Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 18

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Concerns of meatpuppetry

There have been discussions in the Shock of God chat room about forcing the agnostic label into the article. Be warned of possible meat-puppetry. Soxwon (talk) 04:16, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

This note should have no bearing on edits to the page. This is after all a site that allows users to change content and try to get it to stick, by providing evidence... if the users of that Chat Room can provide evidence their position on Dawkins is right, then it should be reflected in the article. I have personally removed your insulting remarks and replaced them with something much more approprite, this is a not a site where it is OK to fling personal insults(Wikipedia:INSULTS). Colliric (talk) 10:47, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Do not edit other users comments when there is no insult. WP:MEATPUPPETRY has a specific meaning. It is not a personal insult. Of course meatpuppetry and off-wiki canvassing is inappropriate and has a bearing. Please see WP:CAN. However canvassing which is done with the intention of influencing the outcome of a discussion in a particular way is considered inappropriate. This is because it compromises the normal consensus decision-making process, and therefore is generally considered disruptive behaviour.. Further editing of other users comments constitutes vandalism (Talk page vandalism) WP:VANDAL. IRWolfie- (talk) 10:55, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

I have been watching that site, and there is NO REAL evidence of "Meatpuppetry", if you want to view an example of what is being put on the site, you can see it at Shock's youtube channel under This is primarily criticism of the article, not MeatBagging(which to me is an insult, because Canvassing is clearly the uninsulting version of the word). It's only Meat-puppetry/Canvassing if there is really no evidence for their position, if it's not preaching to the converted(which it obviously is) and there isn't primary concern for the integrity(or truthfulness) of the article, which is NOT the case as many users have pointed out on this talk page.Colliric (talk) 11:05, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

The word is meat puppetry not "MeatBagging". It is de facto standard terminology, it is not being applied to any specific wikipedian so I still don't see who is being insulted. It is very obviously canvassing as there is a concern for the integrity of the article because it can lead to a skewed consensus. Whether there is evidence or not is completely irrelevant, it is still canvassing. There is no mention of it being acceptable when you are preaching to the converted. In fact, this is worse since it leads to the aforementioned skewed consensus, typically people canvas outside wikipedia because they want to get people who have the same opinions as themselves to comment.. IRWolfie- (talk) 11:34, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Of course it is canvassing, and I am glad this has been brought to editors' attention. Dbrodbeck (talk) 12:27, 6 March 2012 (UTC)


I have just reverted this edit, which changed "Dawkins is an atheist" to "Dawkins is an agnostic". I'm not saying it's wrong, but I am saying it needs discussing before implementing. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 08:12, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

Good call - Dawkins self-identifies as an atheist; per MOS:IDENTITY, that's what we should use. Yunshui  08:23, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
(e/c)Way to make myself look like a pillock - now that I've realised there was a source attached, in which Dawkins explicitly self-identifies as an agnostic, my above comment is nonsense. Since he self-IDs as agnostic, we should probably describe him as such. However, there are a lot of reliable sources which call him an atheist, probably far more than use his (apparently) preferred term of agnostic. Yunshui  08:32, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
I hope we're not saying that others are more accurate at portraying the man than the man himself. That tends to happen with important figures, say like, Jesus. Ratspeed (talk) 20:36, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

I should have added that the editor who made the change did include a reference in which Dawkins apparently calls himself an agnostic: [1]. Discussion here should take account of that. My view is that a single comment by Dawkins does not trump the longstanding self-description as an atheist, especially when he goes on in the same source to place himself at 6.9 on a scale of 1 to 7, believer to absolute atheist. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 08:30, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

Looks like The Telegraph (which admittedly has a heavy editorial bias against atheism) has picked up the story as well, so it's not just a solitary source. Yunshui  08:37, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Unfortunately the article is riddled with problems, like the assumption that an atheist is not an agnostic, and a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the substance of what Dawkins has said so that he seems contradictory where he's 100% consistent with everything he's ever said (and indeed, he has said precisely this many times before).Zythe (talk) 13:39, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
There's an article on his official website that's a rebuttal to the claims that Dawkins "converted" recently to agnosticism or deism. Here it is:
Perhaps it can be incorporated into the article address all of these internet rumors that Dawkins converted or changed his views. He hasn't. WillieBlues (talk) 20:34, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps the resolved issues template at the top of this talk page should be updated with a statement such as "Dawkins is still very much an atheist." SkyMachine (++) 22:18, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Dawkins has made comments in his books (can't recall what or where exactly) about the logic of belief in God, and has said that if evidence were available he would [change his mind?] [believe in God?]. It's an honest statement consistent with his general position that progress results from questioning evidence. However, Dawkins has a set of beliefs regarding God that are indistinguishable from those of many atheists. For example, see Out Campaign. Johnuniq (talk) 09:20, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

Dawkins is an atheist (a 6.9 on his own spectrum of theistic probability). As a scientist, he is an agnostic in the literal sense of not possessing sufficient evidence with which to arrive at knowledge as to the whether or not the non-falsifiable position that "God exists" is valid. He disusses this at length on The God Delusion, Real Time with Bill Maher, The O'Reilly Factor (as best O'Reilly will let him), with Paxman and elsewhere. Let's not attempt to misrepresent him, in the sense of the popular understanding of "an Agnostic", as someone who believes that any position on the existence of God is foolish (e.g. Stephen Jay Gould's pitiful argument for non-overlapping magisteria). In sum: Dawkins firmly believes that God does not exist (a-theist; lack of belief in theos, God), though in some sense he doesn't know it either (a-gnostic, lacking hard knowledge in relation to a particular proposition, in this case the existence of God). Very few atheists are gnostic atheists, but they are also agnostic on the subject of Russell's teapot as well. In The God Delusion he discusses how contemptible a term "agnostic" really is. I hope that's put this to bed.Zythe (talk) 13:33, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes essentially just Agnostic atheism. IRWolfie- (talk) 14:26, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
In order to be able to discuss this matter in the best possible manner I believe we need to see exactly how the discussion unfolded, so I've transcribed the pertinent part of it (from a video clip accompanying the Telegraph article. Obviously this is not to encourage original synthesis. It just seems useful:
K = Sir Anthony Kenny (chair)
D = Professor Richard Dawkins

K: ...and you, I think, Richard, believe you have a disproof of God's existence.

D: No, I don't. I don't. You are wrong when you said that. I constructed in The God Delusion a 7-point scale of which 1 was "I know God exists," and 7 was "I know God doesn't exist," and I called myself a 6.
K: Why don't you call yourself an agnostic then?
D: I do! But I think it's a...
K: You're described as the world's most famous atheist.
D: Well, not by me!

..not by me.

K: Can I ask you to spell out your argument [...] your Boeing...
D: I'm a 6.9.
K: But you have your Boeing 747 argument to show it's entirely improbable...

D: I believe that when you talk about agnosticism it's very important to make a distinction between "I don't know whether X is true or not. Therefore it's 50/50 likely or unlikely," and that's the kind of agnostic which I'm definitely not. I think one can place estimates of probability on these things, and I think the probability of any supernatural creator existing is very, very low. Let's say I'm a 6.9.
__meco (talk) 19:36, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Looking at the definition of agnosticism vs. atheism (Oxford and TheFreeDictionary), it appears to hinge on whether the person banks on any amount of doubt. For instance, if one were to watch interviews of Ayn Rand, a self-professed Athiest, she persists that the proof is in fact present, that it "doesn't take a lot" to disprove God's existence. ( ) I think it's also unfair to say that Richard Dawkins is a scientist in one context of self-description and a non-scientist at other times. If he himself has any inkling of doubt, or says that he himself cannot prove God's existence, I think it's fair, regardles of the tone of the article or its copy-cat prints, to say that he himself does not declare himself arrogant enough to declare his absolute knowledge of something which in his own words in most probability does not exist. Ratspeed (talk) 20:52, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
i don't get why Zythe says 'lets not try to misrepresent him' and then goes on to say we have to misrepresent him, say he is an atheist , when in the interview he says he is an agnostic - an agnostic at the end of the spectrum of agnostic, but an agnostic.' thats the kind of agnostic I'm not..' - I'm a different kind of agnostic - how do you get 'a -theist' - lack of belief in theos -wheres the greek word for belief in a-theos - its just a-theos - lack of God - and dawkins says he he thinks theos existing is not a- not there at all, but a 'very, very low' probability- i think the article has to say he's an agnostic, if we don't want to misrepresent him. Sayerslle (talk) 23:01, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Can we not have it both ways? "Dawkins is an agnostic atheist who ascribes a "very, very low" probability to the existence of a supernatural creator" or something similar? It's not as concise, but whilst he is, technically, an agnostic, his role as a figurehead of the atheist community tends to suggest that the 1% doubt (actually 1.42% on his scale) doesn't figure highly in his considerations. It seems to me that mentioning both ters would be appropriate. Yunshui  23:12, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Why not have something like , "Dawkins is a vice-pres of etc..., has called the probability of any supernatural creator existing as very, very, low, and supports etc.." Kind of dodge the atheist/agnostic blah blah, what's in a name, but have the precision of what he actually said Sayerslle (talk) 23:31, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

I think all this "agnostic" thing is widely blown-up recentism. We all know that nothing is above described conversation is new, he has said the same thing many times in past, even in his book. If he accepts that "one can't disprove god" doesn't make him agnostic ( There are numerous talks and debate videos, where Dawkins refers to himself as Atheist. For being 6.9, Dawkins has refered to himself as agnostic atheist, where technical correctness is required. But for all practical purposes anyone 6+ is De facto atheist (Dawkins's video explaining it Also as per Dawkins, that there are very very few people who are 7, so if we want to be technically correct, then practially every atheist is an agnostic atheist. So I think we should keep the current wordings of referring him as Atheist. Abhishikt (talk) 02:53, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

There is no question at all that he is an atheist!. People need to read a proper dictionary AND to read The God Delusion. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an atheist two ways One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God. One who practically denies the existence of a God by disregard of moral obligation to Him; a godless man. There is no question that Dawkins meets this definition. At the begining of the second chapter of The God Delusion he describes the God of the Old Testament as "one of the most unpleasant characters in all FICTION." ( my emphasis) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Neilj (talkcontribs) 00:59, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

To help reach a conclusion, I've initiated an RFC, below: Yunshui  07:05, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

Other Wikipedia articles in various diffrent languages now identify him as an Agnostic

I just want it brought to the attention of the editors deciding here that several of the other language Wikipedia sites have significantly changed the article and left the changes currently in place. I wont say which because I know someone here will probably try and edit them if I do, but you can easily find out which ones have been changed by seaching for the articles in the various diffrent versions of the site. Some of these are very well referenced and cited. This makes me wonder why the english version is locked and a flame war is going on here? If the change has been put on the other language sites without much of a fuss, why can't it be put here without need for discussion? it is after all well referenced that it is in fact the Primary Source's own opinion of himself. Please would someone please tell me why it is ok on this occassion for us to ignore the Primary? Colliric (talk) 23:37, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Can we span this RfC across all languages and update the result of this RfC on other language articles? We definitely need to fix those other language articles as well. Abhishikt (talk) 23:43, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Well it may be the case that the subtlety of the English language is being lost in translation to these other wikis, as this is clearly not the understanding of the issue here. We have wolves at the door who would like to mess with this article due to sympathies with theistic causes, and they want to widely proclaim that Dawkins isn't an atheist - he is an agnostic - therefore God. Which as an argument possibly beats their "tide rolls in, tide rolls out". SkyMachine (++) 01:19, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

No these articles are specific in stating it is "Self-identification", due to the editors in those languages feeling the need to comment on the controversy itself. They have provided sources and citations that were not provided by the original editors of the english version and are significatly diffrent. They didn't just change the word unlike this english one, they added several paragraphs explaining the controversy, why and how it came about, and accuratly described the postion as being his own idea. Fixing these articles would require the removal of several well cited and worded paragraphs. I agree with these changes.Colliric (talk) 23:48, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Could you tell us which languages you mean please? I am a bit of a dabbling linguist and I have checked the articles in Welsh, German,French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Latin I would not claim fluency in all of these but reading things is different and I cannot detect the changes which are being claimed. Threy all appear to be still calling him an atheist.Neilj (talk) 00:52, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Either way, I don't think what they do on other wikipedias should guide us really here at en-wiki. Dbrodbeck (talk) 01:23, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
But can it be other way round? What are the guidelines for resolving discrepancies in an article across different languages? Abhishikt (talk) 01:38, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't think there are any such guidelines. Each language is effectively a different project than the others, what consensus es.wikipedia creates and how they handle article content has no bearing on how fr.wikipedia is handled, for example. If there is such a discrepancy and it is brought up at a given language's talk page, they can discuss it and come up with their own consensus, but they are under no obligation to follow another project's consensus. - SudoGhost 02:46, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Adding to Neilj's list also Arabic, Simple English, Hebrew, Polish, Scots. I'm very curious where Colliric is looking. `JoshuaZ (talk) 23:38, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

You can add the Greek wikipedia to that list. I read it with difficulty as a student of classical Greek but it clearly calls him "Atheos". It does make me wonder if the bit about the other languages was a bit of POV pushing? I am very aware that each project has its own rules but it seems that they aren't affected by the daft British press. But don't listen to me as my great great ad infinitum etc grandfather didn't speak English so I clearly can't understand what is written here:-)! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Neilj (talkcontribs) 09:45, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

On the Australian ABC TV program "Q & A" last night when he appeared with Cardinal George Pell, a question was raised about whether he was an atheist or an agnostic. He explained clearly that he lived as an atheist, although as a scientist he recognised that nothing is absolutely certain. He was implying that the two terms were not exclusive. He did however say that he moved between preferring the term "atheist" or "non-believer" or some other terms I forget, because he felt the term "atheist" raised antagonisms that other terms did not. It is clear however that we are right to call him an atheist, and I am sure some sources will discuss that part of the program. --Bduke (Discussion) 00:05, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

I think that just highlights the difficulty of finding one word fillers for controversial Infobox fields. What you have written is terrific, and something like that could well end up in the article, but to simplify it to a single word in the Infobox, likely to be misused by friends and enemies alike, is undesirable. HiLo48 (talk) 00:51, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
I had no intention of it going into an infobox. The "Religion" box should never be filled for anyone, like Richard, who has no religion. I was just making the point that it confirms that we are right about the paragraph in the article that starts "Dawkins is an atheist .." and that we should resist anyone who wants to change that to "agnostic". --Bduke (Discussion) 02:19, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Definitely. HiLo48 (talk) 02:57, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

Noteworthy criticism in The Telegraph

This recent article, despite the Teleraph calling him one of the greatest living geniuses in other pieces, is highly critical, and has become something of a Christian rallying cry (e.g. it is the featured main page article at Conservapedia today). It's probably worth using this in the article. PS: It's weird to me that this article is obviously missing a criticism/controversy section, because Dawkins is highly controversial, and often publicly criticized (occasionally even by other atheists and agnostics like me). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 22:53, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

How is that crappy opinion piece noteworthy?--Charles (talk) 23:11, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
It's a massive Internet meme. Whether its well written isn't the issue. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 23:23, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
Speaking of memes, if you understood that concept you would kind of negate your current position. SkyMachine (++) 03:16, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Controversy/Criticms sections are bad style as they are troll magnets, criticism is just put into relevant sections. This opinion piece linked above is also undue for a mention. it is a primary source for the opinion, due weight is established by reliable secondary sources. IRWolfie- (talk) 09:25, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Criticism sections (on anybody) attract people who don't like the subject of an article, guaranteeing non-neutral POV. Unacceptable. HiLo48 (talk) 09:34, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
'It's a big internet meme' means little. Agree with HiLo et al. Oh and the irony of using the term meme while we discuss RD is not lost on me..... Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:22, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Criticism sections aren't just bad because they're troll magnets; they're atrocious under any circumstances. A well written article should be neutral throughout, describing but never expressing different points of view. Condensing a particular point of view into a single section is just bad writing. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 13:57, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Whether or not specific criticism sections are warranted or not is up to, I guess, the wiki community, and primarily those overlooking the specific page in question. Nonetheless, there are no criticisms in this article of Dawkins' arguments and his concept of and arguments against religion, theology and God which those with higher training on the matters have almost universally criticized, including some atheists, like Michael Ruse and Julian Baggini. There's also no mention of Dawkins' revelation he made in 2008 that "a serious case could be made for a deistic God," which Melanie Phillips argues undermines his previous claim that "...all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection...Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:45, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Seriously are you still believing the quote mining done by John Lennox about "a serious case could be made for a deistic God"?? Just watch Abhishikt (talk) 02:11, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
You might want to read up on the concept of prolefeed, before attempting to copy a prime example into the article. Your "serious case could be made..." line is a blatant piece of quote mining, first publicised by John Lennox. He never intended it as a piece of of serious commentary; he intended it as low-grade apologetics, designed to comfort the sort of Christian who loves nothing more than a good conversion tale. As such, it has no place in this article. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 11:33, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Wouldn't it be a good idea to have this quote mining episode in the article in a separate section or subsection? I'm referring to this content, which was added by Sanju87 and removed by Abhishikt, pointing to I think we could use a section header like John Lennox controversy (or something similar), put the entire content under it, and also have Dawkins' public rebuttal, sourced by the video and by some other newspaper article. I.m.o. there are some good reasons to have it on board: (1) it is properly sourced, (2) widely covered, (3) well known, (4) frequently brought up here, and (5) i.m.o. quite notable and interesting. - DVdm (talk) 16:44, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

I disagree. Dawkins is subjected to some bizarre personal attack or misrepresentation every week or so. This example stands out very slightly, in that it concerns Dawkins's beliefs, but the relevance is still marginal. It isn't direct information about Dawkins's beliefs, but information about information about Dawkins's beliefs. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 18:48, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
Oops, I made a little mistake in my previous comment pointing to the diff between Sanju87's and Abhishikt's edit. I have corrected that now. I agree that this is not really relevant in the context of Dawkins' beliefs, but it think it is sufficiently relevant in the context of the way some of his critics go about. Perhaps a shorter version of just a few sentences, well chosen and ditto sourced, could be acceptable? - DVdm (talk) 19:02, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

I would agree with [User:DVdm|DVdm] I've seen the debate of dawkins with lennox and I counted two instances where dawkins makes a statement similar to which he claimed was being mined.....From watching the debate, Dawkins seems to be saying what i think he was saying (despite his claims of quote mining)...any other comments on that?? I think it warrants a section Sanju87 (talk) 18:58, 10 April 2012 (UTC)Sanju87

On second thought, I think that a section (or even a subsection) would put wp:undue weight on it. Just a few sentences seems better. - DVdm (talk) 19:06, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

This entire incident and discussion is a classic example of how much cleverer Dawkins is than most of his opponents. It proves nothing about any possibility that he believes in any god. Those who don't like his views would defend their cause better if they just shut up and didn't try to use his words to prove their point of view. It doesn't work. HiLo48 (talk) 21:19, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

This example could be a nice illustration of just that, but we can't of course make such an analysis in the article, trivially per wp:NOR. It would be up to the reader to judge from the given properly sourced facts. Therefore, an interesting addition, i.m.o. - DVdm (talk) 21:27, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

I think whether is aids him or his critics is irrelevant, facts need to be presented as it is leaving the reader to make a conclusion...btw, it wasnt Lennox who brought the statement into scrutiny, it was a review on the debates published in The Spectator which brought the issue into limelight....just sayingSanju87 (talk) 22:50, 10 April 2012 (UTC)Sanju87

The reason gumph like the proposed material is not used is that to do so would be WP:SYNTH because the only reason to include the material is to suggest to the reader that a certain conclusion should be drawn: a conclusion most definitely not supported by reliable sources. Johnuniq (talk) 00:09, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

We have the entire debate here, I count two instances in which he makes the statements...and I don't think he is being misquoted or is being taken out of context(I could be mistaken), we have the spectator's review of the debate stating that such a statement was made (it wasnt Lennox who said that ), then we have Dawkins' statement on quote mining...Granted that melanie phillips might have her reasons bringing that statement into limelight and dawkins might have his reasons for calling it quote mining (not taking sides here), I think in that context Dawkins is as 'reliable' as Melanie Phillips. Instead of we ourselves making a value judgement on who can be termed as reliable source..wouldnt it be better if properly sourced and worded facts were produced and let the reader come to his own conclusion?Sanju87 (talk) 04:45, 11 April 2012 (UTC)Sanju87

Please respond to the policy-based points raised above. Johnuniq (talk) 04:58, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't see how it creates a problem if we avoid advocating a position but instead simply put both, the statement sourced from Dawkins as well as his response to it...Infact that would present a bigger picture.I think the key would be to avoid the manufacture of opinion as well as bias while drafting the additionSanju87 (talk) 05:20, 11 April 2012 (UTC)Sanju87
The policy-based points raised above would be pertinent if we would propose that the article would say "that the reader can draw his conclusions from the presented material", which would of course be trivial wp:SYNTH. As contributors we are supposed to present and properly source factual and notable material, whatever the reason we might (or might not) have for doing (or not doing) so. Wikipedia does not demand sources for possible reasons to include (or omit) such material. There would be nothing synthy or unsourced about writing something like "On 3 October 2007, John Lennox such and such...[ref][ref]. In a public lecture, Dawkins reponded such and such...[ref][ref]" I don't see any policy that could possibly object to something like that. Do you? - DVdm (talk) 07:14, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
WP:UNDUE HiLo48 (talk) 07:46, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't agree. Given the number of reliable sources and the media coverage, and its frequently showing up on this talk page, I think it is sufficiently notable to include it. - DVdm (talk) 08:23, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
The point is that WP:UNDUE is a policy that could object to your claim. You seemingly do agree with that, because you have chosen to debate it, which is another matter, and probably now the primary area of debate here. We know your opinion on its notability. I disagree. HiLo48 (talk) 08:39, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
The wp:UNDUE policy says that undue stuff does not belong in articles, but it does not say that this particular thing is undue or not. It is just up to us here to agree by wp:CONSENSUS whether or not it is due or undue. As far as I have understood how Wikipedia works, that is the policy that ultimately controlls this. - DVdm (talk) 09:41, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Yep. HiLo48 (talk) 10:08, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
To address the point that the issue "frequently show[s] up on this talk page", I don't think that this is sufficient evidence of notability. Wikipedia editors aren't necessarily representative of Wikipedia readers. The inclusion of a fact may be useful to editors, but this doesn't imply that it would be informative to readers.
It also rests on the dubious assumption that the sort of person who makes such edits will have read the article. Most seem to be earnest young Christians, who have been gleefully misinformed by some piece of lowbrow apologetics, and are desperate to share the good news. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 10:36, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree that frequently showing up on this talk page is not sufficient evidence of notability. I think that, in this case, the combination of the number of reliable sources, and the media coverage, and its frequently showing up on this talk page is sufficient evidence of notability. - DVdm (talk) 11:22, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
"...frequently showing up on this talk page" proves nothing, apart from obsessive creationists targeting Wikipedia. "...number of reliable sources" and "media coverage" are similar. Hollywood babies/divorces/adoptions have thousands of sources and heaps of media coverage, but are not notable. It has to be a wise and sensible judgement call, and I call "No". HiLo48 (talk) 11:34, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
A matter of calling it is indeed. Some call yes, some call no and some call dontcare. It's not all that important to me, but if someone would set up an RFC about it, I'd call yes for the —i.m.o. obvious— reasons given. - DVdm (talk) 12:14, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Love to know what those obvious reasons are. I refuted the last three you gave. You cannot win this debate on quality of argument (which also matters in the long run) if you won't actually engage in discussion. HiLo48 (talk) 12:24, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
You expressed your opinion about the notability of this content. Your opinion differs from mine. I just said why I think it is —for me— obviously notable, and of course you didn't refute a thing, for the trivial reason that there is nothing to refute to begin with. This is not a debate. It is a little chat about a policy that says that consensus decides whether or not this content is sufficiently notable to be included. An RFC could be opened to establish such a consensus. Consensus is not something one refutes. - DVdm (talk) 13:51, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
You wrote "I think that, in this case, the combination of the number of reliable sources, and the media coverage, and its frequently showing up on this talk page is sufficient evidence of notability." I pointed out that none of those reasons is valid. If you still think that, you will need new reasons. We don't have an RfC, so here is all we have at the moment. HiLo48 (talk) 22:00, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Sanju87, you should read the essay Wikipedia:Snowball clause. Your argument seems to rest on the twin assumptions that:
  • A particular interpretation of a comment made in a debate, is equivalent in weight to a later comment by the same person, which explicitly disavows this interpretation, and carefully explains their intended meaning.
  • A person's description of their own beliefs is equivalent in weight to someone else's description of those beliefs.
Seriously? — Hyperdeath(Talk) 10:56, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
Well its like this Dawkins made this statement during the debate,

Well which god? I mean we could take Einstein's god which is not really a personal god at all, but which is a sort of poetic metaphor for the mystery, that which we don't understand about the universe. We could take a deistic god, a sort of god of the physicist, a god of somebody like Paul Davies, who devised the laws of physics, god the mathematician, god who put together the cosmos in the first place and then sat back and watched everything happen. And that would be, the deist god would be one that I think that would be One could make a reasonably respectable case for that, not a case that I would accept, but I think it is a serious discussion that we could have.The third kind of god is one of which there are thousands and thousands of varieties: Zeus and Thor and Apollo and...

Then he issued a statement clarifying what he meant. My point being that both the statement and clarification deserve a mention.Sanju87 (talk) 11:34, 11 April 2012 (UTC)Sanju87
That said, I think the issue is too contentious.Status quo sounds appropriateSanju87 (talk) 11:41, 11 April 2012 (UTC)Sanju87
Repeating the original quotation doesn't help your case in the slightest. Context is just as important. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 12:05, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

You know what would be great, is if we could put this ridiculous unduly weighted 'criticism' away. This discussion is 2 freaking months old, and is going absolutely nowhere. Dbrodbeck (talk) 22:51, 11 April 2012 (UTC)


I will add, on the descriptive section, the fact Dawkins is indeed an Atheist (i will provide references). He vividly stated his position as an Atheist in his books, in tv and university appearences, and is an important figure in modern Atheism, which has contributed a lot with his scientific articles and biological explanations, backed with proof, to explain the evolutionary stages of animals and humans alike.

I see no need to hide that from the descriptive section, since this is probably the most Atheist man there is. After reading a few of the suggestions on this talk page, i have come to the conclusion that many people still seem skeptical to his views on religion and call him an Agnostic for the simple fact he can't disprove the existance of a God. It is utterly ridiculous, since i have heard the man himself say he is not Agnostic, but Atheist.

Let us all put our beliefs (or the lack of them) aside and be objective. It is the foundation on which Wikipedia was created. User:Lacobrigo 23:06, 24th of April 2012 —Preceding undated comment added 22:06, 24 April 2012 (UTC).

Please don't add anything like that. At least read all of the discussion above, especially the recently closed Request for comment. If you feel you have anything new to add, feel free to do so, but don't think that your perspective is the only possible correct interpretation. HiLo48 (talk) 22:14, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
From what I've seen discussed previously, the issue isn't whether he is an atheist or not, but rather that the religion field isn't the correct place to place this. Although consensus can change, the consensus seems to be that it doesn't belong there in that field. - SudoGhost 22:17, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Spectrum of Theism section?

Perhaps it is worth having a summary of the article Spectrum_of_theistic_probability where it can be clarified further that Richard Dawkins rates himself as a 6.9? IRWolfie- (talk) 20:12, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Great idea -- Voomie (talk) 22:52, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
Nah. Unless, he keeps making this point again, it is overkill. danielkueh (talk) 23:35, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
Maybe not a summary, but we should at least link to it. It’s related to Dawkins, why doesn’t it have a see‐also here? ~ Robin Lionheart (talk) 12:33, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Would give undue weight to a minor aspect of his biography I think.--Charles (talk) 13:01, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
It seems that a good article would cover something re-popularized by Richard Dawkins. IRWolfie- (talk) 21:49, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
The Advocacy of atheism section is already quite long compared to other sections, maybe this Spectrum of Theism explanation can be in a footnote. SkyMachine (++) 23:37, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Obsolete Criticism

Please refer to - paragraph 4: sentence 1: in the section titled "Evolutionary biology". Could anyone refer me to any recent scientific paper in which these specific criticisms are still levelled against Dawkins. The criticisms alluded to in this sentence do not warrant mention in the present tense ie "Critics of Dawkins' suggest …" should read "Critics of Dawkins' suggested …" (if indeed anyone feels it necessary to refer in this section to obsolete historic debates) Prunesqualor billets_doux 00:48, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Richard Dawkins added content

Hi. I added and sourced under the "criticism of creation" section "Dawkins was asked by a creationist "Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?" Although he failed to address the question directly at the time he later gave a response." (i included link for the question which is stated verbatim and with subtitles in the video and linked his response he gave on a later date)

Is this Wikipedia grade acceptable?

Thank you

Jinx — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jinx69 (talkcontribs) 07:10, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

No. That's cherry picking—where an editor selects a particular factoid and uses it to present some point of view. For an encylopedic article, secondary sources are required so information satisfies WP:DUE. Johnuniq (talk) 07:56, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

Dawkins' Sexual Abuse

Apparently some people don't want this mentioned in his biography on Wikipedia. I believe it's a notable incident in his life, Dawkins made such a fact public himself. He might downplay it or tell it as if it were a funny anecdote. But any biographical article that discusses important details of his life and omits such an important incident is, I believe arbitrarily selective. The first two reverts by Johnuniq and Old Moonraker cited WP:Undue, but a closer look at WP:Undue reveals that it is about viewpoints. This is not a viewpoint but more strictly categorized as a historical occurrence attested to by Dawkins himself, and published on his own website. Thus Johnuniq and Old Moonraker are, in my opinion wrong about seeing WP:Undue as a basis for rejecting the inclusion of this incident. Now if either one of the two can explain exactly how they construe WP:Undue as a basis for rejecting this specific incident, I'd like to hear it. BabyJonas (talk) 22:01, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

It's not always possible to explain something like WP:UNDUE sufficiently such that all editors agree. In brief, it is UNDUE to find the words "even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience)" in a 400+ page book (TGD) and use that as the basis to write "Dawkins indicated in his 2006 book, The God Delusion, that he was sexually abused as a child in a boarding school" (diff). It is slightly more reasonable, but still totally UNDUE and misleading to write "Dawkins revealed on his website that he was molested as a 9-year-old at an Anglican boarding school. Dawkins claims he did not suffer any harm due to the incident, instead finding it humorous.[2][3]" (diff). Dawkins makes the point that words like "abused" and "molested" have a very wide range of applications, and that is the reason that tidbits such as those proposed are UNDUE: what does "molested" mean? Once? Once a day? Was it accompanied with threats and fear? Did it involve physical abuse? The million dollar questions are "Did it affect the subject in some manner that warrants mention in an encyclopedic biography?", and "Is there a secondary source with an analysis of Dawkins' life and which suggesets that the incident had any significant effect on him?". Finally, it is not up to the three editors who have reverted the edits to explain why—it is up to the editor who wants to introduce material to explain why their proposal has merit. Johnuniq (talk) 23:06, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
You seem to be saying that because the book is 400 pages long, and only a few words mention this incident, therefore it shouldn't be mentioned. Am I understanding you here? Let me point out that while the incident is sourced from his book, it is not pertinent solely to his book, it's pertinent to his biography. In other words, such an incident would be an important part of Dawkins' biography even if he never wrote his book. His book and this incident's place in the book is irrelevant. As long as it happened, and it was mentioned by the victim himself, we can simply reflect what is the occurrence of a verified, well-sourced, historical/biographical event. Specific to your point of contention, unless there is something in WP:UNDUE that indicates that historical or biographical events cannot be reflected in the article, I don't think WP:UNDUE supports the withdrawal of this event from Dawkins' biography. BabyJonas (talk) 05:05, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Dawkins has an article here because of his science, his writings, and his very public position on evolution, not because he was molested. Many people have been molested, but unless it's relevant to the reason an article exists, I see no reason to include it. If Dawkins becomes a very public campaigner against paedophilia, then we would include it. HiLo48 (talk) 23:40, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Are you saying that because Dawkins' field of expertise is science, that only scientifically relevant factoids merit placement in his biography? How about just seeing him as an important person deserving of a biography rather than a scientist whose biography should only mention a laundry list of his academic work? After all, we don't treat Edgar Allen Poe's biography any differently from, say, Kobe Bryant's. BabyJonas (talk) 05:05, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Remember this is a biography of a living person. WP:AVOIDVICTIM applies even if Dawkins has written a line or two about an incident in his past that he needn't have disclosed. To expand on such a disclosure here is not appropriate. As far as we know the incident has had little bearing on Dawkins' life and work, and to speculate otherwise would just be unfair considering he was a youth at the time and it was beyond his control. SkyMachine (++) 05:38, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
As so often, it's about context. Dawkins himself uses this incident to make the point that mental abuse by the church is worse than some types of physical abuse [4]. In light of that, it just might be appropriate to insert it into the article as part of a description of Dawkins' attitude to religion (though that would still give it undue prominence); it is absolutely not appropriate to stick it in as an isolated fragment of gossip within the biography section, where it does nothing whatever to help the reader understand the subject of the article. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 06:00, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Snalwibma, I've said this before- Encyclopedic content must avoid trying to draw interpretations out of what the author or speaker is saying. As long as the issue is factual and biographical, that's what we are dealing with- a factual, biographical event and whether it warrants inclusion. Skymachine's response is more substantive in terms of WP:BLP and WP:Avoidvictim. I'm going to look over the issue further and see what they say. BabyJonas (talk) 23:07, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

His name

Why do we say "Clinton Richard Dawkins, known as Richard Dawkins..." instead of simply going with "Clinton Richard Dawkins is..."? Every bio article that I can remember seeing about someone who goes/went by his middle name uses this format. See Roy Welensky for the first relevant FA that I could find (I went through several dozen FA biographies before finding one about someone who didn't use his first name), or Woodrow Wilson for a non-FA whose name most of us likely know. Nyttend (talk) 21:52, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I'm inclined to agree. Also, although the relevant style guide doesn't seem to explicitly cover this situation, I think its spirit seems to suggest agreement with you too. I'm changing the article now. Olaf Davis (talk) 23:00, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. I thought the "known as" part was redundant. BabyJonas (talk) 23:08, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Evolutionary Biologist?

The introduction mentions that Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. Yet there appears to be nothing in the article itself giving credentials to support this assertion. Unless proper credentials are cited he should not be given this distinction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SDLarsen (talkcontribs) 14:53, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand what you're looking for. What in Richard_Dawkins#Evolutionary_biology is not enough to say he's an evolutionary biologist? --NeilN talk to me 15:02, 4 June 2012 (UTC)
Dawkins appears to be a popularizer of evolutionary theory among other things. In fact, it appears he's exceptional at popularizing given his former Oxford position as Professor for Public Understanding of Science, as well as his many popular books. I suspect he is well versed in evolutionary theory. But what I don't see is a degree in that field. I don't see any peer reviewed studies or publications. IMO, a evolutionary biologist would be a scientist who at least has written a dissertation on the topic, but preferably published related peer reviewed papers. SDLarsen (talk) 06:21, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
There's no formal board certifying evolutionary biologists so "evolutionary biologist" is an informal title, describing a subject's field of endeavor. Given that he studied zoology ("the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct") and held high ranking academic positions in that field it's safe to say, yes, he has the academic credentials to be called a biologist. His books such as The Selfish Gene focus on evolution, thus, "evolutionary biologist". --NeilN talk to me 07:08, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. Anyway, I have added a source to the lead statement. This is another one. - DVdm (talk) 11:25, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Your first source isn't reliable as it is a book written about Dawkins by his friends. That introduces a conflict or interest. Your second source was written by a philosopher and thus cannot be trusted. I could likewise write a book and say in it that my best friend is a rocket scientist and that you are a nuclear physicist, but that wouldn't make it so. Now, if you find a few books or papers written by evolutionary scientists, and they refer to Dawkins as one in the text, then I'd say bingo! (You really should remove your citation.) SDLarsen (talk) 07:07, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
An academic title, such as evolutionary biologist, says that the person has contributed significantly to the body of knowledge in that field. Had Dawkin's dissertation added to the field of evolution then I'd say fine, he has added at least a bare minimum of knowledge and so he can honestly call himself a evolutionary biologist. Or if had published a peer-reviewed paper or study which added significant knowledge or theory on evolution then I'd say fine, he's an evolutionary biologist. (The peer group must include experts on evolution.) But merely writing books popularizing evolution -- even if they add new insight -- doesn't cut it because they haven't been peer reviewed. And writing a peer-reviewed paper with some mention of evolution but no significant contribution to the science won't cut it either. Standards like this should be enforced, otherwise title abuse will occur. SDLarsen (talk) 06:43, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
As a side note you must be looking in the wrong places for his work. Here is a list of some of his Academic papers. IRWolfie- (talk) 12:28, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the longer list. I went through it and couldn't find anything that was peer reviewed and that added significantly to the science of evolution. I'd appreciate it if somebody could point one out for me. Also, make sure the journal's reviewers likely have some expertise on evolution. If a paper is published in the Journal of Psychology, for example, there's a good chance it wasn't reviewed for it evolutionary correctness. SDLarsen (talk) 07:07, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that a publication not being reviewed for its evolutionary correctness implies that the author is not, or might not be, an evolutionary biologist. One can perfectly be 100% "evolutionary incorrect", and still be an evolutionary biologist, although perhaps a very bad one. It is not for us to judge. Re your remark about a "conflict or interest" in the source given, I don't agree. It could be a COI if the authors would say that Dawkins is the Greatest Evolutionary Biologist of All Time. They just say that he is an evolutionary biologist. I.m.o. there can be no interest in saying something as neutral as that, and thus there can't be a conflict of interest either. As far as I know, evolutionary biologist isn't even an official title. A biologist working in the field of evolution is—trivially—an evolutionary biologist, and we shouldn't even need a source for that. Anyway, have a look at Google scholar (e.g. [5]) and Google books (e.g. [6]) and make your pick. I'm sure there's something that makes you happy :-) - DVdm (talk) 08:32, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I think you are missing my whole point. The purpose of titles is to convey what people do or have done. *Academic* titles convey in what fields a scholar has contributed knowledge. Now, just because someone writes something on a topic doesn't mean that that person contributed anything. So how can we tell if a person has contributed to a field of knowledge? By confirming they have had their knowledge published. But even that is not enough, because there are magazines that will publish anything. It has to be peer reviewed. And even that may not be enough. Because it might be published in a peer-reviewed journal that has nothing to do with the field of knowledge you are trying to verify. I've seen this happen before... a scientist published an anti-climate-change article in a peer-reviewed journal which had no expertise on the topic, and as a result the anti-climate-change bloggers started calling this guy a climate change expert. The editor ultimately had to quit over the incident, it was so serious. I just found it. Google "BBC News Journal editor resigns over problematic climate paper." You say it's not for us to judge, and I say you are right. It is for the peers of the scientist to judge. As for the conflict of interest in that book... I checked it out. It was written by friends -- indeed admirers -- of Dawkin's. That's it's whole theme. It's not a biography and it's certainly not unbiased. There is most definitely a conflict of interest in this book.SDLarsen (talk) 12:04, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Again, I don't think there can be a conflict of interest if there can't even be an interest in stating the most obvious thing one can possibly state. We could just as well say that we cannot trust a source saying that Dawkins' first name is Richard. I fully agree with IRWolfie's and Dbrodbeck's comments below. - DVdm (talk) 12:19, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
How can there *not* be a potential conflict of interest in this book? It is offered to the public as an assessment of Dawkins. That's one interest. It's purpose is to honor and praise their friend, Dawkins. That's the other interest. And the result of this conflict is that the assessment is all positive. Nevertheless, even if there were no potential COI, you shouldn't be citing such an obviously biased book. The authors could fabricate anything they want you and others to cite, and you might actually cite it because you don't see the potential for abuse. (I'm not saying they did that, only that they could.) SDLarsen (talk) 13:15, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
A reliable source calls him an evolutionary biologist, discussion over. Your criteria for what an evolutionary biologist is irrelevant. Your criteria for what constitutes adding significantly to the field is irrelevant (it doesn't stop him being an evolutionary biologist anyway). Any criteria which you create is inherently original research WP:OR, we don't make subjective judgments on wikipedia, we defer to reliable sources. Also I suggest you look at that list of papers again more careful, pretty much every source on that list is peer reviewed: Nature, Journal of Theoretical Biology, The Quarterly Review of Biology, Behavioral, Science and Brain Sciences are all peer reviewed, in these journals even the letters are peer reviewed. IRWolfie- (talk) 09:23, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
A reliable source???? The whole theme of that book is to praise Dawkins as a person the authors admire. And the authors are all friends of Dawkins. How can that be a reliable (e.g. unbiased) source? As for "my" criteria for being granted a title, it is not original research but rather an academic standard. Check out the Wikipedia article on Credentials, specifically section 1.9 which discusses diplomas. But what if there is no diploma or certificate? I quote here from the introduction of the article, "Sometimes publications, such as scientific papers or books, may be viewed as similar to credentials by some people, especially if the publication was peer reviewed or made in a well-known journal or reputable publisher." You say you don't make subjective judgments on Wikipedia. But you are doing just that by calling Dawkins an evolutionary biologist without confirming it. It should be easy to confirm if it is true. Then you go on to say that most or all of the journals Dawkins is published in are peer reviewed. Yes, that is true. But none of those articles appears to be adding knowledge to evolution theory. If one is, please point it out for me (and others). SDLarsen (talk) 12:37, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
The idea that any of those journals would not get qualified people to review an article is a tad absurd. Oh and they do not list individual reviewers for papers, they do it often for an issue, but you don't know who reviews what. To say that Dawkins is not an evolutionary biologist is, I think, rather pointy (WP:POINT) and frankly absurd. Dbrodbeck (talk) 11:52, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
It happens, and it's not that hard to see why. For example, when a paper covers multiple fields of study. I've seen this happen myself... a scientist published an anti-climate-change article in a peer-reviewed journal which had no expertise on the topic, and as a result the anti-climate-change bloggers started calling this guy a climate change expert. The editor ultimately had to quit over the incident, it was so serious. I just found it. Google "BBC News Journal editor resigns over problematic climate paper." SDLarsen (talk) 12:44, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
To claim that a publication in Nature, the top scientific journal, is in someway comparable to fraud in a low profile open access journal is even more absurd. We have sources that say he is an evolutionary biologist, you can take things to RSN if you wish. There are hundreds of news stories which label Dawkins as an evolutionary biologist as well: [7] take your pick. IRWolfie- (talk) 12:53, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I didn't claim anything about Nature. My original post used a made-up journal called Journal of Psychology just to make a point. Anyway, you say you have sources identifying Dawkins as an evolutionary biologist. Point to one in Nature or any reputable journal that publishes papers contributing to evolution theory and I will be satisfied. I'm not suggesting one doesn't exist, only that I haven't seen one. (And BTW, a newspaper article isn't a very reliable source of someones credentials.)SDLarsen (talk) 13:35, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Here is one [8][9]. You won't find original research article in a journal that identifies and talks about scientists in the way you are describing, that you are looking for it suggests a lack of familiarity with how journals work: you will be hard pressed to find an original research article that expressly identifies, for example, Stephen Hawking as a theoretical physicist because original research and review papers are there to talk about the science. Wikipedia does not need peer reviewed publications for verifying non-controversial facts about people, other reliable sources WP:RS are perfectly fine. If you wish to continue then take the issue to WP:RSN. IRWolfie- (talk) 13:42, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't expect a professional journal to refer to Dawkins by title. There were people saying that there are plenty of books and news articles referring to Dawkins as an evolutionary biologist, and my reply was that I'd be satisfied with that as verification only if the source was a reputable journal. (Because popular publication aren't that careful, but a journal would be.) Nevertheless, what I really expect is very simple, and that is a paper authored by Dawkin's published in a peer-reviewed journal, where the substance of the paper adds something of significance to evolution theory. I mean, he has books on the topic, so surely he would have published some of his ideas in a scientific journal. Seems to me that should be easy to find. BTW, I followed your first link and found an article by Caleb Scharf that costs $18 to view. I don't know how that would help. The second is a news article by Nature staff editor Dan Jones. Again I have to pay $18 to view it. Does Jones refer to Dawkins as an evolutionary biologist or something along that line? If so, I would be satisfied and this article would be suitable as a citation for the claimed title of evolutionary biologist. (The current citation is totally unsuitable given that it is not a objective biography, but rather a set of essays written by Dawkin's friends showing their admiration for him. Hardly unbiased.) SDLarsen (talk) 15:25, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Four contributors think that the current source is suitable, so if you feel different about it, indeed you better goto wp:RSN, as IRWolfie suggested. Furthermore, regarding having to pay for a source, please read the little paragraph at wp:SOURCEACCESS. By the way, with this you get a little extract where you can actually see that the author says:

"The notion that genes reach beyond the bounds of the organism is often referred to as the 'extended phenotype', a term coined by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, in his 1982 book of the same name..."

- DVdm (talk) 15:46, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's it! Thanks IRWolfie and DVdm. Sometimes I debate with creationists, some of whom insist Dawkins is a zoologist and not an evolutionary biologist. Now I have something authoritative to cite... though a bit awkward getting around the $18 fee. I still feel strongly about the current citation being weak (I won't use it in my debates) and I wish one of you would switch to this Nature article instead. SDLarsen (talk) 18:35, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Ah. Well, I wouldn't mind adding (or swapping with)

Jones, Dan (November 2005). "Evolutionary theory: Personal effects". Nature (Nature Publishing Group) 438: 14–16. doi:10.1038/438014a. Retrieved 6-Jul-2012.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

Others, waddya think? -DVdm (talk) 19:49, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Not much, apparently. - DVdm (talk) 09:44, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
No reply is a good time to be WP:BOLD :). IRWolfie- (talk) 17:58, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Atheist in infobox

It is patently clear Dawkins is an atheist. This is expressly stated throughout the article with reliable references. Why is there such apprehension with adding this attribute to the infobox? What is the difference? We should be allowed to. Moreover, the FA article on Nikita Khrushchev (I understand this person is no longer alive, but I believe the same principle, at least in part, may still but applicable in this article) allows for the use of None (Atheist) in the religion section of the infobox. Ziggypowe (talk) 02:07, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

Usually the one reliable source for this kind of claim is what the subject himself says. But Dawkins himself has been inconsistent. Sometimes he describes himself as atheist, sometimes as agnostic, and sometimes in completely other words. A glance above at just what's on this page will give you some idea of the problem. Consensus has been to let people read the article, go further to our sources, and draw their own conclusions. HiLo48 (talk) 02:31, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
What you said is sound, but why is it explicitly stated in the crux of the article that he is an atheist. Yet, this same information is precluded from being added in the religion section of the infobox. Ziggypowe (talk) 02:44, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
Because atheism is not a religion. --Bduke (Discussion) 03:14, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I am aware of that. Usually, if the subject is atheist, in the religion section of the infobox is put the following: None (Atheist). This denotes that the subject's religion is none while noting that the subject is an atheist (agnostic, et al). Ziggypowe (talk) 03:25, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
There is no rule about that, and the fact is that the matter is controversial. Many (I'm one) don't like labels in infoboxes for any but crystal clear cases. Of course Dawkins is an atheist, but the article covers that and has room to mention the nuances (see Richard Dawkins#Advocacy of atheism). Many (I'm one) think "Religion – None (Atheist)" is silly because there is no reason to impose other people's labels on someone who rejects them. A year ago, the infobox was changed from "scientist" to "person" (see my minor whinge about that in the archive). If "scientist" were used, there would be no "Religion" field because discussions have concluded that it is unhelpful for scientists. Johnuniq (talk) 03:46, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Well, Ziggypowe, opinion differs about this. I agree with Johnuniq. For this article, there is clear consensus to not add this to the infobox. I agree with it. I have no religion. I do not have a religion called "None" or "None (atheist)". I would like to see all reference to religion in infoboxes removed for people who do not have a religion. There are some religious people who want to define atheism as a religion. Atheists do not agree with them. Atheism is the absence of a religion. --Bduke (Discussion) 03:53, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I was in favor of keeping the box, but there is clear consensus to not add this to the infobox. Hence, keep it out. IRWolfie- (talk) 13:20, 2 July 2012 (UTC)
"None (Atheist)" This denotes that the subject has no religion while noting that the subject is an atheist. The religion section does not have to name a religion. This is done in a plethora of articles including Cenk Uygur, Warren Buffet, GA article, Bill Gates, and FA article, Nikita Khrushchev. Adding it to the infobox can inform you the subject has no religion by including "None (Atheist)" This is pertinent to a person who has made it his life's work to criticize religion and champion atheism. --Ziggypowe (talk) 00:21, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't understand how the lack of a religion is cause for something in the religion field? If the subject is still alive, we don't put No (Alive) in the death_date parameter. - SudoGhost 00:40, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Better to leave it out, per Johnuniq. --John (talk) 00:27, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Criticism of Richard Dawkins page

A new article has been created Criticism of Richard Dawkins which looks an awful lot like a POV fork. I reverted the inclusion of a new criticism section here with a link to that new page. I thought others might want to take a look at it, and I figured it would be more likely to get eyes on it if mentioned here. Thanks. Dbrodbeck (talk) 11:48, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Dawkins is becoming a religious figure; like those of the medieval ages. No one can criticize him; anyone who does, will be labeled and punished. Wake up guy! It is 21st century AND Wikipedia where no one gets even honorifics. and yet some cannot tolerate a bit of criticism? If you think I will give up my right to practice the free speech, you are very wrong. I will talk to whoever necessary to make sure I post the criticisms from notable thinkers about Dawkins.--Kazemita1 (talk) 12:01, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Nobody is trying to take away your rights. I am talking about policy. We have also had this discussion on a number of occasions. Per WP:BRD I am going to revert this addition one more time. Give a real reason for a separate section other than 'you're taking away my rights'. Dbrodbeck (talk) 12:07, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Creating a criticism page looks to me like an attempt to bypass past discussions here. I've turned it into a redirect. This has nothing to do with free speech but with Wikipedia policies. Please don't do this again, Kazemital. Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 12:17, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I went through the discussions on whether or not there should be a separate criticism section. In many of them such as this, this and this there is no consensus on either side. This does not outweigh not having a criticism section. May be we need a poll or something similar to conclude this issue once and for all.
That being said, how is creating a NEW page related to the discussions of an existing page?Kazemita1 (talk) 12:34, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
A recent discussion can be found here [10] where the idea was quashed. I brought up your POVFORK page here as it seemed that people would notice it here. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:05, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Again, there is no reach of consensus to either side! What makes deletion of the section more plausible than keeping it? --Kazemita1 (talk) 13:20, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
There is no consensus to add the material. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

If I add a section using reliable source, I have a right to keep it, unless YOU SHOW ME CONSENSUS FOR DELETING IT, not the other way around.--Kazemita1 (talk) 13:32, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

That is actually not how it works around here. You might want to read WP:BRD. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:34, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Reliably sourced material can also be removed for a variety of reasons; including weight, relevance, WP:NOTNEWSPAPER, WP:INDISCRIMINATE etc etc. IRWolfie- (talk) 13:44, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

If the aim is to document critical comments about Dawkins' work, then the right way to achieve that is to insert well-written and well-sourced material into this page, in the appropriate sections. If the aim is to provide a hook on which people are invited to hang a ragbag of personal attacks and links to miscellaneous anti-Dawkins bloggery, then no doubt a page at Criticism of Richard Dawkins is a good idea. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 13:40, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Critical things about RD are in the article already, there is no need for a separate section, or a separate article. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:43, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Do you WP:OWN this article, then? You're the decider of what material can go in it? Kazemita1: Feel free to WP:BEBOLD. If there is WP:CENSORSHIP of criticism, we'll document it and take any editors with clear and actual POV pushing to the neutral point of view noticeboard. I suggest you get it right the first time, though. Make sure everything is sourced abundantly well to reliable sources.--v/r - TP 14:24, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Precisely where have I censored anything? I am following policy. Note the discussions, and BRD, we are at the D part. As to your threat to take me to the NPOV noticeboard, go ahead, I have done nothing wrong. Dbrodbeck (talk) 15:01, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
You're comments above about "That is actually not how it works around here" and "There is no consensus to add the material" is counter to how Wikipedia works is what I feel is ownership as if you dictate how this talk page works and how this article works. I might've taken it out of context, but that's how I read it. I see no consensus against criticism. Now as to threats, I didn't threaten you. I told Kazemita1 to be bold but to get it right. If he does that, POV warriors can be held accountable. It was to encourage him to be bold.--v/r - TP 15:23, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, what censorship? The issue is under discussion and there is no need for censorship accusations and such battleground comments.
As to the Criticism of Dawkins bit, we don't need an article or section with that title. We don't criticize people, we criticise their works, there speeches and perhaps their approach/philosophy. Seems his books have articles - and that is where criticism of those belongs. Each section of the Works section of the article is the place for criticism of that particular work or approach, and seems it's there already. Vsmith (talk) 15:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Kazemita1 is being told explicitly not to add criticism. We haven't even given him a complete chance to show us what he wants to add. I want to see what this editor has in mind before he is shut down like this.--v/r - TP 15:53, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't see where he is been explicitly told not to add criticism. Please quote the sentence to that effect. IRWolfie- (talk) 16:22, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
See the two sentences I quoted above.--v/r - TP 16:52, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I feel the need to defend what I wrote. Indeed, there is no consensus to add the material, I thought we operated on consensus, so I noted that. When I said 'that is not how it works here' I then linked to BRD, which, typically, is how it works. I did not say not to add criticism, I said there was no consensus to add it, and I noted that typically stuff is added, reverted and discussed. (BTW, again, there is already criticism in the article, I am not pushing a POV, even if the user boxes on my user page offend someone (see the section below). Dbrodbeck (talk) 16:57, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
For the record, the halo userbox isn't offensive despite the fact that the Church of Battlefield 1942 says it's blasphemy. Anyway, the point I'm making is you don't need consensus to add material and never have. That's not how Wikipedia works. Now, if there is the presence of a consensus that something specific shouldn't be included then there is that. And a consensus that "criticism" in general is not allowed is unacceptable. Consensus that some specific criticism is disallowed is acceptable. But the lack of consensus is not reason to deny someone the ability to add material. It can't be or Wikipedia would have about 5 articles.--v/r - TP 17:23, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
As long as you are not a Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs supporter I can work with you..... Dbrodbeck (talk) 17:36, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
That is exactly my point TP. It seems there is this force to stop putting any criticism in the article. As if for the criticism itself you need consensus. I finished reading ~ 10 criticism books written mainly by university professors or alike. Some of the authors were religious, some secular and some of course agnostic/atheist. I gathered some notes out of those books and was hoping my atheist friends would be tolerant enough to allow me to put them in the article. But there seems to be no tolerance. And when I want to create a new article, they accuse me of bypassing the rules. For some reason I find this line from one of the criticizers describing the situation precisely:

God and the new atheism, p. 9(rough quotation): Dawkins does not differ between the general definition of faith and extremist faith. In his opinion, the moderate faith eventually is an "open invitation" to religious extremism and therefore should not be tolerated. This, the author argues is against the very principle of tolerance which both moderate religious people and traditional atheists agree upon. --Kazemita1 (talk) 16:20, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

To TP, following edit conflict.
See the page he started - now a redirect, but still in the history. Or simply ask on their talk page. No one, that I've seen, is saying that criticism can't be added to existing article sections, rather that a separate article / section devoted to or titled Criticism of Dawkins is inappropriate. The only viable content there was a section entitled Criticism of Dawkins' Philosophical Approach, with a ref. So discuss that subject/heading and the reference presented there - how can it be included here -- or should it be? Vsmith (talk) 16:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Dude, I was adding stuff little by little. I had the material, but it would take me some time to make it wiki-friendly. and by time I mean a couple of hours not much. As a matter of fact, I was in the verge of adding a big chunk when I had an edit conflict with Dougweller. Anyways, I am going to add my stuff in the article without the title of criticism little by little. Please, be patient my friends. and feel free to help me improve them. THank you!--Kazemita1 (talk) 16:34, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

AN discussion

Kazemital hasn't bothered to tell anyone here that he's started a discussion at WP:AN#Criticism of Richard Dawkins. < Dougweller (talkcontribs) 15:05, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Now closed as no issue was raised requiring an Administrator. Dougweller (talk) 16:12, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

The thread would not have opened if you were present in the above discussion. It was only me and a user who called himself atheist in his user page. It was clear my discussion with him needed an arbitration.--Kazemita1 (talk) 16:24, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

My user page says a lot of things. Yes, it mentions my lack of belief in the supernatural. It mentions my love of U2 and the Montreal Canadiens (some have likened both of those to religions...). It also mentions that i play Call of Duty and Halo. I hope none of those disqualify me somehow. You might want to read WP:AGF Dbrodbeck (talk) 16:42, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

All right pal. No hard feelings. Let's just fix the problem.--Kazemita1 (talk) 16:48, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

You don't get arbitration at WP:AN over a content dispute. There are ways to do it, but this page is active enough right now. See my comments below after your long post. Dougweller (talk) 18:04, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I think Kazemita might benefit from a bit better grasp of things. We do not disqualify editors from content simply because of what people say on their userpages. Nor are we necessarily supposed to judge people based on solely on such information. And us Chicago Cubs fans definitely believe in something which cannot be rationally supported, like the idea that the Cubs might ever actually win. As I said at the AN discussion, I don't see any particular need for a separate article on criticism of Dawkins. Criticism of his scientific thinking probably belongs primarily in this article or articles related to his concepts. Criticism of him one a personal level probably doesn't deserve a separate section at all - we don't criticize British for having bad teeth, for instance. Criticism of his atheistic positions and statements probably best belongs in either Criticism of atheism or maybe Criticism of New Atheism, which probably is sufficiently notable for a separate article. But Dawkins is not the only voice in the New Atheism camp, and I don't think it is in anyone's interests to create a POV fork on just one exponent of that thinking. And, yes, I disagree with him on most of his points in the extreme, so I am not a supporter in any way. John Carter (talk) 18:40, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Raw notes on criticism of Dawkins (Please help put them in the article)

... wow, that's just a mess. Thank you, whomever collapsed that, it was a bit too much to have on this page at once. This probably should have been on a sub-page while you worked on it, like User:Kazemita1/sandbox or something.
That said, most of this looks like shotgunning anything where anyone disagreed with Dawkins, not substantial criticism. There's a lot of "the author believes" or "the author states" here, which makes it hard to accurately gauge the source. The Darwin's Angels one sounds like it could potentially work here, but I'll need to track down the book to see how it's worded. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 17:25, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
We already have a bit about McGrath, but the article on his book Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life should be linked somewhere, maybe in a See also section. We should also link Darwin's Angel. Given that we have these articles we should avoid reproducing them here. Dougweller (talk) 17:46, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

@The Hand That Feeds You: Well, if you are bothered with terms like "The author thinks" or "The author believes", then what do you say about this statement of Dawkins?

"I think that Gould's separate compartments was a purely political ploy to win middle-of-the-road religious people to the science camp. But it's a very empty idea. There are plenty of places where religion does not keep off the scientific turf. Any belief in miracles is flat contradictory not just to the facts of science but to the spirit of science" --Kazemita1 (talk) 21:47, 25 July 2012 (UTC) If Dawkins can use name-calling and it is allowed in his article, then so can his criticizers.--Kazemita1 (talk) 23:10, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

This article is a biography of Dawkins so some of his thoughts are presented to provide an accurate view of his position. The matter of criticism sections/articles has been thoroughly thrashed out at Wikipedia (it mainly arises in regard to politicians where people seek to coatrack whatever negativity they can find in the leadup to an election). If anyone wants to add criticism of Dawkins to Wikipedia, the procedure is straightforward: find a reliable source and extract due material for a relevant part of the article. We do it like that because editors are here to improve the article (improve it as an accurate portrayal of the subject), and should not be here to use Wikipedia for POV commentary on any topic. Johnuniq (talk) 02:45, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Rest assured, I will be using reliable source. --Kazemita1 (talk) 06:55, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
There is no name calling in that quote. IRWolfie- (talk) 09:19, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Seconded. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 19:43, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, where is this 'name calling'? Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:48, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
The only thing I see that even comes close is the "purely political ploy," which is a judgment on tactics, not on the person. So, if that's what is being referred to, that isn't name-calling. John Carter (talk) 22:50, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

My mistake. It is shotgunningKazemita1 (talk) 23:28, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

I met RD once when I gave a talk at Oxford, he never struck me as the sort to drink beer out of a can as described in our article on shotgunning.... Dbrodbeck (talk) 23:41, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
I would call it cherry-picking & synthesis myself, but I can see what HandThatFeeds means, and I can not see how it is in any way name-calling or a personal attack. SkyMachine (++) 01:13, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

{User:Hadjishafiee] What is the big deal with having criticism in the article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hadjishafiee (talkcontribs) 03:07, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree the "raw notes" need some work, but it is doable. Right now, there are not much criticism included in the article — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nasiraei (talkcontribs) 06:56, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I disagree with those folks who find the criticism section unnecessary19:48, 29 July 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Babajoon (talkcontribs) Babajoon (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.