The newspapers and evening news have been announcing victory for Dan Brown and Doubleday in the now concluded trial that took place in London. Fair enough. But the point of interest for me has always been what the case and trial might reveal about Brown's "impeccable research" (New York Daily News and a bazilion other newspapers, magazines, and reader reviews. See some examples listed in this essay). Much was revealed, or brought into a brighter light. And while many news accounts are reporting this story as though Brown is some sort of literary martyr, the judge, Justice Peter Smith, was quite frank in his criticisms of Brown's vague testimony and scholarly pretensions (Smith's entire statement can be read here, in PDF format. My thanks to Lewis Perdue for the link. Pithy extracts from the 70+ page judgment can be accessed on this BBC page.) Here are some of Justice Smith's remarks:
In the synopsis for The Da Vinci Code he says it was written long before they bought or consulted The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. I have considerable difficulties with that statement.
I cannot accept the book was acquired at a much later time if it is going to be seriously contended that extensive research is gone into before The Da Vinci Code is written.
What is extraordinary about Mr Brown's evidence is that he appears to have acquired all of the books that cover this area apart from the one that is described as essential reading. ...
It is quite clear that Mr Brown has not been able to provide all the answers as to the material which Blythe prepared for him.
Second I do not regard the reasons put forward in the third witness statement for her absence as satisfactory.
How DVC was researched and created is vital to the issues in this case.
Blythe Brown's role in that exercise is crucial and I do not accept that there are reasons of a credible nature put forward as to why she has not appeared to give evidence.
It ought to have been obvious to Mr Brown that if he had carefully prepared his witness statement that his case on HBHG as he put it would simply fall apart on an examination of the US HBHG, the copying similarities and the other documents to which I have referred. I do not believe he consciously lied. His failure to address these points in my view shows once again that the reality of his research is that it is superficial. This in my view is the explanation for his evidence. He has presented himself as being a deep and thorough researcher for all of the books he produced.
The evidence in this case demonstrates that as regards DVC that is simply not correct with respect to historical lectures. The Synopsis was prepared using a minimal amount of material from the books TR, WAJ and GG primarily. The major part of the writings of the lectures at a later stage have substantially come from HBHG.
The references immediately above are to The Templar Revelation by Picknett and Prince, Woman With the Alabaster Jar and Goddess in the Gospels, the latter two written by Margaret Starbird, apparently a favorite source for Blythe Brown's research. All, of course, are mentioned in TDVC. Those three books, in addition to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, constitute about 95-99% (I estimate) of Brown's research. And he admitted that he didn't even read HBHG in its entirety. As Lewis Purdue wrote not long before Friday's judgment:
Regardless of how the trial comes out in London, Dan and Blythe are now known as shameless rippers-off of other people's work -- a far cry from their previous statements about their so-called extensive research.
As a university faculty member, I frequently gave an "F" to unoriginal and desperate college students who diligently to altered what they copied in hopes that the copying would not be discovered.