Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 3

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
← Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4 →

Extended phenotype

I realised last night that I completely forgot to include one of Dawkins's most important contributions to evolutionary theory: viz, the concept of the extended phenotype... This really does need to go in before FAC. Will work on it now... Mikker ... 15:00, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

A biologist friend was scornful about the idea that The Extended Phenotpye was "a major contribution to the science of evolution". I am not Dawkins's greatest fan (!) but I do want to be fair, so I checked, and was astonished to find that not a single google hit that describes it thus other than the article (out of over 95,000 that mention the book). Since it is obviously to a large extent PoV to say that something is "major" I don't think we should say so unless there is pretty well overwhelming evidence that this is a generally held view. NBeale 10:01, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

I'd say that any single book that gets more than 500 cites on the Web of Knowledge is a major contribution to science. Considering that most publications are lucky to get a single (non-self) citation, this is quite something. I'm going to revert your change. --Plumbago 10:14, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I expect "The Selfish Gene" gets lots of citations as well. Wouldn't suprise me if Finnegan's Wake does (for quarks). We can perhaps say that it's a "widely cited" contribtion and give the evidence you adduce, but "major" is PoV. NBeale 10:45, 3 November 2006 (UTC) PS In fact if you google "the Extended Phenotype" and "contribution to science" you only get about 40 hits which are mostly quotes from Dawkins and blog posts.
Try googling "dawkins contribution to science" and you get this from the New York Academy of Sciences "Richard Dawkins is known internationally for his contributions to Darwinian evolutionary theory as described in his book The Extended Phenotype, and for penning the earlier bestselling popular science book The Selfish Gene." Theres plenty more but is that good enough for you? --KaptKos 11:10, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely (although this is a comment by a journalist who edits their webzine, a considered position of the NYAS. I think that wording is perfect NBeale 12:53, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Erm, cites on the Web of Knowledge are cites in scientific publications (so don't give me your Google nonsense). It would be hard to construe this level of citation as indicating anything other than a major work. Anyway, if nothing else, it's certainly a more useful and pertinent piece of information than anything from one of your "biologist friends". --Plumbago 11:59, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Why dispute the fact that it's considered a major contribution? You can't establish the impact of certain ideas on science, just by Googling the title and saying: "Oh, but this returns just 40 hits". "The Selfish Gene" and "Extended Phenotype" are unquestionably major contributions to the theory of evolution, even people who dislike Darwin and his theories must admit that his ideas have become widely adopted, although they may not believe in it. If the article read that the ideas of the extended phenotype, or memetics or selfish genes are absolutely fantastic and abolish all religious theories on the origin of life than it would be POV. "Widely cited" discredits the impact of the theories, saying it's a major contribution to science is neutral enough. I mean, nobody would argue that Cervantes "Don Quichote" is a major contribution to the "evolution" of novel writing. menscht 12:02, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't dispute that some people consider it a "major contribution" but there is no evidence that any authoritative source (other than WikiPedia) does so. And if even one authoritative source called it a "major contribution" that would still not necessarily be a consensus. NBeale 12:53, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I see, so a science work being cited extensively in the primary scientific literature does not qualify as a "major contribution". Right. And on the subject of consensus, note the progression of this discussion. The consensus is currently 3:1 (if we exclude Mikkerpikker's early contribution). --Plumbago 13:00, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Not necessarily. How many citations are there for The Selfish Gene and Finnegans Wake? Last week's Nature had a big article on insects and citation 3 is for The Biology of the Honey Bee. All major contributions are widely cited but not all widely cited books are major contributions. Indeed ITRW of science major contributions are made by papers not books. That's for PopSci NBeale 13:15, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
OK, you're getting good at saying what's not a major contribution, but aside from things like The Origin of Species and Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, how does something get to be a major contribution? On the say-so of one of your "biologist friends"? (Who, let's not forget, name-droppingly include Bob May, etc. ...) --Plumbago 13:23, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I can't see any clear criteria, other than pretty well universal acknowledgement by people in the field. Which rather proves the point that it's a matter of opinion AKA PoV. And here we have no evidence that anyone has ever thus described it, other than in WikiPedia. Indeed it is the only(!) "major contribution to the science of evolution" I can find on the web. NBeale 14:12, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Ah-ha. So, by this definition there appears to be no such thing as a major contribution. Everything is relative. Except, that is, if there's universal agreement. Why didn't you say that at the start? Leaving aside such an unworkable "solution", I suggest that if order 500 scientists (an overestimate here) are sufficiently impressed by a source that they cite it in the primary literature, that it's pretty clear, it's a significant/major/notable/important source. Otherwise we'll wind up with everything described in indistinguishable shades of grey. Anyway, this chain of "argument" is causing me to lose the will to live here, so I'll stop. --Plumbago 14:30, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

(<-left shift)

It seems most of NBeale's arguments here tend to progress in that direction. Editing by attrition. *Sparkhead 14:51, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
The search for truth can be iterative. Bit like Natural Selection. There are about 5,000 citations in Google Scholar of The Selfish Gene so if a mere 500 citations of The extended phenotype (of which only 278 are in life/bio/enviro sciences) makes it the only "major contribution to the science of evolution" on the WWW how should we describe the Selfish Gene? And Finnegan's Wake has 3,500 citations.NBeale 16:31, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
And The Biology of the Honey Bee has 312 citations in life/bio/enviro sciences, rather more than The Extended Phenotype So that's "a major contriubtion" as well? NBeale 16:37, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
What would qualify as a major contribution in your mind? *Sparkhead 16:41, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Well Robert May's Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems (1,620 Citations) perhaps? The problem is that the article as written is asserts that the only thing on the web described as "a major contribution to the science of evolution" is The Extended Phenotype (and only by this article). Which is absurd NBeale 18:05, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm fairly certain Darwin's work is considered "a major contribution". Which part of this exchange am I misunderstanding:
Try googling "dawkins contribution to science" and you get this from the New York Academy of Sciences "Richard Dawkins is known internationally for his contributions to Darwinian evolutionary theory as described in his book The Extended Phenotype, and for penning the earlier bestselling popular science book The Selfish Gene." Theres plenty more but is that good enough for you? --KaptKos 11:10, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely (although this is a comment by a journalist who edits their webzine, a considered position of the NYAS. I think that wording is perfect NBeale 12:53, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
You agreed it's major. Now you're saying it isn't? *Sparkhead 18:16, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I know I said I'd given up, but just for the record ... (ISI) Web of Knowledge claims ~3000 The Selfish Gene cites (mostly for the 1976 edition). However, TSG describes itself as work of "popular science", while TEP is a technical work aimed at working scientists. --Plumbago 16:56, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
We just had an edit conflict there. I was posting this: Since when was Google Scholar the standard for citation analysis? If you have a look at ISI Web of Knowledge, you can search for citations in the literature across the Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Arts and Humanities Citation Index, and there you find no citations at all of Winston's Biology of the Honey Bee, 3,378 citations of the Selfish Gene, and 572 citations of Extended Phenotype. More analysis is possible, obviously, but this is already a more reliable measure in terms of academic impact than a search of Google Scholar. --Dannyno 17:07, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
and, significantly, if we restrict the citation search just to the Science Citation Index, you find 419 citations of Extended Phenotype, and 1798 of Selfish Gene. So Extended Phenotype is robust in terms of citations in the science literature. --Dannyno 17:10, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Google scholar certainly isn't the standard, I was simply looking for another venue for showing that it's considered a major contribution. Throw things at the wall (what an apt analogy) and seeing if anything sticks. Is there a way for an unregistered user to search these sites you mention? Can a reference be provided? *Sparkhead 17:20, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
(Oops, another edit conflict) Thanks Dannyno! I hadn't thought to exclude arts and social sciences (or ASS, as the faculty was named at my alma mater). And I completely agree re: Google Scholar - it's useful but it's got a long way to go before it's as widely used as ISI. --Plumbago 17:23, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
(another conflict!) Sparkhead: Yes, I was responding to Nbeale rather than you. I've used Science Citation Index, which is part of ISI Web of Knowledge, and I've done a very rough search. Quite how you cite that for Wiki purposes is another question. Maybe someone has written an article giving citation analysis figures for Dawkins? By the way, Finnegans Wake gets 26 citations in Science Citation Index. --Dannyno 17:39, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Here's a relevant reference: Classic publications on complex, evolving systems: a citation-based survey, by Francis Heylighen. published in Complexity Vol 2 (5), 1997, p.31-36

Criticism of Dawkins' views on religion

Is there any reasonable (i.e. non-creationist) criticism of Dawkins' views on religion? I'm an atheist, but I find some of Dawkins' statements on religion to be positively embarrasing. Looks like he's turning into the modern equivalent of Madalyn Murray O'Hare, someone who I don't admire, simply because of her extremism. And what about the Brights nonsense? Autarch 14:32, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Allegedly Finding Dawkins' God does, but I haven't read it, and the person I know who is currently reading it has never read Dawkins, so I can't confirm that it does a good job. Joe D (t) 21:05, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Looks like I may have to read it myself! In the meantime, I bought Richard Dawkins: how a scientist changed the way we think today, so I may have more to contribute sooner than I thought Autarch 18:57, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
I'd like to point out that the first part of your argument is ad hominem. The fact that you consider him an embarrasment cannot detract from the validity of his arguments. In regards to a reasonable criticism of Dawkin's view; by non-creationist did you mean non-religious? - Andy 17:21, 26 November 2006


I don't know about formal published cricitism but I personally find his views to be highly offensive. I am a strong proponent of evolution and a strong critic of creationism as well...however Dawkins is offensive because he carries his views on science too far. He also mischaracterizes religion--acting as if all Christianity is right-wing Christianity, dismissing the more moderate Christians and religious folk, who, in my opinion are in the majority. If I find some balanced criticism I will gladly include it. I will go searching. Cazort 02:39, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

There have been some really detailed criticisms of The God Delusion, by Andrew Brown and Terry Eagleton amongst others - not coming from an evangelical Christian viewpoint, but criticising Dawkins's extremely weak grasp of philosophy and contemporary theology. I'll find some references (Eagleton's is in the London Review of Books, I think). --ajn (talk) 04:43, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
Eagletons' review and Browns review Autarch 22:37, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
And Sean Carroll's excellent response to Eagleton's criticism, as well as some criticisms of The God Delusion itself. Worth reading. Inoculatedcities 23:28, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I definetly think that Criticism of Dawkins needs to be tidied up. At present it is spread out all over the page. Also, you can use Robert Winston as a critic of Dawkins. Dawkins was interviewed by Winston in the last episode of his series "The Story of God,"(strangely Dawkins did not do the same in "The Root of All Evil?" Winston claims that Dawkins'(and others like him) ideas certainty in proclaiming that evolution disproves the existance(or need) of a God have lead to the emerging and strengthening of the Creationist movement. I don't know where you can find a copy of this documentary online... unfortunately while "The Root of All Evil?" is easy to find, this is not.
On another note, Yousef Al-Khattab in a video he posted on Youtube alleges that Dawkins severely edited the interview with him, in such a way that the order in which he was asked questions was changed - Khattab claims the first question asked was "What do you think of 9/11" which is not the first question in the documentary. He also claims that his responses were changed so that Dawkins asked one thing and Khattab responded with something totally irrelevant. Thirdly Khattab claims that certain words he used were edited out.[3] - Olockers User talk:Olockers

Reasons for strength of views on religion

Listening to Susan Blackmore at PopTech timestamp 21:50, she talks of the Roman Catholic church and that the reason Dawkins is so strongly against is that after his seperation his daughter was schooled in a roman catholic convent against his wishes. Wondered if this is worthy of inclusion? Jamesmorrison 13:43, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Certainly not. It is incorrect to pretend that Dawkins is somehow against the RCC in particular: as his various writings and broadcasts make abundantly clear, what he opposes is "the process of non-thinking called 'faith'", and therefore he opposes Islam, Anglicanism and Judaism just as much as Catholicism.
It is, furthermore, a disgraceful tactic for someone to assert or imply that only something 'personal' could lie behind a rational person's dislike of an institution which, preferring ancient, self-refuting superstition over coherent thought and knowledge, and praising counter-factual 'faith' over evidence, plainly despises rationality. Pfistermeister 17:43, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Well said, sir. Mortene 20:29, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
So, according to Susan Blackmore, he was strongly against roman catholicism and tried to prevent his daughter to go into a convent school and failure to do so made him strongly against roman catholicism. Does anyone else notice a slight logical problem with this speculation? Also, his daughter is from his second marriage and post-dates his already open criticism of religious thinking. There does not seem to be a causal relationship at all. Coder Keitaro 13:58, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for that link James. It's an interesting revelation, but I don't think we should discuss Dawkins' family over and above the basic facts mentioned in the "personal life" section. If Dawkins were to talk about this himself, then that might be a different matter. Thanks again. Laurence Boyce 11:14, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Plus it states speculation about Dawkins' motivation rather than verifiable fact. Autarch 22:39, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

First sentence...

Not that this is overly important, but... the 1st sentence currently reads:

"Clinton Richard Dawkins DSc, FRS, FRSL (known as Richard Dawkins; born March 261941) is an eminent British ethologist, evolutionary theorist, and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University"

Now, if the article is called "Richard Dawkins" & he is a very well known public figure, is it really necessary for the "known as Richard Dawkins" bit? I, for one, don't think so... Secondly, though this is aesthetic, I really don't like "DSc, FRS, FRSL". Such honorifics strike me as somehow out of place on Wikipedia (unless, of course, we're talking about royalty). Thoughts? Lastly, should we really link to Charles Simonyi? Were it notable enough for an article, I wouldn't hesitate to link to Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science but I don't think just plain Charles Simonyi should be linked. (Doesn't really accord with WP:CONTEXT IMO). Anyhow, just my three cents worth... Mikker (...) 02:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Can't say the opening sentence troubles me in any way, but please alter it if you wish. Laurence Boyce 09:46, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Alrighty... anyone else have a problem with changing it? Mikker (...) 22:00, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
My preference would be for (Clinton) Richard Dawkins, which is more or less the way the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography does it (MacNeice, (Frederick) Louis, for example), but I don't think that fits in with the Wikipedia manual of style (can't find any definite policy, but it's certainly common practice to give the full name and then "usually known as", even when the usual name just involves dropping the first forename). Lose the DSc (show me a prominent academic who doesn't have a doctorate) and move the rest down to the "Awards and recognition" section, I say. --ajn (talk) 22:18, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
I think you're looking for WP:NAME... Must say I don't like the bracket thingy, on purely arbitrary aesthetic grounds of course... (And, again, it's not necessary for someone as well known as Dawkins). Mikker (...) 00:00, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
BTW, compare Margaret Thatcher and see WP:NCP. Mikker (...) 00:13, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

We can't really describe Dawkins as an eminent ethologist. Although he did his PhD in Ethology in the 1960s if you look at his pdf CV you will see that of about 120 publications listed only 2 are labelled "ethology" (and the 1995 one is "what is an organism?" which is evolutionary theory) and only 8 (dating from the 60s and 70s) which appear from their titles to be about Ethology. His awards and recognitions come from his PopSci and evolutionary theory (to a lesser extent), and his professorship is in PopSci. NBeale 05:50, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

He's not described just as an eminent ethologist, but as "an eminent British ethologist, evolutionary theorist, and popular science writer" - which seems to me entirely appropariate. (1) He is eminent. (2) He works/has worked in these fields. I see no problem. In fact, I think it reads very well and accurately reflects who he is and what he does. Snalwibma 08:54, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
well on that basis Margaret Thatcher and John Browne are eminent british scientists because (1) they are eminent (2) They have worked as scientists. NBeale 22:05, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Also I think it is now fair to describe Dawkins as a "militant" atheist rather than merely "outspoken". It is perfectly possible to be very outspoken about your view that God does not exist without asserting that anyone who believes in God is deluded (and should probably be considered insane) and that if they teach their children that God exists they should be considered child abusers. NBeale 22:05, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

NBeale, please familiarise yourself with Wikipedia policy, especially WP:NPOV and WP:OR. Mikker (...) 22:11, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Eminent

I am not sure as an academic in either his original field of evolution or in his new field of "public understanding of science" he could fairly be called eminent (unless you call all Oxford professors eminent which I suppose could be argued). He is famous, certainly, best-selling yes, and an impressiven communicator but standing above others on academic merit? Not clear to me. He has not for example been knighted (which the more eminent professors have) or got any particular prizes etc. Does he even have an FRS? --BozMo talk 11:51, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Dawkins is eminent in a number of ways:
  1. As an evolutionary biologist with his original contribution – the theory of the Extended Phenotype.
  2. As a writer of popular science where he is a leading name.
  3. As the holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair.
  4. As a leading writer on Humanism/Secularism.
  5. He has won loads of prizes . . .
  6. . . . and yes, he has an FRS.
If many eminent professors have been knighted, I can only point out that so have a vast number of tossers.
Laurence Boyce 12:04, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
Dawkins is eminent. Concur with Boyce. KillerChihuahua?!? 13:14, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
On the first couple of pages returned by google for "Richard Dawkins eminent" you get New York Academy of Sciences, Secular.org, Intelligent Design advocates Access Research Network and bookstores Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Harvard Book Store. I could quote more but that'll do. This edit is ridiculous --KaptKos 14:02, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
Yup... eminent should stay IMO. Mikker (...) 01:51, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I'll concede it as a democrat but someone should add eminent to Gould, Pinker, Polkinghorne etc who are significantly more recognised as scientists rather than popularists. --BozMo talk 15:31, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

BTW where does this Kelvin Medal come from? According to http://www.iop.org/Our_Activities/Awards/Senior_Awards/The_Kelvin_Medal_and_Prize/page_1787.html Dawkins has never won it. Some other Kelvin Medal perhaps? NBeale 17:07, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

"Bicentennial Kelvin Medal, Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow" --JWSchmidt 17:12, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
OK I've made this clear in the awards, but it's not a Notable Prize in my view, only 9 hits on Google for this, nothing on the Society's website and the Society only rates a stub in Wikipedia which does not mention the medal. NBeale 17:41, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
Let the facts speak for themselves. See this bit from the Manual Of Style on avoiding peacock terms: Wikipedia:Avoid_peacock_terms. --Dannyno 11:13, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
I have to agree. Dawkins is certainly eminent, but saying so adds nothing to the article. If the fact that he is a best-selling author and holds a chair at Oxford makes him eminent, then what is added to the first sentence by describing him as eminent? To distinguish him from all those other run-of-the-mill, unimportant best-selling authors who hold Oxford chairs? I'm also in favor of removing the numerous other peacock terms that appear throughout the article, including:
  • "...made a major contribution to the science of evolutionary theory..."
  • "...is a prominent member of the Brights movement."
  • "In particular, Dawkins and Gould have been prominent commentators in..."
  • "...Dawkins is a prominent critic of creationism..."
  • "Dawkins continues to be a prominent figure in contemporary public debate..."
  • "Dawkins is well known for his contempt for religious extremism..."
-- Schaefer (talk) 16:47, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Your post makes it apparent you do not fully understand WP:Peacock. Otherwise, you'd see the absurdity in claiming "Dawkins is well known for his contempt for religious extremism" can be described as a peacock term. KillerChihuahua?!? 17:01, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
From WP:Peacock: "These terms do not help establish the importance of an article. Let the facts speak for themselves. If the ice hockey player, canton, or species of beetle is worth the reader's time, it will come out in the facts. Insisting on its importance clutters the writing and adds nothing." How does this not apply? What new information is conveyed to the reader by saying that Dawkins is well known for his contempt of religious extremism instead of simply saying that he is contemptuous of religious extremism, or, even better, citing a specific work that indicates his contempt? -- Schaefer (talk) 18:19, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm not convinced the other cases are peacockery but eminent is. The article seems fine without it. JoshuaZ 18:21, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Seems to me that WP:Peacock urges against (e.g.) "he is a well-known explorer" but not against "he is well known as an explorer of Cloud-Cuckoo Land". The latter - or, in this case, "Dawkins is well known for his contempt..." - is a statement of simple fact. It makes no claims of eminence for Dawkins. It indicates a particular thing for which he is well known, and helps the baic purpose of the article, which is to explain the subject. I think the same is true of most of the occurrences of "prominent" in the article. But I do agree that "eminent" can be deleted from the opening paragraph. Please let's not react, knee-jerk fashion, against a list of words. Let's consider meanings. Snalwibma 19:10, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with regard to phrase "well known for his contempt", but the wording of that particular sentence is of so little importance (irony unintended) that I'm willing to ignore it. Such careful attention to wording is most needed in the introduction. -- Schaefer (talk) 19:28, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Political craziness in this talk page

This is not important enough to make a big fuss about, but it bothers me. I removed the word "eminent" from the first paragraph, citing WP:PEACOCK. The change was reverted with the comment "eminent is accurate; the greatest ever is peacock. He is a best selling author and holds a chair at Oxford; he is eminent. Sheesh."

The word "eminent" is specifically listed as a peacock word on WP:PEACOCK, and the discussion on that page clearly applies to uses exactly like this one. Furthermore I think that everything that WP:PEACOCK says is correct; this isn't about slavish adherence to the rules.

Looking at this talk page I see an incredible amount of discord. Most of the discussion seems to be about whether Dawkins is a good guy or a bad guy. That has no relevance to this Wikipedia article, which is just supposed to be a collection of verifiable facts about the guy's life. If you forget about all of the idiotic politics on and off Wikipedia, and just look at the article from a disinterested perspective, it should be obvious to everyone, regardless of "side", that the word "eminent" shouldn't be there.

I have no particular desire to reinstate my changes, or indeed to edit the article ever again, but I would appreciate it if someone would respond here in favor of what I wrote above. In case it isn't obvious yet, I'm looking for agreement from people who want to improve Wikipedia in general, not from people who dislike Dawkins. -- BenRG 17:31, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree completely. The word eminent must go. I've moved your comments under the existing talk section for this topic to avoid a fork. -- Schaefer (talk) 18:33, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree with BenRG, JoshuaZ and Schaefer that the word "eminent" isn't necessary in the intro paragraph, it is also explicitly listed on the policy page. The word is not part of an official title or anything and the fact that he may or may not be eminent can be derived from the rest of the article. Maybe it's good to have some sort of poll? menscht 18:42, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I also agree that "eminent" is unnecessary (it is explicitly mentioned at WP:Peacock, too) and of the phrases that Schaefer listed, most of those can go too. I'd like to focus on two of them that need to stay in some form, but perhaps reworded:
  • "...made a major contribution to the science of evolutionary theory..."
  • "In particular, Dawkins and Gould have been prominent commentators in..."
First, it is not obvious to the layperseon what is major and minor in new scientific ideas. If The Extended Phenotype really was a major contribution, then there's nothing wrong with discussing this, indeed we should take more space to explain why and what the aftereffects have been. I think that WP:Peacock does not apply here because the topic is not obvious and does not blatantly speak for itself.
Second, the Dawkins and Gould mention has really been a feature of modern popular science discussion. Perhaps what needs to be emphasized is that D&G were the "go-to guys" for the media for evolutionary science and debate until Gould died. "Prominent" is perhaps an unnecessary word, but the theme here needs to remain in some form.
And, BenRG, the "good guy or bad guy" stuff isn't the fault of the serious editors here. The majority of us are concerned with making a good article. There are just two angry editors who are obsessed with stirring up crap constantly on this talk page. I'd invite you to please stay, and simply ignore them as much as you can, and continue to make whatever useful changes you can in spite of the ruckus. — coelacan talk — 18:47, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I think part of the difficulty here is that WP:Peacock is trying to avoid excessive use of these types of words, to the point where they become meaningless. However, on the same page suggests that we should not hide important facts. In that spirit, I agree with Coelacan that we can try to find ways to keep the important content, while perhaps avoiding empty words. But, let's not go to the other extreme of eliminating anything that says that Dawkins is important, well-known, even prominent, hell, even eminent. The important thing is to remember what we hope to convey with these words, and if a more precise informative one is available, then not to use empty ones. Edhubbard 19:01, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I believe that Dawkins is eminent, and also that this is the wrong word for an encyclopedia. His eminence can be communicated by the attention he receives in the media, the other scientists who cite and expand upon his work, his chair position, his work's effects on the public science paradigm (as that book How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think discusses), etc. When this content is adequately covered, his eminence is apparent and does not need to be explicitly stated. If the article feels like it still needs "eminent", then the content of the article has not yet been adequately expounded. — coelacan talk — 19:15, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Dawkins is eminent. If consensus is that word should not be in the intro, I will not war or quibble over it. Edhubbard seems to have put it well. That said, someone still needs to explain how "Dawkins is well known for his contempt for religious extremism" can be described as a peacock term, or is that particular claim, upon reflection, being discarded? KillerChihuahua?!? 20:18, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
KC, to me the issue here is not that the statement is peacockery per se, but that as it currently stands, it is mostly empty. The reader has no way of knowing in what ways he is well known for this, by whom, when, where, etc. Consider an alternative: "Dawkins's outspoken contempt for religious extremism, from Islamic terrorism to Christian fundamentalism, has aroused media attention, such as the BBC production's of his feature The Root of All Evil? and public interviews as with Huw Edwards. He has also argued ..." That's just an example, but it gets specific and explains what we actually meant by "well known." I'll say the same thing as I said about "eminent": If the article feels like it still needs "well known", then the content of the article has not yet been adequately expounded. — coelacan talk — 21:07, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
A side note on that paragraph: I'm removing the phrase "including many who might otherwise champion his science and fight creationism alongside him," as these folks do champion his science and fight creationism alongside him. I just grabbed Ken Miller's Finding Darwin's God, chose a Dawkins entry from the index, and found this: "If a gene produces altruistic behaviors that are directed towards close relatives, there is a good chance (fifty percent in the case of parent and offspring) that the gene is actually helping a copy of itself to survive. The implications of this simple statement, which were wonderfully explored in Richard Dawkins's book The Selfish Gene, are profound." So this "who might otherwise" stuff is nonsense. — coelacan talk — 21:28, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Reviews of The God Delusion

Pinched mainly from Butterflies and Wheels:

  1. Terry Eagleton in the LRB.
  2. Jim Holt in the NYT (requires registration).
  3. P Z Myers in Seed (Science mag I'd previously not heard of).
  4. Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times (reproduced on RD's own website).
  5. Andrew Brown in Prospect.
  6. Marek Kohn in the Independent.
  7. Crispin Tickell in the Financial Times.
  8. Joan Bakewell in the Guardian (again, reproduced on RD's website).
  9. Anonymous in the Economist.

Should be plenty there for a review of the reviews. --ajn (talk) 08:51, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

I've also inserted a review in Nature which is probably the one Dawkins will care about most Laurence Krauss. Although Krauss is a self-confessed fan, as the title "Sermons and Staw Men" suggests it's a remarkably critical review. It seems to me that the main criticisms of Dawkins that are made are:

  1. Over-aggressive approach. Nature depicting you as a sandwich-board man [4] says something, even if others say "attaboy". To some extent a matter of taste.
  2. The ideas he attacks are not those held by mainstream believers. Dawkins admits he is ignorant of theology, but says that's OK because God does not exist so theology. But if you don't understand what Christians mean by terms like "God"[1] and "Faith"[2] how can you cogently argue against them? it is still unclear whether 'strings' or 'branes' really exist, but Peter Woit couldn't have written "Not Even Wrong" without taking the trouble to understand the maths!
  3. Lapses in logic and evidence. eg he says "I suspect there are few atheists in prison". Good data published in 2001 shows that 32% of prisoners are atheists[3] vs 15% of the UK population as a whole.
  4. Failure to consider the overall adaptiveness of religious belief. He demonstrates that some religious people do some bad and maladaptive things. But the fact that a mutation has some harmful effects in some individuals does not make it harmful overall. The data clearly show that on balance religious belief in Western societies is good for health and wellbeing [4] and that religious people produce more children than non-religious ones [5]

Do people think this is a fair summary? - obviously it's very condensed. NBeale 16:47, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

No, I think that's a highly tendentious summary which certainly has no place in this article, and probably has no place in The God Delusion article either. Sorry to be so negative about everything you do! Laurence Boyce 17:34, 28 October 2006 (UTC)
Soory I wasn't being clear enough - do people think this is a fair summary of the principal allegations made by Dawkins' (serious) critics? Of course I don't expect pro-Dawkins people to agree that these criticisms are correct - indeed my suggestion on The God Delusion talk page is that we might have a balanced pair of "Principal Criticisms" and "Principal Rebuttals" sections. NBeale 08:33, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
I have no idea; I haven't read all the criticism. But I am not sure that you are going about this in the right way. I do not think that a pair of sections is a good idea at all; it risks turning the article into a battleground of ideas, which I suspect is what you want. Much better would be a single balanced criticism section: on the one hand so-and-so said this, on the other hand so-and-so said that. It should merely report what people have said, not discuss the ideas themselves. You have to accept that principally this article is about Dawkins, and that article is about his latest book. It is therefore unavoidable in my view that a greater prominence will naturally be lent to Dawkins's own ideas. Laurence Boyce 11:00, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

I think the Nature review is rather negative, and having initally said "equivocal" I suggested re-categorising this as "somewhat negative". Sparkhead has reversed this, citing the conculsion: "Perhaps there can be no higher praise than to say that I am certain I will remember and borrow many examples from this book in my own future discussions." I don't know if he's used to reading academic language about a very powerful colleague, but what that means is "some very good examples, shame about the book" Still I don't feel that strongly about the wording - people who read the review, and see the (devastating) cartoon can judge for themseleves. If I were Dawkins I'd have been mortified! NBeale 16:57, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Take off your POV glasses and actually read the review: "While I usually tend to begin a review with praise and end with reservations, the reverse order here reflects the progression of my own reading of The God Delusion." It's a mixed review. "Somewhat negative" is simply incorrect. *Sparkhead 18:11, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Krauss himself described his review as "more positive than negative" here. Laurence Boyce 18:35, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

With regard to number 3, that data does not address the real point, although, to be fair, if Dawkins phrased it that way, and only that way, as "atheists in prison", he was wrong. Yes, assuming the data was collected validly, it proves whatever number of prisoners are atheists now ... however, you're talking about depressed broken spirits living in prison. A more accurate indicator of Dawkins' point -- which is that atheism does not inherently lead to morality -- would be the number of convicted criminals who identified themselves as such at the time of their arrest.

However, even then, it's a very difficult thing to prove. You would have to show how atheism leads to bad behavior. If this is proof that atheists are somehow less moral, then the number of African Americans in prisons in America proves that African Americans are somehow less moral. But, since people recognize that that sort of thinking would be racist, they then allow for the fact that there are numerous other things which come into play, such as socio-economic factors or years of bigotry. ThatGuamGuy 17:24, 2 November 2006 (UTC)sean

My point was a slightly different one. There was good data readily available, but either he didn't bother to look or he did, found that it contradicted his point, and ignored it. NBeale 21:29, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Your bias is showing again. The document you cite says "32% identify as having no religion". "No religion" does not equal "atheist". Note stats do show there are, in fact, very few atheists in prison (less than 1% by most counts). [5] [6] I suggest you google it yourself as I doubt anything I state here will convince you otherwise. Spark* 21:57, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Balanced listing of notable academic critics and supporters

If the links to Criticisms of Dawkins are to be removed then perhaps instead we should have a balanced NPoV section pointing to notable academic critics and supporters? It might go something like this (with proper references for everything:

Dawkins views (esp about religion) are, intentionally, highly controversial and provoke much heated debate. Confining ourselves only to academics who have reached tenured Professorships at major universities and who have Wikipedia articles we have: Supporters ...(start with the contributors to the Dawkins book who qualify).. Critics Stephen Jay Gould and Martin Rees suggest that questions of religion should be left to philosophers and theologians. John Polkinghorne, Russell Stannard, Simon Conway Morris and Denis Noble suggest that science does not support Dawkins' conclusions, indeed Polkinghorne strongly defends mainstream Christianity based on modern science. Mary Midgley, Terry Eagleton, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne and Alister McGrath suggest that Dawkins makes philosophical and historical errors.

What do people think? NBeale 09:38, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Yes, a balanced referenced criticism section is a possibility. However, at the moment there is a degree of criticism and aclaim interspersed throughout the article, so we would need to give this a bit of thought. Laurence Boyce 11:47, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Without a major re-write of the article I think we can make this proposed section focus specifically on giving pointers to wikipedia articles on notable academics who have contributed to this debate. It doesn't need to subsume all criticism/praise NBeale 13:09, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes but please take care. We don't want to hear about people who have merely "contributed to this debate." We want to hear about people who have specifically praised or criticised Dawkins. Because that's who the article is about! Laurence Boyce 14:23, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

OK here's a stab at the Critics section:

NBeale 21:58, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

I put your proposed change into a box above and included the references section. First, none of the references are easily verifiable as you've listed them. Second, it reeks of overgeneralizations and simply weasel wording. " ...suggest that Dawkins makes philosophical and historical errors" is an empty statement. You're just going down a list of critics, without any real substance. In my opinion. *Sparkhead 22:28, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Seconded. And what's with this: "Asking "who created the Ultimate Creator?" simply shows you don't understand the term"? Could that be any more POV (and condescending to boot)? I'd love to see this criticism explained (I could do with a good laugh). --Plumbago 09:20, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Sparkhead: thanks. How can we make references to books that are "easily verifiable" please -can you advise? At least the Eagleton review is online, is that not easily verifiable? Happy to say "criticise Dawkins mainly on philosophical and historical grounds". The whole point is that we are listing Notable Academic Supporters and Critics of Dawkins, we are not seeking to judge whether their criticisms or support are valid, which would inevitably be PoV. Plumbago: The first few Refs are not part of the proposed section, but pick up an earlier thread.
Sorry, my mistake then. --Plumbago 10:40, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
However, to explain: "X is the Ultimate Creator" means "anything created is created (directly or indirectly) by X" It's a term rather like "smallest prime" or "largest prime". Logically, a U.C. may, or may not, exist (s.p.does, l.p. doesn't) but to ask "what prime is larger than the largest prime?" or "smaller than the smallest prime?" simply shows that the terms "smallest prime" or "largest prime" have not been understood. Would gladly reword so as not to seem condescending, but as noted this is NOT part of what I suggest putting in the article/ NBeale 10:32, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Erm, not sure that a somewhat inappropriate analogy from mathematics helps. But thanks. Cheers, --Plumbago 10:40, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Great thing about maths is that, as pure logic, it clarifies logical issues remarkably. For example Dawkins' nonsense about cranes and skyhooks. The proposition known as Fermat's Last Theorem is very simple. The explanation involves very deep complex mathematics that I don't understand, and that won a Fields Medal for Andrew Gowers. NBeale 10:58, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, not convinced. Not least because the same sort of mathematical logic you're attempting to assail Dawkins with would cut theology and its imaginings to ribbons. And on the subject of slicing and dicing, let's not forget where Occam's razor would make its cut. Anyway, I'm soapboxing and not improving the article with this, so I'll stop. Thanks again. --Plumbago 11:21, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Sorry about the references overrun, too bad there's not a way to scope references to a section. Regarding "The whole point is that we are listing Notable Academic Supporters and Critics of Dawkins, we are not seeking to judge whether their criticisms or support are valid, which would inevitably be PoV." I don't know that this is a good thing. I could list hundreds of notable supporters/critics of, say, GW Bush, or Clinton, but that doesn't make them relevant to the article. If they're criticizing ideas he's put forth in a book (and some of those cites are), they belong in the book page. Regarding proper citations, I believe you have them from the various book articles. *Sparkhead 12:54, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
They are criticising the ideas that he has pretty consistently put forward in many books, articles, speeches etc.. They are not specific to one book. Dawkins sets out to be an intellectual, not a politician, so undertanding the main critiques of the ideas he puts forward is an important part of the value that a Wikipedia article can add. Have you actually read John Polkinghorne - even Dawkins says he is a good scientist? Have you read Simon Conway Morris - certainly the greatest Evolutionary Paleontologist in England - a severe critic of Dawkins whom Dawkins doesn't even mention? Most people who believe Dawkins have no idea that such critics exist, and it is in the interests of knowledge and truth that the find out. Whether their criticisms are valid, they can judge for themselves. Will amend citation styles to standard. Any progress with the Supporters or shall I start with the contributors to "How a Scientist Changed the way we think"? NBeale 14:24, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't think that just listing a bunch of names is very informative. How about selecting a few key names and summarising their arguments with references? Alternatively, we could just call the whole thing off? Laurence Boyce 14:52, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Should add Freeman Dyson to this list, who argues strongly against "conflict between scientific materialism and religious transcendentalism" NBeale 15:09, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Well here's a listing of the supporters from that eulogy of Dawkins that meet the criteria: John Krebs, Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker, Martin Daly, Randolph M. Nesse, AC Grayling Critics in that volume that meet the criteria are Michael Ruse and Patrick Bateson. I think we should also count Steven Weinberg as a supporter, he is pretty well the only truly world-class scientist who regularly speaks out pro-atheism. I'll draft something and then please try to improve it if necessary NBeale 18:02, 31 October 2006 (UTC)


Dawkins views (esp about religion) are, intentionally, highly controversial and provoke much heated debate. Confining ourselves only to academics who have reached tenured Professorships at major universities and who have Wikipedia articles we can list a such few prominent supporters and critics whose pages and works can be consulted for more detail. The philsopher Daniel Dennett has a worldview very close to Dawkins and is heavily cited. AC Grayling is another supportive philosopher. Steven Pinker, John Krebs, Martin Daly and Randolph M. Nesse are publicly supportive scientists - all of these contributed to Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think. Critics in this book included Patrick Bateson offering 'affectionate disagreements' and Michael Ruse. Dawkins also disagrees with Stephen Jay Gould[1] and Martin Rees[2] who suggest that questions of religion should be left to philosophers and theologians, and lampoons Freeman DysonCite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). . John Polkinghorne[3], Russell Stannard[4], Simon Conway Morris[5] and Denis Noble [6] suggest that science does not support Dawkins' conclusions, indeed the first three all strongly defend mainstream Christianity based on modern science. Mary Midgley [7], Terry Eagleton [8], Alvin Plantinga [9], Richard Swinburne [10] and Alister McGrath [11] criticise Dawkins mainly on philosophical and historical grounds. NBeale 18:34, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

A statment like Dawkins views (esp about religion) are, intentionally, highly controversial is clearly POV if not sourced directly to Dawkins. Just listing off names of people with similar views is not relevant or productive. If he falls into a category others fall into, there could be a category tag on the related articles. Reviews of books do not belong here. *Sparkhead 21:48, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

  • NBeale, your paragraph above wasn't objected to because I know I certainly didn't think it was a draft. It's POV, it's off topic, it's critiques of the books again, etc. Please post here before including it in the article and let us agree on content. Thanks. *Sparkhead 22:14, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

NBeale, you agreed to put it through talk before adding. Three hours on talk isn't enough. Stick with your agreement please, and notify here before adding it to the article. As it stands it isn't workable. Thanks. *Sparkhead 22:34, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Hi Sparkhead. This section has had more development in Talk than any other. You have done 4 reverts in 24-hrs and you are an experienced user - please undo your latest and try to make positive contributions to a topic on which you clearly feel strongly. Does Dawkins really need you to sheild him from criticism? I think his arguments are indeed, so weak that almost any clear thinking will blow them away. Do you agree, and is that why you are trying to protect him? NBeale 22:49, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm not "shielding him from criticism", I'm attempting to maintain the encyclopedic nature of the article. You keep reformatting the same off-topic commentary. Book reviews belong on the associated book page. A listing of notables that agree or disagree with him add nothing to the article. You agreed to put any addition through talk before adding it to the page. The paragraph as it is is simply unworkable. Let me add - I asked you in my reverts to come to talk to discuss it. You failed to do so, repeatedly. The work isn't lost on a revert, there's plenty of history to go back and extract information. *Sparkhead 22:54, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
I've made 9 posts and 3 drafts in this section - it has had more work in talk than any other as far as I can see. Let's work together to improve it please. NBeale 23:38, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
While I think a "Criticism" section could be valuable, the current attempt fails to fulfill that purpose. Just listing who takes a stamce against Dawkins in various reviews of his most recent novel, or who is pro because one cites Dawkins a lot. Dawkins quotes Gould a lot in his written works, despite their differences, that fact doesn't say much about the differences themselves. It's of course true that Dawkins' publications are often the subject of heated debate, involving people with various backgrounds (be it scientific, religious, etc.) and that his public persona also receives a lot of criticism, but the section as it currently is written doesn't reflect those facts. menscht 23:29, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
I don't think we can cover everything! And these are not mainly based on reviews of his "novel". The Dawkins/Gould disagreement about NOMA is fundamental - most scientists recognose that they are simply not qualified to pronounce on theology and philosophy (or indeed on other scientific or artistic fields outside their areas of expertise). I have acted on what I can - if you'd like to edit the section to improve it further of course I'd warmly welcome it. NBeale 23:38, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Of course we can't cover the whole argument between Dawkins and various parties. But I think a criticism section should cover the public reaction to Dawkins work more. What were the general reviews on "The Selfish Gene" when it was first published and what is the stance of scientists on his theories as developed in the subsequent publications (although this might as well be covered in other articles). His recent endeavours regarding advocating atheism actively through the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the publication of "The God Delusion", etc. also garnered a lot of (critical) attention. It should be an overall impression of how Dawkins' work is regarded by others and also explaining why they have reached that conclusion, rather than collecting an impressive amount of persons who or publications which are either (partially) pro or (partially) contra Dawkins. menscht 00:05, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

[User:Schaeffer] claims "Section is unencyclopedic, informally cited, self-referencing, non-NPOV, and poorly written. Also claims Wikipedia editor consensus that clearly does not exist. See extensive debate on talk.)" He is an American computer science undergrad! I am a multiply-published author, with degrees from Cambridge University - so is [User:Rclb] who is also qualified Doctor. If Schaeffer or anyone else has constructive suggestions for improvement they should make them, them, but sweeping generalisations don't cut it. "informally cited" - so what, making formal citations would be ridiculoulsy cumbersome? "serf-referencing"- where? non-NPOV where? The consensus was that we would confine ourselves to a specific class of people, and this premise has not been challenged by any of the active editors/ NBeale 08:21, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

  • I don't agree with Schaffer's stated reasons for deleting the section, but it is surely right that it should be deleted. It was a mere list of supporters and opponents, no more than an invitation to the pro- and anti-Dawkins camps to marshall their troops and compare the lengths of their lists. Pointless point-scoring. A bit like saying "He's only an undergraduate... I have a PhD from Cambridge..."! Snalwibma 08:34, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
Oh dear. NBeale - you should know you're in trouble when you pull rank like you did in the above ("I am a multiply-published author, with degrees from Cambridge University"). With a chip on your shoulder like that, perhaps you need to consider the more exclusive Citizendium or, perhaps, CreationWiki? Regarding the offending text itself, statements like "strongly defend mainstream Christianity based on modern science" really don't help. Does modern science support any mainstream religion, or is it just mainstream Christianity? More generally the whole section seems there to conjure up an obscuring fog to confuse non-specialist readers. Just my two cents. --Plumbago 09:04, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
No chip - I just think in the circs that ptic criticism is slightly absurd. Very happy to say "argue that mainstream Christianity is entirely compatible with modern science" (defend is a technical term in philosophy but if you think its is not NPoV will change it). I think Snalwibma has missed the point - it is not a "mere list" but a set of links to Wikipedia articles so that readers can see for themselves what the positions of the various critics/supporters are. In what sense does allowing non-specialist readers to find the specialists who criticise/support Dawkins constitute an "obscuring fog"? Cutting out this information is indeed obscuring it. NBeale 10:14, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Thinking again - Schaeffer was right! The list is seriously POV and very far from balanced. It lists some who agree with Dawkins, and then some who disagree with Dawkins in various ways, some minor, some major, on various grounds. But the way the text leads up to a comment that "mainstream Christianity is entirely compatible with modern science" sneakily suggests that all the "critics" lend weight to this statement. They are all being enlisted - in an underhand way - in support of the creationist myth. The list must either be rewritten as a proper summary of the various ways in which others agree and disagree with Dawkins, with details of the disagreements, or it must be deleted. Snalwibma 11:44, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't see how that can be read into the text, which specifically says "the first three". But if people would prefer "Polkinghorne, Stannard and Conway Morris" to avoid any possible misconception delighted to put it in. But please stop trying to censor this section, and start making constructive suggestions to improve it. NBeale 12:18, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
Improving the section would amount to completely rewriting the section from scratch. Suggestions have been made to improve or start a criticism section. The way it is done now is not suitable to include it in the article. That's got nothing to do with censoring critics of Dawkins. menscht 12:38, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
What is "quite ridiculous" is people simply deleting the section rather than trying to improve it. This is in direct volation of Wikipeia policy and rules. Can we have constructive contributions or abstaining please. The fact that some of these "editors" have apparently no knowledge of the topics, but still feel able to rubbish and delet the work of others, is also a bit depressing. NBeale 13:42, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
An attempt at approval can be done here. Removal of such a section is not in violation of WP policy, in fact due to the more stringent guidelines around WP:BLP, it's more than proper. *Sparkhead 13:54, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
What is even more ridiculous NBeale is that, notwithstanding your Cambridge "degrees", you have barely made a sensible contribution to this article. Your recent addition of a section which merely lists a bunch of names is uninformative and pointless in my view. Laurence Boyce 14:33, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
Laurence - it does not merely list a bunch of names, it allows users to understand who the main academic critics and supporters of Dawkins's views are, by reference to their Wikipedia articles. It also gives them some idea, within a NPoV, of whether their criticisms are (a)scientific of (b) philosophical/historical or(c) abour scope of (d) "affectionate" (self-styled). You and your freinds want to prevent users from getting this information. Why? NBeale 22:28, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
Jesus wept; you religionists really take the biscuit sometimes. They're not my "friends"; I don't know any of these guys. It is you who by your own admission have been getting all your mates to pile in, though no-one was fooled for a minute. More muppets than puppets in my view. Why do we want to suppress information? We don't. Once again, you're confusing us with the religions who have traditionally acted as an obstacle to free enquiry every step of the way. In principle I would be in favour of a balanced criticism section, though I remain very far from convinced that you're the right person to execute it. Laurence Boyce 13:58, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
How does repeatedly deleting information differ from suppressing it? Perhaps you could make improvements rather than deletions? Tossing around labels for people doesn't help very much I'm afraid NBeale 17:37, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
Until you get yourself out of the mindset of "I'm being suppressed", I don't believe you'll be able to construct useful content for the article. Multiple established editors independently reverted the inclusion for a reason. Which has been explained repeatedly. *Sparkhead 18:28, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
Damn, has your block expired already? I should go for the hat trick. Laurence Boyce 18:43, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

A criticism section is a very bad idea; criticism is (and should be) interwoven in the existing sections, see this on WIAFA talk. Mikker (...) 19:21, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Well I'm certainly regretting ever having encouraged it. Sorry everybody! But I have written a handful of criticism sections which I thought were not unreasonable, and which have remained relatively stable. But I guess Dawkins is just too hot to handle! Laurence Boyce 19:50, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
No worries Laurence - a crit section is sometimes a good idea; but it never is with a controversial subbject (such as Dawkins). All criticism ought to be interwoven, npov and well-reffed. Mikker (...) 20:23, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

semi protected

This got reported on 3RR... I blocked MM (apologies; a bit hasty; but *please* stick to 3RR) but looking closer have unblocked, due to the use of socks. To try to stop that I've semi'd the article. Discuss... William M. Connolley 14:12, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

Good move. Let's block anonymous users, single shot users, and any users called Beale. Laurence Boyce 14:41, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
or indeed anyone who wants to have links to any Criticism of Dawkins. Really guys, can you try to assume good faith and instead of censorship have some constructive debate and criticism. There are no "socks" here and does 3RR only apply to some users? NBeale 22:22, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm not certain what it will take to make you understand that this is not censorship in the way you're using the word. The issues raised regarding your contributions are valid. Your actions did constitute a violation of 3RR as well, simply editing a small section and resubmitting the majority of the text doesn't make it any less a revert. I haven't reported it, but if you continue with the puppetry (whether sock or meat, it's clear puppetry), I will. Try to work with the editors here. Thanks. *Sparkhead 22:31, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
Constructive contributions rather than reverts and name calling would certainly helpNBeale 09:07, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Moving forward - using Dawkins' own words

In the interests of moving forward: why don't we have a short para which explains, using Dawkins' own words, his differences from people he considers "good scientists" and specifically refers to who either (a) say that Science can not pronounce on the existence of God (eg Gould, Rees, NAS) or that science and Christianity are compatible (eg Polkinghorne, Peacocke, Stannard and Dyson). NBeale 09:13, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Heres an idea, why not create Richard Dawkins/Sandbox to work on this issue, instead of constantly inserting contested detail into the article proper which is then reverted ad nauseum? If/when consensus is reached it can then be inserted into the Richard Dawkins. --KaptKos 10:18, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
NBeale, you should create User:NBeale/Richard Dawkins and work on your changes there. Keep in WP:BLP when doing so. *Sparkhead 12:22, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
As something of an aside, the list of critics above consists solely of Christians, while Dawkins' views are directed broadly at religions in general. Furthermore, I think that it's POV to suggest that science and (specifically) Christianity are compatible. It would be better (although perhaps not accurate given the particular list of names used) to suggest that science and religion are compatible (or, better still, not incompatible). There's certainly nothing special about Christianity that places it on a pedestal above other religions when it comes to science. Finally, one needs to be very careful when referencing Christianity in the context of science; while Polkinghorne et al. represent a side of Christianity that is "not incompatible" with science, there are plenty of sides of Christianity (cf. creationism) that are radically incompatible with science. On this point, calling Polkinghorne et al. "mainstream" can depend strongly on one's geographical disposition. Cheers, --Plumbago 13:23, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
We could debate "nothing special" ;-) Certainly Dawkins seems to single out Christians in this way. However by citing scientists that Dawkins himself cites and regards as "good scientists" we can avoid such difficulties NBeale 13:42, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
"We could debate nothing special": let's not, and just quit while we're ahead. Regarding Dawkins' specifically singling out Christians, that's almost certainly a function of him a) speaking English, and b) living in the West. It's also likely to be related to the outspoken nature of Christian Creationism - other religions are creationist too, but are typically "off the radar" in the English-speaking West. --Plumbago 14:12, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
The para I want to insert is in the sandbox suggested by KaptKos (with refs) the text reads: Dawkins believes that "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other" [14]. He disagrees with Stephen Jay Gould's idea of NonOverlapping MAgisteria (NOMA) and with similar ideas expressed by Martin Rees [15] Of "good scientists who are sincerely religious" he mentions Arthur Peacocke, Russel Stannard, John Polkinghorne and Francis Collins and says "I remain baffled ... by their belief in the details of the Christian religion" [16] Please improve/comment NBeale 13:42, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
That's not a sandbox, that's an article in mainspace. Per WP:SUBPAGE I've moved it into your userspace as User:NBeale/Richard Dawkins. We can all still see it, edit it, comment, etc. *Sparkhead 16:22, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
Sparkhead: thank you (I just did as KaptKos suggested). You and Laurence have both edited that page and don't seem to have made any changes. I've corrected the typo in Stannard's name. Shall we "be bold" and put that para (NB not of course the longer disputed first para but the shorter 2nd one)? NBeale 18:38, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
No. It's still mostly just a list of names, and the statements made aren't in essence about Dawkins, they're about NOMA and scientific and religious belief. *Sparkhead 20:56, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
Sorry I really haven't got time for this. These are statements by Dawkins about his views, which are central to his world-view. Please improve if you can, please don't revert ;'cos you have done rather a lot of that. NBeale 21:59, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
You (and by that I mean you and that group of "new editors") have been independently reverted by no less than seven established editors somewhere in the realm of twenty times in the past few days. There's a valid reason. You might want to give your sample page more than a few hours existence before adding it. We have editors from all over the world here, their schedules might not sync with yours regarding when they can review content. A day or two is not too long to ask regarding a review. You're not being bold, you're being disruptive. Why rush to push questionable content? I'm asking you to self-revert your last addition and let other editors comment. *Sparkhead 22:56, 2 November 2006 (UTC)


Pop Culture

I do not agree with the reason given for removing the pop culture reference (RD in South Park episode Go, God. Go! Part II ). It seems quite pertinent as the South Park episode is directly concerned with atheism. Tdewey 22:45, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

It's not encyclopedic with respect to Dawkins. If you had a collection of pop culture references relative to him, they could be in a "Richard Dawkins in popular culture" article which could be linked here and also put in the "pop culture" category. *Sparkhead 22:56, 2 November 2006 (UTC)
Yeah... no need for a trivia section (calling trivia "popular culture" makes no difference. Trivia by any other name is equally unencyclopedic.) See WP:TRIVIA and WP:NOT. Mikker (...) 17:54, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
I have seen "[...] in Popular culture" in many other articles, such as Stephen Hawking, Barbra Streisand, Budd Dwyer, etc, etc... Why not in this one? Entheta 23:17, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Just because other articles have sections such as this doesn't make them valid for encyclopedias, if the detail is notable it should be worked into the main body of the article otherwise its trivia which by its name is unencyclopedic. I've seen sections like this being removed from as many articles for WP:TRIVIA and WP:NOT reasons--KaptKos 10:01, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
KaptKos is right... Other articles may have trivia sections, but that doesn't mean they are a good idea. I have myself removed such sections from numerous artiles. Please see WP:TRIVIA. Mikker (...) 20:03, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
The trivia is added a lot recently by different users. Trivia sections tend to get killed a lot during FA nominations. I've seen it happen with a lot of movie articles (which tend to have a lot of trivia, most of it directly copied from the IMDb). Maybe if Dawkins was parodied a lot in different media an "In popular culture" section might have some value. One appearance in South Park is a bit meager. menscht 19:42, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
On this one I agree with mensch. It may be worth remembering this episode and if there are several similar instances then it might be worth a section. Is there a way to make a link to the text that (some) people wanted to add so that it can readily be retrieved if necessary? NBeale 22:27, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

I think there should be at least a mention of the South Park episode. Heck, its probly where half the people visiting this site first heard of him. L6

I certainly hope not, as that would indicate a dearth of interest in what's happening in the real world. It is mentioned in Go God Go, and linked to this article. That is all that is needed or desirable. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:56, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Per the consensus above, please remove the South Park paragraph added just before the article was locked. [diff here] Thanks. *Spark* 22:09, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for letting me know, Spark. The section has been removed from the page. Nishkid64 23:50, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
I disagree. Dawkins' inclusion in a vastly popular TV show viewed around the world demonstrates the degree of his notoriety. I think it's relevant, not to his science, but to his public figure.

202.6.151.29 01:31, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

How much is Dawkins actually "notorious" as you mention: who says he is "notorious" ?. The section you were disagreeing with was actually factually inconsistent between the two wikipedia texts (and this is for a subject which is fictional in nature anyway !). It had the wrong number of years that cartman was frozen and made it unclear how the episode was a time travel/reset style episode and wasn't balanced out by Dawkins own view. The feeling is that the episode is against WP:LIVING in that it is intended by the people referencing Southpark hope to cast Dawkins in a bad light. I'm now waiting for someone to start to call him a marxist and closet gay and quote-mine evidence. I actually like Southpark and this espisode and lots of other gutter humour but I see a clear dichotomy between what I like or believe in and what wikipedia is. Where's Kenny ? Ttiotsw 07:09, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Let's be honest here: MAYBE IT IS THE ONLY PLACE MANY PEOPLE KNOW HIM FROM. THUS IT'S POP CULTURE. SO FILE IT THERE. CLEARLY THERE'S JUST SOME SUPERFANS OF THE MAN NOT WANTING THAT REFERENCE USED BECAUSE IT SEEMS NEGATIVE. NOT THE POINT OF WIKIPEDIA. THE MAN CAN LEAVE IT OFF HIS PRESS KIT, BUT WE CAN'T DENY IT'S A RELAVANT POP CULTURE REFERENCE. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 74.70.197.10 (talk)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CAPS LOCK. WE MIGHT HAVE OTHERWISE OVERLOOKED THE UNDENIABLE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR SUGGESTION. If a South Park fan reaches Go God Go or Go God Go XII, there are links from those articles to this page, so the questioner will surely find this article. If instead our reader types "Richard Dawkins" and presses "Go" then this article will pop up. In neither case is there any confusion about the identity of the subject. Therefore no explicit South Park reference is necessary. — coelacan talk — 11:15, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I apologise, Ttiotsw for my poor choice of word. I merely meant to point out that when someone appears in a popular tv show, it means that the general public - usually uninterested in intellectual/scientific matters - has noticed them. I personally am a big fan of Dawkins and only think this should be included somewher in the article because it shows he has become somewhat of a household name, which uncommon amongst scientists. (And btw, i thought that the South Park episode presented him in a mostly favourable light, in their own way.)202.6.151.29 01:51, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
It's still WP:TRIVIA. And if someone saw Dawkins on South Park, they don't need this article to tell them that they saw him on South Park. If they didn't see the episode, this article only needs to focus on what is notable about Dawkins. Trivia like this is non-notable. There is no reason to include it.
Would it be useful for us to simply declare this discussion over, write up the rationale, and then point future chatterers to that final word, rather than discussing this over and over again? It's rather tedious now. Might we demonstrate consensus somehow and then declare the case closed? — coelacan talk — 03:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

I want to be civil and rational, but I have to ask all [the people] who object to a pop culture section that includes Dawkins having sex with Ms. Garrison the following: A.) would you object to any pop culture section? What would you do if he made a cameo on a show or had some band make reference to him? Would you exclude that. B.) Ask yourself this: wouldn't you want the same treatment for say, Ted Haggard or Charles Dobson if South Park depicted them that way. [...] Wikipedia is not meant to prop people up. It's meant as a common reference about people. I think that is relevant, though certainly a small part of Richard Dawkins. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 198.190.230.57 (talk)

There is, in fact, at least one notable band who reference Dawkins. See Unweaving the Rainbow (album), by Frameshift (band), which features the vocalist of Dream Theater. It's a notable band, and it's a notable album, and on that album's page it would be notable that the album is based on Dawkins's work. However, on Dawkins's own article, it's nothing more than trivia, and not notable for inclusion. — coelacan talk — 01:53, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
In almost all cases I'd say that mention on South Park is unencyclopaedic (except, say, in an article about South Park). Guettarda 04:42, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I think that it might indeed be a good idea to include a section or a paragraph saying that Dawkins appears from time to time in the popular media, but with a batch of examples, not just a reference to South Park. I doubt if there is justification for something as extensive as Stephen Hawking in popular culture in this case, but a few good examples within the main article might be worth it. Dawkins' job, after all, is concerned with public understanding, so it's hardly surprising if he is fairly well known. Instead of constantly reinserting a South Park paragraph, may I suggest that effort is put into researching the topic more thoroughly, with a view to a more encyclopaedic reference to it? Snalwibma 08:37, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I'd much rather have a Richard Dawkins in popular culture article. Especially since this article is now A rated, and trivia/pop culture sections tend to degrade an article's quality. Getting it to FA status might be a possibility now. See WP:TRIV a guidline with a little more substance than the WP:TRIVIA essay. *Spark* 15:10, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
On reflection, I agree with you, Spark - as long as there's enough material to justify such an article. Perhaps our anonymous friend at 198.190.230.57 would like to take this on? Snalwibma 15:16, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm very surprised that the article doesn't mention his appearence on South Park at all. The show is one of the mainstays of a major cable network, and it's watched by many people. The appearence of Dawkins, further, isn't a cameo. He plays a major role in both parts of a two-part episode, and the fact that they chose him and not someone else further indicates the fact that he's become the world's unofficial spokesperson of atheism. This, I think, makes it notable, and hardly trivial. We should be thinking instead about how to write it up to Wikipedia's standards, especially considering the quality of the rest of the article.MRig 04:31, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

I give up. You people who oppose the south park section are being so unreasonable. Do you really think that when Dawkins is dead most people will simply remember him for rogering Ms. Garrison? Give me a break. Grow up. Stop making the man an idol. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 198.190.230.57 (talkcontribs).

Alister McGrath

From the article:

Oxford theologian Alister McGrath, author of Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life, has accused Dawkins of being ignorant of Christian theology and mischaracterising religious people generally. McGrath asserts that Dawkins has become better known for his rhetoric than for his reasoning, and that there is no clear basis for Dawkins' hostility towards religion. In response Dawkins states that his position is that Christian theology is vacuous, and that the only area of theology which might command his attention would be the claim to be able to demonstrate God's existence. Dawkins criticises McGrath for providing no argument to support his beliefs, other than the fact that they cannot be falsified.[12]

Why is this guy given a whole paragraph? He is not well enough known to feature so prominently and his views on Dawkins are not notable. As the quote shows Dawkins rightly dismisses his arguments as McGrath does not seem to understand that being ignorant of the details of any proofless superstition in no way negates the strength of Dawkins argument. I think it should go - any thoughts? Sophia 07:12, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

He's given a paragraph because he went to the trouble of writing a whole book contra Dawkins, which was endorsed by Francis Collins and Simon Conway Morris among others. I think that justifies the space accorded to him. Laurence Boyce 10:52, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
But he is also given an entire Wikipedia article for this book, roughly half of which consists solely of the above quote. So we should either yank this quote from the Dawkins article, or yank the McGrath book article completely. I'm not a Wiki expert but something doesn't seem right about copying half of one article and pasting it in another. That smacks of cheating. Astrobayes 19:55, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
Don't quite know what you mean. The above text is not a quote, except insofar as it is a quote from the Richard Dawkins article. We should obviously keep the book article. Laurence Boyce 20:33, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
As is his habit, Laurence is right. We do need npov criticism of Dawkins from a religious perspective and since McGrath has written a whole book, I see no problem in including it here. Perhaps the paragraph can be trimmed a bit (go ahead and try if you like) but I don't think it ought to go completely. Mikker (...) 20:54, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
You are too kind. Laurence Boyce 22:08, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough but we have to be careful with lending authority to people who's only claim to fame is having written a book that discredits someone genuinely famous. Sophia 15:02, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't really know McGrath, but, according to our article on him, he's published a whole lot of books about other subjects. I doubt his "only claim to fame is having written a book that discredits someone genuinely famous". Mikker (...) 19:54, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
I think McGrath's work on atheism is very poor, and his criticism of Dawkins rather misconceived in its main thrust. However, it is clearly false to say that his "only claim to fame" is criticising Dawkins. The guy is the *subject* of books discussing his theology, and can claim to be eminent in his field. His criticism of Dawkins and atheism may have given him some prominence outside theology, but he can be taken as a leading expert in theology. --Dannyno 21:24, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Assuming that there are seats available, I might be able to tell you what he's like come Friday - he's giving a seminar at my university this Thursday evening. It's been organised by a local Christian group, but an open invitation went round the university. --Plumbago 09:22, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Having now seen him talk, I've revised my view of him somewhat. While it's probably worth retaining some sort of mention of his work, his critique of Dawkins (at least in terms of what I saw) is a flimsy, disingenuous attack, which rather selectively reads Dawkins' work, and misrepresents some of it. What he does have that's concrete is that science doesn't really offer support to atheism. That's hardly new, but science also offers nothing to theism (neither McGrath's nor its many other flavours). And on the subject of theism, while McGrath spoke of theism and religion in general, his slides identified Christianity, a rather telling detail I thought. Still, his talk appeared well-received by a large part of the audience (750+ people), so his views appeal and probably should remain in the article. How best to deal with them, however, is another matter. I'll certainly be taking a dimmer view of edits promoting McGrath now (once my eyes have stopped rolling from hearing him speak). --Plumbago 08:38, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
The point I was trying to make is that by noting his criticisms of Dawkins prominently we effectively endorse him as a leading critic of Dawkins - whatever his other books he's pretty obscure to the general public so he shouldn't be given such weight. Sophia 12:27, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Motivations of Critics

Lot of discussion of motivations of people who want to criticise Dawkins in various other threads - I'll move it here NBeale 12:53, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

The question that has been bothering me for some days now is the following: NBeale, do you have anything against Dawkins and/or his beliefs (e.g. him being an outspoken atheist)? Because nearly every edit you have made on this talk page (and the main article) seems to somehow question the significance of Dawkins as a scientist or his theories in general. menscht 23:25, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

FWIW: I think Dawkins is mistaken in being an Atheist (but entitled to his opinion of course) but is seriously misleading in suggesting that "Science shows that there almost certainly is no God". The cartoon in the Nature review is, in my view, spot on. You should see/hear what some leading FRS's actually say about him. I also know that he was elected an FRS as part of an attempt to broaden the Fellowship, mainly on the basis of his popular science writing. Beyond question his Professorship is not "Science" but "Public Understanding of Science." And I agree with Terry Eagleton about his grasp of philosophical and theological issues. I fully accept that other editors of this article take an different view, and my goal is to get balance so that the article is not uncritical adulation, but provides readers with the resources to explore his supporters and critics and get a balanced view. Together I think we can achieve this. Is this OK with you? NBeale 23:58, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
NBeale, I'd be much more comfortable with your input if you revealed your true issues with Dawkins. Per WP:NPA#Off-wiki_personal_attacks, your comment "It has been quite an "experience" getting this in, Dawkins is protected by a ring of Acolytes. Ah well."[7] could be considered such an attack and goes to show you do not seem to be assuming good faith on the part of your fellow editors and erodes any such assumptions of good faith other editors may have for you. Spark* 00:17, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
By Acolyte I meant [[8]] "devoted follower" - if anyone who has been reverting the criticism etc.. considers this an attack I'm astonished, and apologise. I think followers of Dawkins are mistaken, you probably think followers of Christianity are, but I have no reason to doubt your good faith. By working together to improve each others contributions (as opposed to deleting them) we have already made this article better and can continue to do so. And I don't quite see what "true issues" I haven't revealed. NBeale 07:49, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
"If anyone...considers this an attack I'm astonished" Of course its an attack, its highly patronising, and if you are so concerned with working together and imporving the article, BTW I don't thinks its improved - at best its is as good as it was before you started "contributing" -I've never witnessed so much effort for such little progress, then why have you ignored this [9] the fact that you have continued to edit the main article and didn't bother to comment , for good or ill, on this or "improve" it shows you are not interested in working with other editors or reaching consensus, all you are interested in pushing your own POV--KaptKos 11:00, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Didn't mean to be patronising at all. Are you not a devoted follower? POV is OK is one's blog. Please try to assume good faith. I had no idea about the change you noted (is there a way I can tell?) will try to look and comment. Thanks. NBeale 12:04, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
No I am not a devoted follower of Dawkins. I wasn't talking about your blog. I have tried to assume good faith. Use your watchlist, like everyone else --KaptKos 12:20, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Ah - the concept of the acolytes, the "followers of Dawkins", is the key to all this, I think. Jesus and Mohamed may have "followers" in this sense, but not Dawkins. I am not a follower of Dawkins, and certainly not a devoted follower. I just happen to think he explains certain things about evolution etc very clearly, and deserves to have his views summarised fairly in an encyclopaedia such as this. To describe people like me as "followers" is completely mistaken. It leads to the sort of "you're either pro-Dawkins or anti-Dawkins" assumption that so badly marred the now-deleted criticism section of the article. Religions may insist on a binary choice - total devotion or ouright rejection - but the same is not true of biology/ethology/evolutionary theory. If you agree with some of what Dawkins says that does not make you an unquestioning Dawkins believer. If you disagree with some of what Dawkins says that does not mean that your criticism by definition lends support to the idea that religion can explain the natural world with a creationist myth. [sorry - wandered off topic of "the first sentence" a bit there...] Snalwibma 11:53, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
This is just it - I'm not a "follower of Dawkins" and to state such in any terms is assuming bad faith in an editor's actions in the article. NBeale, essentially what you're saying is not that other editors are reverting your changes because of WP guidelines and policies, but rather because of the subject of the article. I don't believe the article has improved since you began contributing. Regarding your initial edits which led to you being blocked: "A clique of Dawkins fans wouldn't have any of it, kept reverting the changes with no rationale and then had me blocked. Ah well."[10] Do you still see "no rationale" in other editors' reversions of some of your edits? Spark* 12:10, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Photos

What's happened to the photos? I think they should be vaguely relevant to the sections they are in. Could we go back to having a relevant photo in the religion section and removing the two later additions? Also there's no need to attribute the photographer; if they are on Commons, then we can use them any way we like. Laurence Boyce 17:24, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Yeah... relevant photos would be good. But I think several of the originals were fair use and the current ones are released under CC. Maybe that's why someone came in and changed them. (It was some user I don't know - looks like he/she has a project to replace fair use images with free ones). Mikker (...) 19:50, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Jeff Skilling

Just removed this from the evolutionary biology section of the article. Other than referencing TSG, I don't know what it was doing there.

Dawkins was mortified to read that The Selfish Gene is the favourite book of Jeff Skilling and that he derived inspiration of a Social Darwinist character from it. Dawkins has tried to forestall similar misunderstandings in his new preface to the thirtieth-anniversary edition [13]

--Plumbago 09:01, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

It obviously doesn't belong here. *Spark* 13:00, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Well Dawkins thought it important enough to change the preface of The Selfish Gene. But I don't feel very stongly - I think his concern makes him look good. NBeale 18:54, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Anyone reading, say, even the first few pages of the book would know that Dawkins is emphatically not advocating a morality based on selfishness. Adding the above serves only to confuse this (especially when it's completely misplaced in the article). Regarding Skilling, he can only have read the title - still, he's going to have plenty of time on his hands soon, so may manage the rest of the book. --Plumbago 09:49, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Criticism of Dawkins's work section

Was: Article is too favorable/biased towards Dawkins, but I made the article more neutral Shorter section title. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:49, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

The article has a whole section devoted to Dawkins praisers (Awards and recognition) but does not have a whole section devoted to his critics. I created a new section for Dawkins's critics.

Here is what I wrote:

The creationist organization Answers in Genesis has offered a number of criticisms of Dawkins's work.[11][12][13][14] The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal had an article titled "Not Too Bright" which stated that Richard Dawkins's advocacy of the Brights movement could "use some rethinking". [15]

ken 14:28, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

Please limit yourself to dawkins.asp, and possibly weasel.asp, as the others are about other subjects (books by Dawkins, etc) and are not appropriate to this article. Also, format your refs correctly - let me know if you do not know how to do this, or use Magnus' tool[16]. Let me know if you have any questions. KillerChihuahua?!? 14:37, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
You've added non-notable and irrelevant info. "Answers in Genesis" is not a notable website, and the Skeptical inquirer article is about "Brights", not Dawkins. I also noticed this item, which shows a strong POV push: Wikipedia:Mediation_Cabal/Cases/2006-10-16 Deletions by user Kdbuffalo. Considering the state of this article and your editing history, I'll ask you review any additions here before adding. I'm removing what's there per my reasoning above. *Spark* 15:03, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I reworded my Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal material to make it more precise. It now reads: The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal had an article titled "Not Too "Bright"" which stated that Richard Dawkins's advocacy of the Brights movement could "use some rethinking". [17] Lastly, Answers In Genesis is notable and they have a whole Wikipedia article to prove it. I also believe the Answers In Genesis material should cover his major works. ken 15:11, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
I agree with KC. Please format your references. If you need helping doing that, you can use the tool linked to, or research the topic, or ask question from me or KC. All of the other references are formatted, so you are deteriorating the quality of the article by not keeping to the set citation standard (and requiring other editors to work harder just to 'fix' your edits).--16:15, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I am formatting my contribution correctly within the article. I merely used a different format in the talk page so it is more readable in the talk page. ken 16:17, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
I beg to differ. Look at the whole reference section. Every reference has title, author where applicable, ISBN numbers, publishing dates, etc. You are simply copy and pasting a single link. Can you find any other reference in the reference section that is formatted in the same manner as you? Please, you need to be more careful when citing webpages. Try using Magnus' tool[18] or template:cite web. Simply putting an http link between two ref tags is NOT properly formatting the links. Does that make sense? I'd be glad to help you further if necessary. Thanks.--Andrew c 16:44, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I formatted the links notation the way I see most other wikipedians notate their links. I think this is a tempest in a teapot regarding my formating. ken 17:53, 11 November 2006 (UTC)Kdbuffalo

(resetting indent) I think the important issue is that most other articles aren't this complete, and well-done. This is an article that can/should be headed for peer-review, and perhaps even GA/FA status. Your additions will help it to achieve that, since no article is considered complete without some opposing view/criticism, etc. However, unformatted references will not help in that goal. It isn't unreasonable to ask people who are adding material to an existing page to format their citations according to the citation format already in place on the page they are editing, not some other page, which may either be in a different subject area (and therefore use different citation styles) or be up to the same quality. Edhubbard 18:14, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Quite right that there should be a criticism section but the text here is inadequate. Should definitely have McGrath's full length book 'contra' Dawkins listed here, Midgeley and Polkinghorne. Will try to add something tomorrow. NBeale 18:30, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I'am not sure about including "Answers in Genesis" as an organisation critical of Dawkins. Sure they are critical, but I think that their position should be described in detail. The whole affair with the manipulated interview by a group of Creationists and Dawkins ("From a Frog to a Prince", distributed by AiG, and also mentioned in the Answers in Genesis Wikipedia article) [19] [20] reeks slander, than honest and fair criticism. In that light, it appears quite dubious to me and think that needs to be detailed or not included in the first place.
Religious groups aren't the only ones critical of Dawkins. Fellow scientists have been critical of him, not necessarily about him being an outspoken atheïst. Right now the section only mentions Dawkins in relation to the religious world, a well-written section should mention more and with more details. Something in the vein of "Creationists disagree with Dawkins", is not enough. menscht 19:17, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I've removed the section for now which was not suitable. Laurence Boyce 19:51, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I was writing a proposal for improving the section. But after reading more material on "Answers in Genesis" and their practices, I can't but help that they aren't the most suitable group to be mentioned in a criticism section, given the "From a Frog to a Prince" controversy. Furthermore the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal critique of Brights doesn't seem that notable. I must say that adding the section in as it is now doesn't make the article more neutral or less biased. I think the article as it is now is quite neutral, it may be a good idea for the people complaining about bias to point out which particular sentences or paragraphs are too much in favour of Dawkins.
Anyhow, this is what I had. menscht 20:01, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
The creationist organization Answers in Genesis has offered a number of criticisms of Dawkins's work.[14][15][16][17] This group is also responsible for distributing the documentary "From a Frog to a Prince" (1998) in Australia. In the interview Dawkins was asked the following question: "Can you give an example of a genetic mutation, or an evolutionary process, which can be seen to increase the information in the genome?", then there follows 11 seconds of silence showing Dawkins, seemingly being unable to answer the question and giving a totally unrelated answer after the pause. [18] The authenticity of the passage in the documentary has been disputed by the Australian Skeptics [19], claiming that interview was manipulated to make Dawkins and the theory of evolution look incapable of answering key questions. According to Dawkins the filmmakers requested the interview under false pretenses and when asked the question about the increase of information in a genome – a question which can only be asked by realised that he wasn't interviewed by regular journalists, but by people with Creationist affiliations. The 11 second pause is explained by Dawkins as a moment where he was thinking on whether to terminate the interview completely, because of his policy of not give Creationist groups "the oxygen to publicity" or continue. [20] Dawkins later offered an explanation on both the question raised and controversy around the interview in the form of an essay. [21]
Sorry Laurence Boyce but your vague comment regarding removing criticisms from notable sources in which Wikipedia has articles on (Answers in Genesis and Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal is rank censorship and should not be allowed. Why is the material not suitable? It comes from sources in which notability is well established. We have articles on both those notable sources. ken 20:48, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

(after edit conflict)

  • Say "censorship" again and I will cheerfully give you a reading list to help you acclimate to Wikipedia. This is a warning, in case you didn't notice, for you not to be contentious or disruptive, KD. -:I quite agree with Laurence Boyce that any criticism section, which we should certainly have, should focus primarily on scientific criticism, as that is what he is best known as. Secondarily should be criticism of his atheist activism; AiG opposes all notable atheists (and there aren't that many) so their criticism should warrant a brief note, no more. AiG is not very notable, and not even remotely notable for science. The claim that "there is a WP article" makes them notable is not much of an argument - we have an article on Vampire Science but it isn't all that notable, and certainly not outside a narrow group. KillerChihuahua?!? 20:55, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
See my revised comments above. The censorship is quite telling in that I see not even a pretense of explanation on why the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal material was erased. [21] I see the most plausible explanation being that militant fans of Dawkins will allow no criticism of their idol. ken 20:59, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Are you completely obtuse? Do you not see my post, above? Read it again, I await an actual response to what I wrote. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:03, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I am not completely obtuse and you can tell so because not even a pretense of an explanation was offered for removing the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal material which was offered.[22] The best explanation still is that Dawkins militant atheists fans are so rabid that they won't allow a "Criticism of Dawkins" section to be created and only want a praise of Dawkins section ("Awards and recogntion" section). ken 21:25, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
(edit conflict)I believe you are mischaracterizing your critics. A number of editors have said that a criticism section is needed. They specifically said what sort of criticism would be good material, and explained why your additions were not as helpful. A number of editors even said they would work on it over the next few days. However, if you are so bent on having a criticism section up today, maybe you should research some of the ideas other editors have thrown out (McGrath, Midgeley and Polkinghorne, etc). You don't go to pseudo-scientific sources for the basis of scientific criticism of a scientist. You go to scientific sources and these sources do exist (and then maybe there should be a line about how apologists are critical of his militant activism). Seriously, all this stuff was suggested above. It seems like everyone IS trying to work with you.--Andrew c 21:33, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Please sign your posts with four tildes, thanks.

  • Maester_mensch: "Fellow scientists have been critical of him, not necessarily about him being an outspoken atheïst. Right now the section only mentions Dawkins in relation to the religious world, a well-written section should mention more and with more details. Something in the vein of "Creationists disagree with Dawkins", is not enough."
  • KillerChihuahua: "I quite agree with Laurence Boyce that any criticism section, which we should certainly have, should focus primarily on scientific criticism, as that is what he is best known as. Secondarily should be criticism of his atheist activism; AiG opposes all notable atheists (and there aren't that many) so their criticism should warrant a brief note, no more. AiG is not very notable, and not even remotely notable for science. The claim that "there is a WP article" makes them notable is not much of an argument - we have an article on Vampire Science but it isn't all that notable, and certainly not outside a narrow group."

What part of those posts did you fail to comprehend? Do you have any comments about them, or do you prefer attacking other editors? Accusing editors with whom you disagree "atheists" "Dawkins fans" and "censors" is wasting everyones' time. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:29, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Andrew, I am not being contentious. I am merely calling a spade a spade. Again and again and again there has been no explanation on why the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal material was removed. [23] Censorship is still the best explanation. ken 21:57, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
A spade a spade? No other author has participated in name-calling, I mean I haven't read a reply from anyone accusing you of being a "disciple" or "fan" of whom or whatsoever and therefore biased or overly defense. The bit about Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal was removed because it is in itself not that notable. The committee disagrees with the name (and most possibly with the ideology of the movement), but that wasn't detailed in the section. The Brights may have attracted criticism, but I don't think the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal are the most notable authority concerning this. Notable critics should be covered, Stephen J. Gould disagrees with Dawkins on some topics, notable theologians, etc. The removal is not censorship, the quality of the section is just abysmal and not worthy to put in an article which has been reviewed as "Good" by the Wikipedia community, to put it plainly. menscht 22:08, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and the Skeptical Inquirer both had the same article which said that Dawkins campaign for the Bright Movement "could use some rethinking". [24] Why is someone like Farrell Till's The Skeptical Review article is endlessly injected into the Bible scientific foreknowledge article but sources like the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and the Skeptical Inquirer can't be in the Dawkins article? Please ask AndrewC about this matter. I think AndrewC is being hypocritical here. ken 22:24, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
(after edit conflict) all due respect to Andrew_c, why ask him? Is this an appeal to authority? If you disagree with mensch, please state clearly your reasoning, don't tell us to ask someone else. Also, please, please stop wikilinking everything in your posts. (added) And now you're accusing Andrew of being a hypocrite? Stop attacking other editors, and discuss the article. KillerChihuahua?!? 22:30, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I'm not sure what you're trying to get here, but the Skeptical Inquirer is the magazine published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, so it's not strange that they both include the same article. I don't know why Farrell Till is added to Christian articles and I don't know if that's allright. Till is a former believer turned atheïst and focussing on the errors in – mainly Christian – religion, so that might be the case, Dawkins is a scientist who became an atheïst in his early teens and his primary field of expertise is biological evolution and natural selection. I fail to see the similarities between Till and Dawkins, which justify the inclusion of the critique of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal on the name "Brights", except for the fact that they are both unbelievers. As I've said, there are far more notable and more respected people who have criticized Dawkins for his work as a scientist and advocation of atheïsm. menscht 22:31, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Just my two cents: I think any hypothetical "Criticism of Dawkins' work" should limit itself primarily to academic criticisms of Dawkins' scientific methodology. Next should be criticisms of Dawkins' atheist apologetics because these are relevant to Dawkins himself. Criticisms of evolution in general, specifically creationist-based ones, are better covered elsewhere; these criticisms apply equally to Carl Sagan, Stephen J. Gould, and all other scientists who have ever addressed evolution in their published work. Singling out the Richard Dawkins article for extensive discussion of criticisms of evolution, specifically religious ones, isn't logical, especially given the existence of topically-relevant articles like Creation-evolution controversy, Social effect of evolutionary theory, Evolution, and Intelligent design. Criticisms of Dawkins for his support of evolution barely warrant coverage on these grounds, but, if it must be covered, it should be done very succintly, as the criticism is not directly of Dawkins or his work, but of evolution. -Severa (!!!) 23:37, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm beginning to believe that a "Criticism of Dawkins' work" section would be improper. The only biography of a living person on Wikipedia I have encountered which had its own criticism section is Sylvia Browne. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't include criticism, only that it should be worked into appropriate sections, as previous editors have suggested. -Severa (!!!) 21:33, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Criticism, part II

  • WAS: I reintroduced the "criticism of dawkins's work" section and replaced the material replaced with shorter section title. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:19, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Here is what I wrote: Philosopher Dallas Willard criticized Richard Dawkin's work The Blind Watchmaker and called it "metaphysical speculation". [25] ken 23:09, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

Its another Christian criticism, not a scientific one, and not about his advocacy of atheism, both of which IMHO are more significant than this, but whatever. We can add relevant critics to the section and copyedit. Meanwhile please format the reference correctly. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:18, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
Still that isn't a section on criticism. That's a one-liner saying somebody disagrees with somebody, without detailing why. It's like saying "Al Gore disagrees with George W. Bush on several political subjects" and adding a reference to some CNN article about a dispute between Bush and Gore. It doesn't say anything. The proposed criticism section by NBeale also offered only a list of names and criticism on the subject of religion, but at least some of the names were a bit less controversial. menscht 23:24, 11 November 2006 (UTC
I gave the footnote/link explaining exactly why the notable philosopher said what he said. I am restoring the criticism. ken 23:27, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
(edit conflict) Ok, Dalard Willard's name doesn't show up as a red link and he's got a footnote/link, so he's notable enough be a criticism section on his own? Still, notability isn't enough, the section hasn't improved. Work on it, perhaps create a sandbox in your own userspace to improve the article in peace and quiet and then let other people review the improved parts. This is leading nowhere. menscht 23:36, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Kdb, this is what you used as a ref:

  • <ref>http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=52</ref>

Here is what a correctly formatted ref looks like:

  • <ref> {{cite web|url=http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=52 |title=Reflections on Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker |accessdate=2006-11-11 |last=Willard |first=Dalls }}</ref>

Do you need help understanding how to use Magnus' tool for making these refs, or not understand the template? KillerChihuahua?!? 23:36, 11 November 2006 (UTC)


"Sacred cows" and Dawkins's works

I have cited three notable sources criticizing Richard Dawkins work. Every notable source had a Wikipedia article written on him/it (Answers in Genesis, Dallas Willard, and Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal It is apparent to me that Richard Dawkins's works are the "sacred cows" of atheism and the macroevolution position and that his ardent supporters will not countenance a "Criticism of Richard Dawkins works" section. ken 23:34, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

As I said, notability is not enough. The section itself is not good enough, because it just lists critics without any details and only critiques on very specific subjects. I can write a whole article citing notable persons and still write a bad article. Also, stop the name calling... please. Dawkins is not by any means a "sacred cow". I don't worship him, don't see him as the one true god with all the answers. Yes I do not believe in god, nor am I religious, I enjoy reading Dawkins agree with a lot of his ideas (also his work on atheism and religion) and think the idea of biological evolution is highly possible. I think that can be sais for any of the authors of this articles, whom you brand as being "disciples of Dawkins". When I read the Dawkins article I read a balanced and quite neutral article. At this point, what is the non neutral content in the article, could you point that out for me? Making an article more NPOV isn't just about adding a criticism section of people who say the opposite of the person in question. menscht 23:44, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

(after edit conflict): You have cited AiG and a Christian apologist who, not surprisingly, are critical of a high-profile atheist. He is also, and primarily, a brilliant scientist. Relevant criticism would be scientific, or specifically about his advocacy of atheism, and if you'd stop edit warring, learn to write references, cease your blanket personal attacks of all and sundry who do not support your incredibly marginal criticism sections, and stop spamming this talk page with extremely long subject headers, it is just possible we might be able to find time to actually locate some valid criticsm and work together to write a section which is germane. One puppy's opinion. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:45, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Me thinks the KillerChihuahua protests too much. All three notable sources had articles written on them by Wikipedia as I demonstated. ken 23:48, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Techie point: it's "methinks"...any idea what it means? •Jim62sch• 23:54, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
It means "it seems to me", do I get a cookie? KillerChihuahua?!? 00:02, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Doggie Biscuit.  ;) •Jim62sch• 00:05, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
"Southpark" was yanked from this article for exactly the same reason your additions were: Southpark is notable (more notable than AiG) and had an entire episode on Dawkins, yet it is not germane to this article because it is about Southpark not Dawkins. AiG is against atheism, what a surprise. I would not object to a well-written bit which cites any one of your sources, if germane and if it isn't, as pointed out above, a one or two liner which is basically "so-and-so (wikilinked) critcized Dawkins, quote." KillerChihuahua?!? 23:57, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Naah. It's got nothing to do with atheism. Dawkins could recant tomorrow, become a monk and spend his life pointing out the errors in his works to date and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Evolution is God's favoured method of producing species. Study the world that God made and you will see that for yourself. Anyone who denies it is quite likely an emissary of Satan. Are you really suggesting that emissaries of Satan should get equal time in Wikipedia ? -- Derek Ross | Talk 23:49, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Mensch, thank you for your straw man. I never said Dawkins was a "sacred cow". I said Richard Dawkins's works are "sacred cows" to his rabid fans at Wikipedia who cannot stand it if a "criticism of Richard Dawkins's works" section is created. ken 23:53, 11 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Straw man? You called other authors "militant fans of Dawkins", "Dawkins militant atheists fans" and accused them of censorship. I don't see how this changes my original argument. menscht 00:00, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Neither does anyone but the buffalo. •Jim62sch• 00:12, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Ken, I will try to repeat what I already said. People are not opposed to a criticism section. In fact, a number of editors have given you some good sources to start with. Everyone is saying "Good scientific criticism would make this article better". Ken, you are not adding "good scientific criticism", you are adding criticism from off topic, barely notable groups and people. So the Skeptics didn't like the name Bright in one article, so what? So some creationists disagree with an evolutionary biologist, who cares? Why not read through the people that other editors suggested would be good sources for good scientific criticism. Finally, just because something has a wikipedia article does not mean that their opinions are relevent in other articles. You should know this, you try to remove the Jesus myth information from the main Jesus page weekly, right? You feel that fringe, off topic views are not relevent in some top tier articles. That is all everyone is saying. No one is saying Dawkins is above criticism. Just that he is above fringe, off topic criticism. Make sense? And please try to refrain from calling other editors names, such as hypocrite.--Andrew c 23:26, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

My problem with this criticism idea

I'm new to this debate and have read the previous comments with interest. The problem I have with introducing criticism is that what we are criticising is his ideas, not the man himself. To crticise the man, one would want to look at his character. Is he a wife-basher? a thief? a bigot? It strikes me the proper place to criticise his ideas is in articles about the ideas themselves, or perhaps in the articles about the books he wrote on these ideas. I have looked at some of the articles on the "critics" and note that they don't have criticism sections. Are their ideas beyond criticism? Or are we to expect every biographical article to have a long list of those who support them, those who support them sometimes, but not others, and those who oppose them always? Wikipedia is not a popularity poll. The proper place to discuss ideas is in articles on the ideas, not in articles on those who support or oppose them. --Michael Johnson 00:23, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Methinks you raise a good point. •Jim62sch• 00:32, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Concur; he is notable as a scientist first and foremost. We should research criticisms of his scientific approach and include that; there has been considerable criticism also that his advocacy of atheism has tended to encourage the conflation of evolution with atheism, which is widely considered Not a Good Thing for science in general and biology in particular. We may be able to incorporate some of that into the article as well. KillerChihuahua?!? 00:52, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

There is no "criticism" of Mr. Dawkins. There are only religious zealots who realize their way of life is in danger of dying off. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.69.138.9 (talkcontribs)

Yes, Christianity, the largest worldview in the world, is in danger of dying off despite the fact that it is surging in China and Africa and the Bible is the most translated book in the world. Give me a break. ken 02:40, 12 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Not to piss on your parade, but the fastest growing religion is Islam. As a percentage, Christianity is declining. Reality bites. •Jim62sch• 21:32, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

This is now the second (recent) attempt to get some of the major criticisms of Dawkins' ideas into this article, to give some balance (although there are some pointers). I don't think that ken's draft was perfect, but I think we should reach a consensus that a sensible section about criticism of Dawkins writings should be allowed, sandbox it, and then when it is in reasonable shape be bold and put it in. It can then be improved but should not be repeatedly reverted. NBeale 17:15, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I think you should address criticism of ideas to the pages relating to the ideas themselves. Otherwise biography pages will just bloat out criticism and counter criticism --Michael Johnson 21:24, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Criticism of ideas is fine. For criticism of a living person, we need to abide by WP:BIO. •Jim62sch• 21:33, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
It should be clear that Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons as a Policy is to be followed – in particular "Information available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all." Another question is whether "criticism" should in a separate section: the article at present quite rightly cites notable critics of Dawkins, and looking at their biographies I've not found any with a "criticism" section. It makes more sense to relate the criticism and counter-criticism directly to the relevant parts of the biography. .. dave souza, talk 22:41, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Dave, I think you're perfectly correct. Criticism should (of course) be included, but a criticism section is a REALLY, REALLY bad idea. See this on WIAFA talk. Mikker (...) 22:23, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Oxford Debate

There was a recent correction to the debate results from 198 to 115 to 198 to 15. Laurence Boyce reverted this, explaining that "the web link is corrupted." I had no problem accessing the page, but my laboratory has a subscription to Science so it may not be that the link is corrupted, but just that it is available only to subscribers. [26]

In any case, I copy the entire relevant paragrah here to support correcting the results from 198 to 115 to the correct number of 198 to 15: There is a great deal of historical irony in this event. For it was in the Oxford University Museum, and as long ago as 1860, that Charles Darwin's young supporter Thomas Henry Huxley clashed with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce over the very same question. On that occasion, less than a year after the publication of the Origin of Species, Huxley condemned the Bishop of Oxford for attempting to defeat Darwinism with nothing more than ignorant contempt. 126 years later, Oxford University's undergraduate body finally gave its verdict on the issue. After due consideration, it came down cautiously on Huxley's side: on 14 February 1986, the motion "That the doctrine of creation is more valid than the theory of evolution" was defeated by 198 votes to l5.

Edhubbard 21:02, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Ok... on further exploration, it seems that nobody can agree on what the right numbers should be (except that the Nay votes won). This site has it as 198 to 150 [27] This site argues that someone tampered with the numbers on the AAAS site, although I am not sure that it's unbiased. That site claims 198 to 115 [28]. I find it hard that the AAAS would knowingly leave erroneous information on the website, but a closer look does show that there is something wrong there. Probably the chapter was scanned in, and this is an OCR error, but I wouldn't want to argue over these numbers. Perhaps the best thing to say is that the Nays won the vote, and not get into the details of the numbers. Edhubbard 21:12, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

You can see from the context that 15 can't be right – "came down cautiously" does not describe 198 to 15. But I agree it would be good to get to the bottom of this. Laurence Boyce 22:29, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I couldn't tell if that was an editorial comment included when writing about the original 198 to 115 number, or if that was the thing that most accurately reflected the debate. I'll keep looking around and see if there is anything reliable on the web, but I think that the AAAS site probably contains a typo and we shouldn't rely on that. Edhubbard 22:33, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
The figure on the website is obviously wrong,as 15 makes no sense given what Durant is saying. The question is whether it should be 115 or 150. There is a lobby who insist that the figure is 150, though having listened to a recording of the votes being reported at the event, I disagree. However, what someone needs to do is to get hold of the book from which Durant's article is taken and see what it actually says. This is the book,as cited on the AAAS websote: DURANT, JOHN. "A CRITICAL-HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE ARGUMENTS ABOUT EVOLUTION AND CREATION," *in* EVOLUTION AND CREATION: A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE, SVEND ANDERSON AND ARTHUR PEACOCKE, EDS. AARHUS, DENMARK: AARHUS UNIVERSITY PRESS, PP. 12-26. Somebody must have access to it. --Dannyno 11:07, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

"South Park"

Was Paradody? on South Park 11-7-2006

Yes, a Richard Dawkins character was on the South Park episodes "Go God Go" and "Go God Go XII." Apparently someone editing this article didn't like that, because it was already written in the article even minutes after the first part of the episode aired. --Vyran 03:05, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Please read further down on this talk page, where the reasons for deleting the South Park trivia are listed (link). menscht 12:24, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
Farther up, now that this newer post has been moved to the end of the page per talk page guidelines. KillerChihuahua?!? 18:36, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

I think there should be a slide of Richard Dawkins from South Park put on the regular page.

Consensus is not to include trivial appearance in South Park at all - see discussion (here). Snalwibma 21:43, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Dawkins's militant atheism rare amongst leading scientists

It is a notable and insufficiently understood fact that Dawkins's militant atheism (actively attacking most forms of religion) is rare amongst leading scientists. For example:

  1. He is the only FRS in the 43 Honorary Associates of the National Secular Society[29] (and there is only one other scientist). By contrast two FRSs have become ordained priests in the Church of England at at least two others (Freeman Dyson and Simon Conway Morris) are well-known Christians (there are probably more, I don't have a comprehensive list).
  2. Only three current FRS have written books devoted to religious questions: of these Dawkins is the only atheist (the others are Dyson and Polkinghorne)
  3. Following The God Delusion he was portrayed in Nature as a sandwich-board man with the slogan "RENOUNCE GOD AND BE SAVED" NBeale 06:32, 16 November 2006 (UTC)


Attacking religion is antitheist or anti-religious. It's not atheism but that aside obviously it could be because this is a field of expertese that he has slowly evolved over many books. I mean if we see him attacking say semiconductor research then we'd get worried and equally if we saw a semiconductor scientist attacking religion then we'd get worried too. That we see Dawkins poking holes in religion is simply that he is playing to his strengths. What exactly is your point of the stuff above that quotes the numbers of FRS ? Who did this meta-analysis ?...Surely it's not WP:OR ? Remember WP:LIVING applies here. Ttiotsw 10:19, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Is the point of this that there are more outspoken Christians among the FRS than there are outspoken atheists? That might be true. But there is no shortage of atheists among past and present FRS. Sir Martin Rees, currently President of the RS, was quoted recently (Guardian article) as describing himself as an "unbelieving anglican", who sometimes attends church out of tribal loyalty but has no theistic beliefs. Militant atheist he aint, but atheist he certainly is. --Dannyno 10:59, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Seems to me it's neither notable nor insufficiently understood that most scientists don't bother to adopt a militant stance against religion. Perhaps (like pink unicorns, tooth fairies and flying spaghetti monsters) it just doesn't concern them. They have more important things to think about. Whatever - this sort of point-scoring POV addition has no place in the article on Dawkins. Snalwibma 11:07, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
There is good evidence atheism non-theism is almost total among scientists, and even more pronounced among leading scientists. (source: this). Dawkins may be more vocal than most, but he certainly speaks for scientists generally. Mikker (...) 18:02, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Interesting link, but the survey (from 1998) still found 7% believers in leading scientists, with atheism at 72.2% – hardly total. Their survey of scientists generally in 1996 found 39.3% believers. So a pretty significant minority. Can't win 'em all ;) .. dave souza, talk 19:20, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, I should have said "non-theistic views" rather than "atheism" - 93% of leading scientists are either atheists, agnostics or have doubts and that's pretty close to being "total", at least when we're talking about social science statistics. Mikker (...) 18:30, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
BTW, see our article on the Demographics of atheism for more (including stuff about the UK). Mikker (...) 18:03, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Mikker. I don't know how many Academicians you know well enough to have discussed this with them - my guess from your comments is one at most. I don't think there is a single FRS or member of the NAS who has come out unequivocally in favour of The God Delusion and I assure you that many of the FRSs think he is now "bringing science into disrepute." Almost all leading scientists recognise that, whatever their personal religious views may be, there are other leading scientists, no less well informed or intelligent, who take a different view, and that this is not a question that can be settled on scientific grounds. This is the offical positon of the NAS and the rather flawed Larson/Witham survey (eg Deists count as Atheists, and no competent scientist would consider 72% "almost total") really doesn't alter this fact, which is why, as far as I can see, no leading scientists have cited it. NBeale 19:35, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
The NAS isn't stupid. The recent poll showed a significant number of American public still believe in creation myths and this is completely at odds with what the UK or the population of Europe or Japan polled at. The US was comparable to the majority-Muslim Turkey: which personally gives me doubts as to the suitability of that country for full membership to the EU. Given the need to balance science funding with religious dogma, drawing a line between faith and reason is a valid game plan for the NAS. Thus NOMA is an acceptable concept. Such a ploy need not apply to countries with less adherence to creation myths and so it need not apply to the FRS. You can't simply mingle the FRS and NAS in the same argument whilst ignoring population differences. Ttiotsw 20:01, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Here we go again. NBeale seems to believe that anyone who does not "come out unequivocally in favour of The God Delusion" can be enrolled in the army of those who condemn all that Dawkins (and other evolutionary biologists?) says. Of course they don't "come out unequivocally in favour" - you only do that, if you are so minded, with things like the Bible. Rational people disuss what someone has to say, agree with some bits, disagree with others, weigh up their response and come to a conclusion. Many Dawkins disciples ummm ... acolytes - er - supporters of Dawkins biologists and scientists dislike certain aspects of the book (maybe its rather strident tone, for one thing) but agree with much of what he says. Oh - and I should of course add that I've discussed this IN PERSON with my many CLOSE PERSONAL FRIENDS who are PROFESSORS in the BEST UNIVERSITIES and FELLOWS of the Royal Society - so there! Snalwibma 08:40, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
NBeale, seriously mate. Please don't be so condescending; your message comes close to violating the spirit of WP:NPA. (And, for the record, I know plenty of academics. In fact, I plan to be one myself one day). As for the substance of your concerns, well, I cited a letter published in Nature. You respond with a bunch of unreferenced opinions. Do you have reliable sources for your claims? (And, no sorry, I won't take your assurances; your editing record on this article is enough to militate against doing so). Mikker (...) 18:41, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Dawkins thinks God might exist

Notable exchange in the Dawkins/Collins Debate [30]:

"TIME: Could the answer be God?

DAWKINS: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.

COLLINS: That's God.

DAWKINS: Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Martians or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small--at the least, the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that's the case."

NBeale 06:40, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

(Moved replies above onto separate lines for clarity)
Sorry - and this is significant how exactly? This is a standard agnostic position. Hand on my heart, I cannot deny the possibility that some sort of invisible higher power exists. But what I can be sure of, as Dawkins articulates above, is the vanishing probability of this "higher power" being any of the gods that people worship (or have worshipped) here on Earth (or Mars or Alpha Centauri ...). The only point here that might be considered faintly significant is that Dawkins is arguing from an agnostic rather than atheist position in the exchange above. Anyway, this sort of scraping around for non-notable, theology-"vindicating" tidbits will not improve the article. --Plumbago 09:24, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
On a scale of 1..7 (see page 50/51 of The God Delusion) he is a '6' (leaning towards 7) in that he doesn't have a 100% knowledge that there is no god (the '7'). As a scientist he is happy to state that the god hypothesis is unlikely (but not certain) - and this is the basis of Chapter 4 of that book. The god of gaps hides well so obviously with new evidence it could be more or even less likely. Time goes on and the hypothesis evolves. He sees god as a hypotheis that can be argued against scientifically and sees no need to maintaining a barrier to argument (e.g. as NOMA is set up as). That doesn't make him agnostic though. As can be seen with this interview, the "deluded" proponents for god, those supernatural salespeople and the ID "fanboys" present no new evidence but rely on word play or out-of-context exchanges in interviews. Ttiotsw 10:09, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
As Plumbago says, this is a standard agnostic position - Dawkins has hitherto been seen as an atheist. Please understand, no-one who believes in God considers their theology even slightly threatened by Dawkins arguments, from our perspective it's an almost comical succession of logical howlers (remember that Terry Eagleton review, and he's an atheist). And to most leading scientists he's something of a sandwich-board man producing a "sermon" Nature, some FRSs consider he's bringing Science into disrepute. However because he has a lot of influence with some people some of us want to engage with his ideas and try to allow people who seem to hang on his every word to see "it ain't necessarily so." If you're against censorship, let the facts speak for themselves. 90% of the atheist contributions to this debate have been (a) to delete information or (b) to make personal attacks. NBeale 14:46, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
WRT your agenda on trying to twist Dawkins words to make him say that he believes in god it may be an agnostic position but from Dawkins' point of view as iterated in all his books it is not. WP:LIVING applies here: if the man says he is an atheist and even the most conservative of views confirm this is his view, then that is what he is. Any other interpretation is just blatant WP:OR and given the subject matter it's bordering on vandalism. If what you propose is the case then 99.9% of the world is agnostic i.e. from all the people who mildly believe in just one god (because they don't believe in many gods) right through to all the people who mostly don't believe in most gods until some evidence is forthcoming (i.e. most atheists). It's a continuum from absolute belief in god (or gods) through to absolute non-belief in gods (which is strong atheism and is more rare). The pedantic may try to drive a wedge of doubt into this typical scientists doubt about a hypothesis or theory but unless it's backed by evidence that wedge is just empty words. Revelation is not evidence and it's not scientific. Ttiotsw 19:42, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Err. Why do you constantly talk about "The Atheists"? There no such thing as an atheist group monitoring this page and deleting information. There have been no personal attacks, except the accusations regarding "militant disciples of Dawkins", etc. No person who identifies himself as an atheist has insulted other people or personally attacked someone. Stop spreading this misinformation, please.
The information you're talking about was removed because it was poorly written and didn't suit the Wikipedia article which is currently listed as a good article. I think the best way of establishing whether Dawkins is an atheist or not is to find out what he himself thinks. I'm not sure if somebody who says god is as unlikely as a tea-pot or pink unicorn can be identified as somebody who profoundly doubts about god and is therefore an agnost. The fact that one can't disprove the existence of a god, doesn't make you agnostic, I mean you also can't disprove the existence of Hades or Persephone... Also, one quote, taken out of an interview cannot be the evidence of somebody's ideology. menscht 14:52, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

A statement that God is a possibility is far from a statement that God is probable. Most scientists would agree that alien abduction and extrasensory perception are, technically, possible. That isn't to say that many give credence to such theories. Science is based upon the consideration of evidence. As Carl Sagan said, in 1996 interview in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune,

"My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic." [31]

Dawkins, like Sagan, is evidently agnostic insofar as he's open to possibility of God, like scientists are open to any theory. Under the broadest definition, a lot of people could probably be counted as agnostic, because I'm sure a lot of us are quite reasonably open to the possibility that our own beliefs are incorrect. This isn't to suggest that we haven't formed an opinion either way about whether God is probable or whether God exists. As Ttiotsw noted above, in The God Delusion, Dawkins self-identifies as atheist, or one leaning toward the belief that God does not exist. This is how he should be regarded for the purposes of this article. -Severa (!!!) 21:20, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Neutrality Disputed

user:kdbuffalo put a neurality disputed tag on the article saying "(biased article. praise of dawkins section, but no criticism of dawkins section. see talk page)". This was reverted and (s)he re-applied it. I entirely agree with this point. It is disputed and the tag must not be removed until there is a real consensus. Now let's discuss and try to get one. Thanks, NBeale 20:28, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

We have a consensus. Seems the only two objectors are yourself and ken. You don't seem to understand the guidelines for adding information to articles. If you don't source your latest addition, you can expect to see it removed as well. *Spark* 20:46, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
No, we do not need a criticism section. Valid criticisms, where they exist and are applicable, can be woven into the article. Please see this discussion at WP:WIAFA. — Coelacan | talk 20:48, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
You can't just say "this is pov" and provide no justifications. When and if you come up with a convincing, well-referenced, non-OR list of POV problems with the article, the POV tag can stay until we've fixed the problem. And if your argument is "I already posted why I think it's POV before" then we have a clear consensus that you're wrong and the article doesn't need to be changed nor does it then need a pov tag. Please see WP:NPOV, WP:OR and WP:V again. Mikker (...) 20:50, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

No please read WP:NPOV_Dispute "the tag should be removed only when there is a consensus among the editors that the NPOV disputes have indeed been resolved. ... if you find yourself having an ongoing dispute about whether a dispute exists, there's a good chance one does, and you should therefore leave the NPOV tag up until there is a consensus that it should be removed." This tag should stay until there is consensus. NBeale 21:11, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

And it ALSO says "If you come across an article whose content does not seem to be consistent with Wikipedia's NPOV policy, use one of the tags below to mark the article's main page. Then, on the article's talk page, make a new section entitled "NPOV dispute [- followed by a section's name if you're challenging just a particular section of the article and not the article as a whole]". Then, under this new section, clearly and exactly explain which part of the article does not seem to have a NPOV and why. Make some suggestions as to how one can improve the article. Be active and bold in improving the article." You have not done this. Mikker (...) 21:30, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
WP:NPOV_Dispute is only guidance, and as such is trumped by Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons which is policy. Take care to comply with policy: tag vandalism is unacceptable. ... dave souza, talk 21:42, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, then perhaps a vote on removing the tag is in order: Those who think the article is unbiased, say yea unbiased, those who think it is biased, nay biased. My own vote is that the article is neutral, but that Kdbuffalo and Nbeale are unhappy because it doesn't cater to their anti-Dawkins POV. Consensus doesn't mean unanimous, just in case you hadn't checked your dictionary lately. Yea unbiased Edhubbard 21:20, 17 November 2006 (UTC) NOTE: I changed this to biased and unbiased following KillerChihuahua's vote. I think it's clearer that yea and nay. Edhubbard 21:26, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I would also suggest that since the "criticisms of Dawkins" which certain editors are so keen to have introduced, are not criticisms of Dawkins per se but rather general disputes over certain undead topics, we ought to simply introduce links like "See main article: creationism" where these "debates" are already fully addressed. There's no reason to drag the contents of those pages over here and duplicate encyclopedia pages, which is what is being attempted here IMO. — Coelacan | talk 21:51, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased. Article, as it is is, is neutral, although improvements could be made to address criticism of Dawkins. However, an obtrusive tag is not the solution, per WP:VAND, "Do not place dispute tags improperly, as in when there is no dispute, and the reason for placing the dispute tag is because a suggested edit has failed to meet consensus." -Severa (!!!) 21:39, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased, with the reservation that whether the article conforms to NPOV has no impact on whether the NPOV dispute tag is necessary. If an article conforms to NPOV, and some editors (incorrectly) claim it violates NPOV, then the tag is warranted. -- Schaefer (talk) 21:46, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased Clear consensus here. To answer Schaefer, the tag is unwarranted. The editors in question will probably never agree this article is NPOV, and Severa's note from WP:VAND applies here. *Spark* 21:53, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased - Go and read any good wikipedia article on a living person, and compare. The Richard Dawkins article is balanced and fair. The criticism is interwoven into the text. But it has been the subject of relentless attack from a couple of determined editors who seem to be trying to push a particular POV, and after their edits it lurches into some sort of Dawkins-bashing POV. It needs defending. Snalwibma 22:52, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Biased Almost all attempts to introduce anything critical are reverted, and the whole tone of the article is adulatory./ Dawkins is a highly controversial figure who has been severely criticised by more leading scientists and philosophers than have supported him. There are only 3 short mentions of criticism of Dawkins in a long article. Whether or not you think the criticisms are valid they should be fairly reflected in the article. NBeale 22:58, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased - and agree with Severa about the misuse of tags here. --Plumbago 23:33, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased This article is about Dawkins the man. Justifiable criticism of his ethics, morality or work practices, subject of course to Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons, might be entertained. But given the honours that have been bestowed on this individual, they seem unlikely to be sustained. However the attacks on him seem mostly to be criticism of either evolution or athiesm, which should be addressed in their respective articles. Criticism of Dawkins individual books can be addressed in the articles on the books themselves, each of which an article of it's own. --Michael Johnson 23:43, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased plus I call it vandalism simply because the tagger didn't actually add anything to the talk page to explain the position even though they said "...see talk page" (tagged at 8am but no relevant talk until 22pm by someone else. Not like they had the time as they tried a revert a bit later). The article is neutral because words like "eminent", "out-spoken", "major contribution" etc I feel are true representations of Dawkins' work/person. If other editors think any of the descriptions of Dawkins are not true then edit the article but please remember that WP:LIVING is a bit more strict than other articles and so any content must be verifiable and certainly not some of the WP:OR meta analysis or personal synthesis some try and stick in - criticism must be about Dawkins (the person or his methodologies and at a stretch his books if there is not a relevant book article BUT not about what he writes about) and come from a notable person. It's quite simple really. Ttiotsw 00:06, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased, doesn't need a tag. --Davril2020 00:28, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased per above. I almost feel bad 'voting' because of the overwhelming majority, but I think it needs to be made clear that lacking links to internet apologists does not make an article violate NPOV.--Andrew c 02:30, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased All the editors who expressed the sentiment that the article is not neutral haven't come up with quotes, citing the biased parts of the article. If the article was written or even just some parts were written in a certain point of view, than it would be easy for people to point out which parts are too much in favour of Dawkins and his ideas. So far there has been no attempt made to point these specific cases out. Just stating that an article doesn't contain a criticism section, doesn't mean an article is biased in any way. menscht 04:26, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Unbiased Doesnt need a tag --Jaseerabubakar 10:20, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

How neutrality could be improved

In order to make this article NPOV I think we need to reflect the following facts:

  1. Dawkins is a highly controversial figure
  2. Although his popular non-quantitative explanations of evolution are admired, the inferences he draws from the scientific facts are questioned.
  3. His reductionism is criticised by leading scientists and philosophers, as well as theologians.
  4. The vailidity of Mimetics as a field is disputed.
  5. Whilst a few philosophers praise his forays into philosophy and theology, other philosophers and scientists, and all theologians, consider them seriously ill-concieved.
  6. Although surveys suggest that the majority of leading scientists are not theists, no leading scientists support Dawkins's militant atheism, which is against the policy of the NAS and criticised by many leading scientists as unwarranted.
  7. Even those who support his general tenets criticise his style as over-aggressive and counter-productive.
  8. He is also severely criticised by opponents of Evolution.

Dawkins many admirers may well think that none of these points is sufficient to dent their admiration. That's fine. But to try to hide these facts from the readers by procedural means is unwarranted, and this is why the article is not NPOV. NBeale 00:20, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

If indeed these are "facts", they can be verified as WP:V remembering to take particular care to meet the standards required by WP:LIVING and added to the article in an WP:NPOV way – which doesn't necessarily mean a "criticisms" section which certainly is not standard practice in biographies. Remember to WP:CITE reliable sources as WP:RS. Look forward to seeing proper substantiation of your claims. ..dave souza, talk 00:52, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • NBeale, let me get to the heart of why you're having such a problem with this page. You ignore policies and guidelines. You just had fourteen other editors, many who haven't edited this article recently, if ever, tell you there's not a POV problem on the page. And yet you insist with "no, you're all wrong and I'm right" attitude. You do it with a clear lack of WP:AGF. You label anyone who disagrees with you. I asked you to source your latest entry, instead you choose to continue your diatribe here. It still has the "fact" tag on it, I'll ask you again to source it or remove it. *Spark* 00:58, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Spark. I've completed the sourcing as requested. If there's a consensus on NPOV we can remove the tag, it should not have been removed before consensus. NBeale 08:32, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • It shouldn't have been added in the first place. If you read and understood the links provided above you should realize that. *Spark* 12:51, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Regarding your references, read them. Read the text you added to the article. Understand why your text is WP:OR and is not supported by the citations you provided. *Spark* 12:59, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
  • There is already substantial criticism of Dawkins in the article. NBeale has argued before for a criticism section, and has been rebuffed. To satisfy my own interest, I looked at the articles on three other highly controversial figures, Karl Marx, Jesus, and Milton Friedman. Oddly enough, none had a criticism section. Indeed all seemed to have less critical comment in their articles than Dawkins. Let's have a quick look at NBeale's points:
  1. Yes Dawkins is controversial, so what.
  2. Being at the leading edge of any philosophy or science will draw criticism. So what. Wikipedia is here to explain Dawkins ideas, not critique them. There is plenty of opportunity to do that in the articles on his critics (which by the way are linked from this article).
  3. Once again, so what? Not everybody agrees whith all his ideas. That is already clear from the article.
  4. I think NBeale means Memetics. Dawkins isn't the only one in this field, and it's validity should be discussed in it's article.
  5. Getting two philosophers to agree on anything is somewhat of a miracle, and it is hardly surprising that all theologians would consider the philosophy of an athiest ill-concieved.
  6. I think it is clear from the article that Dawkins is a militant athiest. It is up to the reader to decide if that is a good or bad thing. As for the policy of the NAS, that is best discussed in it's article.
  7. If indeed Dawkins is "over-aggressive and counter-productive" then that will just harm his cause. It is not for Wikipedia to coach Dawkins on how to be a more effective advocate.
  8. "He is also severely criticised by opponents of Evolution." Really?

--Michael Johnson 00:59, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

By the way, why should the policy of the National Association of Schoolmasters have anything to do with Dawkins' biography? ... dave souza, talk 01:09, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, but the National Academy of Sciences might :-) NBeale 08:32, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Why would an American based organisation care for a British domiciled scientist ? I've already argued that the (US) NAS must play to it's audience - i.e. the US public, federal policy makers, lobbyists and pressure-groups and so moderates what it says to that environment. A similar "NAS" in say a muslim country would also have to carefully moderate what it says and similarly in the UK or Europe. Please justify why any US NAS policy or statement applies to a British citizen. Ttiotsw 11:12, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm genuinely curious about this policy of the NAS. It really doesn't feel right, especially from an organisation whose membership is largely atheist or agnostic. Do you have a link to support that? Guettarda 13:18, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
It's NBeale who has said that "Although surveys suggest that the majority of leading scientists are not theists, no leading scientists support Dawkins's militant atheism, which is against the policy of the NAS and criticised by many leading scientists as unwarranted.". Ask him for this "policy" not me. I can only guess it's related to NOMA e.g. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Jay_Gould#Non-Overlapping_Magisteria_.28NOMA.29 which links to http://newton.nap.edu/openbook/0309064066/html/R9.html The most relevant section from this link is, "Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each.". I can only guess this is the "policy" i.e. trying to combine science and religion but would be nice if NBeale would confirm exactly what he means and why it applies to Dawkins. Ttiotsw 14:55, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Y'know what? - this discussion is getting rather tedious. I was going to add some more points about the "facts" listed above by NBeale. But I think I'll go and do something more useful. NBeale is clearly unpersuadable, and his points are best ignored. Oxygen of publicity, etc... Snalwibma 08:51, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I agree with Snalwibma. NBeale has not said anything that s/he hasn't said before. Until the time when s/he reads WP:NPOV, WP:OR, WP:V and WP:BLP, understands these policies and sticks to them, s/he is best ignored IMO. Discussion over. Mikker (...) 16:29, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Origins of Dawkins Professorship

According to [32] on the simonyi website, his Professorship came about when Simonyi "heard through another Dawkins fan ... that their mutual hero needed a little helping out. By 1994, Dawkins was distinctly overextended, his public career as elucidator of Darwinism putting pressure on his day job teaching biology at Oxford. If someone could be found to endow a professorship specifically devoted to promoting public scientific understanding, it would free up Dawkin's Zoology position for a full-time scholar and teacher." I didn't quite realise this and I think it's highly relevant. Any objections to inserting this in the article? NBeale 16:44, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Oh for CHRIS'SAKE! YES, I object to the insertion of malicious and inadequately sourced rumour in a biography of a living person. For the umpteenth time, go take a look at WP:BLP. Snalwibma 16:52, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
What exactly are you trying to do, NBeale? What is the point of these efforts?
From the website you refer to: "The aim of the Simonyi Professorship is to communicate science to the public without, in doing so, losing those elements of scholarship which constitute the essence of true understanding."
Why shouldn't this professorship be given to a man attempting to communicate science to the public without, in doing so, losing those elements of scholarship which constitute the essence of true understanding? And why exactly should you have realised this? -- Ec5618 16:54, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Nbeale, I agree with the others. You have made enough mischief here and on every other page you can find associated with Dawkins, that your every move is going to be analyzed. Tell us now, why is this story important (assuming it's true)? How does it differ, from, for example, the targeted gifts that Fred Kavli has been giving to create a network of centers in his name? [33] Some philanthropists decide to give money to targeted projects. Simonyi doesn't have the fortune of Kavli, so rather than starting centers, he targeted his largesse for one person who he felt was deserving. However, when Dawkins steps down from the Simonyi chair, the chair will continue on. So, again... what are you trying to accomplish here? Edhubbard 17:15, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
Snalwibma, I don't understand your objections. Why is NBeale's suggestion malicious? What's wrong with the source? It's from the web site of Dawkins' professorship. I have looked at the WP:BLP guidelines. The main three requirements listed there are verifiability, NPOV, and no original research. Well, NBeale's suggestion is verifiable and not original research (again, what's wrong with the source?). And if it is POV then which way and how? TimRR 00:50, 19 November 2006 (UTC)TimRR (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic..
  • Go and look at the source, and tell me where it actually comes from. Snalwibma 08:16, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
From the header of the web page in question: "Article in Eastsideweek, by Robert Downey. Roger Downey is a founding editor of the 20-year-old citypaper Seattle Weekly. This article first appeared in the Weekly's editorially-independent sister publication (directed toward the high-tech Seattle suburbs) Eastsideweek on December 11, 1996." TimRR 20:14, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I understand Snalwibma's objections against inclusion, because the quote is highly suggestive out of its original context. Additionally, what would be gained by including this? No doubt it will end up in a separate section which reads like a bulleted list of soundbites criticising Dawkins one way or another without giving any relevant (and much needed) explanation or context. The sort of thing we've all so grown accustomed to. That is what's wrong with all these suggestions, they don't add anything substantial to the article and do not balance the neutrality (they achieve the opposite, in fact). As said earlier, the neutrality of this article is perfectly fine and I would like to see a list of citations/paragraphs indicating that the article is indeed not neutral, so that we may improve upon them (if that is at all necessary). menscht 01:17, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
How is any of this different from NBeale's mentor, John Polkinghorne, who is a physicist turned theologian, and has occupied various positions within the Church of England and universities since? He won the Templeton Prize for his contributions to research at the interface between science and religion. Polkinghorn's Wikipedia biography includes one paragraph on his career as physicist, two paragraphs on his career as an ordained minister, and eight paragraphs on his theological position. In many ways he paralels Dawkins career, but from the other side of the fence, if you will. And while there is plenty to criticise in Polkinghorn's theology from both an agnostic or athiest point of view, or from a more fundamentalist Christian point of view, there is not a single mention of critics or criticism in his article. It appears to me that the only reason for NBeale's continued edits is that s/he has an intense aversion to Dawkins philosophies, and seeks to place Dawkins in the worst possible light. --Michael Johnson 01:48, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Michael, that is an outstanding point. I think NBeale is suffering from WP:COI here, and it shows. *Spark* 02:07, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
mensch - Thanks for the comments, but what that is false or pernicious does the quote suggest? How is it different in its original context? As for potential gain from including something about this, the creation of the chair Dawkins holds was a substantial part of what has made him the public figure he currently is, and so the circumstances (as they specifically involved him) are of interest. TimRR 01:59, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
How about if you read the applicable policies and explain to us how the quote fails? I'll note you're yet another new user who has no posts except this talk page who has come out of the woodwork to defend NBeale. The last time this happened those accounts went silent after that particular issue died down. I'll WP:AGF in your actions, but please review the policies mentioned above, especially WP:BLP. Your answers are there. *Spark* 02:07, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Spark, I do not know NBeale and have never been contacted by him. I am a new user and have no great expertise on details of Wikipedia policies, but I did look at WP:BLP (see above). My questions remain. TimRR 02:49, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

This debate is bizarre. I can see no ethical problem with creating an endowed chair intended for a specific occupant, so the rumor can hardly be described as malicious. And it comes from an article published on Dawkins' official web site, so I wouldn't really describe it as inadequately sourced either. Furthermore, it is really plausible that the rumor isn't true? A "chair in the public understanding of science" is not a common thing to endow, and there can't be many universities besides Oxford that have someone as well suited as Dawkins for such a position. Is it just coincidence that Simonyi decided to create this oddly-named position at Oxford, and Oxford just happened to have the perfect person to fill it? It can't possibly be coincidence. And there's nothing wrong with that!

I don't think the rumor is worth including in the article, even if personally verified by Dawkins and Simonyi, simply because it's not interesting enough. But what really disturbs me is how little concern NBeale and Snalwibma seem to be showing here for the goals of Wikipedia. Given NBeale's posting history, it's hard not to conclude that s/he mentioned the rumor out of a desire to make Dawkins look bad, not a desire to make Wikipedia more accurate. And it seems equally clear that Snalwibma didn't stop to consider NBeale's proposal objectively, but just looked at the signature and ignored everything else. If either one had thought rationally instead of dogmatically about the proposal, they'd probably have been arguing on the opposite side. You people are all insane. In my humble opinion. -- BenRG 18:31, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Hi BenRG, I think it's good to get a fresh set of eyes around here. I agree with you that some of this is becoming insane, but as you note, Nbeale's edit history tends to make everyone get a little nuts with him. I myself have been frustrated enough to talk about a "revert-all-Nbeale-edits-sight policy", but have calmed down, and once again, am attempting to work with him in a constructive manner. In addition, in my more lucid moments, I *do* point out that what Nbeale is doing is OR, not always verifiable, and is especially dangerous given that Dawkins is still living, and therefore WP:BLP applies. As for this particular example, you will see that my comments are not that different from what you are saying. There is nothing wrong with Simonyi's actions (compare with Fred Kavli), but Nbeale wants to paint it as if there is, in order to try and cast some negative light on Dawkins. I think this page might need some mediation... know anyone who wants the headaches? Edhubbard 18:44, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Ed, Spark, fellow-eds. WRT COI see here. I don't think there is anything wrong per se. with paying a university to make someone you admire a Professor. But people might consider the fact that Simonyi gave Oxford a multi-million-dollar gift specifically to make Dawkins a Professor relevant to their assessment of his academic standing. The fact that he is Professor at Oxford is often mentioned, the facts behind this are poorly understood. And we're here surely to make relevant facts available to readers(?) NBeale 21:00, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
So are you saying Oxford University did it for the money? --Michael Johnson 00:01, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
No, no, no... let's *not* get that misperception started. HE WAS ALREADY A PROFESSOR AT OXFORD when Simonyi donated the money for him to become the Simonyi professor. He earned his professorship in the standard way of obtaining his PhD, getting papers published in peer-reviewed journals, and then getting hired. The exact quote from the article you linked is "By 1994, Dawkins was distinctly overextended, his public career as elucidator of Darwinism putting pressure on his day job teaching biology at Oxford. If someone could be found to endow a professorship specifically devoted to promoting public scientific understanding, it would free up Dawkin's Zoology position for a full-time scholar and teacher." Re-read the source you provided. It clearly states that he was becoming overwhelmed with the combination of his duties as a professor and populizer of science, and it was *at that point* that Simonyi endowed the chair. Don't even try it. Edhubbard 21:09, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Ok, correction, details, and discussion on the above... He was a reader at Oxford, which is roughly equivalent to what would be called a "Professor" in the U.S. He is now a "Professor" at Oxford, which would normally be referred to as an "Distinguished Professor", or, since the money came from a particular person, an "Endowed Chair" in the States, which normally include the name of the person endowing the chair, as it does here. As the reader entry states: "In the academic hierarchy in the United Kingdom and some universities in Australia and New Zealand, Reader is the rank between senior lecturer (or principal lecturer in the New Universities) and professor. The title of Reader is given in recognition of research and scholarship" (emphasis added). See also Academic rank. In the States, at least, this level of detail would be far too complicated, and people who are faculty are referred to as "professors" even if they are "assistant" "association" or "visiting" professors. By the vocabuluary that I know best, he was already a professor before Simonyi gave him the money, and he is now an endowed chair. Edhubbard 21:26, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
How about we remove the second half of sentence 2 of para. 2 of the Career section ("before becoming the University's first Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science in 1995"), and replace it with something like the following? "Hearing Dawkins was overextended by the dual demands of his popular science work and his university appointment, in 1995 Charles Simonyi endowed the University's first Professorship of the Public Understanding of Science with Dawkins its first holder.[34]" TimRR 21:40, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
How about we remember that this is an encyclopedia article about a noted public figure, not an exercise in dredging up every insignificant fact about him in order to list them and (though I would not for a moment suggest that this is actually NBeale's motive) thereby make the article unreadable. OK, my first response to this latest NBeale suggestion was a little intemperate, and I apologise for that, and I suppose the story is not itself malicious, but (my POV) an attempt to insert it in this way is a malicious insertion. But the main point (I'll repeat it) is that we are dealing with an encyclopedia article, not a catalogue of indigestible trivia. Snalwibma 00:47, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree that it's really rather unimportant and doesn't matter enough with regard to Richard Dawkins to merit inclusion. However, if NBeale would like to make a Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science article, it would be pertinent there. After all, in a few decades, someone other than Dawkins will hold that chair, and then people might come to Wikipedia wondering why and how the position was created. NBeale will just be ahead of his time. =) — coelacan talk — 01:09, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
I think it is a pretty weighty matter in someone's career to have a professorship especially created for them to be its first holder. Also it is interesting that one notable figure (Simonyi) took such interest in the employment of another (Dawkins). TimRR 01:48, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
This thread seems to have gone quiet with questions still outstanding. I would like to make the change I suggested in my 21:40, 19 Nov. post above. Do any objections remain that have not been sufficiently addressed? TimRR 05:32, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
You can't make that change right now anyway because the page is locked. I still say it isn't important enough to go into this article, but if the information belongs somewhere on Wikipedia, you should go make Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science and then when the page is unlocked we'll see how it can be linked in, perhaps with some mention of your info, that will then be expanded upon in your chair article. — coelacan talk — 06:47, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Coelacan. In the context of the Dawkins article the proposed addition is trivial fluff which would serve merely to detract from the readability of the article. I agree also that an article on the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science would be an excellent idea. Snalwibma 09:44, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Here's a more slim-line suggestion that will not break the flow of the article or make it hard to read. We remove the second half of sentence 2 of para. 2 of the Career section ("before becoming the University's first Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science in 1995"), and replace it with: "In 1995 he became Oxford's Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, a position endowed by Charles Simonyi with an expressed purpose that Dawkins be its first holder.[35]"
I am mystified by the claim that the creation of a chair with the intent that Dawkins be its first occupant, is not sufficiently important to be included in the Career section of his article. Would those making that claim explain, or would anyone else care to comment? (I will be busy for much of the next few days, and probably unable to follow this up for a while - maybe others will have sorted it out in the meantime.) TimRR 21:33, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
I actually like this suggestion. It is an interesting point and deserves mention,and this summarises it without undue emphasis. The above form of words is quite NPOV, unlike the original quotation, which was of course quite out of context. I would just change the final words to read "be the first to hold it". --Michael Johnson 00:15, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree! Snalwibma 16:51, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
New professorships are created all the time, so what's the big deal? Entheta 17:56, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Simonyi Chair

It's worth looking at the website [36] - there is nothing controversial about this. The Simonyi Professorship is a Chair for the Public Understanding of Science. The Prof "is not expected to undertake substantial teaching and administrative duties within Oxford University: any such efforts should be directed primarily towards the education of non-specialists" "Simonyi Professorship was set up with the express intention that its first holder should be Richard Dawkins."[37]. So I suggest, following TimRR, that we say "In 1995 he became Oxford's Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, a position endowed by Charles Simonyi with an express intention that Dawkins be its first holder." NBeale 22:16, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

I think that works fine, given you note it with that reference: http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/aims/index.shtml. *Spark* 22:26, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Rueful Remark. Putting the ref in again as per requested style, I see that the aims section says "it is imperative for the post holder to avoid oversimplifying ideas, and presenting exaggerated claims. The limits of current scientific knowledge should always be made clear to the public." Perhaps we should put this in as well? NBeale 04:08, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Why not include the whole of the primary goal i.e. add the bit you missed, "...Once done so, however, there is also a role for presenting speculative ideas, which can convey to non-scientists some of the excitement of doing true science." I would probably be treading on WP:AGF by searching for some logical reason for you to ignore the more exciting 2nd 1/2 of the primary goals. Given the whole of the goal I do not see how it can be called "rueful" - it is pragmatism with spin. Ttiotsw 04:46, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
"Rueful Remark"? Care to expand? *Spark* 13:28, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Dawkins, origin of life, and criticism needed

I recently included criticism of Dawkins which included criticism of Dawkins' ideas regarding the origin of life and I believe it was censored for spurious reasons. I believe there are excellent criticisms of Dawkins's ideas regarding the origin of life. [38][39][40] I would point out that even the staunch atheist Anthony Flew became a theist due to the origin of life issue. I would also point out that Nobel prize winner, Sir Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA and staunch atheist said, “The origin of life appears almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going …. Every time I write a paper on the origin of life, I swear I will never write another one, because there is too much speculation running after too few facts.” Also, Walter Bradley said, “There isn’t any doubt that science, for the moment at least, is at a dead end. The optimism of the 1950’s is gone. The mood at the 1999 international conference on the origin of life was described as grim—full of frustration, pessimism, and desperation.” [41] Professor Klaus Dose, the president of the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Johannes Gutenberg, states: "More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance." [42] Given the lack of empirical support for life arising by purely natural methods, I think a criticism of Dawkin's ideas on this subject is warranted. ken 03:22, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

(edit conflict) Exactly why is criticism needed? Why do you insist on being censored, while this is clearly not the case? Where is the bias in the article? Please, make a list of biased paragraphs, because so far I've only seen statements that the article simply is biased and non neutral, without giving any further comment. The lack of a criticism section doesn't mean an article is non neutral. Criticism sections are generally found in articles which are not biographies. Criticisms regarding the origin of life should for example be included in the relevant articles on evolution, creationism, etc. menscht
Mensch, I believe I showed that Dawkins ideas regarding the origin of life issue are controversial and lacking in empirical support. Thus, a criticism section is warranted. ken 03:38, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Claims by apologetic websites like AiG simply aren't reliable sources and frankly are hard to take as serious criticism. The Flue claim is also a standard creationist canard and is next to irrelevant anyways- Flue has no background in abiogenesis. The remainder seeems to be more quote mining than anything else. And as already pointed out above none of this is a criticism of Dawkins but of general abiogenesis issues and so it isn't even reasonable to put on this page. JoshuaZ 03:29, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Please support your assertion of quote mining. Show me the quotes were ripped out of context. Expert opinion has its place whether you want to admit it or not. Your complaint regarding AIG is what logicians would call a genetic fallacy. [43] Please show why the AIG material was errant regarding the origin of life. ken 03:36, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
I think it's better you came up with an overview of why the article is biased and why you're additions are needed, because you have given no real reasons so far. Why is a criticism section necessary, where is the bias in the article? After we've established that, maybe we could proceed more constructively. menscht 03:41, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Mensch, ignoring the import of my material and asking for more information is not going to taken seriously by me. ken 03:52, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

I would also add this information buttressing that Dawkins's ideas regarding the origin of life are open to criticism: "Harold Urey, who organized the Miller experiment with his student Stanley Miller, made the following confession on this subject: All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We all believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine that it did." [44] ken 04:04, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

Its unfortunate that you don't want to present any more information because we aren't going to get very far without more information. As to your earlier comment, this isn't the the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy would be if I said "AIG says that Dawkins is wrong, therefore Dawkins is correct" what I said was essentially "AIG says Dawkins is wrong. This is close to irrelevant as to whether Dawkins is wrong." As to your quotemines, I will address the Klaus Dose quote mine because it is part for the course. We don't have the original quote because you only attributed it to a secondary webpage (which incidentally isn't a reliable source, so we don't even know if he actually said it) and the source is 18 years out of date anyways. Now please stop quotemining from unreliable sources and try to actually present something useful. JoshuaZ 04:06, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, you have yet to demonstrate the quotes were ripped out of context. Please support your assertion. In addition, I will cite the following quote to demonstrate that Dawkin's ideas regarding the origin of life is open to criticism: "Although a biologist, I must confess that I do not understand how life came about. Of course, it depends on the definition of life. To me, autoreplication of a macromolecule does not yet represent life. Even a viral particle is not a life organism, it only can participate in life processes when it succeeds in becoming part of a living host cell. Therefore, I consider that life only starts at the level of a functional cell. The most primitive cells may require at least several hundred different specific biological macromolecules. How such already quite complex structures may have come together, remains a mystery to me. The possibility of the existence of a Creator, of God, represents to me a satisfactory solution to this problem." - Werner Arber (Professor of Microbiology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, shared Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1978 ), "The Existence of a Creator Represents a Satisfactory Solution," in Margenau H. & Varghese R.A., eds., "Cosmos, Bios, Theos: Scientists Reflect on Science, God, and the Origins of the Universe Life, and Homo Sapiens," [1992], Open Court: La Salle IL., 1993, Second Printing, pp.142-143 [45] ken 04:18, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Kd, its painfully apparent that you haven't read any of these sources and are just getting them second hand. I don't need to show they were "ripped out of context" when you can actually say you've read any of them in the original papers and haven't drawn them from unreliable sources then I'll go look them up. In the meantime this is irrelevant. Science doesn't work off of proof-texts. JoshuaZ 04:23, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, I suggest you refrain from making assertions that quotes are ripped out of context. It is abundantly clear that you are unwilling to support your assertion. By the way, thank you for refraining to send anymore harrassing mails to me. ken 04:37, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
I haven't asserted they were "ripped out of context" you used that phrase. Until someone has looked at the original sources and not some apologetic website we don't know what the context was. I wouldn't be surprised if they were "ripped out of context" or they might somewhat out of context or they might be even within context. We don't know and we don't have a reliable source to tell us one way or another. Regardless of context, you never addressed the issue I did bring up- the woeful out of dateness of most of your quotes. Science literature isn't a religious text where you can take a quote from a paper from nearly 20 years ago and expect it to be immediately relevant, especially any claims that are overarching like the above which are all about the state of the literature. As to your last comment- that seems like either an attempt at a personal attack and/or well poisining. Since the only "harrassing mails" I sent to your was a note on your talk page regarding 3RR when you were at 3 reverts, the term seems at best inaccurate. JoshuaZ 04:47, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, I don't want any emails from you warning me about being within the rules when I am well within the Wikipedia rules. I see that as harrassment. Secondly, care to comment on the Bradley and Werner Arber quotes which were very recent quotes or is that too much to ask from a man who revels in unsupported assertions and engages in harrassment. ken 04:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Dude, WTF? I've never emailed you and I'll I did was give a standard warning which is a standard thing to do when someone is at 3 reverts. For some idea what harrasement is you might want to read WP:HAR. As to the other quotes, you have once again ignored the matter of there coming from non-reliable second hand sources. The Arber quote is from a book published in 1992 which from the look of it is a collection of essays and such so it might be even older. Hardly "very recent" (Arber also was a microbiologist, abiogenesis isn't his area of expertise (this is a more minor issue especially since it isn't Dawkins's area either). As for Bradley, the quote shows up in what appears to be an apologetic article and he by training is a mechanical engineer so he has no qualification to talk about this topic at all. Since we've now dismantled all your nice little quote mines please either stop or provide us something substantial. The random personal attacks above don't help either. JoshuaZ 05:06, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Please show me from Wikipedia that it is "standard practice" to warn someone at 3 reverts not to revert the page again. Again, when I am well within Wikipedia rules I wish no warnings. I see that harrassment. Don't do it again and claim it is a standard practice. ken 05:11, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
By the way, Bradley said "The mood at the 1999 international conference on the origin of life was described as grim—full of frustration, pessimism, and desperation." You don't need a great deal of qualifications to report that the mood was described as grim - full of frustration. pessimism, and desperation. ken 05:19, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
You might want to just listen to an admin when they say something is standard practice rather than claim that an attempt to make you not get blocked again somehow constitutes harrasment. (Not everything is a fight, you don't need to question every little thing I say even if we disagree about what should be included in various articles). In any event, it is such standard practice but we have not one, but two templates on the topic Template:3RR and Template:3RR4. Now as to the Bradley matter, I have no idea how an mechanical engineer would be qualified to comment on what the mood was at a conference he didn't attend and for that matter if he did attend why he attended aside from being able to say something like this. Furthermore, this fellow wasn't even around 1950s so how he can say how the moods have changed. Oh and I just noticed something, Bradley is a fellow of guess what organization? The Discovery Institute! [46]. Yeah he's a real reliable source on what the current state of abiogenesis research is like. JoshuaZ 05:29, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
You are bluffing. Again, show me from Wikipedia that it is a standard practice to warn someone not to revert a page again after they have reverted it three times. Can you show me from Wikipedia that it is standard practice? Yes? No? Again, I was well within Wikipedia rules. I wish no warnings when I am well within Wikipedia rules. I see it as harrassment. ken 05:39, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
I presume by your lack of comment that you consider the quotemines shot-down more or less. As for warnings and an accusation of "bluffing" do you think warnings would be in template space and get to be on the standard grid of warnings here and linked to over a 100 non-substituted locations [47] if they weren't standard use? Since this is far off-topic I suggest that any continued discussion occur on my user talk page rather than here. JoshuaZ 05:51, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, show me a recent quote showing that there is great empirical support for the first life arising naturally. I don't believe you will be able to do that. ken 05:46, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Um, why should I do that? What would that accomplish? Again, science doesn't work off of proof-texts and I'm not making any claims here about abiogenesis (heck I'd be one of the first people to agree that at this point humanity doesn't know much about the topic.) Whether I can produce a quote backing up Dawkins' postions is simply irrelevant. The matter at hand is whether your poorly sourced criticism should be included. I think the above discussion more than demonstrates that the answer is "no" JoshuaZ 05:51, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I see you cannot produce a respectable quote showing that there is great empirical support for life first arising naturally. I am not surprised. ken 05:57, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Again. Relevancy? Why don't you read what I wrote above. JoshuaZ 06:00, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Methinks the gentleman protests too much about my quotes - especially since he cannot produce a single recent quote showing there exist a great deal of support for the proposition that life first arose naturally. ken 06:04, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

I'm moving the talk page indent back a bit for ease of reading. I'll again ask? Why I should I? As I said above "I'd be one of the first people to agree that at this point humanity doesn't know much about the topic." Heck, I can think of at least two quotes which would back up the position that we don't know much about abiogenesis. So why you are demanding quotes from me that have to do with it is very hard to understand. JoshuaZ 06:14, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

My 1988 quote of Klause Dose shows the origin of life from a naturalistic point of view is an "immense problem". Why is it a "immense problem"? Because the evidence points against life first arising naturally! Dawkins is wide open to criticism on this issue and it is right and proper to include criticism from those who do not believe that first life arose naturally. ken 06:42, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Um, is this just an attempt to repeat yourself? I already explained why that quote isn't good. JoshuaZ 06:44, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't believe you gave a compelling reason why the quote shouldn't be given any weight. kenkdbuffalo
Um, because its quoted in a second-hand source of apologetics so we have no idea what the original context is and its 18 years out of date? This doesn't seem terribly complicated. JoshuaZ 06:55, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, you haven't given a single respectable quote showing the origin of life is not a immense problem for materialists. By the way, is the DNA code wrongly called a code and do codes imply intelligence? ken 07:07, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Again, why should I? See my comments above. We don't know much about abiogenesis at the time. It is a fascinative and very open issue. As to your second problem see WP:OR but no the presence of a code doesn't imply intelligence and in any event you are now moving far away from Dawkins to general apologetic design arguments. Please either stay on topic or discuss it elsewhere. JoshuaZ 07:22, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
ken, if you're "interested" in any meaningful sense of the word, you should be interested in the Talk.Origins FAQs on abiogenesis. — coelacan talk — 06:45, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Coelacan, I am not impressed with the materialists arguments regarding the origin of life. I also believe given the lack of support for materialistic explanation for the origin of life that criticism from notable creationist scientist is warranted.ken 06:58, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
I don't really care if you're "impressed" or not. The fact is that they are answering your objections, so your claim that your objections are unanswered is simply false. You are now ignoring the facts right before your eyes. I just gave you references and you repeated your "lack of support" canard. You are admitting that you are blind to the possibility of materialistic support, and you've once again tipped your hand. As such, it is clear now that your only interest here is to inject your own POV into this article. Good luck. I think you just shot down your last hopes of that. — coelacan talk — 08:01, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I've read this thread and been appauled as ken's accusations of harrasment by JoshuaZ. This ia apolgetics of the nastiest kind: put forward a weak irrelevant argument - fail to answer the questions - then personally attack whoever disagrees with the "truth". I would suggest logging this on wp:an/i and refusing to resopnd further. Ken is engaging in disruption not dialogue. Sophia 07:02, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Sophia, I don't think wp:an/i is the correct route. (Maybe I'm totally wrong though and missing your point?) I think we are at the point of WP:DR#Further_dispute_resolution now. — coelacan talk — 08:20, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Sophia, there is one thing you haven't done and that is too show that Dawkins's view on the origin of life is not open to criticism from notable creationist sources. By the way, perhaps you could do something Joshua failed to do and that was too show one single solitary quote from a respectable source showing the origin of life issue is not a problem for materialists. ken 07:10, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Since you have the "truth" anything we say will be irrelevent to you. Come back tomorrow when you have calmed down - your points are being ignored because they are off track and disrespectful to your fellow editors. This is disruption not dialogue - a waste of everyone's time and efforts. Sophia 07:17, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Sophia, disruptive to you is anyone who wants criticism of Dawkins's ideas regarding the origin of life. Secondly, you have not shown that I am not calm so please do not ask me to calm down. ken 07:49, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

That presumes there is such a thing as a notable creationist source. That you have one theory and Dawkings another is neither here or there. Just write a few books, get yourself appointed to a chair and you will get equal space with Dawkins. --Michael Johnson 07:15, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Kd, I like how the claim changed from just scientists who took issue to creationists. It might occur to you that bringing up creationist attitudes about abiogenesis would be, oh I dunno, undue weight among a hundred other issues. (Also, I've noticed that you made a dichotomy between "materialists" and "creationists" this is uncalled for and unhelpful). JoshuaZ 07:22, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, there are only two positions that are widely talked about regarding the origin of first life. That is supernatural and natural. What is the third position? Little green men? That only delays the question since it would be appropriate to ask how did the little green men came about. ken 08:10, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
How interesting. You mean you've never heard of Panspermia for example? You also are missing another major point- one could hold that abiogenesis occured without supernatural intervention and still not be a "materialist" The dichotomy is a false one. JoshuaZ 08:14, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Interesting also that he brings up the idea that adding an irrelevant step just delays the question - god made the universe/made man etc etc etc - so where did god come from? I'm not actually asking for an answer to this as it's off topic (but if you want to post on my talk page that would be ok). As JoshuaZ has been saying - there is debate on the origins of life, the mistake you make is to then slot in the "God of Gaps". Unlike religion science does not have all the answers hardbound and available from your local bookstore. Scientific questioning is not the same as having doubts about your religion. Science is fundamentally a "question/answer/no that's not quite right/how about this then" process. That is why we talk across each other all the time. You are looking for quotes from us to show unswerving faith in our "beliefs" to match yours. Chalk and cheese I'm afraid which is why this thread is going nowhere and - whether you recocnize it or not - your posts ken have an intensity that do not suggest calm. Sophia 08:29, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
God is said to be eternal most of those supporting creationism (Bible states God is eternal for example). Anyways, I can see that the rabid Dawkins fans will not allow his ideas on the origin of life be criticized. Censorship seems to be very dominant when it comes to Dawkins. ken 08:35, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Nice Ken, you answered exactly one thing- the part that Sophia asked you not to answer here. Did you read the rest of what she had to say? It was a good point and it would help for you to understand it. Also, your claims of "censorship" undermine you r earlier statement that you are calm. Claims of censorship are both unhelpful and uncivil. Now, at this point I don't see you making any substantial comments about the article so I think I at least am done with this conversation. If you want to discuss any of the off-topic issues you are welcome to use my talk page. JoshuaZ 08:39, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
I can calmly state that censorship is going on in the Dawkins article. It is largely pro-Dawkins article with his creationist critics being censored. And you have yet to show a single quote stating there is sound evidence for believing that life first appeared naturally and that the origin of life poses no problems to those who espouse that life first arose by purely natural methods. ken 08:48, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
That's a pretty little lie, isn't it? I already gave you the Talk.Origins FAQs that show exactly that. You said you didn't like them. But you were given them. You're just playing games now, ken, and running around in these circles is getting old. Since you've deliberately ignored evidence presented to you, I see no reason to keep pretending that you're even trying to be honest. Good night. — coelacan talk — 08:58, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Coelacan, no pretty little lie given. Where is the quote from a respectable scientists showing there is great empirical evidence for the first life arising naturally? You didn't provide a single one. ken 13:02, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
WP:NOT#SOAP. Knock off this nonsense. *Spark* 13:17, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Second that. KD, you keep demanding some kind of quote which is "proof" of abiogenesis. This page is for discussion about the article, not about some kind of quasi-debate. Drop the subject, you've wasted enough time and talk page space. KillerChihuahua?!? 08:19, 20 November 2006 (UTC)


On another note, one can hold to theistic evolution with materialist abiogenesis. I wouldn't, but one can. — coelacan talk — 08:17, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Biologists & Philosopers who argue against his reductionism

Spark wants to delete this, suggesting that the refs don't support the assertion and that Midgley has apologised to Dawkins in the past. I've expanded the refs a bit but truly, anyone who has read them can see that they are arguing against Dawkins reductionism. NBeale 06:46, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

My problem, NBeale, is that it seems quite clear that it is YOU who wants to "argue against Dawkins' reductionism". But apart from anything else, ask yourself the simple question - what are we all trying to achieve here? The object of all this discussion should be to achieve an informative and balanced wikipedia article about Richard Dawkins. Something that a newcomer to the subject can read reasonably quickly and understand, and which leaves him or her with a good impression of what Dawkins is "all about". Your energetic point-scoring crusade, in which you clearly spend hours dredging up as many critical comments as possible and trying to get them listed in the article, is not only a breach of WP:NPOV, WP:BLP etc, but it also damages the readability and comprehensibility of what (before you started on it a couple of weeks ago) was a good article. May I recommend a good blog as an appropriate place to record all your discoveries? Try somewhere like this, where bigoted Dawkins-bashing seems to be welcome. Snalwibma 08:33, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
ROTFL. Nice one Snalwibma. But seriously, I'm having trouble continuing to assume good faith on the part of NBeale. His sort of editing weakens the WP, and distracts other editors from contributing elsewhere (my POV, of course). --Plumbago 09:53, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Did Dawkins and Smith win the Oxford evolution/creation public debate?

The article currently states: "Dawkins did, however, take part in the Oxford Union's 1986 Huxley Memorial Debate, in which he and John Maynard Smith defeated their creationist counterparts.[33]"

Was there qualified debate judges present who ruled that Dawkins and Smith won the debate or is the Wikipedia merely relying on one source? I know that the Wall Street Journal reported that even a evolutionistary scientists stated that the "creationists tend to win" the creation/evolution debates in the United States. [48] [49] ken 09:06, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo

Yawn... Go and check your facts. And remember that Oxford is not in the USA. Snalwibma 09:15, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Ken, it would help if you read the sources that are footnoted. Quoting from that source "After due consideration, it came down cautiously on Huxley's side: on 14 February 1986, the motion "That the doctrine of creation is more valid than the theory of evolution" was defeated by 198 votes to l 5." note that this as discussed early is a transcription error of the webbased version and should be 198 to 115 (or at least that is strongly suspected see earlier archived talk somewhere- this is why the exact number is not included). It would also help if you used the preview button more rather than take 3 or 4 edits for each statement. JoshuaZ 09:16, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Joshua, that was Huxley's result in a earlier debate. It tells us nothing of Dawkins's and Smith's result. ken 09:18, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Yawn... Go and check your facts. Snalwibma 09:20, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Excuse me? Do you read at all? The debate was the Huxley memorial debate. Read the article. The use of Huxley here refers to what Huxley had argued a hundred year prior (historical context and actually reading sources might be helpful. Really). JoshuaZ 09:22, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
My mistake regarding the Oxford debate. Imagine the result if the debate had occured in the United States where even a evolutionary scientist admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter that the "creationists tend to win" the creation/evolution debates. No wonder that Gould advised Dawkins not to publically debate creationists. ken 09:38, 19 November 2006 (UTC)kdbuffalo
Oh my, yes! Imagine the result! Those stupid evolutionists wouldn't have a chance in a truly civilized nation like the U S of A. — coelacan talk — 19:03, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

I will note that science is not really settled by "debates" as exciting as they are for the public. This is not how real science is done and never has been. And how does anyone decide on a "winner"? It is not up to the "public" or journalists, who by and large are completely clueless and cannot even understand what is being said.--ReasonIsBest 06:44, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Nbeales' criticism by biologists para

Nbeale has added versions of the the following paragraph several times:

By contrast biologists such as Dennis Noble(1), Patrick Bateson(2) and Simon Conway Morris(3) and philosophers like Mary Midgley(4) argue against his reductionism.

Manual refs:

  1. . See esp. his book The Music of Life, discussed in his article. This is a sustained a deep critique of genetic reductionism, if looking for single quotes try eg "the basic framework of genetic reductionism. There is something deeply wrong here" (p45)
  2. . See his A Nest's Tale: Affectionate Disagreements with Richard Dawkins in Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way we Think
  3. . e.g., "I disagree with the world picture of Richard Dawkins, with its questionable genetic reductionism and etiolated secular pieties" Life's Solution p. 302
  4. . e.g., Midgley describes Dawkins' passage in The Selfish Gene "The argument of this book is that we ... are machines created by our genes" as an "undisciplined imaginative vision" and "reductive megalomania" in her 2004 book The Myths We Live By p. 31 - see also her critical review in the New Scientist of The God Delusion

It has been reverted several times, with comments explaining that it fails verifiability, etc, etc. I am going to spend a little time detailing some of the problems, point by point, in the hopes that we can work on addressing Nbeale's concerns in such a way that they may eventually conform to wikipedia WP:V and WP:BLP. Let's start with the first quote, given to support inclusion of Denis Noble. I have three problems with it.

  1. Whenever I see half a sentence, or less, as part of a quote, I wonder what is missing. If the beginning of the sentence had been for example, "The majority of Americans do not understand..." and then the rest of the quote had been just as Nbeale had copied it, the reader would come away with a radically different interpretation of that passage than the one he is suggesting. I don't know the book, so I can't say, but this is the danger of out-of-context quotes.
  2. Second, the quote itself is not very informative as the substance of Noble's purported criticism. It simply says "there is something deeply wrong here". What is the content of Noble's argument? Why does he think there is something deeply wrong? A single clear sentence explaining the most important point of this "sustained a [sic] deep attack" would be very useful.
  3. Even if the quote is valid, and supports the point that NBeale wants to make about evolution and genetic reductionism, this criticism isn't specifically pointed at Dawkins. To include it as evidence of criticism of Dawkins, the authors would need to say something specific about Dawkins. More general critisism of evolution do not belong on Dawkins' bio page.

Regarding the Bateson quote, I find it hard to think that it would support your point, given that it is sub-titled "Affectionate Disagreements with Richard Dawkins". This sounds like someone who has something specific that he disagrees on, as, for example, Daniel Dennett and Paul Churchland disagree on some things, but agree on the vast majority of them, and the disagreements are what are highlighted.

The Morris quote seems to be the best as a criticism of Dawkins' ideas more generally, and clearly referenced to him. Even so, it is not clear to me how much this is a specific comment on Dawkins and how much Dawkins is being used metonymically for evolutionary theorists in general. Perhaps a little more precision would be good here.

It could be argued that the Midgley quote belongs on the The Selfish Gene page, but I think that this is minor.

The biggest problem with this family of quotes, however, is that they do not seem to be univocal. That is, they seem to be criticising different aspects of Dawkins' work and thought, and yet they have been lumped together to all support a very simple, not very informative conclusion that these people "argue against his reductionism." A more informative section attempt to lump fewer people into a single sentence, and actually detail the substance of the criticism, if 1) it is directly addressed to Dawkins and 2) can be supported by the quotes. I am hoping that a clear expression of my reservations will lead to some sort of constructive edting here, as opposed to just needless rounds of revert-edit-revert. Edhubbard 09:44, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, Ed, that referenced sentence looks like a classic breach of WP:NOR, stringing quotes together to synthesise an argument not presented by a reliable source which is clearly disproportionate in terms of WP:NPOV. And just in case our paranoid religious friends think this is "censorship", criticism on the Jonathan Sarfati self promotion article was held to the same high standards of WP:LIVING as are required here. .. dave souza, talk 10:12, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Ed. Thanks for your characteristically detailed and specific comments.
  1. Noble's whole book explains why the "Gene as a computer programme" metaphor is flawed. The section from which I am quoting is titled Is the genome a program? and the sentences I quote from and their predecessor read in their entirely "This is quite evidently a mistake. But it seems unavoidable once a person buys into the basic explanatory framework of genetic reductionism. There is something deeply wrong here." Another useful quote is (in a long section entitled Problems with genetic determinism) "My central argument will be that the book of life is life itself. It cannot be reduced to just one of its databases. For let's be clear that the genome is only one of the databases." (p10). In the introduction (p xii) he says "The central role of genes as causal agents was also greatly reinforced by popuylar perceptions of Dawkins' higly influential book The Selfish Gene (Dawkins 1976). The theme of my book is that there is no such program and that there is no privelged level of causality in biological systems"
  2. Bateson's disagreements are about the level of selection. He suggests that you might just as well say "the purpose of nests is to propagate nests" as "the purpose of genes is to propagate genes." Although I don't have the book to hand, it's pretty clear from the title that he has Disagreements with Dawkins!
  3. Conway Morris is arguably the UK's leading evolutionary scientist, Prof. of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge and he has no problems with evolutionists in general. However he really is very anti-Dawkins, altghough being a real scientist his published language is quite measured. The most useful quote from The Crucible of Creation is probably this "Perhaps a suitable analogy to explain the short-falls of Dawkins's account of evolution is to think of an oil painting. In this analogy, Dawkins has explained the nature and range of pigments; how the extraordinary azure colour was obtained, what effect cobalt has and so on. But the description is quite unable to account for the painting itself." (p9)

I hope you'll therefore agree that these refs are in context. I'll expand them accordingly, and I'm happy to say "disagree with his genetic reductionism." I note however that supporters of Dawkins don't seem to require references :-) NBeale 19:54, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Clarification: What I mean is that when people are listed as supporters of Dawkins in the article detailed references to substantiate this are not required (eg Pinker) NBeale 21:42, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Sourcing is important for all references, but for those who aren't supporters of the subject of a BLP, strict sourcing is a must. Read WP:BLP. *Spark* 21:50, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
You still haven't addressed the concerns. Read the above section. Note WP:OR. Your new text is barely different from what's at the top of this section. Put your changes here first, as detailed at the top of this talk page, before adding them into the article. Thanks. *Spark* 21:27, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Spark. I have specifically addressed each of the concerns he raised. He was essentially wanting to be sure that the references really supported the assertions. If you can make some constructive contributions they would be very welcome. NBeale 21:42, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Read souza's comment above. Understand it. Let Ed reply to your reply before proceeding. It should be fairly simple. Read WP:BLP. *Spark* 21:48, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Nbeale, Spark's right. You did not give me a chance to reply, and no, my point was not merely that I wanted to verify your quotes. Rather, my feeling, which in fact has been reinforced by additional details, is that each of these people are making different points. Some of them are debating specific scientific details with Dawkins, which is what scientists do. Others are more concerned with broad swipes against Dawkins' "entire world view" and still others, seem not so much to have a problem with Dawkins per se but with the hypothesis of the Selfish Gene itself. By lumping them all together into one two word summary, you not only say something potentially contrary to WP:BLP about Dawkins, but (perhaps even more importantly) about the people that you are citing. In this case, I really believe less might be more. Try *not* to squeeze all three into the same mold. Leave out, for example, Midgley, as she is already cited below in the article, as having some disagreement with Dawkins on specific issues. Most importantly, *BE SPECIFIC*. Let me give you a hand, even...
Try something like this:
Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge,likens Dawkins' account of evolution to an oil painting and argues that in his reductionism, "Dawkins has explained the nature and range of pigments; how the extraordinary azure colour was obtained, what effect cobalt has and so on. But the description is quite unable to account for the painting itself." (p. 9)
One thing that I would very much like added to the sentence that I've proposed here, is what, *specifically* does Morris feel Dawkins' account leaves out? The analogy is pretty, but, what, exactly is missing?
This is now NPOV, verifiable, precise, and certainly not OR, since you are now no longer combining multiple sources to make broad swipes at Dawkins... If you don't like this one, try one of the other people you like, and see if you can use the same style. Be NPOV, keep it verifiable, be precise, and then your additions might get worked on, instead of reverted. Or, better yet, try a couple of proposals here, and then see if other people would be willing to help. Edhubbard 22:07, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Be careful about using the word reductionism to describe Dawkins' ideas, as the term is often considered pejorative. Dawkins discusses the word in The Blind Watchmaker:

If you read trendy intellectual magazines, you may have noticed that 'reductionism' is one of those things, like sin, that is only mentioned by people who are against it. To call oneself a reductionist will sound, in some circles, a bit like admitting to eating babies. But, just as nobody actually eats babies, so nobody is really a reductionist in any sense worth being against.

It's probably best to just avoid the term outright unless using quotes from specific critics, lest the article need divert its attention to the messy philosophical issue of reductionism. -- Schaefer (talk) 22:50, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Good point. I myself am a proud reductionist, having been sold on the idea that there was nothing dirty about the word back when I first got interested in neuroscience and psychology, but you're absolutely right that it does carry a negative conotation for many in certain circles which would definitely lead us far afield. Please note, too, that this was a sort of pegagogical example for Nbeale's sake, to attempt to give him some flavor of what might be considered acceptable versions of criticism. He may decide that he doesn't like this example at all and want to work on another... Nbeale, if you do decide to try and work on this sentence, try to come up with a less loaded term than "reductionist"... Edhubbard 23:02, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Do we have to be so politically correct? The fact is that Dawkins, Edhubbard, and (even) I are reductionists. What other words can we use to describe that position?--Roland Deschain 23:21, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Because reductionism is widely misunderstood, and because Dawkins is not a reductionist "in general" but rather in specifics, yes, we need to be careful. He refers specifically to "hierarchical reductionism" which must be separated from what Dennett calls "greedy reductionism", for instance. I'm happy with simply including {{main|reductionism}} and leaving it at that. There's no reason to make discussions of reductionism's pros and cons spill over from there into this article, which is NBeale's intention. — coelacan talk — 23:32, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Ed. Thanks once again. Could we say: Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge, disagrees with Dawkins world picture, "with its questionable genetic reductionism and etiolated secular pieties" though he considers "his explanations and enthusiasm for the reality of adaption is of great value". [22] He suggests that Dawkins' account of evolution is like a description of an oil painting which, "has explained the nature and range of pigments; how the extraordinary azure colour was obtained" but "is quite unable to account for the painting itself."[23] If you think that's all a bit long I'd of course be happy to cut it or put more in the footnotes. NBeale 18:35, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure yet whether a deal-breaker for me, it might not be, but you're still not actually saying anything with this. What, specifically, does Morris find questionable about "genetic reductionism"? What are these "etoliated secular pieties"? Ed asked you to show why the oil painting is a good analogy, or why Morris feels this is a good analogy, and you haven't done that. This analogy is poetic but as yet devoid of any specific content. — coelacan talk — 21:14, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Coelacan, you're right. Nbeale, the thing is to give the substance or the content of Morris' criticism. We can tell here that Morris is trying to say something, but what?! As you are the one who wants to add this text, the burden falls to you to actually provide the conent, the meat if you will, as opposed to the garnishing analogies and overblown language. Be precise doesn't necessarily mean slavishly quote word for word, especially if those words aren't the ones that carry the most content. Edhubbard 22:36, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Ceolacan, Ed. As I understand it, this is not the place to debate whether SCM's criticisms are valid. All we need to do is note the fact that this world-class evolutionist significantly disagrees with Dawkins in this area, and then allow the interested reader to explore further (Try reading either of his books, they are really interesting). I can't reduce a world-class scientist (FRS at 39) to a sentence or so. However if you are worried about the metaphor aspects then maybe the quote: "This view of evolution is incomplete and therefore fails in its side-stepping of how information (the genetic code) gives rise to the phenotype, and by what mechanisms. Organisms are more than the sum of their parts, and we may note in passing that the world depicted by Dawkins has lost all sense of transcendence" would be more acceptable NBeale 22:55, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Does he explicitly state "I disagree"? I see he "questions", but that's a long way from disagreement. How would your proposed text look at this point (with your above changes)? *Spark* 22:58, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, Nbeale, I think we *are* getting to some substance. The main point of the quote that you have here is that Morris argues that Dawkins is ignoring the question of how the genetic code gives rise to the phenotype. This is a precise complaint, which can be conveyed in an NPOV, verifiable manner. As a matter of historical perspective (and this is where the real challenge of working on an NPOV criticism comes in) this book came out (2003) after Dawkins' The Extended Phenotype (1999). Given this historical context, does Morris explicitly deal with this aspect of Dawkins' thinking, or is he attacking The Selfish Gene (1976)? This is still not ruling on the correctness, or lack thereof of Morris' criticism, but, given that ideas advance, that theories change, improve and are refined with time, what is the context of Morris' criticism? More generally it seems like the question of the proteome, and how genes lead to phenotypes, has become, with the completion of a first draft of the human genome, one of THE major scientific questions in genetics and developmental biology. That is, is Morris' criticism one that can uniquely be laid on Dawkins, or is it something of a general criticism of the state of the field circa 2003? Edhubbard 23:17, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Hi Ed,Spark. SCM has in fact become more critical of Dawkins over time, but this level of detail is I think beyond the article. The proteome is indeed an important aspect but it's a sub-problem of Systems Biology which I think is where the cutting edge is and will remain for a long time. The more people understand about this, the clearer it is that the metaphor of "gene as a computer programme", although a reasonable guess in the 70s, is fundamentally mistaken. Of course Dawkins isn't the only person who advances the viewpoints that SCM, Noble and Bateson criticise, but he is the most prominent and the only person the criticise by name about this. To address the text question, how about: Could we say: Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge, considers Dawkins explanations and enthusiasm for the reality of adaption to be of great value, but disagrees with Dawkins world picture, "with its questionable genetic reductionism and etiolated secular pieties"[24]. He suggests that Dawkins's "view of evolution is incomplete and therefore fails in its side-stepping of how information (the genetic code) gives rise to the phenotype, and by what mechanisms. Organisms are more than the sum of their parts, and we may note in passing that the world depicted by Dawkins has lost all sense of transcendence" [25] NBeale 13:45, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

This is still unhelpful and (again) caricatures Dawkins' views. Classifying Dawkins' views on genes as likening them to "a computer programme" is clearly facile (and ignores the complexity of computer programs). I'd like to see a source to back that up. Dawkins is well aware of the complexity of gene regulation and operation; his views on the importance of genes stems from the simple fact that, more or less, they are the primary information passed between generations. Further, what on Earth are "etiolated secular pieties"? I can guess, but this sort of statement is sophistry. And what's with this "side-stepping of how information (the genetic code) gives rise to the phenotype"? It sounds impressive, but affords no information in where exactly Dawkins' is going wrong. It seems to me that NBeale is still scrambling around, looking to find something he can stick on Dawkins that sounds slightly suspicious. --Plumbago 14:15, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Plumbago. My own views don't matter. Nor it this the place to debate the validity of SCM's criticisms. It is a verifiable fact that SCM says these things, and I can assure you (I've read the books in detail and many of his other writings) that these are not just obiter dicta but he really does fundamentally disagree with Dawkins's worldview. I hope I have consistently used words like "suggests" so that we take a NPOV on whether these criticisms are justified. Perhaps that is not quite clear enough in the way the quote is used, let's just fold it back into the reference. Do you have any disagreements with the following suggested text (and Ed, others, do you?), which is:
Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge, considers Dawkins explanations and enthusiasm for the reality of adaption to be of great value, but disagrees with Dawkins world picture[26], and suggests that "[his] view of evolution is incomplete and therefore fails in its side-stepping of how information (the genetic code) gives rise to the phenotype, and by what mechanisms. Organisms are more than the sum of their parts, and we may note in passing that the world depicted by Dawkins has lost all sense of transcendence." [27] NBeale 19:01, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm. I'm afraid that I still don't buy it. SCM's views, while they may be stated as a disagreement specifically with Dawkins, are much more general than that. As a prominent adapationist, Dawkins is clearly an obvious target to "pick on" (that he appears arrogant makes it more fun). But, as I read SCM, the views he's articulating would better suit an entry over at the relevant article. Further, saying that SCM "fundamentally disagrees" with Dawkins is over-egging it. They are both working and publishing scientists; their views, on the scale of things, really aren't that different (especially when one considers the fringe craziness that evolution attracts publicly). SCM may have other, more theologically-based reasons for attacking Dawkins, but on biology he and Dawkins are players in a larger "war" around adapatationism.
Regarding specific quotes, as I said before, I don't think the ones that you're supplying illuminate things. They sound clever, but the meat of the disagreement isn't there. What, for instance, does a "sense of transcendence" have to do with biology? This seems an entirely aesthetic judgment (and not one I would necessarily disagree with). Similarly the painting metaphor; all that seems to add is SCM's views on, well, "transcendence" I suppose. To this end, I don't believe that they merit entry here.
On the genotype/phenotype points, there is something there. But the quote is straight criticism without any clarification of SCM's views, or why they differ from those of Dawkins'. One cannot tell what SCM is suggesting from it, though one might be able to infer a criticism of genetic determinism in there. If this, then, again, this is part of a war that's much larger than either SCM or Dawkins. To me, adding this criticism here seems simply an attempt to muddy the waters around Dawkins. Yes, he is a lightning rod for this sort of thing, but criticising him for his (widely held) views on adapatationism and genetic determinism should be in context, and not just presented as a lynch mob of famous names. Cheers, --Plumbago 10:36, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Plumbago. We really can't debate or second guess SCM's views. He says he disagrees (doesn't say "fundamentally") with Dawkins, we quote his explanations. We could perhaps expand on his views in his article. It's not a question of muddying the waters, and if you think the para even suggests that SCM is anti-evolution and can see a way to make this clearer (though I think "Prof of Evolutionary Paleobiology" makes it as clear as possible) then please suggest an amendment. I think it might be harder to find leading scientists who fully agreed with Dawkins - quite interesting if you could cite one or two. NBeale 13:07, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
This is indeed not the place to debate the validity of SCM's views, but it is indeed the place to debate the relevance of those views. Pertinent questions include: is SCM an expert? In what? Is he criticising Dawkins, or theories which Dawkins developed or espouses? If Dawkins, is it professional or personal, and in what context? If views which Dawkins supports, are they scientific views, philosophy views, other? These are germane questions to ask. KillerChihuahua?!? 13:18, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi NBeale. I'm not really wishing to debate SCM's views as such. My assertion is that, to my mind, his criticism of Dawkins relates to a much larger battle in biology around adaptationism and genetic determinism (of which there are famous big beasts on both sides). As such, we don't even need to mention SCM by name (though it wouldn't hurt), just point out that Dawkins is on the adapatationist side of a battle within biology. The tail end of the section on Evolutionary Biology in the article already does this, though it could perhaps be extended (slightly). Regarding SCM and "transcendence" (which seems to be the other mode of his criticism), mentioning that in this article is much more questionable. This appears to be an aesthetic or faith-based argument that isn't obviously relevant to Wikipedia. That it's an argument made by a fellow scientist is interesting, but it's just another philosophical viewpoint (and appears no more notable than any other viewpoint). Finally, regarding "muddying the waters", my concern is that adding clever-sounding but content-empty (my POV; re: transcendence) criticism from notable people can impart a misleading "flavour" to the article. On the points of science you've raised, I think they relate to a larger tension in biology (and that dropping them at Dawkins' doorstep alone is inappropriate); on points of aesthetics, notability seems an issue. Anyway, I hope the above clarifies. (As an aside, this is all very entertaining; I never thought I'd ever find myself defending Dawkins!) Cheers, --Plumbago 13:42, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi KC, Plumbago. Yes Simon Conway Morris is an expert, in Evolutionary Biology. He praises and criticises Dawkins's views. As to whether they are scientific or philosophical views, this is interesting. There is no disagreement about scientific facts between Dawkins and any of his scientific critics, but it is Dawkins meta-scientific interpretations that are criticised (what I described below as meta-biology rather than meta-physics. Patrick Bateson says in his Affectionate Disagreements with Richard Dawkins: "The obvious attractions of providing simple, easily understood explanations has meant unfortunately that crucial distinctions have been fudged in the name of being strightforward and analysis has been focused on single factors in the name of clarity. Little progress is made in the end if the straightforwardness and clarity are illusions." (p 173). I'd be happy to drop the "and we may note ... transcendence" bit - it's just that Ed doesn't like partial quotes. Yes there are larger questions swirling around this, but in all the 3 cases they criticise Dawkins by name because he is an extreme version, and it the very extremism that they criticise. Nobody denies that the gene's eye view of evolution is useful to some extent. But nobody but Dawkins asserts/seems to assert that it's the only proper way of doing it. Let me try a revised text later on this evening, I have to go out now. Ed, what do you think? NBeale 18:25, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
Lest you miss the point again, NBeale, no one here is asking you to show that Morris's objections are valid. We're asking you to show what the objections are. All you've provided so far are statements to the effect of "Morris doesn't agree with Dawkins, and thinks his worldview really isn't very pretty." I asked you a while back, What, specifically, does Morris find questionable about "genetic reductionism"? You haven't included any substance that would answer this for the reader. You should read very carefully Plumbago's objections to your quotes. You're choosing style over substance, time and again, and this is not elucidating for the reader. And if what you want to add is not elucidating for the reader, then it's going to get reverted. You've given us Morris quotes that include few specifics but a lot of scare words, like "genetic reductionism", as though this is supposed to stand alone as an indictment. I know that in some circles, it's enough to say "Dawkins is a reductionist" and it's case closed, verdict is in. But not on Wikipedia. To throw that word in without further explanation as though it's supposed to be an indictment, in and of itself, is an underhanded kind of POV-pushing. It's fine to criticize Dawkins for reductionism or anything else, but unless you show what the criticisms actually are, then it doesn't belong here. And as to your requests for other "leading scientists" who fully agree with Dawkins on gene-centrism, E. O. Wilson and John Krebs come to mind. There's one or two. Happy? — coelacan talk — 19:42, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

[Reset indent] Hello again. As coelacan is so kind to point out, you're ignoring the crux of the matter. No-one is questioning SCM's expertise. No-one is disputing that he, and others, have criticised Dawkins. However, in summarising Dawkins for this article it's necessary that we be both as clear as possible, and that we distill the subject to its essentials. On the first point, the earlier quotations are certainly not clear (don't get me on "transcendence" again). That said, the quotes immediately above are fairly clear. However, as I've argued before, these latter sorts of criticisms are part of much larger discussions in biology on adaptationism and genetic determinism. As such, whether they need special treatment as "essentials" is less certain. Dawkins is certainly a vociferous and highly visible proponent of adaptationism, but these same criticisms could be made of any number of biologists (and, in the same way, the reverse criticisms go in the opposite direction back to SCM et al.). And, as I've also noted before, these criticisms already exist in the article in the evolutionary biology section. They could be expanded and SCM brought in, but to my mind there are already a number of big hitters listed there. Cheers, --Plumbago 22:23, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Hi Plumbago, Coelacan. KC was asking about SCM's expertise, but I think we all now agree that he has it. All I want to assert is that Conway Morris, Noble and Bateson have criticised Dawkins. I think it is reasonable that the references, in addition to substantiating this point, give quotes which are a reasonable indication of the kinds of criticisms they make, but we can't reduce major books to s single soundbite, and if we did it would certainly be OR! Whether or not they might (or even should) have formulated their criticisms, not at Dawkins, but at someone/thing else, is debateable but again, I submit, beside the point. It is not up to us to second-guess what they might/should have said. I don't disagree that E. O. Wilson and John Krebs are Leading Scientist Dawkins supporters (though I think we should quote some refs to support this - someone else might try to do this). Subject to these references I'd suggest the following text (edit to see the text of the references):
Dawkins's scientific interpretations of the biological facts of evolution divide opinion amongst leading scientists[28]. Some, like E. O. Wilson and John Krebs are very supportive; others, like Simon Conway Morris[29] Denis Noble [30] and Patrick Bateson[31], are critical.
What do you think (esp Ed who has been a little quite recently) NBeale 01:02, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I think it's completely meaningless. It details nothing about what they're critical of, not to mention the amount of text in your refs is absurdly large. *Spark* 03:28, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Spark. I genuinely can't see which word or phrase is even slightly difficult to understand. And I'd be happy to give as much, or as little, detail as people wanted (within reason) but it seems a bit unreasonable to say "not enough detail, but too much". Readers should be allowed to make up their own minds, if they want to explore the matter. I think we just need to give them indications on where they might look. We already point to Dennet and Pinker, with little or no detail. But what do other people think? NBeale 08:29, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
This is getting to be a long thread. I dislike this suggestion for three reasons. The first is I don't like to see so much infomation buried in footnotes. This is not a textbook, and it strikes me this approach is inappropiate for an encyclopedia. The second is that as it stands, this is still a just a list of biologists who "like" or "dislike" Dawkins. Let me eplain. If editing the article on Adolf Hitler, I could write something like "Churchill disapproved of Hitler's actions, while Mussilini approved of them. Stalin approved of them, but changed his mind sometime in the summer of 1941, while Roosevelt was another statesman who disapproved of them". That paragraph is true and verifiable, but tells me nothing. Reading Hitler's article no-one is quoted as supporting him or opposing him. We read of his words and his deeds, and then can make up our own minds. Of course there is nothing wrong in using a quote to illistrate a point. Lastly I think that largely the quotes are interesting observations on Dawkins philosophy, and I do have some sympathy with their points of view. However this artice is about Dawkins, not about athiesm or reductionism. If we clearly state Dawkins views, then surely the reader can cast their own judgement. --Michael Johnson 08:39, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I very much agree with Michael Johnson. What is it about these particular few people and what they have to say about Dawkins that merits inclusion? I fear the thin end of a wedge. We are still where we were a week ago. If these comments are included, someone will feel the need to add to, elaborate on, top, or counter them. It leads to an arms race, and mutually assured destruction of the readability of the article. Snalwibma 09:25, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Couldn't agree more. And I'd say again that the article already has this criticism in it:
"In the controversy over interpretations of evolution (the so-called Darwin Wars), one faction is often named for Dawkins and its rival for Stephen Jay Gould. This reflects the pre-eminence of each as a populariser of contesting viewpoints, rather than because either is the more substantial or extreme champion of these positions ..."
The paragraph this excerpt is from might benefit from explicit reference to adaptationism (it focuses a bit more on evolutionary psychology; just one aspect of it), but the conflict it describes deals with the same controversies NBeale's quotes do. Further, as the excerpt specifically states, Dawkins (and Gould for that matter) attracts the flack because he is a pre-eminent populariser of a particular viewpoint. SCM and others may go on to attack on other flanks (as implicit in NBeale's quotations) but these criticisms appear to be aesthetic in nature, and therefore of questionable notability (for this article; SCM's article may suit better). Anyway, can we please put this to bed? --Plumbago 09:44, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

The way forward

The page is now protected. I assume a discussion in the spirit of "let's forget all that and start afresh" is the way to go. May I start the ball rolling? Just an observation. The object of all this discussion should be to achieve a better Wikipedia article on Richard Dawkins. The basic Wikipedia policies (NPOV, BLP, NOR etc) must of course be adhered to - but my main thought at this stage is to put myself in the shoes of someone who knows little about RD and comes to Wikipedia to get a good overview. I use Wikipedia myself in this way daily, and I find it a wonderful resource. It's full of useful, reliable, accurate summaries of anything-under-the-sun. The RD article should be the same. We should not be trying to insert as many facts and opinions as possible on each side of the "argument" in the vain hope that this will somehow achieve balance and NPOV. What it would actually achieve is an article that is so stuffed full of claim and counter-claim that it is simply unreadable. Maybe we should in fact be cutting much of the detail out. What does the naive enquirer actually need? That's what should be in the article. Snalwibma 08:51, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Excellent suggestion! Any biography requires certain data: place and date of birth, education, family circumstances, career. For Dawkins I think there are two main aspects to his adult career: his scientific career, and his criticism of religion as a dangerous superstition. IMHO his atheism is core to, yet a minor detail, of his criticism of religion. Which is more important to a biography of him? Should the science career have greater prominence, as it is his primary focus and reason he is notable? or the criticism, as it is that which attracts the larger portion of public interest? Or approximately the same amount of emphasis? We must ensure it is clear that he is a scientist first, and what relationship the two have to each other. Does the article achieve these things? One puppy's opinion, what do others think? KillerChihuahua?!? 12:37, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
His area of science is not mine. I will note that as a physical scientist, I read the Selfish Gene when it was first published and I was quite excited about it. My friends who were evolutionary biologists shot it down and were quite dismissive. I think that if we look carefully, we will find that even in his "science" career, he is a very controversial figure. I am not positive of this, but it is a hunch. I personally think he is a very engaging and interesting communicator, which of course is why his chair is in science communication, and not science.--ReasonIsBest 14:33, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
I must disagree with ReasonIsBest. Dawkins area of science being almost exactly mine, I can assure readers that the gene centerer view of biology has become a fundamental part of biology. What needs to be stressed is that Dawkins is simply the public face behind the idea, with a vast number of researchers working with the idea. However, I must agree that Dawkins is a science communicator first, scientists second (much like Carl Sagan and Stephen Gould).--Roland Deschain 14:59, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Thank goodness we have someone who is from Dawkin's area! Maybe he was a bit controversial at first, but managed to change scientific opinion. If this is true, then this is actually a substantial achievement, and should be noted as such. A paradigm shift, even a little one, is not a minor thing. I will say that Carl Sagan did not really achieve this in science, although Gould probably did, at least in my opinion. Of course, the real history of science will be written long after our time.--ReasonIsBest 15:33, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
the history of science, like all histories, is ongoing. We are our descendants history and our antecedants are our history. On topic, however: do we stress that Dawkins is a science communicator enough? I'm not sure that is made completely clear in the intro, at least. KillerChihuahua?!? 16:51, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

I think this is a fine discussion to have, but this conversation has nothing to do with why the page is protected. Unless I'm misunderstanding the nature of the edit war, we have two editors whose edits are consistently being reverted: kdbuffalo (ken) and NBeale. We need to reach consensus on whether their proposed changes merit inclusion in original or modified form, and these discussions are already ongoing in the sections above us. I don't think this section needs our attention now, although I'd like to come back to it when we have the page-protection issues resolved. — coelacan talk — 17:24, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

You are correct. This has nothing to do with the reason for the page being blocked. But it is something constructive to do in the meantime. I do not believe anyone besides kdbuffalo and NBeale really believes that the edits by kdbuffalo and NBeale deserve to be retained. There is a page here and another page here and even an older one here that you can visit and find out that kdbuffalo has a long history on many pages on Wikipedia of being as disruptive as he can. --ReasonIsBest 17:43, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Coelacan and Reason. I see what you mean, but the problem (as I see it) is that referring to the discussions above and hoping to reach consensus there seems doomed to failure - witness the last two weeks of discussion. I started this new thread because I thought it might be helpful to draw breath and draw back from the arms-race style of pro- and anti- points listing. Or, in other words, maybe the way of persuading NBeale and kdbuffalo not to keep adding sentences on criticism is not to appeal to WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:BLP etc, but simply to point out that the article becomes degraded to the point of unreadability if it is over-clogged with quotes from supporters, critics, colleagues, reviewers, etc. I thought it might be helpful, as a way of reaching a resolution of the earlier discussions, to ask "How much of any of this sort of stuff is actually useful?" Snalwibma 18:24, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I think the way forward is for everyone to remember the cardinal NPOV principle that "Readers are left to form their own opinions." Criticism is all to the good (as long as there isn't a whole separate section for it, see my comments above) but, obviously, the most notable criticism must be included, reffed, and left as it is. As soon as ppl stop POV pushing (no need to mention names on that front...) we can proceed as normal. Honestly, I'm regretting Dawkins ever wrote God Delusion - this page has gotten a hell of a lot worse because of it. And far more unpleasant. Mikker (...) 19:59, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

What I have wondered about before is if another page with this type of material can be created to capture it, and then linked in. This allows this material to find a venue, but not to ruin the readability of the main page. --ReasonIsBest 20:42, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

These pages already exist. We should just use {{main|reductionism}} {{main|punctuated equilibrium}} {{main|creationism}} {{main|origin of life}} etc. where appropriate. There is no reason to bring the spill-over of those discussions here, as it would just be duplication of Wikipedia's contents on more than one page. We can mention "Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins disagree about blah blah blah" and have those templates nearby and that takes care of the issue. Watch this, it takes care of ken's latest complaints:
Main article: origin of life
— coelacan talk — 20:53, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Creationism is already linked - reductionism occurs once, in the intro, and is not linked. Punctuated equilibrium does not occur in the article. The main template is only used for child articles. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:59, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Okay. I've seen it used otherwise but it could have been incorrect usage (see Anarchism for example, where it's used both for child articles and peripheral topics like important people and even the Russian Revolution of 1917). There's also {{further}} and I think maybe there are some other related templates. Am I on the wrong track with this thinking? I'm trying to figure out how we can blatantly point out controversy and send the reader in the direction of exploration without dragging the fight over here and duplicating wiki content. Does anybody else think this is a good approach in general, and if so, how can it be accomplished? (Also I realize that punc eq is not in the article but Dawkins/Gould debates are mentioned and I think this was their major battlefield. I chose it because there was no article specifically devoted to Dawkins v. Gould. Sociobiology would be another well-known battle although I tend to think of Gould/Wilson there.) — coelacan talk — 02:03, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Another related view: as Snawilba says, the article is about Dawkins. It should stick to facts about him. The views of one individual, such as Steven Rose, about the views of Dawkins, are irrelevant here, and should be deleted or moved to the Steven Rose article. Similarly the rambling essay on Noble and Morris etc that keeps being inserted certainly does not belong. Poujeaux 14:19, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Seem to me that to understand who Dawkins is, readers need to understand that: (1) pretty well everyone agrees that when he is explaining biological facts he is one of the most gifted communicators ever in the field; The Simyoni Professorship was made for him. (2) His meta-biological views (eg reductionism, memes) are quite controversial in the scientfic community, with some strong supporters and some serious scientfic critics; (3) His philosophical/metaphysical stances are highly controversial, and although they have some strong supporters (Pinker and Dennet, though I struggle to name others, or any first-rate scientists, but I'm sure fellow-editors can oblige) his critics include first-rate scientists, serious philosophers, agnostics and atheists. (4) it is not easy from his books, or from much of the journalism, to distinguish between fact and opinion. As Mikker said, we should allow readers to form their own opinions and decide which, if any, serious criticisms are valid. NBeale 19:19, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the article should reflect those 3 in proportion. The majority needs to be on his core field of biology and surrounding work, then a minority on other themes with respect to his ideas on memes (though this has become somewhat overused a term). As for his reductionism you firstly need to come clean as to what you want here. Do you feel that by simply mentioning reductionism and Dawkins you hope to associate him with greedy reductionism or do you care that what he says, in that step-by-step reductionism is the way forward for science, is in fact presented and commented on. Don't expect us to tolerate some quotes against reductionism unless it is specifically against the specific form that Dawkins proposes. As for his "philosophical/metaphysical" stances then they should be controversial else they would be simply science and thus uncontroversial. Few scientists would comment unless they are also of a philosophical mind. It is with the "philosophical/metaphysical" stance that I have a concern. Most relevant to this is that he is an atheist and his proposal now is that god is a hypothesis that is unlikely. His work in evolutionary biology was simply a precursor to this new approach and consistent with his heirachical reductionism. Unless you accept his approach that god can be reduced to an improbability and that this is in the real of science, any serious criticism of his work in what you call his "philosophical/metaphysical" stance will simply be an opinion and is neither valid nor invalid. It is simply opinion and it's weight is simply how notable the critic is. Ttiotsw 22:54, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
There is an on-going discussion above [50] on including something on the Simyoni Professorship having been made for Dawkins. I mention this as it may have drifted from attention given the subsequent torrent of posts on other subjects. TimRR 21:39, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Errors (and relevance) of South Park Go God Go reference.

It states that cartman "Accidentally transported 500 years into the future", yet the article at at Go_God_Go clearly states that cartman was frozen for 540 years. OK accepting that factual difference, on the Go_God_Go it has a response from Dawkins in a Q&A Session for the "God Delusion" and yet this isn't refered to here, in which he says that: "I would have thought they could at least have got an actor that could draw a proper British accent.". Given there is evidence that Dawkins does not support his portrayal ("I’m buggered if I like being portrayed as a cartoon character buggering a bald transvestite....") implied in the South Park show, and that this was not a cameo role (as says he would like to do with The Simpsons), I vote that this whole section is removed as a clear violation of WP:LIVING. Ttiotsw 23:23, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

The section was added (again...) just before the article became "edit protected". Otherwise it would have been swiftly removed. It's non notable trivia and has been removed before. Hopefully it will be again as soon as the article becomes editable. menscht 23:29, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

As much as I have enjoyed seeing the episodes of South Park in which creationism, evolution, atheism, etc are pilloried, I am not sure that an extensive discussion of this is important on Richard Dawkin's page, especially when this was not a cameo role and fairly uncomplimentary.--ReasonIsBest 01:43, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

It's been removed now, and it's already been consensus that it doesn't belong here. If it comes back we'll remove it again. Anyway South Park never casts public figures in a positive light; it doesn't matter who they are. — coelacan talk — 02:14, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Nishkid64 removed it, and inadvertantly also removed the protected tag. I've resored the protected tag. It is clear that all editors on this page are in agreement with the way to edit the article, if not the details, and are working incredibly well together, with the NBeale and KDB exceptions. The two editors who were actually engaging in disputed and contentious editing are not choosing to participate at all in the talk page discussion while the page is protected, and we're getting to the point where our discussion is reaching the "time to edit the article" point - some excellent ideas are forming in the The way forward section above. How long are we giving them to discuss their desired changes before we simply unprotect and move forward? KillerChihuahua?!? 11:01, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi KC. I think you haven't been looking at section 30 above, where Ed and I have been working together constructively, carefully and in some detail on the Conway Morris point, and we very nearly have a consensus text. Once this is sorted out we can apply the same process to the others, which won't be nearly so difficult (there is no controversy about Midgley, Bateson is very clear about his "affectionate disagreements" and so is Noble. But in response to your implicit request I'll try to offer by 10c worth on s29. NBeale 13:34, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
I stand corrected, happily so - I did indeed miss the ongoing discussion in Talk:Richard_Dawkins#Nbeales.27_criticism_by_biologists_para. thanks - Glad to see this is moving forward as well. KillerChihuahua?!? 14:35, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Unprotect

Shall we get the article unprotected? As I see it, the sole problem was that certain people were going against WP:CONSENSUS and pushing their POV. That's hardly a reason to keep the whole article protected; just an invitation to rv any additional pov edits. Agreed? Mikker (...) 21:39, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes. When Ken's week long vacation expires, I worry that we'll be right back to where we were with this and related articles. Only one way to find out. *Spark* 22:17, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree as well. NBeale has been editing other articles but hasn't touched this talk page since the 23rd, so it looks like he's dropped out of the dispute-resolution process. In any case I think Plumbago and others are correct that the issues he wants to address are peripheral to this article's subject. Talks have collapsed at one end, so if others are ready to open up the page then I see no reason to postpone it. — coelacan talk — 00:36, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I've requested unprotection. Mikker (...) 20:18, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Oh good... unprotection granted. Maybe this article will need to be sprotected until the controversy over God Delusion dies down, but we'll see about that. Mikker (...) 21:50, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Sorry I hope I haven't "left undone a thing that I ought to have done". If so do tell me and I'll try to make amends! I agree that it's best unprotected, and I've made the small adjustment that we agreed on talk clarifying the Simonyi Professorship. In the meantime, as you say, I have made what I hope people feel are positive contributions to other articles (and even created a few). Together we can make wikipedia an even better resource. NBeale 21:42, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi NBeale, thanks for your constructive contribution - you'll notice I've rv-ed it (in retrospect perhaps a bit harsh) but please keep the citation style consistent. Please use cite web. (I.e. like all the other refs in the article, not a direct external link). Mikker (...) 21:47, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Mikker, Have tried, please improve ref style if you can. Note rueful remark in the talk section. NBeale 04:05, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Good to see you here NBeale, I appreciate your efforts to improve this article. Others have commented that a criticism section is needed and I see that it is still missing. As a newbie to Wikipedia, I do not have the capacity to help in this endeavor, but know that you do not stand alone in wishing for a more balanced article. Petercksun (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
    • ^ In Rocks of Ages Gould proposes a Principle of Non-Overlapping Magesteria
    • ^ eg Reported in The God Delusion p55
    • ^ see eg Belief in God in an Age of Science, Science and Theology, Faith Science and Understanding and www.polkinghorne.org
    • ^ see eg Science and the Renewal of Belief, Grounds for Reasonable Belief, Doing Away With God?
    • ^ see his Boyle Lecture and comments in The Crucible of Creation and Life's Solution
    • ^ see The Music of Life
    • ^ see eg her review of The God Delusion in New Scientist and her controversies with Dawkins in her Wikipeda article
    • ^ See his review of The God Delusion
    • ^ see eg Warranted Christian Belief
    • ^ see eg Is There a God
    • ^ see esp Dawkins' God
    • ^ Marianna Krejci-Papa, 2005. "Taking On Dawkins' God:An interview with Alister McGrath." Science & Theology News, 2005-04-25.
    • ^ The God Delusion p213. "I was mortified to read...that The Selfish Gene is the favourite book of Jeff Skilling ... and that he derived inspiration of a Social Darwinist character from it. The Guardian ... gives a good explanation of the misunderstanding [51]. I have tried to forestall similar misunderstandings in my new preface to the thirtieth-anniversary edition..."
    • ^ http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/264.asp
    • ^ http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v12/i1/improbable.asp
    • ^ http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v20/i4/weasel.asp
    • ^ http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v12/i3/dawkins.asp
    • ^ Ross Olson "Richard Dawkins And The 11 Second Pause What Happened During The Filming Of "From A Frog To A Prince"?" http://tccsa.tc/articles/dawkins_pause.html Twin Cities Creation Science Association
    • ^ Barry Williams "Creationist Deception Exposed" [52] The Skeptic, Vol 18, No 3 September 1998
    • ^ Richard Dawkins "The "Information Challenge" http://home.austarnet.com.au/stear/dawkinschallenge.htm
    • ^ Richard Dawkins "The "Information Challenge" http://home.austarnet.com.au/stear/dawkinschallenge.htm
    • ^ Life's Solution p302
    • ^ The Crucible of Creation p9. He goes on: "This view of evolution is incomplete and therefore fails in its side-stepping of how information (the genetic code) gives rise to the phenotype, and by what mechanisms. Organisms are more than the sum of their parts, and we may note in passing that the world depicted by Dawkins has lost all sense of transcendence"
    • ^ Life's Solution p302
    • ^ He also compares this account of evolution with a description of an oil painting which, "has explained the nature and range of pigments; how the extraordinary azure colour was obtained" but "is quite unable to account for the painting itself."The Crucible of Creation p9.
    • ^ Life's Solution p302
    • ^ He also compares this account of evolution with a description of an oil painting which, "has explained the nature and range of pigments; how the extraordinary azure colour was obtained" but "is quite unable to account for the painting itself."The Crucible of Creation p9
    • ^ ie Fellows of the Royal Society, Members of the NAS and equivalent
    • ^ Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge, considers Dawkins explanations and enthusiasm for the reality of adaption to be of great value, but disagrees with Dawkins world picture (Life's Solution p302), and suggests that "[his] view of evolution is incomplete and therefore fails in its side-stepping of how information (the genetic code) gives rise to the phenotype, and by what mechanisms. Organisms are more than the sum of their parts" He also compares this account of evolution with a description of an oil painting which, "has explained the nature and range of pigments; how the extraordinary azure colour was obtained" but "is quite unable to account for the painting itself."The Crucible of Creation p9
    • ^ In The Music of Life he explicitly contrasts Dawkins's classic statement of genes "they swarm ... inside lumbering robots ... their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence" with his own re-formulation "they are trapped ... inside highly intelligent beings ... we are the ultimate rationale for their existence" (pp12-13)
    • ^ Whose Affectionate Disagreements with Richard Dawkins in How a Scientist Changed the Way we Think include "The obvious attractions of providing simple, easily understood explanations has meant unfortunately that crucial distinctions have been fudged in the name of being strightforward and analysis has been focused on single factors in the name of clarity. Little progress is made in the end if the straightforwardness and clarity are illusions." (p 173)