Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 19

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 15 Archive 17 Archive 18 Archive 19 Archive 20 Archive 21 Archive 22

Truth without evidence

The recent edits have done good work, but one change needs more consideration. At the end of Richard Dawkins#Evolutionary biology, the text:

All of his previous works dealing with evolution had assumed its truth, and not explicitly provided the evidence to this effect

was changed to:

All of his previous works dealing with evolution assume its truth without evidence

That cannot stand as only cranks would imagine Dawkins or his books "assumed" evolution to be true. Perhaps replace with some text simply stating that previous works were not directed towards the evidence for the "truth" of evolution (I used scare quotes because that's a terrible word—how can it be improved, "supported"?). Johnuniq (talk) 00:51, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

I think the entire statement must be discarded as unsourced, original research. I have removed it and attached the factual (and sourced) remainder of the statement to the preceding sentence. Looks better, but perhaps the wording can be improved upon. - DVdm (talk) 09:02, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's much better, thanks. Johnuniq (talk) 10:10, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

Putting up a coatrack?

In this article dealing with Richard Dawkins is it really necessary to provide, with every account of the man's viewpoint or summary of his work, a list of people who disagree with him, including summaries of their viewpoints and work? This is Dawkins's article and it's WP:UNDUE to give an unbalanced amount of space to his detractors; recent additions seem to be demonstrating a tendency to use the article as little more than a WP:COATRACK for polemic. --Old Moonraker (talk) 10:03, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree, and it seems like a massively unnecessary WP:QUOTEFARM was added as well. - SudoGhost 10:05, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Agree, this needs serious cleaning. I just removed something very ugly, but I think some drastic pruning is called for. - DVdm (talk) 10:14, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Sudo, for the fix. --Old Moonraker (talk) 10:40, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

If you read the discussion ("Criticism of Richard Dawkins Page") people have agreed to add in the criticism material inside the article rather than having a separate section or a separate article. I even discussed it in Administrator's Noticeboard. They said if the amount of criticism material is becoming large, we will decide to have a separate article for it. Now, do you think the material is going beyond the limit that we need a separate article?Kazemita1 (talk) 18:53, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Actually, at AN you were told it was not an AN issue. As well, I see no consensus to add so much stuff at all, I will revert it again. Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:44, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
It looks indeed like the additions are clearly against consensus. - DVdm (talk) 19:52, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I am going to have to briefly refresh your memory on what happened in AN:

That being said, if you do not like "some" part of my edit, please do me a favor and "only" omit that part. Do not revert in bulk. For example, the following sentence was by no means in the categories that was mentioned in this discussion (coatrack etc.):

"while criticized by philosopher of biology Michael Ruse, prominent literary critic Terry Eagleton and journalist Andrew Brown."

Also, please clarify yourself with the word "Christian thinkers". As I mentioned more than once, the people who responded were not all Christian. Again, if you find part of my edit against a policy do not generalize it to the rest. --Kazemita1 (talk) 20:46, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Show me the consensus to add this material. There simply is not for adding this coatrack. So, the policy, one of the at least, is WP:CONSENSUS. You might want to take a look at WP:UNDUE as well. Edit warring to get your way will not enamour you to other editors. Dbrodbeck (talk) 20:55, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
You seem to be mixing two things together. I am addressing the Coatrack/undue discussion here by reducing the quoted materials. My request was simply to leave the obvious material, (such as Dawkins critics being non-Christian).Kazemita1 (talk) 21:12, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps, and you seem to be, no wait are, edit warring, stop it now. Dbrodbeck (talk) 21:32, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

With all due respect, it seems to be you that is doing the edit warring without any effort to find a middle ground and pushing your own point of view. I keep reducing the material under dispute and you seem to delete both disputed and non-disputed text. Would you mind telling me, which policy requires consensus for removing the word "Christian" when there are obviously many non-Christian thinkers in the article have responded to Dawkins? All I am asking is a little cooperation.Kazemita1 (talk) 21:39, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Stop edit warring, that would be a start. Show me, precisely, where I edit warred. You have already hit 3 RR today. Dbrodbeck (talk) 21:42, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I have not hit 3RR as in each edit I kept moving towards the middle ground by removing the content under dispute. While you my friend, kept reverting it back to where you wanted it to be. If any of your nice guys just be a little more specific and tell me which part needs to be removed, I would appreciate it. It will save us a huge time going to a dispute resolution committee.Kazemita1 (talk) 21:46, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

I had 2 reverts 2 days ago, which most of the editors here seemed to have agreed with. I have had one today. You really don't know what 3RR is do you? Fine report me to WP:3RRN if you think I have edit warred. As for dispute resolution, umm no. Everyone (pretty much) here seems to disagree with you. Dbrodbeck (talk) 22:18, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
3RR means any edits to an article not just identical changes. It is clear that Kazemital1 has no interest in maintaining a neutral point of view in the article.--Charles (talk) 22:02, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

It is easy to accuse people isn't it? When I first started to edit this article, it was written:

The God Delusion was praised by among others the Nobel laureates Sir Harold Kroto and James D. Watson and by psychologist Steven Pinker.

as if there was no scholarly opposition against it. All there was, were some Christians thinkers saying bad things against it. I changed it to the following showing there was also criticism from independent people, not just religious:

The God Delusion was praised by among others the Nobel laureates Sir Harold Kroto and James D. Watson and by psychologist Steven Pinker, while criticized by philosopher of biology Michael Ruse, prominent literary critic Terry Eagleton and journalist Andrew Brown

Are you saying this is against neutrality?Kazemita1 (talk) 22:13, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Well, for one, the sources in the upper part of the article you've cited are all WP:PRIMARY sources, usually the books themselves. The others are opinion pieces in newspapers. If they are noted criticisms, shouldn't there be third-party references used to show WP:DUE weight? Secondly, why is content added to the article discounting material in Dawkins book listed before the actual book is addressed in the article? Given that several editors have removed this content, it would probably be best to stop and explain why it does belong in the article, as opposed to reinserting it multiple times and asking editors why it doesn't belong. If you have sound reasons to insert the material and can present third-party sources that reflect this, I'll be the first to agree with you, and we can work towards establishing a consensus for adding whatever material is decided upon. - SudoGhost 23:51, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
I like your approach. Let's go one issue at a time. Please, let me know what is the problem with the following edit:

The God Delusion was praised by among others the Nobel laureates Sir Harold Kroto and James D. Watson and by psychologist Steven Pinker, while criticized by philosopher of biology Michael Ruse, prominent literary critic Terry Eagleton and journalist Andrew Brown

If the issue is that you want me to find a secondary source that reflects (and agrees with) Michael Ruse's review, or Terry Eagleton's review on The God Delusion, I will be happy to provide one.--Kazemita1 (talk) 00:22, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

  • I think the non-primary source would help substantiate this and show that these criticisms carry weight. - SudoGhost 01:06, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
  • That book isn't really third-party, it's already in the article as a primary-source criticism; we should use more than just such sources referring to one another, that doesn't really express any weight for the statement. - SudoGhost 01:47, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Terry Eagleton's view was endorsed by RSN. By the way, may I ask what declares weight for Steven Pinker's praise and that of others in the following. I do not see any third-party secondary source citing them praising Dawkins' book:

The God Delusion was praised by among others the Nobel laureates Sir Harold Kroto and James D. Watson and by psychologist Steven Pinker

Kazemita1 (talk) 05:04, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

resolving issues one by one

  • Does anybody have a problem with changing a number of Christian thinkers have responded to it to a number of thinkers have responded to it ? Considering the secular jew David Berlinski (The Devil's Delusion), and comments by traditional atheist Michael Ruse?Kazemita1 (talk) 01:45, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
    • Disingenuous to change "Christian" to "thinkers" Are the majority of respondents Christian? Is the Jewish respondent the outlier? Changing it to "religiously motivated ideolog" might be better? I don't think most people associate these people as "thinkers" if your talking about opponents to evolution. — raekyt 05:44, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
      • Let's clarify things a little bit. First of all, they are not opponents of evolution. Secondly, I am not pushing for keeping the word "thinker". I am mainly bringing your attention to the crowd of non-Christians who responded and therefore asking you to remove that word Christian. How about a number of authors have responded to it? or a number of people have responded to it?--Kazemita1 (talk) 06:27, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Multiple secondary sources including David Ramsay Steele(Atheism Explained) and Alister McGrath (The Dawkins Delusion) have quoted Robert Pape's paper on the cause of suicide bombing not being religion directly as a response to Dawkins' claim. Do you see a problem adding the following to the article:

People have disagreed with Dawkins' argument, quoting Robert Pape's research on the subject. In this 2003 paper, based on surveys of every suicide bombing since 1980, it was shown that religious belief of any kind is neither necessary nor sufficient to create suicide bombers and the matter is rather political.Kazemita1 (talk) 02:23, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Are any of these people authoritative? First you have to show that David Ramsay Steele, Alister McGrath and Robert Pape are qualified to make the claims they're making. Published peer-reviewed papers, or anything else that shows that they know what they're talking about? Having a biology degree, or whatever doesn't necessarily qualify you to discredit the whole foundation of the field of biology without MOUNTAINS of evidence. — raekyt 05:48, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Robert Pape who wrote the paper on suicide bombers (later to be published as a book) is authoritative. He is a famous political scientist and his paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal of American Political Science Review. Alister McGrath is just quoting him. Nevertheless, he is someone whose views Richard Dawkins never ignored(other wise, he would not have debate with him or taken his time to respond back to his criticism).--Kazemita1 (talk) 06:27, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Link to the paper? — raekyt 06:29, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Just added--Kazemita1 (talk) 06:32, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
And what specifically is this paper being used to criticize of Dawkins? — raekyt 06:36, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
That "for Dawkins it is obvious that religious belief leads to suicide bombings". You may find it on page 80 of The Dawkins Delusion here (search for keyword 'Pape').Kazemita1 (talk) 06:48, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
That's not what Dawkins said, where in his work does he say what this book is criticizing him for? Where does Pape make these accusations? — raekyt 06:48, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
This is what Dawkins said(currently mentioned in the article):
Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!
and McGrath -if you look at page 80 of his book- is directly criticizing Dawkins based on Pape's research. --Kazemita1 (talk) 07:14, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't find McGrath's use of Pape's paper to refute what Dawkins said there as credible. Pape's paper, notable or not, seems fairly highly cited but I haven't got the time to really check all those cites, but Pape certainly isn't arguing that religious motivations and faith in religion is never a motivation for suicide bombing, and to make a distinction hes focusing on suicide BOMBING, and 9/11 wasn't a suicide bombing and was clearly religiously motivated as with many such attacks by al-Qaeda. Dawkins, likewise, clearly isn't stating that all suicide attacks are religiously motivated. So how is McGrath's criticism relevant for inclusion? Beyond McGrath's book, is there a multitude of reliable sources that make those assertions? — raekyt 07:23, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Let me remind that no one is allowed to do any original research in Wiki articles. In other words, whether you think McGrath's use of Pape's paper to refute what Dawkins said is credible or not, does not change anything. Your authority as an editor only goes as far as discussing whether McGrath is an authoritative critic of Dawkins work. Or whether Pape's work, that McGrath used to refute Dawkins statement is a well-cited paper published in a peer-reviewed journal.--Kazemita1 (talk) 07:39, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Nothing to do with WP:OR, what I'm saying is that as far as anyone is concerned you or I have no more authority than McGrath in making this kind of criticism. Did Pape make this conclusion and criticize Dawkins? Or is this just resting on what McGrath published in a book, which is a primary source, and his opinion, that is backed up with what? To use this you need secondary sources to backup this criticism, and you need to show that this is a legitimate criticism. What I'm saying is Pape didn't say what McGrath is saying, and Dawkins didn't say what McGrath said he said, at least in my limited reading of the two sources. — raekyt 07:43, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
As for your question of whether "there is a multitude of reliable sources that make those assertions", the answer is yes. You might want to take a look at this to see many authors have concluded similar to McGrath and Steele. In other words, McGrath is not alone in drawing such conclusions.--Kazemita1 (talk) 07:47, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
That link shows nothing, clearly such a broad search term will net virtually anything, and anything that contains just one of those three words, so thus irrelevant. — raekyt 07:50, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
The link shows several books criticizing atheism which are citing Pape's paper. Not that difficult to click on the first 8 titles.Kazemita1 (talk) 07:58, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
But since Dawkins isn't in the search terms, they may not have anything to do with Dawkins, so again how are they relevant? The burden of proof here is on you to show that (1) that this criticism of Dawkins's comment is accurate and (2) that it's wide spread, or notable beyond the opinion of one or two ideologues written in books of limited publishing. Are these books significant, best sellers, high printing, published by huge publishing houses, have a lot of independent press coverage, lots of reviews in popular media? There's got to be some WP:WEIGHT behind the criticism to show that it's relevant for inclusion, and not just some guy who no one cares about opinion... — raekyt 08:06, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
That was not the issue; the issue was the way of reasoning (assertion as you put it) McGrath used to refute Dawkins' claim on religions being harmful. Per your request, I showed you that the type of reasoning McGrath used is backed up by many sources and therefore his criticism is reliable enough to be posted.Kazemita1 (talk) 08:22, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I disagree, Dawkins in the quote you gave is not asserting that all suicide bombers are religious in nature, and Pape isn't asserting that no suicide bombers are religious, just that the ones he looked at the majority wasn't, and the way I read McGrath's statement it sounded like he was asserting the opposite of both of those statements. So, no, I don't agree that it warrants inclusion. — raekyt 08:33, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
You cannot decide whether a critic has a point or not based on your personal point of view. Your job is to investigate the reliability of the sourced material (or notability of the critic) which was done in depth in this discussion. Kazemita1 (talk) 08:50, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

Well I am looking at his source material and I don't agree with his conclusions. You can always take this WP:RSN if you disagree, and/or wait for other people to chime in. Out of all of McGrath's books railing against Dawkins, this is the best criticism you want to include that he makes? Surely something else he said is better sourced/backed up. The Pape paper seems like grasping at straws to make his assertions to a fairly off-hand remark Dawkins made for a website. If Dawkins is saying that absolutely all suicide bombers are religiously motivated, then sure Pape's paper would probably be relevant, but if hes not, and only saying some are, then Pape's paper is irrelevant. — raekyt 09:05, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Your disagreement with a critic's conclusions does not make it against any policy once the source is proven reliable and the author notable. As for your question of why I chose this part of his book, the answer is because the counter-argument, i.e. statement by Dawkins relevant to McGrath's criticism, was already present in the article.--Kazemita1 (talk) 09:16, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
You've taken it to RSN so we'll see how that turns out. — raekyt 09:25, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
My question was way more general and the answer was provided right away saying that a book of criticism is reliable when it gets good reviews (which is the case for McGrath's work as it got positive feedback by Michael Ruse, Bryan Appleyard and a response from Dawkins). You, on the other hand, have started a new thread on the specific case of Pape's argument and will have to wait for your response.--Kazemita1 (talk) 09:41, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't know what your looking at but the RSN I linked too that you started today says nothing of the sort... — raekyt 09:44, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
The discussion between the two of us on this topic started long after I submitted my question and long after I got the following answer from RSN: "News magazines are generally not appropriate sources of criticism for academic works. Seek peer reviewed journal's book reviews." It surprising when you say I took our discussion to RSN.--Kazemita1 (talk) 09:52, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Clearly I didn't state anything of the sort, I just said you took this source to RSN, which you didn't tell anyone here you did, so our discussion here is kinda pointless since RSN is about the highest authority here we have on if a source is usable or not and how. — raekyt 09:56, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Again, I did not mention any source name in RSN and it was you who mentioned of this specific source for the first time (and you did it after our discussion started). That being said, I totally agree with you that RSN is about the highest authority here we have on the subject. Therefore, you may remove McGrath's criticism on this matter-that I am about to add to the article- once you have RSN's approval--Kazemita1 (talk) 10:12, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
If you want to add more fuel to the 3RR fire, go right ahead, I'd advise you NOT to edit the article until that is resolved. — raekyt 10:14, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Dawkins left McGrath a very good hook to connect him to Pape's paper:
"If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers."


This is indeed against Pape's research that McGrath uses to refute Dawkins, in which Religious purposes is not found to be the main cause of suicide bombing.--Kazemita1 (talk) 22:13, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Just to be on the safe side I had it discussed in the Reliable source noticeboard as well. You may find the conclusion here. --Kazemita1 (talk) 13:04, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It's clear that edit like this isn't accurate or true, he simply wasn't refering to all suicide bombers, and the RSN backs up this assertion by consensus, so any such edits would be removed. — raekyt 03:58, 2 August 2012 (UTC)


  • Does anybody have a problem with completing the quote from Rees' book:

Regarding Rees's claim in his book Our Cosmic Habitat that "such questions lie beyond science; however, they are the province of philosophers and theologians"

Currently, the last sentence is missing.Kazemita1 (talk) 05:09, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

I'd like to know why we are using the quote in first place. Considering the prior claim mentioning Rees is not supported by the existing source: Are there sources that actually connect the two? — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 11:05, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
That is not the correct source (your link). The source would be Rees' book (Our Cosmic Habitat) which Dawkins both cites and quotes from in his book.Kazemita1 (talk) 11:56, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

You can find the actual quote here--Kazemita1 (talk) 11:59, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

The prior claim being...
"Astrophysicist Martin Rees, who has described himself as an unbeliever who identifies with Christianity from a cultural perspective, has suggested that Dawkins's attack on mainstream religion is unhelpful.[116] "
...which is not supported by the source. —ArtifexMayhem (talk) 16:08, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
You know, you raise a good point here. Maybe we should totally remove Dawkins counter-argument, i.e. his quote from Rees' book (cosmos habitat) and his following discussion about theologians. Since there is doubt it be related to the previous argument from Rees in Guardian article. Nevertheless, my point in starting this thread was, that if we decide to bring Dawkins quote, we should bring it in full.

--Kazemita1 (talk) 17:14, 30 July 2012 (UTC) Kazemita1, could you please not change talk page comments like this [1]. It makes it very hard to follow the discussion, thank you. Dbrodbeck (talk) 22:31, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Lack of sufficient criticism

This article represents RD's works, views, and awards very clearly. However, in its current form it does not yet meet the standards of an encyclopedic article; it does not provide a minimum representation of the views critical of RD's. I compared this to the articles about a few other figure who are similar to RD. And by similar I mean a figure who is a 1) Scientist, 2) Prolific writer/speaker, 3) Public advocate of controversial religious/philosophical/political views. Two examples are Sam Harris (who shares many views with RD, and is also a major figure of New Atheism) and Noam Chomsky (a prominent linguist with controversial political views).

1- The page on Sam_Harris_(author) has a separate and quite lengthy section dedicated to criticisms of his views.

2- The page on Noam Chomsky spends several lines taking note of criticisms of his views (both on linguistics and on politics), not as separate sections, but each right after the descriptions of his corresponding views.

I invite you to do your own comparison with similar pages. We can adopt the approach taken in either of these two (or other related) pages and improve the current article. Without us doing a much better job representing the other sides, this page will merely look like a CV. MHNova (talk) 00:53, 30 July 2012 (UTC) MHNova (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.

There is criticism in the article actually. Dbrodbeck (talk) 00:59, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
First off, WP:OTHERSTUFF is never a valid argument, out of the millions of pages that exist here your bound to find a violation to about every policy we have, we do what we can and clean what we can when it's noticed. According to policy it's always best to put criticism within the article as appropriate and NOT to have a specific criticism section. WP:CRITICISM It may very well be the case that a criticism section is ok for those linked articles, or it may be a case where it's not and no one has integrated it yet as it should be. Irregardless it's irrelevant to the discussion here. — raekyt 05:30, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for both your responses. A couple of points:
First, I may not have been clear enough, but the two examples I mentioned were not my arguments to prove the need for criticism, but are simply two examples of how it may be done. The actual argument I am making is pretty simple: An encyclopedic article like this needs to go beyond a CV and reasonably reflect the critical views (if there are any).
Second, I have absolutely no problem with (and actually prefer) integrating the criticism within the appropriate sections (as my second example above shows). So, no argument there.
Now, am I correct in concluding that both Dbrodbeck and Raeky agree with me in principle with the need to give a reasonable amount of representation to the views critical of RD in the article (Except that Dbrodbeck believes this is already done sufficiently)? - MHNova (talk) 07:07, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Noone is opposed to criticism being added to the article, but it has to abide by our policies, and WP:DUE and WP:WEIGHT. Problem is a lot of what is being proposed isn't inline with policy. What do you propose? — raekyt 07:11, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes exactly. Remember, MHNova is new (2 edits, both to this page) so (s)he may not know all of the policies. Dbrodbeck (talk) 11:37, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Any specific notable criticism of a particular Dawkins text really should be associated with the article on that particular text. Dawkins, who happens to be a living person, clearly has more to his life than his atheist advocacy. The theist criticisms can be addressed more broadly in the biography article with due weight. SkyMachine (++) 00:58, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I am curious about what others think, but it seems to me that talking about specific works at the level we are getting at now in the article is a bit much. Perhaps in the articles on the works themselves, but this is supposed to be a BLP, not a list of things people have said about everything he ever wrote. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:30, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Agree, completely. The "to and fro" presentation of arguments, with one "side" ever seeking to outplay the other with a more extensive rebuttal, is totally unsuited to a blp, but I see it's creeping back in, bit by bit. There's an argument against this style of editing here. --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:01, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes indeed. I particularly dislike the way that disconnected bits of what Dawkins himself said and wrote are now being added in (as here), purely (it seems) in order to provide a hook on which to hang another thread of criticism. This is supposed to be a coherent account of Dawkins and his work, not a platform to allow everyone who disagrees with the subject to "have his say". SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 15:13, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
This is exactly what is happening. I would really like to go back somewhere around here [2], before all of this started getting done. It is, to my mind, much better. Dbrodbeck (talk) 15:21, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Agree totally and support restoring that version.--Charles (talk) 18:47, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
May I remind you folks that personal desires does not play any role here in Wikipedia? What rules is wiki policies of WP:DUE and WP:WEIGHT. and no matter how large your number is, you cannot act against Wiki rules. --Kazemita1 (talk) 18:54, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Ah yes, but what about the WP:IAR rule, although it may pay for you to ignore that particular one. SkyMachine (++) 07:33, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I am pretty sure those are the same policies. Anyway, WP:CONSENSUS is also important (and I still see no consensus for all of these recent additions). These additions look a great deal like a giant coatrack. We have one editor who has some sort of axe to grind. We then have many SPAs (or near SPAs) chiming in. Criticism is fine, but yes in the right weight. Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:04, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
Regarding weight, it is not even comparable to articles of important figures; they have much more stuff. Regarding consensus for adding the new material you should have attended the discussion like other folks did. I am going to work now and I will be back by 10 p.m. or so (pacific time).--Kazemita1 (talk) 19:18, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I went away for a day, it is the summer and all. If you describe what I see on this talk page as a consensus for all of these additions, well, I am not sure we define that word the same way. You did, however, violate WP:AGF when you figured my userboxes were a reason to dismiss my comments. You took things to AN and made a vague post at RSN. I am not interested in arguing with you, but I don't want this page to turn into some sort of place where every damned thing RD has said is posted and then the reply by someone or another is given. That is just bad writing, and irrelevant, for the most part, to the man's life. Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:25, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
A few points: (My appologies for the length)
1)While RD has many facets to his life, his prominence is more than anything due to his public advocacy of atheism. (If you disagree, I refer to this very article, starting with "Dawkins has especially risen to prominence...") So, it is natural to put a lot of focus on the section "Advocacy of Atheism", and of course give due weight to critiques, as well.
2) I am finding it peculiar that some folks find the inclusion of a minimal amount of critical views contrary to having a "coherent account of Dawkins and his work", unless you interpret a coherent account as a CV or a fan page.
3) Some folks keep referring to due weight, so let's look at this closely. I don't know how everyone else measures the weights, but due to lack of a more objective method, I did a word count specifically on the section "Advocacy of Atheism" using the current version (last editted by Kazemita). The word count in sentences that contain any form of criticism is 262, whereas the total word count in that section is 1922 (please double check). So, the weight given to criticism even with all Kazemita's additions is less than 1 in 7. Note that I am not counting the word count of the whole article or considering the images, or else the weight would be much smaller.
Is there anyone here who believes the due weight for critiques of RD's approach to atheism/religion should be less than 1/7?
Let me clarify that I am absolutely not saying we should inflate the criticism to give it sufficient weight. Any critical view should come organically and from credible sources. But given the current small real estate given to criticism even after Kazemita's additions, using the due weight argument against the addition of critical material is irrelevant. MHNova (talk) 21:01, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I took a look at the article. It really looks fine and encyclopedic to me. Specially the majority criticism is added to the atheism advocacy section. I don't also get why adding criticism from reliable sources to the atheism advocacy conflicts with WP:LIVING. Taha (talk) 19:23, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

WP:NPV instructions says that there's no problem to put criticism from reliable sources. There 's no reason to oppose to put such criticisms in this article.--وحید قاسمیان (talk) 20:59, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

I tend to agree with the guy who mentioned Sam Harris' article. Add criticism to it, but do not remove it. Nersy (talk) 05:57, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

RD is known to be a promoter of scientific method by replacing the prejudice in religion by verifiable evidence and academic discipline. Any scientific idea should be criticizable and objectionable. I am a bit surprised to see in the very page of RD in Wikipedia such prejudicial behaviors. A user has added some opposite ideas to the page. And since some of the important gurus of Wiki happens to be atheist they come to WP:CONSENSUS and they decided to WP:IAR any kind of criticisms. I suggest reviewing the notes of RD on Galileo Galilei. It appears that in the 17th century some people in Italy came to some sort of WP:CONSENSUS to believe the earth is in the center of universe and they forced Galileo to WP:IAR the true facts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Estedlal (talkcontribs) 11:21, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Estedlal (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
So again because someone is an atheist they have no right to edit here, or, their opinions and interpretations are not useful and it is all a conspiracy. Thank you very much. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:50, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Estedlal, may I remind you that personal beliefs of editors are irrelevant to the discussion here and any reference to them should be strictly avoided. MHNova (talk) 17:57, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Scientific ideas are constantly tested by scientists using research results published in peer reviewed scientific journals. Critiscism based on the beliefs of certain factions of certain religions is however unverifiable and has no place in a fact-based encyclopedia.--Charles (talk) 20:12, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I opened this discussion and, now that one editor has been awarded a 48-hour break, I'd now like to be able to seize the opportunity and put it to bed peacefully. Are contributors broadly in agreement with the piece as it stands, or is something more needed? Too much squabbling, or adding controversial material without consensus, will put the WP:GA status at risk.--Old Moonraker (talk) 20:49, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Last Outstanding Issue

We still have a little bit more work to do to reach a consensus. It seems the last outstanding point of contention is the paragraph that was last added by Kazemita1 and deleted by Charles. How about we have a last round of discussion on this and close the issue? To start, may I ask Charles (or others) what their main reason is to object this paragraph? MHNova (talk) 02:34, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Here's some words I've been working on at my user page for some time....
Criticism sections are almost always going to be inappropriate in Wikipedia. Just about everyone has somebody who disagrees with them about something. Some, like outspoken atheists, will have more than many from conservative religious parts of society who disagree. That's a given. We cannot possibly list all the criticism, so what's the point of listing any? We should just describe what's significant about someone (i.e. why they have an article here) and let others decide on the merits of their actions and views. The same goes for people significant for their strong religious views. List those views, and let it stand. Going any further will inevitably create the debate of "how much further?" So, no criticism. OK? HiLo48 (talk) 02:46, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Given existence of the criticism-only articles for famous religious leaders, I guess your conclusion/paragraph is against the general consensus of Wikipedians, right? Taha (talk) 03:14, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
There is no such "general consensus", criticism sections should be avoided if possible, let alone entire articles dedicated to such. Wikipedia:Criticism sections#Approaches to presenting criticism. - SudoGhost 03:19, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
And, there already is criticism in the article. Something I have been pointing out since like the late 1940s, ok since Friday.... Dbrodbeck (talk) 04:20, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
A discussion here should be framed by someone identifying proposed text (quote it here or link to a diff—links to user pages are not needed), then say why that text would be helpful in a biographical article to explain the achievements or significance of its subject. If it is desirable to mention that the subject said something that was generally controversial, it may be appropriate to mention some WP:DUE responses, but this article is not Why Dawkins is wrong. If someone notable made a great criticism, that should be in the article on the other notable person. If the other person is not notable, WP:DUE says their views are not required here. Johnuniq (talk) 03:39, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
I think that is the best approach Johnuniq Dbrodbeck (talk) 04:18, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Remove the criticism, yes, but remove unnecessary praise also, such as "The God Delusion was praised by among others the Nobel laureates Sir Harold Kroto and James D. Watson and by psychologist Steven Pinker". This sort of critical reception of texts should be confined to the seperate in-depth articles on each text. SkyMachine (++) 05:47, 2 August 2012 (UTC) The Rohan Pethiyagoda and James Gleick quotes are excessive also:

"Author James Gleick describes Dawkins's concept of the meme as "his most famous memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytizing against religiosity"", "Explaining the reasoning behind the genus name, lead researcher Rohan Pethiyagoda was quoted as stating that "Richard Dawkins has through his writings helped us understand that the universe is far more beautiful and awe-inspiring than any religion has imagined [...] We hope that Dawkinsia will serve as a reminder of the elegance and simplicity of evolution, the only rational explanation there is for the unimaginable diversity of life on Earth"

These ought to be removed. SkyMachine (++) 06:02, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
It is reasonable to indicate the general nature of responses to Dawkins' work (by notable authorities) as that is an indication of the impact of the person. The praise text "The God Delusion was praised by among others..." is immediately followed by the balancing "while criticized by..." so I don't see why it is inappropriate. The quote about memes is reasonable as it sums up a significant view, although ideally it would be stated by a suitable academic (but that's not likely as few academics would embrace memes until there was an academic basis for the topic—indeed, Dawkins presented it just as an idea). The Pethiyagoda quote is a bit long (I don't have a strong opinion about that); I think the mention and a quick rationale should be retained as representative of a response to work by Dawkins. The article should also note (in encyclopedic language) that various religious figures despise Dawkins, but it is the nature of a biography that it presents a list of what the person has achieved—the reader can decide whether they like the results without editorial guidance. Johnuniq (talk) 07:46, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
You may like these praise passages for contributing some utility to the article, but shouldn't the consideration here be whether they are truly necessary. To get rid of them would certainly help with the balance issue when pruning back some of these problematic criticism passages. SkyMachine (++) 09:14, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Concur: removing the passages of excessive praise would be no loss, particularly when accompanied by judicious trimming of some of the material introduced to refute them. --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:55, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

There is a long quote in the article regarding 9/11 and how harmlful religion is according to RD:

Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!

It is my honest opinion, that such a long quote -if decided to remain in the article- needs be balanced out with due criticism. With a quick research I was able to find 6 books that use Robert Pape's research to criticize RD directly on his claims of blaming religion for suicide bombings:


To me this just shows the notability of the dialog and I therefore propose adding something to represent the counter-argument if the decision is to keep the quote.Kazemita1 (talk) 21:21, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

I would question keeping the quote at all, honestly. There was discussion some years back regarding "Criticism of (religion)" articles, and I remember at the time finding academic sources saying that the atrocities in the name of atheism and irreligion by the Nazis and the Soviets may have had larger numbers than several of the prominent religious wars combined. That may or may not be relevant, but the quote clearly talks about "belief", and, honestly, actively believing in the non-existence of any sort of religious principles, as per Dawkins and others, is basically "religious" in its own right. If it is to be kept, though, it would definitely help to include some disagreeing viewpoints, as indicated above. John Carter (talk) 22:14, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
You make a good point in suggesting to remove the quote John. I have no objection to removing it.--Kazemita1 (talk) 22:45, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I started this subsection with the hope that we resolve this "last issue" of the quote on 9/11 and its criticisms. Hopefully we stay focused on this and don't go back to the already resolved issue of whether to include any criticism at all or not.
Going, back to the issue: Clearly the quote is unnecessarily long and unless accompanied by possible notable criticisms (which apparently exist) puts the neutrality of the article into question. Can someone here explain why the presence of this quote is essential to the article? MHNova (talk) 17:33, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
If the only way to keep out the coat racking is to remove it fine. I still wonder why we need opposing views in an article about an individual. This is not, as noted above why Dawkins is wrong it is a bio of RD. Dbrodbeck (talk) 18:22, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
The quote gives readers a very clear understanding of Dawkins' thoughts on the topic in his own words. Learning about Dawkins is the purpose of the article and the quote provides insight to that purpose without comment. — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 10:09, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Achieving balance in this article without bloat or coat-racking

Kazemita1 (and others) I urge you to take a look at the Osama bin Laden article and consider how that article handles bin Laden's views. Like Dawkins now is, Bin Laden was a controversial figure in his lifetime, he had many critics and some diehard supporters, and yet the article allows his views to be put forth without the need to offer a counter as to why he was mistaken according to the balanced judgement of wikipedia. Notable personal opinions of a biographical subject (even if controversial) rightly belong in the article of a biographical subject, and the article reader is free to agree or disagree according to their own personal beliefs. The comments stand to be judged on their own merits rather than be herded into a point/counter point essay. It is not an encyclopedia's job to advocate for or against the views of a biographical subject (or even try to achieve both at the same time in the name of balance). Balance issues only come into effect when third party opinions are in play. Thus if we remove the third party critical/favorable opinions from this article (unless truly necessary and notable) we will magically achieve balance. It is as simple as that, why don't we just prune it back into shape rather than graft monstrosities onto its branches. SkyMachine (++) 21:25, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

I hope you're kidding. Any attempt to draw a parallel between Dawkins and bin Laden is just plain ridiculous. HiLo48 (talk) 21:41, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
I second that. Besides, "WP:OTHERSTUFF is never a valid argument" as pointed above by Raeky. That being said, I think the specific criticism that we are talking about is quite notable, given people like prominent literary theorist Terry Eagleton has addressed that. It is for this reason therefore that I propose thinking about keeping both (statement and criticism) or none.--Kazemita1 (talk) 00:25, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
WP:OTHERSTUFF applies to deletion debates and neither that article nor this are in danger of deletion. I asked you to consider how the article handles criticism of a person known to have many critics and detractors. This should be a qualitative comparison between an article I consider to execute this balance well and the Dawkins article, which is hardly balanced even with your additions, and further third party viewpoints will not change this situation. I don't think the Eagleton criticisms are notable enough as he accuses Dawkins of not knowing theology and yet Eagleton himself is not considering the historical criticism of the gospels that ought to be at the core of his theology debates, so it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. SkyMachine (++) 06:10, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Well said, SkyMachine. This is a biographical article, and one of its functions is to present/explain the views of Richard Dawkins. It is not an essay on the rightness or wrongness of anything, and there is absolutely no need for a spurious "balance" that insists on every statement from Dawkins being countered by something from one of his critics. In the context of an article about Dawkins, as long as it is pointed out that some of what he says is controversial and has attracted criticism, it is entirely appropriate for the article to devote more space to what he himself says than to what his critics say. As for the specific quote about suicide bombers, I think "Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense ... Let's now stop being so damned respectful" neatly captures his viewpoint and helps the reader understand the subject of the article, and should therefore remain in the article. But there is absolutely no need to trot out a raft of counter-quotes. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 07:25, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
@Skymachine: Was it not you who was saying "also remove praises". How come you do not push for that anymore? Why is it that you always fall for removing criticism, but forget about removing praises? like the one you earlier mentioned:

"Author James Gleick describes Dawkins's concept of the meme as "his most famous memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytizing against religiosity"", "Explaining the reasoning behind the genus name, lead researcher Rohan Pethiyagoda was quoted as stating that "Richard Dawkins has through his writings helped us understand that the universe is far more beautiful and awe-inspiring than any religion has imagined [...] We hope that Dawkinsia will serve as a reminder of the elegance and simplicity of evolution, the only rational explanation there is for the unimaginable diversity of life on Earth" — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.94.18.234 (talk) 24.94.18.234 (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.

To me they should be treated the same. I thought that's what I said. SkyMachine (++) 20:58, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
@SNALWIBMA: You seem to be a journalist as your userboxes say. My question from you is how do you weigh Eagleton's criticism of Dawkins? Do you not find it notable? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.94.18.234 (talk)
I assume you are referring to Eagleton's review of The God Delusion in the London Review of Books. Yes, it's a good review. It's probably worth mentioning in the article on The God Delusion. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 08:43, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
No, I meant Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate in which he poses criticism towards many including Dawkins. Specifically Dawkins' claim of relating Suicide-bombing and religion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.94.18.234 (talk) 16:10, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

I am curious why in the heck we need some sense of 'balance' anyway. The title of the article is not 'Richard Dawkins, and people who disagree with him' Dbrodbeck (talk) 10:57, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

You are curious why we "heck" need criticism in the article. Thank you very much!--24.94.18.234 (talk) 17:41, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
What the hell is wrong with saying 'heck'? Or did I miss something. I imagine your vast 4 edit experience on wikipedia has found some policy that says I can't use the word heck? I know other words, but instead I decided to use 'heck'. This is tiresome, and this whole last week and a half have been ridiculous. Dbrodbeck (talk) 17:54, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Agree. Snalwibma has hit the nail on the head. This is all a pointless exercise.--Charles (talk) 11:27, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, and I think that Dbrodbeck hit the nail even harder. As a matter of fact and of "balance", for every voice mentioned that disagrees with Dawkins, there should be another voice mentioned that explictly agrees with Dawkins. That i.m.o. would be real "balance" in the Wiki sense. - DVdm (talk) 12:11, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
So, in other words, for the specific case of suicide-bombing/religion controversy, you would find it balanced if we further mention the similar shared belief by folks like Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennet on this matter along with the scholarly opposition to this belief?--24.94.18.234 (talk) 17:41, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
These are not other words for the words I wrote. - DVdm (talk) 17:44, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
SkyMachine, up here Talk:Richard_Dawkins#Lack_of_sufficient_criticism I brought up two examples of how in similar biographical articles the critical views are incorporated. The biographies I gave as examples belonged to two people (Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky) who, you'll admit, are much much more similar to RD that your example. So, please do not use an example like that as an argument against inclusion of any criticism.
It is really amazing how as soon as someone tries to focus the talk on the specific text or references under discussion, some folks divert the discussion by questioning the most basic principles, such as "do we need balance in this article at all?". If anyone shows a wikipedia policy that says biographical articles should only narrate one's achievements, views, awards, and praises, but should not include the criticisms or controversies, then you can count on my support for removing all criticism. Until then, please stop making such arguments and stick to the text and references under discussion MHNova (talk) 23:30, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
That Sam Harris criticism section is atrocious, biased and loaded language, poor sources, internet forum discussions used as examples of criticisms, good god. And yet you still wonder why people wish to prevent such mess from oozing up over at this article. Plus if you go back over this past week's postings on this forum you will see that many an editor has expressed the view that criticism sections are unwise and poor practice in BLP articles, hardly any consensus for this criticism coatrack (excepting of course all those newly created single purpose accounts that happen to agree in step). SkyMachine (++) 00:23, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
@Skymachine: "poor sources, internet forum discussions used as examples of criticisms". These do not apply to the sources proposed to be used here as they are published books from notable authors. On a separate issue, I would like to know your opinion on writing a whole new article with the title of "Criticism of Richard Dawkins", given that you do not agree with putting any sort of criticism in this article, even if the sources are disscussed in the WP:RSD to be reliable enough. Will appreciate your response on this.--216.31.211.11 (talk) 01:01, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Actually, all of this started because of an article (which is now a redirect) called 'Criticisms of Richard Dawkins'. It was a simple POVFORK and COATRACK. Dbrodbeck (talk) 01:16, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Appropriate venues for this criticism may be the articles on the texts subject to the criticism or the New Atheism article. SkyMachine (++) 01:29, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Let's take this issue to the WP:NPOVN as people in New Atheism and The God Delusion are preventing editors from adding criticism on the same basis and this does not seem to be fair.--216.31.211.11 (talk) 02:39, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
Instead, try using the talk page of those articles. Why rush to a noticeboard when you don't get your way? Dbrodbeck (talk) 09:12, 7 August 2012 (UTC)
SkyMachine (++), you did not answer my question. The discussion is not about creating a separate section for criticism. That topic was settled here several days ago, and there was an agreement to incorporate well-documented criticism within the appropriate sections, rather than creating a separate section. See comments by raekyt above (who, BTW, said "No one is opposed to criticism being added to the article"). SkyMachine (++), thanks for bringing up BLP. Both you and Dbrodbeck please go to that article and read the section titled "Balance". In fact, let me quote the very first sentence of that section:
Criticism and praise should be included if they can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, so long as the material is presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a disinterested tone.
You'll notice that your resistance to inclusion of ANY criticim (irrespective of their source) is in clear violation of the policy. I'd like to ask other editors to share their opinion about this.MHNova (talk) 22:54, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
This is not the page for a general chat. If anyone has a concrete proposal, please make it, but please read the previous responses first and respond to any that opposed a similar proposal (that is, say why the proposal is appropriate and why the objection does not apply). Johnuniq (talk) 23:38, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
Nothing appears to be settled. From that BLP section: "Given their potential impact on biography subjects' lives, biographies must be balanced and fair to their subjects at all times." Undue criticism of a single hedged line by Dawkins in one of his many books is not exactly in this spirit. Anyway as I have said before if it belongs anywhere that would be in the article on the text. At this point I get the feeling that I am stuck in a game of whack-a-mole. The majority of views expressed so far here have been against these inclusions. SkyMachine (++) 22:02, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

I agree with MHNova. What I see here is a sort of hypocritical behavior that is very easygoing when it comes to praise, but extremely harsh when it comes to criticism. This is really absurd. --216.31.211.11 (talk) 01:06, 11 August 2012 (UTC) @Johnuniq: on the topic of proposal, my proposal in TGD's page is still awaiting your review.216.31.211.11 (talk) 01:18, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Almost all criticism in BLPs is unhelpful. I agree with Dbrodbeck's comment above. The title of the article is Richard Dawkins, not Richard Dawkins, and people who disagree with him. HiLo48 (talk) 01:38, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Agree with HiLo48; that could not have been phrased better. The original suggestion which compared Dawkins, a non-religious scientist whose worst offense so far as I am aware was to somewhat dismiss concerns of sexism in the elevatorgate dramafest; to bin Laden, a religious fanatic who orchestrated several terror attacks, is beyond the pale. I am having trouble believing anyone considers that in any way an apt comparison. Puppy has spoken, puppy is done. KillerChihuahua?!? 05:48, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Michael Shermer

Atheist vs Agnostic-Atheist

Come one you guys, we all know how Dawkins describes himself - AA. so why quiet it up?... 109.64.151.131 (talk) 17:27, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Read the archives, this has been discussed. Dbrodbeck (talk) 17:29, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Michael Shermer 2

Fundamental Question of Due vs Undue in RD's Article

What makes the praise by Steven Pinker due and the criticism by Michael Shermer undue? If the measure is the number of secondary sources that cite the act, I can find two secondary independent sources(1 2) that cite Michael Shermer's criticism, but none that cite Steven Pinker's praise.--216.31.219.19 (talk) 13:51, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

What praise by Pinker? Currently, the article only mentions that Pinker liked TGD, Dawkins Bestseller. On the other hand, the Shermer criticism seemed to be cherry-picked and directed against a fairly obscure essay - Shermer also says a lot of good things about Dawkins (and TGD). --Stephan Schulz (talk) 14:25, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
Dueness, notability and relevance are generally —and i.m.o. fundamentally— established by wp:consensus on the talk page. - DVdm (talk) 14:28, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
The method you are suggesting Dvdm, puts higher priority on wp:consensus than WP:POV. To give you a hypothetical example, if there are enough pro-Dawkins users actively blocking any consensus for inclusion of criticism we will be left with a biased article which is justified due to consensus. I do not think this was ever meant by Wikipedia founders.--216.31.211.11 (talk) 18:48, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
All our policies are interpreted by WP:CONSENSUS - how else? We don't have enforcers with guns. You can try to reach a wider audience by going through WP:DR, but in the end, if you think there is bias and a large majority thinks there is not, you lose. Of course, there is always the chance that you are wrong and consensus is right. Approaching this as a "me vs. pro-Dawkins users" is probably not the best frame of mind for success. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 19:14, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
Consensus overrules everything, including even wp:IAR, and it is not a suggestion, but just one of the facts of this Wiki. And quite indeed, "me vs. TheOthers" based disputes are rarely resolved in favour of the "me". - DVdm (talk) 20:05, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Agnostic

I added a very small, hopefully uncontroversial section noting that Dawkins has described himself as agnostic (as documented). This is not something anyone engaging in this debate seems to disagree is a fact. The concern seems to be that some will read "agnostic" as meaning "not atheist" even though wikipedia's own entry on atheism begins with a broadly inclusive definition. I added that definitional context (using the same source) just in case. My reasoning is that the implications of labeling oneself agnostic belong in a debate on the atheism or agnosticism pages, not on a factual biography of Dawkins. I'll add that this is not the most elegant section and obviously I invite edits or even incorporating the information elsewhere in the article; I just ask that we move forward not backward to not even having this relevant fact (or even the word agnostic) somewhere in the article. Editorpsy (talk) 00:51, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

I think this talk page demonstrates that it would have been controversial, given the relevant factors of (a) The Telegraph not exactly showing impartiality towards the article's subject; (b) an RfC on this above; (c) what you added appears to be taken out of context and is at best an oversimplification that is potentially misleading as to its intent. - SudoGhost 01:05, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Nevertheless, the matter is controversial because the word "atheist" provides correct encyclopedic information, while previous attempts to introduce "agnostic" have been based on a misunderstanding of what Dawkins said and wrote (the issue is old news because it is fully explored in The God Delusion). Please search this talk page for previous discussions. Johnuniq (talk) 04:14, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
It seems to me that we should probably note somewhere in the article something like the following:
although Dawkins certainly does not believe in God, he does not regard the existence of God as completely and utterly disproved, just very very improbable. Thus when asked by Anthony Kenny why he did not describe himself as an Agnostic he replied "but I do". However Dawkins has made it clear that this is not intended as a shift in his position.
What do people think? NBeale (talk) 15:19, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
No. Read previous RfC on this for details. -Abhishikt (talk) 17:55, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I've added the RfC to the resolved issues subpage. IRWolfie- (talk) 10:01, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

The article states "atheist" rather than "agnostic", which seems strange since Mr Dawkins basic philosophy is that one should only believe what can be proven to be true. In effect the term atheist is a statement of the rejection of the supreme-being concept, however (unless someone has made some very astounding scientific progress) there is no way to conclusively prove if one exists or if one does not exist, therefore agnostic would be the appropriate terminology in this case as athiest either insinuates belief without evidence (contrary to Dawkins philosophy) or implies someones quietly proven gods don't exist. Thus, this article is inaccurate when describing Dawkins as an atheist. 82.108.73.231 (talk) 16:28, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

To see an extensive discussion on this matter, click on the link in the last line of the Resolved issues section just above the Contents (right above this very discussion). HiLo48 (talk) 17:55, 19 September 2012 (UTC)