Talk:Richard Dawkins

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Good article Richard Dawkins has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.

Is Dawkins a scientist or a science journalist?[edit]

Dawkins clearly is a scientist, this is not a forum for far out POV nonsense, let's move on Dbrodbeck (talk) 11:28, 25 March 2015 (UTC))

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Any thoughts about this edit at Fashionable Nonsense? Johnuniq (talk) 02:23, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Dawkins is a scientist, that IP is dead wrong. Dbrodbeck (talk) 02:33, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. Johnuniq (talk) 02:40, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
No worries. I don't think the Zoology Dept at Oxford hires science journalists, for example...... Dbrodbeck (talk) 02:47, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
I wonder how the IP would explain away the 946 entries here? --Epipelagic (talk) 03:31, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
New here, so please accept my apologies in advance and correct me if I do something different from expected. I'm the one who edited the paragraph mentioning Richard Dawkins at Fashionable Nonsense. The reason is simple: For somebody being called a "scientist" he or she needs to do science. Richard Dawkins career is built upon comments about science not on research. Being a physician and a scientist who actually do research I believe the term scientist should be reserved for people who invest their lives doing real science. Epipelagic, please review at least 10 percent of the entries in google scholar and tell us how many of them are research papers. I have reviewed Dawkins' papers on PubMed and could find only one research paper dating from the 60s, and not a very impressive one to say the less. A bigger problem arises when a person is being acclaimed as an expert in an area and really do not know his own area of expertise well. Many of his claims about evolutionary biology are wrong; his perspective about genetics is also wrong; and the misuse he does to terms like "evidence based" and "scientifically supported" is being spread around the world. So I don't care if anti-theist movements and "militants" see in Dawkins a kind of hero. That's their problem, even though their animosity and violence is dangerous and can have terrible consequences in several societies. But science should be defended. No one should be allowed of kidnapping science in favour of a political perspective, even less if that person is not a real scientist. I wouldn't even add him as a source for this article considering the review he did of the book. However anyone can use the references they want no matter how good or bad they are. Saying "Several scientists..." and then putting Dawkins as THE example is simply misleading. Prdm12 (talk) 09:23, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
The problem is that Wikipedia should not be used to right great wrongs. In other words, you are welcome to your opinion of Dawkins, but Wikipedia is not available for its expression—you would need reliable secondary sources to change whether articles refer to Dawkins as a scientist. Someone wanting to say that Dawkins is the greatest person alive would get the response. Johnuniq (talk) 10:32, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
@Prdm12: If you can't discriminate which are research papers in the list I gave then perhaps this will assist you. --Epipelagic (talk) 10:55, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
@Johnuniq:That's the point. It's not "my" opinion. It's something you can reproduce yourself (or anyone else) by doing some research. Wikipedia, as somebody noted earlier in this page, is not a fan page. The way I see Wikipedia is precisely as a source of accurate information free for anyone with an internet connection. And putting Dawkins as THE example of scientists doesn't help to the accuracy of any article here. Read the comments by his colleagues at Oxford if you think my credentials are not good enough, even when they are. Even more, calling Dawkins an "Eloquent science journalist" is a phrase quoted from Dr. Wilson and Dr. Noble have done an extensive and polite analysis of Dawkins' book the selfish gene. From my perspective, the easiest things to do are: to remove Dawkins from the article and put a real scientist on the scene; to remove it from the paragraph "Several scientists..."; to remove the phrase "Several scientists..." which is nonspecific and really says nothing. That will save us time for discussing other more interesting aspects of the book. I hope your beliefs and desires do not obscure your reason. Take care Prdm12 (talk) 11:01, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
@Epipelagic:Don't know what do you mean Epipelagic. Did you double-check that bibliography? I did. One research paper among themPrdm12 (talk) 11:03, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
And what paper do you think that might that be? It is one thing to be a bystander while scientists of the calibre of Wilson and Dawkins squabble because they have hurt each others feelings. It is entirely another matter to think you are personally entitled to use their squabble for your own ulterior purposes. I doubt whether Wilson would come to your defence any more than Dawkins would. --Epipelagic (talk) 11:49, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
@Epipelagic: Maybe you need clarification about what a research paper is. If so, please let me know and I'll be happy to explain it to you. I ask because I don't try to be disrespectful to you. On the other hand, when you put Dawkins at a so impressive level, I can recognize you are not seeing the "evidence" but are being guided by your emotions, which is totally understandable but undesirable. Let's see an example: When you talk about Gandhi you don't say "several lawyers..." and then put Gandhi among them. Yes, he went to the law school, but he failed at establishing a law practice. Same here. Dawkins has spent his life as a journalist and communicator of science. That's his merit (even when his concepts are wrong). One is what one does, and Dawkins doesn't do science, ergo he is not a scientist.Prdm12 (talk) 12:23, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
Okay, you're not here to talk sense but just to stir... I'll leave you to it. --Epipelagic (talk) 12:39, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what we think. If a sufficient number of reliable sources say that he's a scientist, then Wikipedia says that he's a scientist. Period. - DVdm (talk) 12:31, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
@Johnuniq:Oh well, you maybe don't have to read Dr. Wilson's book. The quote is here:[1]Prdm12 (talk) 11:19, 15 March 2015 (UTC)


@Johnuniq:BBC interview to Dr. Wilson [1]. ( I leave the reference here again. For some reason it didn't add to the references section) IMO this is enough evidence to support the edition I did. If Dr. Wilson's interview is not a reliable source, I can't think which could be. All I can say is Wikipedia has a responsibility with the public and with the forthcoming generations. Becoming a hardcore scientist implies years and even decades of hard work. Anybody can come with an idea but the work of a scientist is to demonstrate it. Take care Prdm12 (talk) 13:50, 15 March 2015 (UTC)


Wilson and Dawkins disagree. Their disagreement has got somewhat heated at times and loose words have been said. Your reference is to this - 'he rather waspishly describes Dawkins, a distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society and retired Oxford professor, as an “eloquent science journalist”'. Note the "rather waspishly". On its own, against all the many times Dawkins is described as a scientist, this is not a reliable source. --Bduke (Discussion) 21:04, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
@Bduke: Did you watch the video? Maybe is just me, but I didn't see any waspishness in Dr. Wilson when he said that, nor when he provided the reasons behind that assertion. By using the argument of "how many times" one can find a description about someone or something, one should then agree with all major religions in their claims. That's to say that it is not a good argument or measure of truth/reality how many times something has been said. If all we need to do for being considered as scientists is to write about science or to create hypothesis, then Deleuze can be seen as a great scientist. In fact, Deleuze understood better modern genetics in 1968 than Dawkins up to date. Fashionable nonsense complains about philosophers abuse of scientific jargon, but I can't imagine a person who has abused more the scientific language than Dawkins. Science is an activity that requires experimentation. Considering that nowadays everything is called "science" is worthy to highlight that biology is an empirical science and therefore experimentation is a must. Dawkins is not a scientist but a journalist, an activist, and if you want a politician, none of which is a derogatory term. On the contrary, those are valuable activities. Will you call a person "journalist" if he or she doesn't write or is not part of a team that communicates something? Calling a person who doesn't do science a scientist is disrespectful with the scientific community. While politics have a major influence in the academia and in academic research, I would expect a site like Wikipedia to be totally independent. Prdm12 (talk) 02:38, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree that Dawkins is something of a journalist, although science populariser is a better descriptor as that is what he did as Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford. That does not stop him also being a scientist. The idea that Dawkins is not a scientist is total nonsense. The Department of Zoology at Oxford and New College do not appoint non-scientists to the positions he jointly held in the University and New College. Oxford is also one of the top 4 universities in the world by recent rankings. That is my last word as you are unlikely to convince anyone here on wikipedia. --Bduke (Discussion) 05:58, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Bduke:For your last word my last word. Being hired as a professor doesn't have anything to do with being or not a scientist. For becoming a professor you need two things: a title; connections. That's it and has been like this for a thousand years since the academic system was invented (well maybe less but who cares). Or will you say that a PhD in metaphysics is a scientist? No he/she is not. Philosophers are more humble in this respect as they don't see themselves as philosophers but as a philosophy historians until they really produce something new. Ask around in your academic environment and corroborate that by yourself. I recognize some lab technicians as hardcore scientists even if they don't have a PhD title, because they are scientists. People should earn their stripes, and Dawkins didn't earn his stripes as a scientist. As simple as that. He is popular... yes. He is a nice guy... some friends of mine who know him personally say he is. But he is not and probably will never be a scientist, unless he do some real science. Prdm12 (talk) 08:42, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
You did not convince anybody. "Not a scientist" remains your unfounded opinion and nothing more. People gave you good reasons why he is a scientist, and you responded with conspiracy theories and ad-hoc excuses as justifications for ignoring the reasons. You are "discussing" with people who are used to discussing with creationists. They are able to tell a sound person from a fraud who has nothing to offer. --Hob Gadling (talk) 12:02, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling:I don't know if this is a place to take the conversation to the place you are putting it sir. I don't care about theism or anti-theism. I didn't use any kind of conspiracy theories to the best of my knowledge, and certainly my reasons are based upon research not in what others have to say. I've been asked to put a credibly source and I did it. I don't know if you are one of those anti-theist militants and really don't care. But I can tell your use of adjectives is certainly similar to that they use. If so, please educate yourself. I approached this conversation with respect and I expect the same from others. In fact, I was pointed to start this conversation in order to honour wikipedia rules. I have given my arguments but if wikipedia administrators decide they are not good enough for editing the text the way I suggested I'm nobody to contradict that. After all I'm only a guest in their house. But don't get confused sir. Keep your insults for yourself. Prdm12 (talk) 13:04, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. For someone "not a scientist", Dawkins certainly has published a lot and been cited a lot.[1] --Stephan Schulz (talk) 12:41, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Stephan Schulz:That's irrelevant. Take a look for example at the results for Matt Ridley, who is a journalist. [1]. Prdm12 (talk) 13:27, 16 March 2015 (UTC)


What is irrelevant is continuing this discussion. We operate on WP:CONSENSUS we have one, and it goes against you. Dbrodbeck (talk) 13:36, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Dbrodbeck:I'm OK with that. If anyone is curious enough, I'll encourage him/her to take Dawkins papers, one by one, and double-check his literary production. At least that will give you better arguments for defending his status as a scientist or realize why he is not a scientist. Take care. Prdm12 (talk) 13:47, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
"Professors get their positions by connections and not by ability" is a conspiracy theory. You created it ad hoc, out of thin air, with no evidence to back it up, just as an excuse for ignoring the "Dawkins was a professor" reasoning. And your conspiracy theory is wrong, as every scientist knows (many editors here are scientists). Your speculations about theism or anti-theism are also pure invention - I did not give you reason for going there, not having mentioned the subject. It seems that you never learned how to argue legitimately, since the main "weapons" you used here are argumentum ad hominem, ad hoc hypothesis, straw man and conspiracy theory.
Regarding the Dawkins papers: With the reasoning ability you exhibit here, I seriously doubt that you are able to tell if a text is a scientific paper or something else. Please go away, this is way over your head. --Hob Gadling (talk) 16:54, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling:In the first place, if you are going to quote me, please do it well. When you do it I'll be happy to respond and clarify if necessary. In second place you said this: "You are "discussing" with people who are used to discussing with creationists. They are able to tell a sound person from a fraud who has nothing to offer". Was that just a comment "to the air"? You started an "ad hominem" discussion. Again, I don't think this is the place for doing that. But no, I'm not a creationist, and no I won't accept you to even suggest I'm a fraud. Keep your militancy away from here. Is totally unnecessary. Prdm12 (talk) 18:54, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I see. I omitted a bit of context here. Creationists are notorious for the huge amount of invalid reasons they give for their worldview. Creationist reasoning is one giant bluff. In that respect, you resemble them. That means: People who are used to debating creationists will have no problem with you. This is an attack on your discussion methods, not your person. I know nothing about your person (and I do not want to), only about the way you argue, and thus can only comment on the way you argue. And that is what I did. Please come back when (or if) you find a valid reason for your opinion. --Hob Gadling (talk) 12:07, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling: I respect the rules wikipedia has. They seem to have been working all this years and I won't contradict the consensus. However, by no means that implies that my reasoning is invalid or otherwise incorrect. In fact, my reasoning is the only one here that has considered Dawkins' literary production. In science (I don't know about other areas) we have a system for evaluating the scientific production of each author. Review papers, commentaries, letters to the editor, do not count when this evaluation is performed. Case reports (in clinical research) have to be amazingly good for counting in your literary production and letters/brief reports/posters (in basic research) have to communicate the results of current research to add points to your score, but even then they are not as good as research papers. There are several bias introduced when one count the number of "papers" a scientist has published and also when considering the amount of citations a particular paper has. That's why we use a "normalization" system. My point is science is difficult. With few exceptions, scientists do not live to earn money. The only thing we have is the recognition of our work by our peers and in few cases by the public. You criticized me for talking about the role politics have in science. This is not conspiracy theory or something similar. Go and apply for a grant in Europe or USA and you'll see what I'm talking about. Why do you think Craig Venter for example left the Human Genome Project and started Celera Genomics? You can see his idea won the race and since then he became the leading scientist in the field. I can keep talking but this seems too long already. If you want to take a scientific approach to this, go and double-check the papers, go to the source. I can be wrong and I'll be happy if some one corrects me. But until then, with all due respect to wikipedia members, no one has provided a better argument than mine. Prdm12 (talk) 14:04, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
"However, by no means that implies that my reasoning is invalid" - That is true. Your reasoning is invalid, but not because you respect WP rules. You have your own private definition of the word "scientist" and WP uses not your definition but standard definitions, so your edit replacing "scientist" with something else was reverted. All your justifications for that edit, in your last contribution and further up, are irrelevant because they are all just attempts to convince others that your definition of "scientist" is better than standard definitions. As an encyclopedia, we do not do resaearch. We collect what reputable sources say. Go convince the scientific community that your definition of "scientist" is better than the standard ones, then get your definition published as the standard definition. Then we can use it. Not before. --Hob Gadling (talk) 12:38, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling:From the wikipedia page Scientist "A scientist, in a broad sense, is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist may refer to an individual who uses the scientific method.[1] The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science.[2] This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word. Scientists perform research toward a more comprehensive understanding of nature, including physical, mathematical and social realms." Dawkins doesn't do research (and never really did) ergo he is not a scientist. Prdm12 (talk) 15:35, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
This is bullshit. He did do research. But you do not want that to count, so you arbitrarily define (further above) the research he did, as "not science". All your reasoning is not fact-driven, it is goal-driven. You start at the conclusion you want to reach, then knead the evidence into the shape you need for your conclusion. Just the way creationists do it. --Hob Gadling (talk) 11:22, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling:This is boring and a waste of time. You keep using Ad-Hominem attacks for defending an indefensible position. You didn't even take the effort to double-check the definition of Scientist (a definition I have used correctly from the beginning of this) before accusing me of being inventing a new one. Dawkins is not a scientist but a journalist, an eloquent one, sure, but a journalist after all. That's his merit, and he should be remembered that way. Prdm12 (talk) 13:51, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Your definition obviously includes the detail that you are the one who decides, using arbitrary criteria, and with an eye on the result you wish to achieve, what is research and what is not. That is a non-standard definition. Röbin Liönheart's contribution just below this says it all, the rest is your own construction. Please go away. --Hob Gadling (talk) 08:08, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
@Hob Gadling:My definition, as you call it, is well supported. In fact, people doesn't have to trust me, everyone can do his/her own research. If I'm wrong I'll be happy to change my mind on the subject. Commentaries, letters, "novels" are not science. And those are the things for which Dawkins is recognized. It should be simple even for a basic mind. Prdm12 (talk) 03:04, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia is a place to improve the encyclopedia; it is not a place to debate others. See WP:NOTFORUM and WP:RGW. Please find some articles to improve. Johnuniq (talk) 03:28, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
We have a list of Dawkins's academic papers in science journals. Professor Dawkins has indeed done science, hence he's a scientist, even if he's more famous as a science popularizer. ~ Röbin Liönheart (talk) 17:42, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Robin Lionheart: I've repeated this several times in this thread: please double-check all that great papers and please tell us how many of them are research papers. It's all I'm asking. Prdm12 (talk) 18:54, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Aha, I totally forgot that we had that article. Well done, and, case closed. Dbrodbeck (talk) 18:16, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Dbrodbeck:I don't understand you. Previously you said there was a consensus. It wasn't? Prdm12 (talk) 18:54, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I've tried to close this thread like 3 times now since my intention is not to be disruptive with the busy people who runs this amazing project. However, I have the right to reply and will use it every time I have to. So I'd like to ask the administrators to moderate this talk particularly for "ad hominem" attacks. They are totally unnecessary. Thanks Prdm12 (talk) 18:54, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I was using 'case closed' in a colloquial fashion, I am sorry that this was misunderstood. If you think that there has been disruptive editing here feel free to file a report at WP:ANI. Dbrodbeck (talk) 19:02, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Dbrodbeck:No problem. I understand sometimes written communication can be misunderstood. Thanks for the clarification. Take care. Prdm12 (talk) 19:06, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Dawkins has denied that he is responsible for Jeffrey Skilling's behaviour in the case of Enron. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:36, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

See Jeffrey Skilling. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:37, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Why are there so many pictures of Richard Dawkins?[edit]

Can someone explain why need more than one or two pictures of Richard Dawkins? We don't need five different pictures of him standing behind a different podium at a different university in a different year. We just need one picture of him today, maybe one picture of him in college or as a younger man. Pictures of him interacting with others are OK, like when he receives an award or poses in front of the bus advertisement, but honestly you people can stop uploading all of your personal photos. You saw Richard Dawkins, congratulations why don't you put these pictures up on your facebooks?Brianbleakley (talk) 17:00, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Can you provide us with a Wiki rule that says 5 pictures are too many?2601:4:1500:C90:9408:F5B:8F31:BA92 (talk) 22:02, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
In such cases there's only one rule: wp:CONSENSUS: we, the contributors to the article and to this talk page, decide what is too many. If we want 50 pictures, we get 50. I personally don't think that five was too many, but I don't really care whether it's five or three. - DVdm (talk) 08:46, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
This is another topic, but so-called WP consensus is the bunk. Consensus decisions are by nature almost always flawed. Blanket application of such inevitably glosses over too many important details and unique considerations. When it contravenes scrutiny and common sense, "consensus" does far more harm than good. It's also intellectually lazy, and I wish WP editors wouldn't use WP consensus as a bludgeon when folks are trying, in earnest, to help. Pass it along. (talk) 12:17, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Will do. Meanwhile you are free to set up your own wiki, based on dissension. Good luck. - DVdm (talk) 13:27, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Request for Comments[edit]

There is an RfC on the question of using "Religion: None" vs. "Religion: None (atheist)" in the infobox on this and other similar pages.

The RfC is at Template talk:Infobox person#RfC: Religion infobox entries for individuals that have no religion.

Please help us determine consensus on this issue. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:05, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Criticism of Dawkins[edit]

I've just reverted an edit that added additional criticism of Dawkins. My edit summary probably didn't give a clear idea of why I reverted the addition. I think the problem with the edit is that, with the material added, it is no longer clear which critic of Dawkins is making which criticism. Every criticism needs to be clearly attributed to the person making it. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 01:23, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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