited this authorís response, went back on his word and e-mailed this author and said he wasnít going to print the response.
That response has since been posted at:
The first attacks on Hoserís name
Besides a constant string of e-mails to the various lists claiming that Hoserís various books are fiction - at least in terms of himself, Williams began his attacks on Hoserís credit in other ways in late 1998.
And yes for the record, all the criminal activity by Williams as detailed in the Smuggled books is 100% true and correct and Williams knows it.
Should anyone have any doubts, a check of the magistrates courts will reveal all.
In order to attack this authorís credibility, Williams decided to run a campaign to stop any herpetologists from using Hoser assigned scientific names.
The first point of attack was the description of Pailsus pailsei.
Williams made a number of posts stating that the species was not valid and that it was nothing more than an underfed King Brown Snake.
Subsequently he posted an "online paper" at:
in November 1988 and numerous other places so as to ensure that it was picked up by all the major internet search engines.
Using a series of rubbery figures and a comparison of the subcaudal counts between Pailsus and Panacedechis, (which has about as much relevance as comparing apples with sausages), Williams ended his paper by declaring Pailsus pailsei as being synonymous to Cannia australis.
Williams promised to publish more in a "peer reviewed journal" by end of 1998, but three years later, no such publication has appeared.
The online paper, co-authored by Brian Starkey is now known as Williams and Starkey version 1.
Williams was evidently unaware that the code of the ICZN does not allow for the "devalidating" of scientific names quite so easily and that once a name has been assigned to a valid taxa it is effectively there for ever, provided that the taxa has not already been named.
Notwithstanding this, Williams then posted on numerous internet lists the same idea, for the following two years.
His erstwhile friend and colleague Wolfgang Wüster got onto the same caper and posted far and wide the same idea.
Between them, they sent thousands of e-mails and posts and using text-book bullying tactics they aggressively attacked all those who defended this authorís taxonomy or his good name.
Wüsterís posts were even more curious as up until at least early 2001, he had (by his later admission) never seen a Pailsus and yet had been prostituting himself as a taxonomic genius with regards to these animals and spamming everyone accordingly.
By way of example, as late as July 2001, you could find Wüsterís comments denying the existence of Pailsus on the internet at Peter Uetzís site at:
It is quoted below:
Pailsus pailsei HOSER 1998
Serpentes: Elapidae snakes
Questionable genus and species. Probably synonymous to Pseudechis australis (W. Wüster,
pers. comm.) "
Now reading this first in 1999 and again in 2001, youíd be led to believe that Wüster in fact had expertise on these snakes and so was somehow qualified to voice an expert opinion.
But in early 2001 after the Williams/Wüster fraud (see below) became all too obvious, he attempted to distance himself from David Williams when he told the email@example.com list:
" I am not personally familiar with these animals (New Guinea Pailsus), and I have quite openly stated this myself".
Now this comment is even more curious as Wüster has since written in Litteratura Serpentium, that this author had rushed to print with his Pailsus descriptions.
As recently as 23 January 2001, (after the publication of both Pailsus descriptions) David Williams posted on Kingsnake.com the following condescending comment to Scott Eipper:
"I hate to burst your bubble son, but there is absolutely no conclusive evidence whatsoever to Ďproveí that these snakes (Pailsus) are anything other than local variants of Pseudechis australis."
That the Williams and Wüster lines about Pailsus pailsei and Pailsus rossignollii being nothing more than unusual Cannia australis was having "success" and/or gained some "legitimacy" was easily demonstrated by the currency their arguments gained among ill-informed herpetologists and novices.
Typical of this outcome was seen on two websites managed by Patrick Hughett, (Hughett 2001a, 2001b) both of which in due course made it clear that he had read the Hoser papers, and then that Wüster, Williams and Mark OíShea all regarded Pailsus rossignollii as being merely "Pseudechis australis".
A series of 27 posts by Hughett on Kingsnake.com (Hughett 2001c) , intersperced by a series of misinformation posts by Williams and Wüster in June and July 2001 also put a date on the creation of the website and showed that the Williams/Wüster claims about Pailsus rossignollii being nothing more than "Pseudechis australis" actually continued well beyond the time that the Wüster et. al piece had been submitted for publication in the journal Litteratura Serpentium, and even after it had been published.
Now the problem with Williams and Wüster wasnít the fact that they were arguing tripe. This author could handle that. The problem was that their position was about as fixed as Melbourneís weather.
In other words it liked to "chop and change".
Now anyone can see from the dates above that well after BOTH Pailsus descriptions were published by this author, both Williams and Wüster were still maintaining the lie that they were the same thing as Cannia australis.
Now bearing in mind neither men had seen Pailsus, they were brave to be venturing such a strong and "expert" opinion, but in this democratic world, this author was effectively unable to stop them.
And perhaps here it is also worth mentioning that as far back as 1999, this author realised that arguing with the likes of Williams and Wüster was a waste of time and so for the main part, this author has taken leave from online forums and not responded to the tirade of attacks from the two men.
However, here in Victoria, where most prominent hobbyists have been to Pailsí residence and actually seen Pailsus in the flesh, nobody disputed the fact that they were different from Cannia australis, and so it was from this state (Victoria) that the strongest defence of this author came from.
And it also appears that many individuals who defended this authorís good name against the attacks by Williams and Wüster did so, not necessarily out of faith in this authorís work or friendship with the author, but rather because they had axes to grind against Williams over failed snake-trading deals and the like.
The matters are unrelated to this author, and a summary of some of these nefarious and failed deals, criminal activity and the like by Williams and associates was posted by Eipper on Kingsnake.com in three separate posts in July 2001 (Eipper 2001a-c).
The details are far too extensive to post or even summarize here in this paper.
Notwithstanding all the above, by mid 1999 the Williams/Wüster claims against the validity of Pailsus (at the species level at least) looked more and more dodgy as more and more people looked into the two menís pseudoscience.
This became even more so after the publications of Hoser (1999a, 1999b), Sutherland (1999) and the emergence of the Wells and Wellington description of "Cannia weigeli", all of which tended to indelibly confirm the original Pailsus description as describing a hitherto unrecognized taxa.
Following publication of the Pailsus rossignollii description in late 2000, a number of correspondents from outside Australia weighed into the debate and also took on Williams and Wüster and their dodgy claims that Pailsus was nothing more than an underfed Cannia australis.
It was by this stage obvious that the Williams/Wüster claims lacked merit and their arguments accordingly went down the drain.
It was then that the pair then engaged in what was perhaps their biggest stunt yet.
Both started to claim that this author had somehow stolen their information and "naming rights" for the species Pailsus rossignollii.
The claim was curious based on the fact that theyíd been denying it was different for the previous two years.
The pseudoscience as practiced by the pair then broadened into a more comprehensive attack on this authorís credibility.
It ran (and still runs) essentially along the following lines,
A/ When the pair think Hoser has properly named a valid taxa, to falsely accuse Hoser of stealing naming rights or the science from someone else, and
B/ When they disagree with Hoserís taxonomy or nomenclature, to thereby ridicule and/or rubbish Hoserís "science" or methods, preferably by simultaneously attacking Hoserís credibility, and
C/ To improperly create as much "confusion" as possible (in violation of the ICZNís code), thereby improperly discouraging others from using "Hoser" names, even when they are clearly the correct names.
In other words this author is to be damned no matter what he does.
The big Scientific Fraud by Williams that was supported by Wüster
The fraud was first identified by Geelong-based herpetologist Neil Davie, who posted the details on Kingsnake.com.
Fortunately this was one of the few occasions that David Williams was not aggressively posting messages from his home computer and a sizeable number of herpetologists archived the relevant documents before Williams could wipe them from the internet, a few hours later.
Other herpetologists, including Richard Wells also agree that what occurred was a serious case of scientific fraud.
Hereís what happened!
For the benefit of readers, the original version of the online paper by Williams and Starkey, published in late 1998 is now generally known as "Version 1".
It was posted at: http://www.uq.edu.au/~ddbfry/index.html
The same view as published in that paper was widely endorsed by Wüster and OíShea who both claimed to be working with Williams.
(In fact as recently as 30 June 2001 at: 17:09:41:, OíShea is on the record in a post on Kingsnake.com as claiming Pailsus rossignollii "are still classified as "King Browns"), see any of Hughett (2001a-c)).
Now bearing in mind that this Williams and Starkey online paper and similar comments had been posted far and wide by these people, there was absolutely no secret in the "fact" that these people thought that Pailsus was nothing more than an underfed and undersized "Pseudechis australis".
Now on that basis one would have to be a psychic to realise that this was a "front" so that the same group could go ahead and prepare a description of a New Guinea Pailsus without Hoserís or anyone elseís knowledge, further bearing in mind that it was common knowledge that this author was looking at New Guinea Pailsus.
The scientific fraud really started in early 2001 when Williams and Wüster got onto the internet and started to claim that Hoser had somehow stolen their naming rights to this species (P. rossignollii).
This followed by Williams reposting his paper on the internet at another site, namely:
However this time there were a few noticeable alterations and hence this paper has since become known as "Version 2".
One alteration was the address for Brian Starkey. That part was benign.
The date at the bottom had also been removed.
That act on itís own, one could suppose was also benign.
But what wasnít quite so benign was a citation tacked into the "paper" and cited in full at the end.
It read as follows:
"OíSHEA MT, WILLIAMS DJ, WÜSTER W, BIGILALE IH, and STARKEY BA (1998) A new species of highly venomous elapid snake of the genus Pseudechis from southern coastal Papua New Guinea - taxonomy, conservation status and medical implications. Unpublished (in preparation)."
The key element here was to add credibility to the new assertion Hoser had deliberately sought to steal naming rights to the species.
However this new addition didnít quite push Williams, Wüster, et. al. over the line.
You see the ICZNís code of ethics (which Wüster et. al. are also falsely claiming this author has violated) gives a 12 month limitation on the so-called "hands off" period.
This is so as to stop people "claiming" species and then effectively monopolizing all work on them for years on end while they think about publishing a description.
Even with this fraudulent addition, Williams, Wüster, et. al. failed to place this author outside of the ICZNís code of ethics.
Once Williamsí attention was drawn to this shortcoming in his "paper" out came whatís now become known as "Version 3".
This appeared on Kingsnake.com following requests by various correspondents and was posted by Williams at:
This one had an added in text citation ĎOíShea et. al. (1999)í, thus effectively placing Hoser inside the 12 months "hands off" period.
The problem this time was that Williams forgot to do the same to the citation at the end of the paper, which still had the 1998 date.
Williams in his haste had also neglected to remove all the earlier versions of his paper that heíd smattered all over the internet on different servers (including the two urlís named above).
As already noted, that had been to take advantage of the benefits of so-called "search engines" to ensure maximum exposure for his "paper".
When Davie posted details of the frauds and the various websites through the various herpetological list servers, people everywhere downloaded their own copies in anticipation of Williams wiping them from the world wide web.
This Williams did a few hours later.
The three versions of the perennially morphing paper were then posted on Kingsnake.com by Pete Brammell and yes, have since been archived all over the place.
And furthermore, Wüster came in and actively supported the Williams fraud with a whole raft of lame excuses.
In a post to Kingsnake.com dated February 03, 2001 at 04:19:28: Wüster stated that the scientific fraud perpetrated by Williams had occurred but then went on to say that it wasnít "relevant" to their arguments.
He then went on to threaten to sue anyone who dared repost the earlier versions of the fraudulently altered paper claiming "copyright" over the material.
But Wüster was right about one very important thing.
It was his side that had the copyright on committing scientific fraud!
And yes, in spite of repeated requests from numerous other concerned correspondents, Wüster refused to divorce himself from the Williams/Starkey fraud.
Now in fairness to Mr. Starkey, David Williamsí business partner in "Black Knight Reptiles", who incidentally and recently pled guilty to illegally smuggling a Black-headed Python (Aspidites melanocephalus) through the post and was fined by a magistrateís court, this author has no evidence to show that he was a part of the Williams fraud, even though his name appeared as the junior author to the paper in itís ever morphing versions.
And while this author may have differences of opinions on some matters with Richard Wells (the man who co-described "Cannia weigeli"), we are at one in being of the view that the alteration of the Williams/Starkey paper is one of the most blatant cases of scientific fraud ever perpetrated (Wells pers. comm. dated 4 Feb 2001).
The Williams fraud coupled with the attacks against this author got even worse when it became clear that Williams was posting on the various internet forums under a series of different names. The IP address (as found by viewing each e-mailís "document source") gave Williams and his antics away. During this period, Wüster even let it be known in another post that he hadnít even seen any New Guinea Pailsus and knew nothing of them.
Thus the assertion that this author was somehow poaching a species name from Williams, Wüster and others was well and truly buried.
Most of the relevant posts, including the three versions of the Williams/Starkey "paper" can be found on one of this authorís websites.
The Wüster and Williamsí lie excposed for once and for all!
And perhaps we should actually enlighten people as to what Wüster had to say after the whole Williams/Wüster fraud was exposed via the Kingsnake.com forums.
It was Neil Davie of Geelong (whom both Wüster and David Williams falsely claimed was this author posting under a bogus name) who finally got Wüster to retract the lie that this author had somehow stolen "naming rights" to Pailsus rossignollii.
Wüsterís post on January 28, 2001 at 03:59:11: read thus:
Thought youíd gone?
: Did Hoser really steal naming rights for Pailsus rossignollii from
: Williams as Williams has recently claimed?
No, and Williams did not claim soÖ"
David Williams had earlier claimed Hoser had stolen his research.
But that in itself would have been some mean feat.
You see this author sits based in Melbourne (Australia), while Williams, somewhat itinerant, tends to hover somewhere in the general vicinity of Cairns, Queensland, a distance of over 3000 kms.
Now bearing in mind heís been at loggerheads with this author and this author has never seen anything written by him of herpetological note, save for a couple of minor (and in this instance irrelevant) papers, this author would have no idea as to how he was supposed to have got into his filing system and stolen key data on anything!
Further lies and misinformation by Wüster and Williams
In his piece of fiction published in Litteratura Serpentium, Wüster accused this author of publishing in non-peer-reviewed publications so as to avoid scrutiny of his taxonomy.
The argument is a furphy because, put simply, if this authorís taxonomy is wrong, it simply wonít be used - period!
And that is the case wherever the paper is published - peer reviewed or otherwise.
And by way of example, thatís why the name Varanus teriae Sprackland 1991 is not being used anymore.
(Refer to ICZN case 3043 (Sprackland et. al. 1997) and later relevant comments and findings as published in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature for further details).
And the above is in no way an attack on Sprackland as a herpetologist.
The above comments by Wüster are also a case of serious double standards by Wüster himself.
Wüsterís own piece was deliberately sent to Litteratura Serpentium, where he was able to exercise significant pull with the editor and avoid any external scrutiny of his own litany of lies.
In light of the events following the publication of Wüsterís piece in Litteratura Serpentium it is also clear that Wüster is keen to forcibly and unethically censor this author from having any proper right of reply, and/or even the liberty of correcting some very obvious lies.
Furthermore none of the thousands of posts by himself or his erstwhile colleague David John Williams attacking this author has ever been submitted for peer review.
Cited at the rear of this paper are just a few dozen of them.
Space reasons prevent us from listing them all.
Oh and yes, three years later we still wait for the peer reviewed paper by Wüsterís buddy, Williams as promised by Williams (to be published by end 1988!).
Sinister motives fabricated by Wüster
Wüster wrote that this author had requested the editor of Litteratura Serpentium (Gijs van Aken) speed up publication of the Pailsus rossignolli description. Wüster then went on to imply some kind of sinister motive.
He knew he was lying.
But the full story can be confirmed by van Akenís own e-mails.
Another editor (Marcel van der Voort) received the paper in early 2000 and said that it would be published in the August 2000 issue. This was promised!
Typically this author receives the journal here in Australia in the first week of the month after publication date and so by week two of September this author put a notification of the description on the smuggled.com website as he has done for other publications.
After that, this author received the journal and the description was not in it.
This author was also advised by a mutual friend of the author and Brian Starkey that David Williams had seen the notification and intended "publishing" his own "description" of the species and then back-dating it to claim priority.
Based on Williamsí past form, this author accepted that the story was credible and then contacted the other editor of Litteratura Serpentium (van Aken) and asked what was going on with the paper in terms of publication.
This author was told that the paper was not due to be published for a while. Van Aken was then told of the concerns re Williams and asked that the paper be published as soon as possible.
Aken contacted the other editor, confirmed the original undertaking to publish in August and that it had been inadvertently broken and then published the paper in the December issue.
Itís understood that the Williams plot failed after he was advised that "publication" on the internet does not constitute a valid description as per the ICZNís code and because of his inability to find or lodge a "type" specimen in a Museum.
Ditto for the rest!
Wüster also ran his internet campaign of misinformation in relation to the other Hoser descriptions, such as for the Acanthophis descriptions, by posting via a number of Uetzís internet sites (including: http://srs.embl-heidelberg.de:8000/srs5bin/cgi-bin/wgetz?-e+[REPTILIA-Species:íAcanthophis_SP_crotaluseií], http://srs.embl-heidelberg.de:8000/srs5bin/cgi-bin/wgetz?-e+[REPTILIA-Species:íAcanthophis_SP_barnettií], etc, that the species named by Hoser in Hoser (1998a) were not valid.
By early 2001, and after a number of the names had come into general usage, in particular Acanthophis wellsei Hoser 1998, Wüster also reversed his tune and falsely alleged that Hoser had somehow deliberately "stolen" naming rights from elsewhere.
Now this author wants to make it entirely clear that it is always a possibility that himself and/or anyone else may inadvertently "jump the gun" on someone else by naming one or more species that another person was also intending to describe.
This almost happened in the case of three pythons from Halmahera, Ambon and the Tanimbar group that the author had named (refer to Hoser (2000b)), and then withdrew from publication at the last minute after he became aware that David Barker, et. al. were also intending to assign names to the taxa (as stated in Hoser (2000b)).
That this author was able to withdraw the three names assigned by himself was a fortuitous event and had there not been a "chance encounter" between himself and David Barker at a herpetological conference in Sydney in October 1999, three species of snakes now widely known as Australiasis clastolepis, Australiasis nauta and Australiasis tracyae by Harvey et. al (Barker being a co-author) would probably have been instead known as Australiasis valentici, Australiasis haydnmcphiei and Australiasis greeri.
And yes, the history of herpetology is littered with cases of one herpetologist inadvertently or even intentionally naming taxa that another person had been in the process of formally describing.
However based on the proven conduct by Wüster, Williams, et. al. such a claim by these men as recently asserted in Litteratura Serpentium in June 2001 in relation to this author clearly cannot be credible.
And based on the misinformation put out by these men, the idea that this author has somehow jumped the gun on any research project by themselves, either deliberately or even unintentionally is a pure fiction.
By way of example, besides the long-awaited and unfulfilled promise by Williams made on 1 November 1998 (Williams 1998), that heíd publish a piece repudiating Pailsus pailsei as a species in a "peer reviewed" journal by yearís end; nearly a year after publication of the Pailsus rossignollii description in December 2000, Williams et. al. have failed to produce a shred of evidence to suggest that they were working on either this or any other similar species and thatís in spite of repeated requests by numerous independent herpetologists for the men to do so.
It seems even more odd, bearing in mind that the pair have rushed to print literally thousands of times to peddle their false assertions about this author and the species described ("against" and later "for" their existence as valid taxa), but they have continually refused to produce any data or evidence to suggest that they were working on any relevant taxa.
Noting that the said species had been already been formally described and the ICZNís rule of priority, there would have been nothing gained by the pair to with-hold any data or evidence that they had, and so by this late stage, one could only conclude that the pair lacked such data and had been lying about this since mid January 2001.
This date is when they reversed their assertions about Pailsus pailsei and Pailsus rossignollii not being valid species.
By virtue of the time now effluxed (well over six months), it could be fair to assume that should any relevant data be published at some far-flung date by Wüster, Williams or immediate associates, then it had been gathered well after publication of both Pailsus descriptions and purely as a result of this authorís initial bringing these hitherto undescribed taxa to the attention of science.
This is particularly so, noting that more recently in June and July of this year (2001), and after grudgingly conceding that Pailsus are in fact different from Cannia australis, Wüster and Williams have been actively touting for data and material in relation to Pailsus spp, via Kingsnake.com, private e-mails and elsewhere (refer to Hughett, 2001c, Williams 2001k and Wuster 2001s, 2001t, 2001y)
More of Wüsterís lies, misinformation and inconsistent statements
Wüster et. al. claimed in Litteratura Serpentium that this author has a "deep-seated antagonistic feelings towards the scientific establishment, perhaps as part of the general anti-institutional attitudes Hoser displays in his writings".
It seems hard to reconcile this assertion with the fact that in every taxonomic paper this author has had to rely on the assistanceís of the " scientific establishment" and has acknowledged them in every case, including at the end of this paper.
Or perhaps using Wüsterís own warped sense of reality, anyone who dares voice a different view to anyone elseís views could be described as "anti" and if the person they disagree with are with an institution they could then be labelled "anti-institutional".
On that basis we could include almost every herpetologist in Australia.
To back his assertion that this author is "anti-institution" he cited a paper, namely (Hoser 2000c).
But seriously, if Wüster wanted to claim that this authorís paper, "Whatís in a species name" (Hoser 2000c) is an attack on the staff at the Australian Museum (as he asserted), then perhaps he should think again.
For those who havenít read the article, itís main thrust is complaining about a new practice at the Australian Museum whereby some curators are selling "naming rights" on species at $5,000 a pop with the money to be put towards further research.
This author didnít complain about the Museumís intentions or ethics, and made that much perfectly clear, but rather that if the system became widespread and entrenched it could lead to a whole host of unforseen problems and abuses as listed in the article.
And guess what?
Privately at least the herpetology curators at that very same museum, namely Sadlier and Greer said they agreed with this author!
Based on Wüster et. alís perverse logic you could argue that these two are "anti" themselves!
Wüsterís widening the attack on Hoser
In Literatura Serpentium, Wüster et. al. made numerous false and defamatory allegations in relation to this authorís other taxonomic papers, including Hoser (1998a, 1998b, 1999a, 2000a, 2000b).
Most of the claims were ridiculous in the extreme.
And yes they ran along the lines already outlined above.
Wüster made the bogus claim that this author had an uncritical acceptance of Wells and Wellington taxonomy, including in Hoser (2000c): the python taxonomy paper.
The statement is a barefaced lie.
By way of example, in Hoser (2000c) this author made it point blank clear that he didnít recognise Aspidites collaris as cited by Wells and Wellington.
And this author has previously published other obvious differences of opinion in terms of the potential status of the names "Cannia weigeli" and "Acanthophis armstrongi" (see Hoser (1998a) for the latter and this paper for the former).
However it appears that Wells and Wellington are sufficiently mature enough to accept that taxonomists may agree to disagree or have reasoned scientific discussion rather than engage in a major process of vilification.
Or based on Wüster et. alís perverse logic maybe this author is "anti" Wells and Wellington as well?
Wüster also alleged that Hoserís python descriptions described what he called "non-taxa" as part of his bid to undermine usage of the names assigned.
The claim seems odd based,
1/ On his own lack of experience with the said taxa and
2/ Based on the fact that these hitherto unnamed taxa had been already recognized by numerous herpetologists including Hal Cogger.
By way of example, the South-west Woma was recognized as distinct as far back as 1983 by Cogger et. al. who singled it out for conservation measures in their action plan.
This authorís naming of this form as Aspidites ramsayi panoptes merely formalized the process.
Thatís the harsh reality.
Wüster then published a comparison between this authorís python descriptions and new species diagnoses and those of Harvey et. al., claiming that because this authorís had a lower word count (per taxa described), they were somehow inferior.
But in rebuttal of Wüsterís flawed argument, and by way of example, Laurie Smithís "diagnosis" for Morelia carinata (which he called Python carinatus) has not been called into question even though it consisted just one short sentence.
If Wüster et. al. sought to claim brevity as a criticism of this authorís species descriptions, then there are numerous well-known names in herpetology who stand out in front.
The public claims by Wüster in Litteratura Serpentium seem even more odd, bearing in mind that this author has received (by forwarding) a number of private e-mails from Wüster acknowledging that in every scrutinized case, the Hoser descriptions fit within the rules of the ICZN and describe valid taxa.
Ethics and the ICZN code
It has been seriously violated by Wüster et. al.
The code states:
"5. Intemperate language should not be used in any discussion or writing which involves zoological nomenclature, and all debates should be conducted in a courteous and friendly manner."
Based on the innumerable posts on the internet and other materials peddled by Williams and Wüster et. al., the code has been seriously breached in a manner perhaps never seen before.
One of many examples was Wüsterís post on Kingsnake.com at: January 23, 2001 at 15:25:33.
Or try the posts by Williams on Kingsnake.com at: January 23, 2001 at 07:09:37, January 24, 2001 at 02:53:06 reposted widely by Williams, or Wed, 24 Jan 2001 20:03:19 +1000 on his own firstname.lastname@example.org list server which perhaps represents one of the greatest violations of the ICZNís code of ethics ever to appear in print.
The latter of these commenced thus:
"Yíknow on second thoughts this list is all too quiet, so I think Iíll just
comment on a couple of things in Raymondís post:Ö"
before he got into yet another of his baseless character assassinations of this author.
When the likes of Neil Davie and others came to this authorís defence, Williams true to his form cut off their access to the lists.
But is hasnít just been this author who has been the victim of the lies and deception as carried out by Wüster and Williams. Hiding behind the relative anonymity of their personal computers, Williams and Wüster have driven countless keen herpetologists away from the hobby, and/or at least away from the various discussion forums on the internet.
Persons lied about and vilified by the pair have included such prominent and competent herpetologists as Neil Davie, Scott Eipper, Benjamin Dowse, Tim Mensforth, Roly Burrell, John Fowler, Mick Pugh and others.
All this has been against the rules of the ICZN and ordinary ethics in general, but it seems that the only part of the ICZN code Williams and Wüster have been concerned with adhering to, is the recommendation for "wide dissemination"!
The Loch Ness Monster
This author doesnít believe in it.
However, maybe David Williams does.
After Wüsterís post in January 2001 stating that Hoser hadnít stolen naming rights to Pailsus rossignollii, Williams put out a series of messages stating that he was working on another species of "Pseudechis" from New Guinea.
Now if Hoser was genuinely into stealing naming rights on species, the Williams post was probably quite stupid.
But the reality is that Williams is probably just lying again.
You see detailed inquiries by this author, including in Papua New Guinea, had already failed to reveal any "new" "Pseudechis".
And/or based on the fraudulently altered Williams and Starkey (1998/9/01) versions 2 and 3, they are now outside the ICZNís one year hands off period anyway!
In other words this so-called new species allegedly being described is perhaps just a variant of the Loch Ness Monster!
The end game for Wüster and Williams
As already mentioned, the real issue here is quite simple. Wüster and Williams have commenced a long-term campaign to bully and bludgeon people not to use "Hoser names" for validly named taxa, for fear that their "enemy" may gain some added and perceived credibility.
They have lost the three-year battle over Pailsus, which at the species level at least are now generally recognised as distinct from Cannia australis - and thatís in spite of the best efforts by the pair to stop this from happening.
So instead they will peddle the lie that this author has somehow stolen their naming rights.
The same lie has now been peddled by the pair in relation to Acanthophis wellsei Hoser 1998, since Aplin and others have also accepted the name as valid (also see Aplin and Donnellan, 1999).
And yes, expect to see more of the same for any other taxa this author describes that over time become generally known under those names.
And for the record, if either of the pair expect their lies and misinformation to somehow dissuade this author from naming new taxa when appropriate, they should have a serious rethink.
And on a related matter, the pair should realise that no matter how often they repeat a lie, it will always be just that Ö a lie.
Another lie this author fought for quite a few years was that "there is no corruption in the Victoria Police."
After this authorís books Victoria Police Corruption 1 and 2, were published in 1999, the chief commissioner (repeatedly adversely named in the book) unexpectedly quit two years ahead of the end of his contract and several hundred other police also retired before their time.
And yes, the Victoria Police Corruption books showed that things were so bad in this state that the government finally ditched the old lie and got a new commissioner from New South Wales.
And everybody knows how clean the police were in that state!
An electronic posting
Perhaps encapsulating the seriousness of the fraudulent activities by Williams and Wüster, in particular the fraudulent alteration of Williams and Starkey (1999) versions 1, 2 and 3 was an electronic message from Jim Paull in Gippsland, Victoria posted on the Kingsnake.com academic forum.
The post came well after the pair had been exposed by Neil Davie, Pete Brammell and others. The following message is reproduced below in full so as to avoid charges here of misquoting:
Papers sought online
[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ The Academic Forum ] [ FAQ ]
Posted by Jim Paull on February 01, 2001 at 21:24:36:
I agree with Pete Brammell and the others in relation to Hoser and his posting of his papers online.
A group of us here in Gippsland, Vic. were after copies of Williams and Starkey papers Marks 1, 2, and 3, preferably online, as well as the various posts to the Kingsnake forums over the last week or two.
We found them an instructive study of how a respected scientist such as Hoser could be attacked and smeared by use of various quotes, misquotes and in the case of the 3 papers, plain fabrications, by his adversary/s.
The reason we found the matter of interest was because it was a rare and very public and open example of how sometimes so-called scientists can stoop as low as anyone else to foreword their own agendas, that sometimes are very unscientific.
(particularly when the protagonists are still alive - as we usually only hear about these things, long after their deaths)
Could someone here at Kingsnake, Hoser, or someone else who may have archived the various posts, including those no longer on the Venomous forum at Kingsnake put them all on a website somewhere permanently for us to refer to in future?í
A look into the future of what Wüster claims are "non-taxa"
The pattern of behaviour by Wüster is now well established.
Based on precedent it can be said that any descriptions by this author will usually and in the first instance be condemned and described by Wüster as describing "non-taxa", which is a term Wüster seems to like to use.
Ditto for Williams.
As and when the names move into general usage, and in spite of the best efforts by the pair to stop this happening, we can expect further false and baseless claims by the pair to the effect that this author has either stolen naming rights and/or research from elsewhere Ö probably themselves.
In terms of what this author can do to stop this - the answer is probably very little.
This author has little if any control over the internet and the ability of the pair to "spam" messages to thousands of recipients.
However, this author does issue a serious caution to editors of printed journals and other similar publications against publishing the various diatribes of lies, half-truths and misinformation as written by Wüster and Williams as happened in the case of the piece seen in Litteratura Serpentium (Wüster et. al. 2001).
In that example, the editor of the journal failed to make even so much as a cursory check of the allegations, further noting that such a check would have readily revealed Wüster et. al.ís statements as grossly inaccurate.
As a final irony, itís worth noting that had either of Wüster or Williams diverted just a fraction of their immense time and effort in their campaign against this author to looking at and describing some of the many presently undescribed reptile taxa in the Austro-papuan region, they could have easily done competent investigations and descriptions of several, perhaps including some of the presently undescribed "high-profile" species.
This includes such taxa as varanids and skinks known to inhabit the region to Australiaís immediate north.
If the pair had taken this path instead, they could perhaps have effectively pre-empted yet more baseless claims by themselves against this author and/or anyone else they have taken a maniac dislike to for allegedly "stealing" naming rights to newly described taxa.
The above was from a paper published in July 2001
"A current assessment of the status of the snakes of the genera Cannia and Pailsus, including descriptions of three new subspecies from the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Australia."
To download the original of this paper (over 25,000 words) - with
photos exactly as it appeared in the journal Boydii, citations, etc.
To download the original of this paper - with
photos exactly as it appeared in the journal Boydii - as a 3.23 mb Adobe Acrobat pdf file
To download the original of this paper - as an MS Word for Windows file - in the same text as it appeared in the journal Boydii - (without the photos)