Talk:David Berlinski

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Reorganization of article[edit]

I completely reorganized the article into a few distinct parts in order to balance the entry in concordance with Wikipedia's Neutral Point-of-View policy. Previously, his views on Intelligent Design were outside of the views section and in their own section, and the article was littered with people slamming Berlinski for his views. I moved the criticism of Berlinski into its own section, and moved around relevant shreds to their respective sections. No content was actually deleted, and I added a short summary of his views from his latest book (Devil's Delusion). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Avangion (talkcontribs) 17:30, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

I also removed and reworded a significant amount of weasel words and phrases that polluted the integrity of this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Avangion (talkcontribs) 17:33, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Intelligent design section[edit]

  • This article is extraordinarily biased: critics' quotes are placed if they were the absolute truth. Wikipedia is not credible. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.135.101.2 (talk) 22:18, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
  • In this section, as I write this, it says, "The scientific community, however, regards intelligent design as pseudoscience.[3]" The cite provided just links to a list of articles Berlinksi himself wrote - hardly the kind of articles likely to disprove his own theories. I proposes deleting this line, or changing it to cite needed. Anyone dis/agree? LAEsquire (talk) 01:33, 25 December 2007 (UTC) LAEsquire
    • Incorrect: this statement is referenced to a National Science Teachers Association Press Release. HrafnTalkStalk 04:18, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
      • Not exactly a bastion of free-thought,hailed far and wide, for its lack agenda.Sochwa (talk) 23:04, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Remove the ID section until it explains Berlinski's views The article's Intelligent Design section needs to explain Berlinski's views. Such explanations need to be accurate, with substantial quotes, and presented in a standard somewhat sympathetic editorial style. As of 5/17/08, the section lacks this information and style. Instead, the section apparently documents the authors' own views. Remove this ID section until corrected. --Hailclan (talk) 02:44, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

No. His opposition to evolution and his involvement with ID are what Berlinski is principally known for, and is reliably sourced. To date these "views" have appeared to be fairly undifferentiated reworkings of pre-existing creationist anti-evolution arguments. If you can provide WP:RS info on what these exact views are, and how they might vary from these stock arguments, then by all means add them to the article. HrafnTalkStalk 04:20, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the ID section should be removed because a primary Wikipedia purpose is to educate readers on the subject's views (no matter how objectionable the subject's views might be to the writer). For example, I came to Wikipedia to learn Berlinski's views on creation/evolution but found only undocumented summaries by writers who, apparently, want to argue against his views. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hailclan (talkcontribs) 15:53, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
That argument is incoherent -- if it is "a primary Wikipedia purpose is to educate readers on the subject's views", it would follow that we should add WP:RS information on those views, not that we should delete other WP:RS relating to the topic. HrafnTalkStalk 04:18, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
"Fix or Delete" has long been a coherent principle and an everyday action in writing and editing. The obvious preferred action is to fix the item. But writers routinely delete material when, for example, they don't know the correct information in time for publication. If they do publish, then they may mislead their audience and will undermine their creditability. Hailclan (talk) 15:17, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
"Fix or delete" implies that the current material is in some way erroneous -- which WP:RSs supporting it clearly refutes. The only 'problem' you have raised is one of omission, which by its nature cannot be mitigated by a deletion. This whole line of argument is specious, and unless you can find a completely new one, I see no reason to delete this section. HrafnTalkStalk 15:36, 19 May 2008 (UTC)
The omissions are substantial - the quantity and relevance of Berlinski quotes is meager. Yet the writers' provide ample criticism of those meager Berlinski quotes, and of their other undocumented understandings of Berlinski's views. I learned a little about Berlinski's ID views but had to sort through a lot about others' anti-ID views - these editorial omissions and commissions are not incoherent or specious problems. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hailclan (talkcontribs) 15:41, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
I suspect the problem is that Berlinski has said little that has evoked any serious response, most probably because (1) he lacks any qualification remotely relevant to evolutionary biology and (2) the claims he makes aren't sufficiently original to demand an independent response. "Ample criticism" is warranted per WP:DUE weight to the majority scientific position that his claims are meritless. We will go with what we have, unless and until something more substantial comes along. You have provided no logically-coherent argument for deletion of WP:V material. HrafnTalkStalk 03:11, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Reading this discussion page is extraordinary. It is obvious that the author of the article prefers to quote those who disagree with Berlinski more than doctor Berlinski himself! LOL. Many people have suggested this and yet the article remains unbalanced. I'm NOT a fan of David Berlinski, but the lack of balance in this article caused me to sign up immediately to offer my comments. I shouldn't have been surprised to find the entire discussion board filled with similar reasonable objections to the over emphasis on D. B's detractors. This article is a sad example of scholarship (or lack of). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Graburns (talkcontribs) 11:26, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

  • Confusing statement. How can someone be a "leading critic of evolution within the intelligent design movement"? If he was in the intelligent design movement he would already be a critic of evolution, therefore it is a double negative to say that he was a critic of evolution in the intelligent design movement, implying that he is actually a leading critic of evolution being criticized by the intelligent design movement, and not a critic of evolution. Apteva (talk) 23:03, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  • I doubt if many would find it confusing. Berlinski is part of the IDM and one of their leading critics of evolution. The only way that you could get another meaning out of it would be to group the phrasing as leading critic of [evolution within the intelligent design movement]" -- such a grouping would not however be the ordinary English interpretation, and nonsensical in the context. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:33, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

I have edited the ID section to include additional details of Berlinski's views from the Expelled:... documentary so as to provide some balance in this previously horrendously written wiki page. I grouped together all the critiques and negative quotes into a single section to provide a fair counter argument to Berlinski's own views, deleting nothing. A shame that no previous editors felt this necessary and a shameful reminder of the difficulty many have being impartial editors on Wikipedia, especially pertaining to non-mundane issues and persons. MatthewDD (talk) 23:02, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia: an encyclopedia or an opinion forum?[edit]

Isn't it logical when writing an article on someone that you would quote their views objectively rather than subjectively? eg: Berlsinski's viewpoint has been described as... and the article gives a sizable paragraph begining with terms like "wrong headed" and "radical". Also it would seem to make much more sense to actually quote Dr Berlinski himself and then his critics. That way the reader could form their own judgement on whether or not he is "wrong headed" or "radical". He is what he is. Is wikipedia an encyclopedia or an opinion forum?? Surely you can find a quote from this guy and then follow it up with the corresponding criticism. Or does the author fear free thinking readers? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Graburns (talkcontribs) 11:35, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi Graburns. You noticed a problem of scholarly writing did you? Please feel free as per WP:BRD to make improvements to this article. They are much needed! Thanks, DannyMuse (talk) 18:20, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
Ditto here. This entry is a disgrace to the Wikipedia community. It also shows the militant Darwinist militia for what they really are.Flange the Flee (talk) 17:55, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Rather than ranting it would help out if you could point out specific issues you have with the article. Keep in mind that Wikipedia has an undue weight policy and that Berlinski's views are an extreme minority. JoshuaZ (talk) 18:09, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Berlinski and his views may be a minority, but--at the risk of stating the obvious--this page IS about him. With that perspective in mind, it seems clear that having such a large percentage of this article's content devoted to refuting his view is actually a violation of the WP undue weight policy. - DannyMuse (talk) 23:01, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Um, are we talking about the same page? The one that has about 15% devoted to what critics say? JoshuaZ (talk) 01:13, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Josh, yes we are talking about the same article. Not sure how you came up with the 15% figure, but I was referring to the principles in concering Criticism and praise in WP:BLP. It says:
Criticism and praise of the subject should be represented if it is relevant to the subject's notability ..., and so long as the material is written in a manner that does not overwhelm the article or appear to take sides; it needs to be presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone. Be careful not to give a disproportionate amount of space to particular viewpoints .... Care must be taken with article structure to ensure the overall presentation is broadly neutral.
No specific percentage was mentioned, just principles to apply, specifically write in a way that "does not appear to take sides" and is "in a neutral, encyclopedic tone." This article, IMHO, clearly does not have that. - DannyMuse (talk) 04:25, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
An article that begins by calling the subject a "crank" is not an objective article. It's irrelevant whether he stated that about himself or not. (In fact, I'm planning to remove that line, since the only citation is from Slate, which does not quote Berlinski, but simply states this as a fact.)Flange the Flee (talk) 03:32, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Slate is a reliable source. Moreover, there are many other possible sources for Berlinski saying just that. See for example here. JoshuaZ (talk) 03:34, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

(undent) Actually, Josh, in the article at the link you provided, Berlinski doesn't exactly call himself a crank, but agrees that when others accuse him of being a crank it is true. Splitting hairs perhaps, but let's be clear. Also, in this article Berlinski makes the distinction between an individual (himself) being a "crank" and someone else (the target of his vitriolic writings) practicing "crank science". He then refers to a comment by physicist Jeremy Bernstein. But none of that really matters because, while it is interesting, none of it is terribly encyclopedic in content or tone. Indeed, that style of writing is more typical of tabloid journalism. Hopefully that makes perfect sense. -- DannyMuse (talk) 04:12, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

The comparison to a tabloid is quite befitting at this point.My suggestion is that the criticism belongs in a section labelled just that: Criticism. As is done in many other biographies.Flange the Flee (talk) 17:21, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
This is the guy who said "Look, it’s one thing to say that someone like me is a crank. That’s fine because it’s true." Moreover, the DI calls Berlinski a crank in one of their promotional statements about Berlinksi. Calling himself a crank isn't criticism and given that we are talking about his own description, putting it in as criticism is imposing the POV that "crank" is a negative term among other problems. JoshuaZ (talk) 19:10, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
What place do Berlinski's critics have in an article about Berlinski anyway? How come Wikipedia "editors" conveniently leave out criticisms of other individuals in their pages? No bias in Wikipedia? Who can really claim that? What a joke. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.111.36.194 (talk) 17:24, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
See WP:NPOV with particular reference to WP:WEIGHT and WP:NPOV/FAQ.. . dave souza, talk 17:51, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Berlinski as a "Crank" : Based on the style and tone of Berlinski's writing, as well as his personal manner in interviews (both print and video), a fair conclusion is that his self-referential use of the word "crank" is meant ironically. It's actually a bit of a jab at his critics, implying that they rely too much on conventional wisdom and argument from authority; by their standards, anyone who questions the conventional wisdom must be a "crank."Apruzan (talk) 20:15, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Reliable Sourcing[edit]

Per WP:RS, I have removed two blogs used as sources for quotes from Larry Moran and PZ Myers. I have NOT removed the related text, although it is now unsourced. I looked and could not find another source for these quotes. Does anyone else interested in this article know of suitable, reliable sources? DannyMuse (talk) 18:20, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Also, as ATren pointed out above, "As for the blogs, WP:BLP explicitly states that blogs are not acceptable sources on a BLP unless it is self-published. So Moran and Myers' blogs are not appropriate sources here. Furthermore, BLP states that even self-published material is not appropriate if it is contentious." Additionally, as Ronbo76 explained, "blogs (especially self-posted ones) are not considered authorative sources as its editor can change them at will. Please see WP:EL and Wikipedia:Attribution#Using questionable or self-published sources. - DannyMuse (talk) 20:15, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Disagree in this case. Part of the issue seems to be that the word "blog" isn't well-defined. In this case we aren't talking about a "blog" in the sense of a random individual who has a self-published website but rather talking about a statement by a well-known biologist. The general problems of blogs do not apply in such cases. JoshuaZ (talk) 21:44, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
The use of the term "blog" is really irrelevant. What matters is that it is self-published. Although the Wikipedia:Attribution policy does allow for the exception that a self-published source may be used when a "When a well-known, professional researcher writing within his or her field of expertise" has produced it, it is with the proviso that "these may be acceptable as sources, so long as his or her work has been previously published by reliable, third-party publications." However, none of that matters, because as that same paragraph continues:
Self-published sources, such as personal websites and blogs, must never be used as third-party sources about living persons, even if the author is a well-known professional researcher or writer; see WP:BLP. (Emphasis in original)
So the Myers and Moran blogs are out. Even if they fit under the exception clause, which they don't because this is a biography of a living person, then these same comments would have to also have been "published by reliable, third-party publications." So find those publications. - DannyMuse (talk) 22:36, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
I've restored them. They were not being used as third-party sources about Berlinski, Danny. They are being used as primary source for *what their authors say*; the view's of Moran and Myers, per Wikipedia:Verifiability#Self-published_sources. And Seed Magazine's Scienceblogs are not the same as self-published blogs at Blogger, etc, BTW. They are published by Seed Magazine, a notable popular science publication and the authors are carefully selected by Seed for their notable work in their fields. Odd nature (talk) 00:16, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
Odd nature:
  1. As I'm sure you know, Wikipolicies overlap and are sometimes in contradiction. In this instance I believe that the guideline that "Self-published sources, such as personal websites and blogs, must never be used as third-party sources about living persons, even if the author is a well-known professional researcher or writer; see WP:BLP" clearly applies and outweighs Wikipedia:Verifiability for the reasons contained in the guideline. I noticed you did not address those specific points.
  2. Why would you want to use these references, they are really un-encyclopedic and un-scientific. Moran calls Berlinksi an IDiot then says, "cows didn't evolve into whales." Duh, Berlinksi doesn't believe that. He was using an illustration!
  3. If the points that are referenced in the article are published in Seed magazine then use THAT source. This would be better and would be in keeping with WP policies and guidelines and would generally improve the quality of this article. DannyMuse (talk) 21:45, 30 September 2008 (UTC)


This is exactly in that context. Myers is a "a well-known, professional researcher writing within his or her field of expertise". Myers is talking about biology (well, basic population genetics, but same end result). JoshuaZ (talk) 21:20, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, Josh, Myers is "well-known ..." but you're apparently forgetting/ignoring the policy guideline, "Self-published sources, such as personal websites and blogs, must never be used as third-party sources about living persons, even if the author is a well-known professional researcher or writer; see WP:BLP. (Bold Emphasis in original, Italicized added.) - DannyMuse (talk) 21:37, 30 September 2008 (UTC)


With all this concern about sourcing, please note that "The Deniable Darwin" was not a book, it was an article published in Commentary magazine. Therefore the title should be in quotation marks rather than italics. Also, this title simply appears in the article text without any explanation. The provenance of the article should be explained. Also, "Deniable Darwin" was part of a larger series of Berlinski articles in Commentary, including a subsequent piece that even gave some of the established evidence FOR Darwinian theory. And, as usual with major Commentary articles, all of Berlinski's pieces elicited detailed letters to the editor, which were published along with his responses.Apruzan (talk) 20:15, 10 March 2009 (UTC)


RfC: Blogs as Sources in BLP's[edit]

Outside editors are kindly invited to post their comments in this section. Please leave this section for outside input ONLY, per RfC instructions. Thank you.


Under what circumstances are blogs acceptable as Reliable Sources in Biographies of Living Persons's? What WikiPolicies apply? Reference current Talk Page for recent discussion.

  • In the case of this usage, the blogs are perfectly good sources from which to source claims made by Moran & Myers. Regarding Wikipedia:Verifiability#Self-published sources, I have a few important notes:
    1. Moran & Myers are readily considered "established expert" in the "relevant fields" of evolutionary biology, intelligent design, and the creation-evolution battles; use of their self-published works is not prohibited.
    2. Not all blogs are created equal: Pharyngula is easily understood to meet the spirit if not the exact letter of WP:RS. That any claims sourced to his blog should be clearly attributed to Myers and Myers alone is also self-evident.
    3. The section regarding Berlinski's vacuous interpretation of cetacean evolution may not be necessary, as there's plenty of scathing criticism from which to make a well-rounded "the scientific establishment considers his ID work to be buffoonery" section. Consider whether that single incidnet is receiving undue coverage. — Scientizzle 23:33, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Not sure yet. Per policy, WP:BLP blogs are not acceptable sources in BLP articles. However... An exception is made for some newspaper blogs where contributions are made by staff writers under full editorial control. A clear-cut example is Nick Robinson's "newslog" on the BBC website[1], where the initial piece by Robinson starts off a chain of comments by individuals. So the question to be decided here is whether the scientists contributing to these blogs are doing so as staff writers, and whether the blogs are outlets of mainstream news media in the same way as the BBC blog. It needs a close examination of exactly how these blogs operate. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:36, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

The blogs are cited to provide the exact source of quotes that directly refute claims made by Berlinski; they are not cited as sources for any biographical details about Berlinski. This ameliorates some BLP concerns, which focus on poor sourcing of actionable biographical statements. Furthermore, while Moran's blog is more debatable regarding its inclusion (as he's less notable and its publication on Blogspot is certainly more of the personal variety), Myers is published on ScienceBlogs, a venture of Seed Media Group (Seed Magazine); while the content is decidedly his, it's not unreasonable to think of Pharyngula as similar to a columnist's blog on a news service. — Scientizzle 20:13, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Opposed to these sources. They are clearly in violation of WP:BLP and none of the exceptions override the facts. Additionally, the source itself has some obvious bias issues and isn't a very encyclopedic reference. CorpITGuy (talk) 16:06, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Oppose There is no doubt that the authors are the relevant experts they represent themselves as, but that is not enough to override the sensible prohibition against using self published sources in BLPs. The article already establishes that Berlinski is an Intelligent Design Creationist, which provides the context for how biologists regard his ideas. Per WP:ASF, we should just counterpoint with properly weighted mentions of where Berlinski diverges from the scientific community. Also, those of Berlinski's ideas which have received explicit notice outside the IDC community should be considered more prominent and be treated in more depth. - Eldereft (cont.) 19:45, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

  • I believe another exception to using a blog in a BLP is only if the author is the subject of the article. In other words it is ok to use a blog to quote David Berlinski if it appears in a blog, but only in this article. It is true that many newspapers tack on a blog to their stories to allow reader input. Only the story can be used, not the reader comments. Apteva (talk) 22:54, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Comments & Responses by Editors Previously Involved in Blog/RS Dispute[edit]

In response to comment by Scientizzle 20:13, 1 October 2008 (UTC):

Minor note: Moran is possibly more notable than PZ as a biologist. I do agree that the other issues do make sourcing with Moran more problematic. JoshuaZ (talk) 20:07, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

In response to comment by CorpITGuy (talk) 16:06, 1 October 2008 (UTC):

Hang on, so relevant experts in a field saying someone outside the field is wrong is now evidence of bias? JoshuaZ (talk) 20:07, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Since Danny is insisting we do this in an overly formal fashion (that is rarely followed with the good reason that it generally makes discussion harder rather than easier), I suppose I'll add my other thoughts into this section here as well: Scientizzle's concern about undue weight may be serious enough to remove this regardless of whether or not there is a BLP issue. JoshuaZ (talk) 15:48, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Josh, I agree with you affirmation of Scientizzle's concern about undue weight. How would you suggest the section in question be modified? - DannyMuse (talk) 17:36, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Not sure. Removal might make the most sense. (To be clear this is independent of any BLP claim). JoshuaZ (talk) 17:44, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm for that: removal. But I suggest we wait a day or two and see who else weighs in on the matter, shall we? - DannyMuse (talk) 04:14, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Comment[edit]

I am very concerned as to the slanted/biased tone of this article. Introducing a competent educator/mathematician/writer as a "crank" does not help to promote Wikipedia as a source of objective information. Are there others who share my concerns? Flange the Flee (talk) 16:44, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

FtF, Thanks for commenting. There are in fact many that share your view. However, in my experience I have found that there are also a number of editors associated with this article that greet any such attempts at re-writing with what I can only call fierce opposition. I personally like WP:BRD, but you might be more successful with suggesting re-writes here on the Talk Page and trying to build consensus. - DannyMuse (talk) 22:15, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Berlinski describes himself as a crank. As to the claim that he is a mathematician, his research publication list seems to be a bit small. Again, it is more helpful to give specific examples of issues you think need working, not make vague general accusations (and frankly Danny, the same remark applies to your comment). JoshuaZ (talk) 01:10, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Josh, the link you presented regarding Berlinski's research requires a password. So unless you supply the necessary User ID and Password it's essentially a useless link. - DannyMuse (talk) 04:02, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, using university access. I can summarize the data for you. Mathscinet is the collected reviews of pretty much all mathematical papers and math books in English and a fair number in other laguages. Berlinski has a total of 5 entries. Two of which are mathematical history books (and not very favorably reviewed. Both reviews note mistakes in Berlinski work and one of them criticizes him for his almost complete reliance on secondary sources for his book about Newton). Of the remainder, two are not reviewed beyond basic bibliographic detail. The last appears in a multidisciplinary phil sci journal and the reviewer comments that "This paper is written like a literary paper". So we have in the best counting 3 papers by Berlinski. That hardly makes him a mathematician. (I originally looked this up a while ago when an anon asked for evidence that Berlinski was a mathematician. I was actually trying to keep the category in and had expected to find a host of papers to be able to throw down in defense of the category. I was disappointed). JoshuaZ (talk) 04:15, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. Have you written your own CV yet? - DannyMuse (talk) 04:27, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes. Berlinski's is much more impressive than mine. However, with only a very narrow range of successful research I'm not making any claims to being a mathematician. JoshuaZ (talk) 04:33, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

"Mathematician": I think reviewing a subject's publication record simply to assess whether it's correct to call him a "mathematician" is a little over the top. Wiktionary defines "mathematician" simply as "An expert in mathematics." If Columbia hired him as a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics (and molecular biology), and if he's taught university-level mathematics, then it's more than fair to call him a mathematician. Although perhaps it would be better for everyone if we just settled on calling him a philosopher, as that's what his PhD was for.Apruzan (talk) 20:27, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Stop! I never heard of this guy until I ran across his name and came here to get more information. What I found is unbelievable. Any unbiased party reading this can see the slant created by editors. Complaints about this problem have been ignored (see top of this section). Neutral and encyclopedic are the primary expectations on Wikipedia, so stop pushing your individual agendas and rewrite this whole entry on Berlinski. Finally, this was flagged for bias and then ignored based on "drive-by tagging." Bull! this is a biased entry that clearly has a low opinion of Mr. Berlinski. Create a controversy section if you must but fix the choice of quotes and phrases. I would love to try but fear my efforts will be very quickly reversed by those that obviously disagree with this subjects views. —Preceding unsigned comment added by MatthewDD (talkcontribs) 01:28, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Precisely define which evolutionary theory is being discussed.[edit]

The article needs to define "Darwinian evolutionary theory" versus the various "intelligent design" positions. If people don't know the terms, they can't understand the main issue of the "intelligent design" versus "no intelligent design" evolutionary controversy.

The main competing evolutionary theory models would be Darwinian evolution (no intelligent designer - life arose spontaneously) versus various models which allow for the possibility of an intelligent designer. These other evolutionary theories vary ranging from a model almost identical to "Darwinian" except that they see a designer, through other variants with some evolutionary theories allowing only limited change.

Dr. Berlinski, and many others in the "intelligent design" group have a problem with "Darwinian evolutionary theory". Dr. Berlinski, while agnostic, does not want the door shut on the possibility of a designer.

The term "Darwinian Evolution" is a common term and is referenced by many as a minimal Google search would show.

Note that a dictionary definition of evolution does not tell you enough about the issues of "designer" versus "no designer": EVOLUTION"...a developmental process in which an organ or organism becomes more and more complex by differentiation of its parts; a continuous and progressive change according to certain laws and by means of resident forces. (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Darwin's+theory+of+evolution (Officially signed dna dances on Dec 18 Dna dances (talk) 04:57, 19 December 2008 (UTC)5 December 2008 (UTC)

Where did you get the idea that "Darwinian evolution" means "no intelligent designer - life arose spontaneously". Darwin never ruled out a Creator, and his opinion on the origin of life was that it was unknowable as far as the science of his day could tell. Of course his "Creator" was viewed as setting laws which produced the designed results, rather than breaking His laws with repeated miracles, and was in line with the theological concepts of many in the Church of England, including his Cambridge tutors and leading scientist such as Herschel. The divide isn't between "designer" versus "no designer": EVOLUTION", it's between theistic evolution and the various mutations of the anti-evolution movement begun by fundamentalists in the 1920s. . dave souza, talk 19:20, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

I use the term "darwinian evolution" as it seems to be used by many today to describe an evolution where life arose from nonlife with no outside designer or "god". This term figures prominently in some of the articles on the subject. Theistic evolution doesn't seem to be used near as much. To some it might mean an evolving religion.

And the persons in the "intelligent design" movement vary widely in their personal religious (or agnostic) beliefs so "fundamentalist" or "creationist" do not even describe many of them--including the agnostic jew Dr. Berlinski.

For instance: Dr. Richard Dawkins and Dr. Michael Behe apparently believe in a similar evolutionary model (as far as I can tell) except that they differ vastly on the design issue. Dr. Behe would differ from some of his colleagues who might allow for intelligent design (like agnostic but open questioner Dr. Berlinski) but who would not share his Catholic beliefs. And he would probably be closer to Dr. Dawkins on holding to evolution over time but would differ from some fellow Catholics, others who might see a much younger earth (Dr. Nelson of Biola University) with much more limited change (as maybe within species only) but still a designer.

As to Darwin's religious beliefs-He apparently shifted from Christianity to a kind of agnosticism. "The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us, and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic." -- Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, cited in Peter's Quotations, by Lawrence J Peter (1977), p. 45, quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996) Cited from this www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/darwin.htm (They have other quotes where Darwin seems to more vigorously doubt the existence of God.)

As to a Creator "breaking His laws" I merely add my comment on the English language limitation of the word "law"; that the word "law" in the natural world might be better called "usual pattern of behavior" to distinguish from the Creator's "moral laws Signed Dna dances (talk) 04:57, 19 December 2008 (UTC) dna dances 04:38, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

To see how Berlinski, others use the term "darwinian evolution", one can hear them in the EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed - DVD.Dna dances (talk) 05:04, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Your definition of "darwinian evolution" is incorrect in that:

  1. It would include the competing (and long since rejected) hypothesis of Lamarckism; and
  2. Darwinian evolution is evolution (principally) by natural selection, which in turn requires some form of self-replicating lifeform as a prerequisite. How "life arose spontaneously" is dealt with within the field of abiogenesis.

HrafnTalkStalk 05:26, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Blog-sourced criticism about whales and cows.[edit]

The section about whales and cows is inappropriate. The sources are two very critical blogs, and this is a BLP, therefore I've removed the entire section. ATren (talk) 14:46, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. BBiiis08 (talk) 03:13, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
I have been trying to do this for a while. I totally agree.EMSPhydeaux (talk) 06:23, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

I agree too. Perhaps someone could explain these WP:BLP violations? Cool Hand Luke 20:18, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Quotes[edit]

The quickest way to improve this article dramatically would be simply to delete the two quotations at the end, both of which are gratuitously insulting to the subject, and convey no real information. Please compare the tone of this article with the Wikipedia entry on (for example) Ward Churchill. The latter article contains no purely ad hominem attacks on Mr. Churchill. There is no reason for including such attacks on Mr. Berlinski.Apruzan (talk) 06:08, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

  1. New threads go at the bottom of talk pages.
  2. The quotes in question appear to be representative of the scientific community's opinion of Berlinski -- that he isn't taken seriously, and is ill-informed on the issues. However, if you can find less flippant replacements that accurately represent this community's views of him, you are welcome to offer them as potential replacements.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 06:32, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

1. In this context, the phrase "representative of the scientific community's opinion" is too nebulous to be meaningful. The "scientific community" doesn't have an opinion about David Berlinski; only a tiny number of spokespersons in the life science and philosophy of science areas have really entered the debate on intelligent design, and only a subset of those have addressed Berlinski's thought in particular. 2. In any case, much of the article is already devoted to scientific objections to Berlinski's thought. The parting quotation by Eugenie Scott simply adds a completely unsupported and completely nonspecific dismissal, while the "scathing critics" of the final quotation engage in pure ad hominem attacks that add nothing to the article at all. Calling someone a "pompous pimple," a "supercilious snot," and "wicked to the core" is not being "flippant," it's being malicious, and it seems completely out of keeping with Wikipedia standards. 3. The previous post also doesn't answer my point comparing the Berlinski article with the article on Ward Churchill. (By the way, I'd gladly offer other comparisons, but let's run with this one until it's addressed.) Churchill is at least as controversial as Berlinski, yet the article on him simply reports, in a straightforward way, the circumstances of the controversy, as well as his own statements in his defense. No quotations attacking his character in a purely ad hominem way appear in the article.Apruzan (talk) 19:49, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

You assert that "Churchill is at least as controversial as Berlinski", but in a look at the article I see no evidence that Churchill is being favourably cited in a propaganda film aimed at changing constitutional law, or being presented as evidence by members of state education boards aiming to change public school education in accordance with Ward Churchill's views. It's reasonable to include criticism of Berlinski's arguments, as in the second last quote (Eugenie Scott) but I'll agree that the summary of "Berlinski's more scathing critics" looks excessive. . dave souza, talk 20:12, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

1. Thanks for agreeing that the final quotation is "excessive." 2. Unfortunately, the bulk of the comment is a non sequitur. It seems to imply that the amount of criticism of a person's ideas, in a Wikipedia article about him, should be proportional to the use or abuse of his ideas by third parties. By that standard, if a future terrorist, attacking the US, were to claim inspiration from Ward Churchill, then (and only then?) the article on Churchill should be updated with critical quotations about Churchill from other historians. (??) That standard would be neither fair nor workable. 3. Of course, an article on a person who holds controversial views should include information about the controversy. But, as I pointed out, there is already plenty of that in the article. There's no need for either of the last two quotations, which constitute piling on, regardless of what one thinks about Intelligent Design or David Berlinski. Apruzan (talk) 23:42, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

Please read WP:WEIGHT. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 02:32, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

1. The standard on Weight is irrelevant here. The purpose of that standard is clearly to preempt articles on GENERAL topics, where there is a clear mainstream viewpoint, from being cluttered with digressions to minority viewpoints. Such is not at issue here. The body of the article gives ample weight to the mainstream position on evolution. My original comment in this section, to which Hrafn still has not responded, is that this article about a living person contains completely unnecessary ad hominem attacks that contribute nothing relevant. 2. Here's another comparison: In the article on Martin Heidegger, Karl Popper is quoted calling Heidegger a "devil." However, it's clear from context that this attack is not based on Heidegger's THOUGHT, but rather on his ACTIONS, such as collaborating with the Nazis (in general), and betraying his own mentor, Husserl (in particular). Those actions are thoroughly detailed in the article. By contrast, the article on Berlinski contains no record of despicable behavior that would justify calling him "wicked to the core." Apruzan (talk) 04:20, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

You're the one that added Ward Churchill to support your WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS style argument, each article has to be considered on its own merits in relation to policies. WP:WEIGHT applies to all articles, and this article is specifically subject to WP:PSCI and WP:NPOV/FAQ. The task includes explaining how scientists have received pseudoscientific theories. Wikipedia neutrality policy certainly does not state, or imply, that we must "give equal validity" to minority views. It does state that we must not take a stand on them as encyclopedia writers; but that does not stop us from describing the majority views as such; from fairly explaining the strong arguments against the pseudoscientific theory; from describing the strong moral repugnance that many people feel toward some morally repugnant views; and so forth. . . dave souza, talk 09:13, 11 March 2009 (UTC)


We would appear to have three alternatives:

  1. Avoid mentioning evolution at all -- which would raise the question of what the hell would we write about, as Berlinski isn't prominent for anything else.
  2. Present his ill-qualified (none of Berlinksi's background is even remotely connected) pronouncements on evolution without presenting any context as to how utterly worthless the scientific community views them as being.
  3. Presenting this context.

It should hardly be surprising that I favour the third option -- and view Apruzan's claim that "The standard on Weight is irrelevant here" as absurd. That Berlinski's opponents concentrate mainly on his presentation rather than his contents is hardly surprising, as it would appear that he has nothing new whatsoever to say. His niche appears to be that of re-presenting the same tired old creationist arguments with a bit more literary polish. I have yet to hear of any new argument (or even a major repackaging of an old argument) he has come up with.

I would further point out that Scott's comments are not even remotely ad hominem -- they are specifically aimed at the shortcomings of Berlinski's writings, not the man himself. And Dennett, Dawkins & Myers are expressing an opinion about the man, not making an ad hominem counter-argument against his arguments. That he is capable of evoking such vehement opinions from prominent opponents is, I think, pertinent information for this article -- particularly as he quite clearly courts such controversy. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 09:56, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

In the cited source, the vehement opinions are in the context of discussion of his pose of sceptical lack of interest, such that "The creationists see him as a powerful ally who bolsters their case by mounting a putatively irreligious critique of natural selection. The atheists, meanwhile, can't stand him.." and to me the context is more revealing and informative than the bald invective. Also, it doesn't signify that much – pretty sure I've read PZ being much less kind and respectful to others. . . dave souza, talk 14:03, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I would agree that this context is useful. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 15:06, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

Reply to Hrafn: 1. I never said that Eugenie Scott's quotation was an ad hominem attack, but rather that it was a "completely unsupported and completely nonspecific dismissal." Please read my first post. 2. Your statement that "Dennett, Dawkins & Myers are expressing an opinion about the man, not making an 'ad hominem' counter-argument against his arguments" is disingenuous. As other posters have insisted (both in their replies to me and elsewhere) the ONLY reason Berlinski rates an article in Wikipedia is because of his arguments on evolution. Opinions about "the man" Berlinski are completely irrelevant. He's not running for public office, applying for a loan, or asking permission to marry your daughter. The ONLY reason Dennett, Dawkins, and Myers say what they say about him is for the sake of discrediting his publicly expressed opinions. 3. I acknowledge that dave souza has raised the issue of Berlinski being quoted in "a propaganda film" and by activists seeking to change school curricula. However, even if we all agree that Berlinski is responsible for anything done with his ideas, the article as currently posted doesn't mention either of these examples of his influence. So if that is the reason Dennett, et al., attack him, then the article should make the connection. Apruzan (talk) 02:27, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Reversion of blog-sourced content.[edit]

Regarding self-published sources, WP:BLP states that:

Some newspapers host interactive columns that they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professionals and the blog is subject to the newspaper's full editorial control.

From the Science Blogs about page:

We believe in providing our bloggers with the freedom to exercise their own editorial and creative instincts. We do not edit their work and we do not tell them what to write about.

The source for this edit is therefore inappropriate for a BLP and I have reverted. ATren (talk) 02:22, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

The information is clearly listed as the opinions of Berlinski, Myers and Moran. The blogs are reliable sources for their opinions. And they are all notable players in this issue. There's no question that these are reliable sources in this context. Guettarda (talk) 12:31, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I removed one of the blogs as a citation. Per above, I would agree that the other one should be removed as well but didn't removed it. As an aside, I am an uninvolved editor and have no interest in being involved :) Cheers,--Tom (talk) 13:47, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Are you willing to explain why you removed Moran's opinion? He is by far the most notable academic of the group. Guettarda (talk) 13:50, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Has his opinion been widely reported by others and how notable is it? I don't know. Blogs as citations should generally be avoided it seems. I know that there are exceptions to everything, but again, I would rather see his opinion as reported by a 3rd party so it is given in some kind of context for the reader, especially readers like myself who know little about both the subject of this article and the author giving their opinion of him. Hopefully others can express what I am trying to get across or add their thoughts either way as well. --Tom (talk) 17:57, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Guettarda, BLP states that blog-sourced critical content is not allowed on BLPs period. BLP makes a specific exception for some sites labelled as blogs, as long as they are "subject to the newspaper's full editorial control", which is clearly not the case for the sources cited. This is straightforward application of WP:BLP. If you disagree, please elaborate, but please keep the claims out of the article until the sourcing issue can be resolved since this is a BLP. ATren (talk) 17:54, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

ATren...wikilawyer much? Apart from the fact that your second statement proves your first statement to be false, only sources subject "to full editorial control" can be used to critique any scientific or artistic output, unless the person who created the work is dead. You do realise that this is a critique of Berlinksi's work, right? You do realise that the opinions stated are the professional opinions of subject-matter experts, right? The idea that the opinion of a subject-matter expert, about the subject matter is somehow reliable if it appears, say, in an op-ed in the Trinidad Guardian, but not if it appears in a self-published source is ridiculous. The point of BLP is to ensure that comments about people come from reliable sources. Not when a subject matter expert expresses that person's judgement about something published in their area of expertise.
Wikipedia policies are meant to be interpreted with common sense. They are not meant to be rules-lawyered. And please...if you choose to rules-lawyer, at least try to be internally consistent. Guettarda (talk) 21:18, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Please read WP:BLP. The language is unambiguous. There is no gray area when it comes to blog-sourced critical content on a BLP. If you disagree, feel free to raise it on BLP/N to get other opinions, but the accepted practice on BLPs is to err on the side of caution unless there is strong consensus that it does not violate BLP policy. And a quick look at the page history and this talk page shows that there are several editors who have opposed this before. ATren (talk) 00:39, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Regarding the apparent contradiction, I stated that blog-sourced content is not allowed period, but that some sites labelled as blogs may be allowed if they are published under editorial control of a reliable source. I can see how that can be seen as a contradiction, so allow me to reword: self published sources are not allowed, without exception; blogs are usually considered to be self-published, but there are some exceptions: sites that are called "blog" but which are not self-published - they are associated with a reliable source like a newspaper, and they are subject to the editorial control of that reliable source. These are really more like an extension of the newspaper's editorial department, and as such might be used (with care) in a BLP.
In this particular case, the blogs cited are self-published ("We believe in providing our bloggers with the freedom to exercise their own editorial and creative instincts. We do not edit their work and we do not tell them what to write about."). So they are inappropriate as sources in a BLP. I apologize for the confusion in my original wording. ATren (talk) 01:11, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Well, you see, that's the problem with Wikilawyering. You take things out of context and you end up making forceful statements that make no sense. And then you come back and call it an "apparent contradiction". No, it's not an "apparent contradiction". It's all actual contradiction...produced by your attempt to treat a policy document as if it were a legal document. Which it isn't. Instead of blaming other people for misunderstanding you, here's an alternative solution - why not stop Wikilawyering?
The section is about the reliability of self-published source when discussing living people. It isn't about using blogs. Are you trying to say that if we split the text off into its own article (since it would thus no longer be in an article about a living person) it would then be acceptable to use self-published sources, or are you saying that we can never use a self-published source on an article about the work or ideas of a living person? Guettarda (talk) 16:04, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
(BTW, just because other people do something wrong doesn't mean it's OK. You do realise that, right? Guettarda (talk) 16:04, 24 March 2009 (UTC))
I agree with ATren and Tom that the citations from the blogs in question do not belong in this article. WP:BLP exists for a reason. Self-published sources are not reviewed by others prior to publication (or afterwards). Therefore, self-published content is more likely to be inaccurate (regardless of who wrote it). Also, self-published content is often less academic in style and content. Reading the blogs on which the edit was based, I found that indeed these blogs contain baseless personal attacks. As for wikilawyering, the burden of proving that these sources are reliable and appropriate lies on the one adding or restoring the content. Other editors are instructed to "Remove any contentious material (...) that relies upon self-published sources" and to "Be very firm about the use of high quality references." (so don't accuse them if they are) Lindert (talk) 17:14, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Clearly, my attempts at explaining my reasoning seem to be creating more conflict, so I will no longer comment on this thread. But please see the earlier discussions on this issue on this talk page: several others have objected to these sources, it's not just me. Based on the objections of others, I think it's advisable to keep this text out for now, and if you feel strongly enough that the sourcing is appropriate, then perhaps solicit input from the experts at WP:BLP/N. Thank you. ATren (talk) 19:54, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Within the intelligent design movement ?[edit]

I recently removed the words "within the intelligent design movement" from the main section of the article, because the claim that David Berlinski was part of such a movement was unsourced and to my knowledge factually incorrect (following Wikipedia's policy about biographies of living persons). The claim was however reintroduced and because do not want to start an edit war, I decided to post the issue here to see what others have to say about this. The "intelligent design movement" is described by wikipedia as

a neo-creationist religious campaign that calls for broad social, academic and political changes derived from the concept of "intelligent design."

A reference was added supposedly supporting the claim that he is part of this movement, by showing that he is a fellow of the Discovery Institute and has published a number of articles for this organisation. This is obviously not disputed. Although the discovery institute is of course supported largely by creationists and ID'ers, this fact is not enough to prove that one is part of the Intelligent Design Movement. At least not as described by Wikipedia, and that is the most relevant description for a wikipedia article, because of internal consistency.

There is, as Guettarda pointed out, a large section about ID in this article. However the mere title of this section in itself proves absolutely nothing. In fact, the section points out that he views his relationship with the idea of ID "warm but distant", and that he refuses to theorize about the origin of life, which means he is not a proponent of intelligent design, because considering intelligent design is theorizing about life's origin. One could claim that Berlinski is dishonest about this, but without evidence I think we should assume good faith. Also, even if he would support the concept of intelligent design, that doesn't mean that he is part of the "Intelligent Design Movement", because that would assume that he has religious motives and that he is a creationist. For neither is any evidence to my knowledge. As for if his proposals on academic and political change are "derived from the concept of intelligent design", this is possible but unverifiable and contrary to what he says about himself.

I therefore propose to remove this wording from the main section. If necessary, it could be replaced with a statement that he is a fellow of the Discovery Institute or something like that. Anyway, let me hear what you think about this. Lindert (talk) 15:19, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

The core motivating force of ID, as with other forms of Creationism (a movement originally called 'Anti-Evolutionism'), is opposition to evolution. Berlinski gives vocal aid to this opposition from within the movement's main organising body -- it is therefore accurate to characterise him as a "leading critic of evolution within the intelligent design movement" even if he isn't an advocate of the revamped teleological argument/"politically correct way to refer to God" that is used as the 'umbrella' for its anti-evolution arguments. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 16:20, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Creationism is as far as I know not a movement, but a belief (Wikipedia, Wiktionary and my own dictionary agree on this). In its broad sense it is any belief in the creation of life/the universe. More specifically, according to Wikipedia:
In relation to the creation-evolution controversy the term creationism is commonly used to refer to religiously motivated rejection of evolution as an explanation of origins.
My point is that while Berlinksi does express his rejection of evolution, this is not religiously motivated, nor does he express any creationist belief. Both Intelligent Design and Creationism, of which ID is indeed a form, are commonly understood to be religiously motivated. So no, it is not accurate to describe him as "leading critic of evolution within the intelligent design movement". He distances himself quite explicitly from intelligent design according to a quote in this very article. Lindert (talk) 17:37, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
The entire intelligent design movement claims not to be religiously motivated. In fact, the motivation behind the "speciation event" that led to the intelligent design movement was an attempt to pass the Lemon test. It is one of the tenants of the ID movement that the movement isn't religiously motivated, and they will use Berlinski as proof.
As for the idea of a "movement" - there is a creationist movement, and it's quite common to refer to the movement as "creationism". Guettarda (talk) 17:48, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
With regard to "Wikipedia agrees...

Through the 19th century the term most commonly referred to direct creation of individual souls, in contrast to traducianism. However, by 1929 in the United States the term became particularly associated with Christian fundamentalist opposition to human evolution and belief in a young Earth.[2] Several U.S. states passed laws against the teaching of evolution in public schools, as upheld in the Scopes Trial. Evolution was omitted entirely from school textbooks in much of the United States until the 1960s. Since then, renewed efforts to introduce teaching creationism in American public schools in the form of flood geology, creation science, and intelligent design have been consistently held to contravene the constitutional separation of Church and State by a succession of legal judgments.[3] The meaning of the term creationism was contested, but by the 1980s it had been co-opted by proponents of creation science and flood geology.[2]

Guettarda (talk) 17:50, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
This "creationism" movement you talk about is limited to the United States, while Wikipedia aims at an international point of view. As a European, I am not used to this usage of the word. My Oxford Dictionary of English has only one meaning of creationism: the belief that life and the universe originate from divine creation, rather than natural processes. This is certainly not a belief of David Berlinski.
I have never encountered an ID'er claim that Berlinski proves that Intelligent Design is not religiously motivated (source?). And if they do, that's rather strange as Berlinski distances himself from Intelligent Design. By calling him an ID'er, you are essentially accusing him of lying, and such a serious accusation in a BLP must be very carefully sourced or omitted. Lindert (talk) 20:23, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Sadly, you're misinformed about the spread of anti-evolution creationism in Europe. Berlinski happens to be American, and has contributed to the ID creationist campaigning of the DI, of which he is a fellow. His "distancing" of himself from ID is reported in the article, and you are of course welcome to improve that part of the article. However, for all his earlier distancing, he appears as one of the ID supporters in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, something that this article should mention. . . dave souza, talk 21:11, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm not saying that there is no anti-evolutionist creationism (which is a pleonasm btw) in Europe (I apologize for my earlier comment, which is unclear and may be interpreted like that). There are proponents of Creationism everywhere in the world, and there are even people arguing for teaching creationism in schools in Europe, although this is very rare, and not at all comparable to the US creationism/ID movement. All I meant was that the term "creationism" is I think in Europe not commonly used as a synonym for this movement.
Regarding the film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed", I have not seen it, and if Berlinski is explicitly described in the film either by himself or by someone else as a proponent of ID, I welcome a source demonstrating this, and maybe this could shed light on the situation.
Could Berlinski recently have changed his position and embraced ID? possible, but this would still need a source. The only recent source I could find suggests otherwise, though it is not a first-hand statement:
David Klinghoffer who is also a fellow of the DI, calls Berlinski "a critic of both ID and Darwinian theory." in a letter from February 2009: [[2]] Lindert (talk) 22:57, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

<ri>By using the DI platform to promote his anti-evolution ideas, Berlinski has given support to ID, without subscribing to religious "creationism". In Commentary, March 2003, Mark Perakh set out the position pretty well – "What is perhaps most amusing about David Berlinski's article is his apparent change of mind on the subject of intelligent design. Having supplied rave blurbs to the books of such prominent advocates of this "theory" as William Dembski and Michael Behe, he now casts doubt on the concepts they promote. What explains this new view? The advocates of intelligent design are anxious to be taken seriously as scientists. From their standpoint, it may seem to be a step forward that Mr. Berlinski gives their ideas a status equal to that of Darwinism..." At its bare minimum ID is anti-evolution. In Intelligent design movement#The 'big tent' strategy, any anti-evolution views from non-theists are welcomed, and indeed trumpeted as in the case of Anthony Flew. Anti-evolutionist creationism is a clarification rather than a pleonasm: there are evolutionary creationists who remain indignant that the term has been hijacked by the anti-evolution movement. It's not just American, as shown by the boast that "The Creation Science Movement is the oldest creationist movement in the world."[3] While it's an uncommon view in Europe, it's not all that rare and it does have surprising influence at times.[4] . . dave souza, talk 11:29, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

"By using the DI platform to promote his anti-evolution ideas, Berlinski has given support to ID"
I disagree. Your argument seems to be like this: Berlinski uses the DI platform. The DI supports ID, therefore, Berlinski supports ID.
Support can only be concluded from his ideas themselves, not from the ideas of people/organizations he associates with. If I write something for a socialist magazine/newspaper, this does not prove that I am a socialist, nor that I am part of a socialist movement. To be sure, you will have to read what I actually wrote (I might even be critical of socialism). I know many teachers who teach at a Christian school, who are not Christian themselves. According to Berlinski, scienctific papers are generally prejudiced towards criticism of evolutionary theory. The DI gives Berlinski a place where he can express his ideas (obviously because the DI shares many of his viewpoints). Regardless of if you consider Berlinski a conspiracy nut or lunatic (he doesn't care), please base your claims of support on what he himself believes, not the people/organizations he associates with.
You are right that creationism and evolutionism can coexist, but only if used in their broadest sense. I meant creationism more specifically as the belief that individual kinds of organisms were created.
And about European creationism, I think this discussion is based on mutual misunderstanding. Again, I am not saying that no creationist movement exists in Europe, but that the word "creationism" is not (in Europe) commonly understood to refer to such a movement, but rather to the belief this movement is based on.
"In Intelligent design movement#The 'big tent' strategy, any anti-evolution views from non-theists are welcomed"
The welcoming of all critics in the movement is irrelevant. What matters is not if ID'ers consider Berlinski an ID'er, but if he himself does. Similarly, if some muslims would claim that Barack Obama's beliefs fit in Islam, this is not enough to call Obama a muslim in his biography. The only good criterium is how Obama views himself. (This is merely an example, I do not want to imply in any way that Obama might be a muslim as some conspiracists claim) Lindert (talk) 14:27, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Furthermore, the Discovery Institute says on their website that their fellows do not necessarily need to share viewpoints of the DI: [[5]]. Quote:
"There is no pre-set viewpoint or "doctrinal" commitment required for those seeking fellowships and Fellows need not identify with the stated objectives of the Discovery Institute." Lindert (talk) 15:38, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
So what it comes down to is that Berlinski is a fellow of the DI, takes part in Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns and, like them, expresses anti-evolution views, but has also expressed criicism of ID. . . dave souza, talk 19:57, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
What ID campaigns specifically does Berlinski take part in? (source?) Still, he does not have to share all objectives or views of the DI to be a fellow or to participate in any campaign. As I said before, Berlinski does not view himself as ID'er and I have yet to see a single source showing otherwise.
And yeah, that is basically what it comes down to (judging from the information I have read thus far). Hard to believe? Maybe. Obviously Berlinski opposes evolutionism. But to conclude that he therefore must accept ID, is thinking FOR him. That's mere speculation and does imo not belong on a BLP on wikipedia. Besides, it is directly contrary to his statement that he "refuses to theorize about the origin of life" and that his relationship with ID is "warm but distant".
However, I sense that I am not going to convince you, and the concensus seems to be against me, so I will accept that and keep the article as it is. Lindert (talk) 21:16, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
There's no shortage of sources showing that Berlinski is a major player in the ID movement through the DI. Odd nature (talk) 23:12, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Shady credentials?[edit]

Berlinski's resume looks a little too good to be completely true. For instance, "According to his Discovery Institute biography, Berlinski taught mathematics at the Université de Paris." Really?! He taught at an institution scratched off by the French Revolution in 1793? Really?! How old must he be then? I know those who do not believe in evolution operate along a different timeline than those who do, but isn't that pushing it a bit much?! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 132.162.174.173 (talk) 20:30, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

They may well be referring to Paris Universitas or one of the other successor institutions. Until we find a better source stating exactly where & the exact extent of his teaching, explicit attribution should be continued. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 03:41, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Preposterous. The Paris Universitas is a newly created consortium of Parisian educational institutions because the French govt. wants a better score in the ARWU. In no way, would anyone claim to "teach at Paris Universitas"; that would make as little sense as saying, "teaching at Ivy League," for instance. 132.162.174.173 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:28, 6 November 2009 (UTC).
Would you have a problem with one labeling themselves as an "Ivy-League Professor" (which he happens to be anyways)? If so, we're merely haggling over language and your apparent need to resort to hilariously far-fetched attempts to discredit this man.98.114.206.148 (talk) 18:59, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
As always, we should search for as many citations for the information posted as possible, but I should note that contrary to what the original poster said, the Wikipedia article on the University of Paris states that it did not cease to exist until 1970, when it was split into 13 separate establishments, Each with that title followed by a number. At 68, it is somewhat feasible that Berlinski taught at the original university, or the biography could be referring to one of its thirteen children. In any case, independent sources should be hunted up, but I don't see anything here to suggest that his credentials have been falsified in any way.

I am removing the assertion that Berlinski was a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia. The source given only says "The author spent part of 1971 as a research assistant and something of a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biology, Columbia University." As anyone in academia can tell you, a postdoctoral fellowship lasts more than "part of" a year, whereas a research assistantship is a much more ad hoc position. Nothing in the source says anything about an appointment in the department of mathematics. Dotdotdotatsignapostrophe (talk) 23:40, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Given what the source says, I would agree. "Something of" is simply too vague and informal a qualifier for it to be worth including the claim. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:12, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Slate article[edit]

I'm not comfortable using the Slate article [6] the way it is in the intro: Daniel Engber, its author, has published an article that was sympathetic to ID that repeated their own rhetoric uncritically as fact and used the Discovery Institute as one of his sources.[7] The quote used in the lead from the article exactly matches Berlinski's own rhetoric that he is not religious and merely a skeptic, despite notable opinions to the contrary (Dennet, Dawkins, etc). I suggest moving and rewriting it or removing it altogether to avoid the risk of repeating their rhetoric for them. Odd nature (talk) 19:16, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

The Slate quote used provides a good overall description of why he is known. Also, the intro does not even mention ID and hardly seems sympathetic. In the Slate article Engber major thrust describes Berlinski and his style by saying , "In its extreme and ideological form, this contrarian approach to science can turn into a form of paranoia," and "Berlinski's radical and often wrong-headed skepticism represents an ascendant style in the popular debate over American science." Again, not overly sympathetic sounding just descriptive. As far as being religious, "notable opinions to the contrary" hardly seems more reliable than the profile written by Engber. Am I correct in saying you have a clear bias against ID, the Discovery Institute and Berlinski and do not wish to promote him or his ideas? That is fine on a personal level but we can't let that determine the editing process. So please note the numerous quotes and descriptions in the critique section. The primary problem with the article as I found it was that it was too negative against Berlinski to be considered fair. MatthewDD (talk) 00:59, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, but I just don't find that justification very compelling. Odd nature (talk) 23:43, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

The Discovery Institute's "portrayal"[edit]

I would like to put forward a concern about the last sentence in the opening: "The Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think-tank, portrays Berlinski as a scholarly writer and mathematician.[2]" While the citation clearly shows this to be true, I am not sure I would regard the statement as particularly relevant. His portrayal by the Discovery Institute strikes me as unremarkable. How else would they portray him? - Gregorius the Brown (talk) 00:16, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

The Discovery Institute isn't regarded as a reliable source for much. WLU (t) (c) Wikipedia's rules:simple/complex 14:13, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
It's relevant because Berlinski's main claim to fame is evolution-bashing, which he does in coordination with the DI. If they were telling the truth, they might describe him as a purveyor of smugly-ignorant polemics (which is hardly "scholarly"), who has made no significant contribution to mathematics. WLU's point about the DI's lack of reliability is well-taken. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 10:46, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

He was a professor of, among other things, mathematics. I think that normally qualifies someone as a "mathematician."Benignuman (talk) 02:34, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

There's nothing in the article to suggest that "He was a professor of, among other things, mathematics" -- just that he "taught" mathematics, and a number of other subjects, at a surprisingly-large number of institutions. This seems to indicate that he was more than a little of a nomad, which in turn supports the suspicion that he did so in a fairly junior capacity (teaching assistant or similar) -- which tend to be more short-term and often part-time. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 02:56, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Within the intelligent design movement ? Part deux[edit]

I would note that, in contradiction to the claim of this edit summary, there is no "ongoing discussion on talk page" on Berlinski's involvement in the IDM, that the last discussion was nearly two years ago, and centred upon the best way to characterise his involvement, not on whether he is involved. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 11:52, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

How about just giving the facts?Jaque Hammer (talk) 15:14, 31 January 2011 (UTC)


The facts:

  1. The fact is that you're edit-warring over something you know little or nothing about.
  2. The fact is thjat the cited source states "CRSC's fellows, directors, and advisers include virtually all of the leaders in the intelligent design movement, including Johnson, Meyer, John West, Jay Richards, Dembski, Nelson, Wells, Behe, Moreland, Reynolds, David Berlinski, John Angus Campbell, William Lane Craig, Nancy Pearcey, and Laxton."
  3. The fact is that I do not need to show "how a person who doesn't believe in something is a part of it" -- only provide a WP:RS stating this fact.
  4. The fact is however, that I had already explained this apparent anomaly on WP:BLPN.

Is this enough facts for you? HrafnTalkStalk(P) 15:43, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Those are great facts. What I was suggesting is that the article give the facts about Dr. Berlinski and assume that the readers are smart enough to understand them. Jaque Hammer (talk) 15:48, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
"Poorly cited"? What's your rationale for that? Guettarda (talk) 15:50, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
One book gives his name in a list of others. We are talking about a real living person. Jaque Hammer (talk) 15:52, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
We're talking about "a real living person" who is a senior member of the IDM's main organisation, who co-starred in the IDM's biggest propaganda film -- how the hades is it "potentially harmful" to point out the BLATANTLY OBVIOUS (and cited) point that he's a leader of the IDM? Even without the citation WP:DUCK clearly applies. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 16:00, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
(ec)And that's a problem why? You do realise he's a CSC fellow, right? What else does the CSC do? Anyway, I've added a ref to the 'gold standard' when it comes to scholarship about the ID movement. Guettarda (talk) 16:02, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
Another: Ronald Numbers, another leading scholar on the subject says: "When the Jewish magazine Commentary in 1996 published a version of ID theory by mathematician and novelist David Berlinski..." ("Darwinism, Creationism and 'Intelligent Design'"). Guettarda (talk) 16:18, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

"Reserves judgment"? Anyone have a source for that? Guettarda (talk) 16:32, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Unused quote from the Numbers section on 'The Deniable Darwin'[edit]

Another reader characterized Berlinski's "intuitions about the Design of the World as neither more nor less reliable than those of flat-earthers, goat-entrail readers, or believers in the Oedipus complex."

Didn't seem to fit at this stage -- but may prove useful in future. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 16:28, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Agnostic?[edit]

How can this be true when he is involed in the discovery institute which states in its manafesto that the god of the bible created humans! [Potential WP:BLP-fodder redacted] —Preceding unsigned comment added by 60.242.71.160 (talk) 02:48, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

He is the token agnostic (they also have a token Muslim and Jew). He seems happy enough to be given a megaphone for evolution-bashing that he doesn't seem too worried about the religious agenda of his bedfellows. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 07:44, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Claire Berlinski[edit]

Why isn't his daughter Claire Berlinski mentioned? She is a self-styled rightwing conservative who lives in Istanbul. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Afridayii99 (talkcontribs) 04:16, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Because no one was interested or thought it appopriate according to WP:BLP? I don't know, it's impossible to say why it's not in here as there's been no discussion. WP:BLPNAME would apply here. Dougweller (talk) 05:19, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Dear Afridayii99, please include your information about Claire Berlinski in the article. She may even merit an article of her own. It would be interesting to learn about her and her anti–Nazi endeavors.Lestrade (talk) 14:57, 6 December 2011 (UTC)Lestrade

Evolution Section[edit]

The exchange between Berlinksi, Dawkins, and Dennett in response to "Deniable Darwin" seems to have little relevance to this section since it is about Berlinksi's views on evolution. The exchange is clearly not an argument which provides an additional insight into either Berlinksi's view or real objections to his view. Furthermore given the sheer size of the Dawkins quote in particular is problematic; to take up that much space it should be carrying weight by giving more information than could be summarized in the short sentence "Richard Dawkins doesn't like Berlinski and doesn't take him seriously." Unless there is some justification for this exchange, I nominate for its removal. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.162.60.227 (talkcontribs) 22 November 2014

I'm the one that put most of it there. I think there should be some mention of the fact that a rather large back and forth discussion between Berlinski and his critics ensued, but I agree that it could definitely be shortened. One idea might be to bury some of the quotes in the footnotes so the actual article isn't so bulky. Costatitanica (talk) 18:44, 23 January 2015 (UTC)