Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 13

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Archive 12 Archive 13 Archive 14

Dawkin's religion

Why not stating his religion? Adherent of the Enlightenment 10.0 (talk) 14:52, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Since his atheism is prominently discussed in the article's text, I assume you're referring to the infobox. If so the answer is that the 'religion' field was removed from the scientist infobox following this discussion. Olaf Davis (talk) 15:15, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
It seems, only a very small circle of people discussed it. Adherent of the Enlightenment 10.0 (talk) 15:29, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
You're quite right, Adherent. You may want to reopen a discussionthere - if so I suggest notifying appropriate WikiProjects, such asthose on atheism, religion and infoboxes, to get wider participation. Olaf Davis (talk) 10:16, 28 February 2010 (UTC)


I find that this article lacks of a section on criticism on Dawkins position. And I mean not just the criticism coming from the religious side but from the scientific community (not the religious scientific community). I mean real scientific criticism.  franklin  05:25, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it lacks a separate section. But there are plenty of references to what critics say, under various headings. What specifically do you think should be added, where should it be placed, and how should it be worded? SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 06:33, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

I, too, think there should be a section on the Richard Dawkins page about criticism of Dawkins. I am an atheist myself and agree with his general scientific worldview, but he is mainly preaching to the converted and not trying in the least to meet religious people on a premise of debate that they can even remotely accept. So his comments about religion just amounts to hitting these people over the head with a big club. I'd like to see a few words about those secular academics, like Terry Eagleton, who offer justified critiques of Dawkins' attitude and method. Tue Sorensen (talk) 10:13, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Extended Phenotype

What is its contribution to evolutionary biology? Considering it is not even a testable hypothesis and has not been incorporated into evolutionary all. Where can I see this contribution in action? source please?

Savagedjeff (talk) 07:01, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

I'm giving somebody a few days to justify this "contribution" or I am removing it.

Savagedjeff (talk) 16:02, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Not sure what you are arguing here. A contribution to a field can only take the form of a testable hypothesis? Seems fairly ridiculous. We can argue about semantics but at the end of the day a book largely on subject matter relating to evolutionary biology and widely cited seems like a contribution to me. Basically - see all the responses to your previous thread. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cubathy (talkcontribs)
TEP is, for a book, extremely widely cited in the primary scientific literature. A quick check over at the ISI Web of Knowledge suggests that it's been cited more than 700 times since publication in 1983. That's enormous. Most scientists would sell their grandmothers to achieve this level of (published) interest in their work. And this is just one of his contributions — TSG racks up a further 800+ citations in the primary literature (even TGD has around 200, and it was only published in 2006). --PLUMBAGO 16:57, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

So where does it fit in evolutionary theory? What use is it if it can't even be tested? What did it contribute? Please link me to the site with the citations. I would like to see them

Savagedjeff (talk) 05:04, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Would you please engage with Plumbago's reply, or raise a substantive issue regarding development of the article. This is not the place to express personal dissatisfaction with Dawkins or TEP. Johnuniq (talk) 06:35, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

and I asked for a link. I want to know how writing a pop book based on an untestable and unscientific hypothesis is a contribution. So, tell me how it contributed to evolutionary biology as is claimed. Or remove it. Is the God Delusion a major contribution to theology as well?

Savagedjeff (talk) 23:12, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Savagedjeff: If you have access to ISI, have a look yourself - there is no link per se. If you do not have access, I am happy to send you either a screen dump of the tally, or the full list of papers that cite TEP. If you'd like either of these, send me an e-mail, and I'll forward the full list to you by return of post. In passing, TEP is not a popular science book. Unlike TSG, which is largely a popular science treatment of sociobiology, it contains a number of novel ideas about evolutionary biology, hence the citations. Similarly, TGD is a popular treatment of the philosophy of religion (or however you'd like to describe it). I hope this helps. Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 19:38, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

The Ratio Illusion.

I'm removing a paragraph on The Ratio Illusion by Falk Quest. I don't see any evidence that the book is notable enough to be worth a mention - plenty of people disagree with Dawkins about plenty of things, but not all are noted enough to include in the article. Even if the book is worth mentioning, the present summary went into too much detail which wasn't actually relevant to Dawkins, in my opinion. Also, I found it rather hard to understand what was being said - what are "illogic experiments", "human ratio" and "intuitional atrophy", for instance?

Finally, I note that the paragraph was added by Falk55 (talk · contribs). I don't know if that account belongs to Quest, but if it does then writing about his book would constitute a conflict of interest and should be avoided. Olaf Davis (talk) 13:06, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Ah, my attempt to remove the paragraph edit conflicted with its removal by Hadrian89 (talk · contribs). I hadn't realised this stuff had been added and removed before. I second Hadrian89's request for Falk to discuss it here before trying to reinstate it again. Olaf Davis (talk) 13:08, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

The Richard Dawkins entry is quite a mess. I agree that too much detailed criticism about one of Richard Dawkin's most successful books would better be placed under The God Delusion, however, there is already a wealth of unsorted discussion about this book under Richard Dawkins. It seems arbitrary to 'allow' some criticism and remove the other (BTW Olaf Davis, 'human ratio' means human ratio, an example for an 'illogic experiment' has been linked - have a look - , and 'intuitional atrophy' means a low amount of intuition. If you stumble here, how do you deal with ‘Stephen Jay Gould's principle of nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA)' mentioned in the article ?) I would recommend to sort criticism on the book out in a few categories and relocate the entire discussion about the book to The God Delusion. I volunteer (hesitantly. Will take me hours).Falk55 (talk) 15:36, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Well, I haven't looked in detail at all the bits of criticism included in the article. On a brief re-reading though it seems that most of the critics quoted or mentioned are reasonably well-known scientists, theologians or public figures of some sort: as far as I know, Quest is not. Still, if there are other bits of criticism you feel don't belong here I'm happy to discuss them here with a view to removal or transferral to other articles.
As to the specific phrases: If I weren't already acquainted with the phrase NOMA (which, as it happens, I was) I could have followed the link to its article and learned about it, but that's not the case with the examples I cite above. An example of an 'illogic experiment' was given but without any indication of what makes it an example, or what the phrase means; the linked page doesn't use it and I've never heard the experiment described as such. Similarly the explanation "'human ratio' means human ratio" does not especially enlighten me: I know what both those words mean, but can't really think what the phrase could be getting at. Olaf Davis (talk) 16:32, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd agree with Olaf. For starters, the terminology introduced is unorthodox and, frankly, bizarre. What on Earth is the "human ratio"? Furthermore, leaving aside WP:COI (does Falk55 = Falk Quest?), WP:UNDUE (is this a notable viewpoint?) and WP:RS (is this view of science supported by any science?), I don't understand why Dawkins is specifically targeted with this material. It seemingly slants itself against mainstream science in general. Dawkins is articulating a view held by any number of other scientists - he's not its originator. --PLUMBAGO 17:03, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
(It seems that Mr Quest is erroneously using the word 'ratio' to mean rationality/reason, not a comparison of relative magnitudes - perhaps this stems from the fact that the Latin word ratio means reason?) (talk) 14:58, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I latterly worked out that this is what was probably being meant. It seems a rather confusing use of language though, but "confusing" is a word that seems quite widely applicable in this thread. --PLUMBAGO 15:40, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Ah, that makes sense. I'd thought of interpreting ratio as rationality but could see no reason it would be so truncated - knowledge of Latin to the rescue. Olaf Davis (talk) 17:11, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The thing is that Dawkins, unlike other scientists is rather clumsy when it comes to defend these ideas. Add to that the fact that usually manifests a petulant attitude. I some ways it seems that he is more interested in lighting more fires than in illuminating. A simple comparison would be The Fabric of Reality. I prize you for saying "Dawkins is articulating a view held by any[a] number of other scientists" a phrase that I would thank Dawkins to use. Because not all scientists share his arguments (and I am not talking about being religious or not but the reasons for not being religious or for being atheist or for preferring the scientific method as the tool for understanding what is called reality). I think that is the reason why he is an special target. Well include also the religious fanatics which would be attacking him even if his arguments (and style) were scientifically correct. About the inclusion of The Ratio Illusion, I think it shouldn't be included here. It doesn't seem to be a well known book or at least references are needed. Abisharan (talk) 19:35, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
This is not meant to be an arrogant question: have you ever thought what purpose people have who meditate ? Since meditation is central to buddhism-hinduism-taoism-sufism-hesychastic-christianism-many-other-isms : have you ever wondered if all these hundreds of millions might not only be goofs as Dawkins tries to put it (who, by the way, is not very scientific in equating the worst parts of the old testimony with religion) ? I give you a brief answer here, which relates both to my paragraph you erased and your points above: these people try to train a sense perception which could be called 'religious intuition' or 'religious musicality'. This 'religious intuition' has nothing in common with Santa-Claus-kind of belief and does not necessarily involve any deity (see buddhism). I have tried to argue that a similar sort of intuition, which is better investigated, acts in mastergrade extreme sports athletes. Dawkins ignores this sense, many scientists ignore it, me as a hard-core scientist ignored it for more than three decades, but it exists. Now you can go on and perpetuate this ignorance to your Wikipedia work. Or you can try to broaden your horizon to something which apparently is a need in some billion people, including many scientists. I believe criticizing Dawkins on these grounds is worth to be mentioned, either under his name or better under "God Delusion".Falk55 (talk) 21:26, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
It happens, that I myself am a critic of Dawkins. I criticize, on the other hand, slightly different things. It happens that if Dawkins exposition of the alienation of religion form the grounds of science (although he is more ambitious) were done appropriately the exposition would be less hard on topics such at the one you are exposing. Starting from logic (excluded middle that he uses in the very root of the scientific question "Either God exists or it doesn't" is a learned thing. As religion as science is) That only to say one little point of a sea of sides that his exposition is missing to analyze. The thing is that none of this is the reason for the deletion of that paragraph. It doesn't matter that you are the foremost hardest-core scientist of all in any topic. If there are not reliable sources saying what you are going to add to Wikipedia then it must be removed. Take it as an axiom. Find reliable sources that corroborate that this is an important aspect to understand who is Richard Dawkins (understanding his critics is part of that) and that would have to be added here or if it is important to the book The God delusion it can be added in that article. I would be happy supporting it in that case, since I am one of those scientists that feel ashamed of calling themselves that way after reading The God delusion. And I am not even religious. Abisharan (talk) 22:11, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. With respect to your concise and plausible demand "find reliable sources" let me repeat what I said in the removed paragraph (references expanded): "In 2009, Falk Quest challenged Dawkins' a priori claim that rationality is a perfect tool to fathom 'reality'< ref >Quest, Falk (2009). The Ratio Illusion. Norderstedt: BoD. p. 224. ISBN 9-783839-1-139066 Check |isbn= value: length (help). < /ref >. He argues that even within the realm of science illogic experiments like the double slit experiment and other quantum phenomena demonstrate the limits of human ratio. Another example are mastergrade extreme sports athletes like huge wave surfers, steep hill ski racers and ice waterfall or mountain climbers, who report that in dangerous situations rational thinking has to be abandoned and intuitive acting ("flow") completely takes over < ref >Coffey, Maria (2008). Explorers of the infinite. London: Penguin Books. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-58542-651-5. < /ref >. If more university post-graduates are religious than undergraduates < ref >Where do atheists do come from?, New Scientist (2010) March 5, 26-27< /ref > - which retaliates Dawkins' underlying perception that religiosity is fools matter - and if intuition can become so powerful a tool, Falk Quest asks, could not an as yet uninvestigated "revelational intuition" act in mastergrade religious performers, in saints, mystics, yogis and religious founders, and atheism be a product of intuitional atrophy ?" Although I now see that this comment would be better placed under The God Delusion, and there is some terseness ('intuitive atrophy') : there is no lack of references here; FYI, the references section in "The Ratio Illusion" goes over 3 small-letter font pages. Having said that, let me offer again to re-write the section "Critical reception" in the Wikipedia entry The God Delusion by trying to categorize the main criticisms. This will require substantial effort, so take it or leave it. Falk55 (talk) 10:39, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

← How's about we leave it? Out of the article that is. It sounds, at best, like you're just describing the sort of "in-the-zone" thinking that works well for sports, or other activities that require fast decision making about rather limited situations. If you can find somewhere that Dawkins specifically states that careful, rational thinking is superior to all other forms of "thinking" when under the extreme time pressures that occur in instinctive, reaction-testing situations, then you might just about have a point. And your use of quantum mechanics here is simply ridiculous — what on Earth has the behaviour of entities from particle physics got to do with the "human ratio"? And what exactly do you mean by "human ratio" and "intuitional atrophy" anyway? These sound like concepts invented for this book which have no currency outside of it (Google agrees).

Finally, can you please clarify if you (Falk55) are, or are closely tied to, Falk Quest? If so, you might perhaps consider reading WP:COI for guidance. --PLUMBAGO 14:47, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

  • (to Falk55) There is a slight difference between the references provided and the ones needed. You need to prove the claim that that is relevant. Imagine that, I don't know, gravitation law was just discovered. You will not be able to use as a only supporting reference the works of Newton. You will need (also) the Washington Post (for example) saying that what Newton is saying is cool, or important. And there are statements there that I have little hope that you will find supported in such a way. For example, "ilogic experiments like the double slit experiment and other quantum phenomena demonstrate the limits of human ratio." I myself see no proof of limitation of logic there, or of ratio, but of intuition. The thing about extreme sports is more interesting. But still is a bad proof of anything. It is similar to saying that the incapacity of quantum mechanics of predicting social revolutions proves its limitations. Again if you find secondary reliable sources for whatever thing you want to say you will be able to put it in Wikipedia. I personally have don't think that will be the case with these ideas. I don't think they are in the right track. But good luck. Abisharan (talk) 15:04, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree fully with Plumbago. Also, NB this post at The God Delusion's talk page. Hadrian89 (talk) 15:43, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I also agree with what seems to be presenting itself as a consensus. As for your offer to tidy the criticisms, Falk, I for one am happy for you to do so: I ask only that you post your proposed changes here first - or at least start a thread along the lines of "I've made this change, what do you chaps think of it?" - to make it easier for us to comment on them. Olaf Davis (talk) 17:11, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Falk55 obviously is Falk Quest. With respect to conflict of interest I have commented before , see User_talk:Old_Moonraker bottom. I may add that I find at Wikipedia:COI the following: "Conflict of interest is not a reason to delete an article" and "Editing in an area in which you have professional or academic expertise is not, in itself, a conflict of interest. Using material you yourself have written or published is allowed within reason, but only if it is notable". I would propose you exchange 'notable' by 'disclosed', because what is notable ? From Olaf's comment above one can get the impression that only celebrities are notable (to take an extreme example, contributions from a low IQ former football star accused or murder would qualify), while specialists unknown to the public are not. A better way to judge qualification is the impact factor of the scientific journal which is cited, at least that's how it goes in biology, physics, chemistry and medicine. Self-citation, BTW, is neither prohibited nor the exception in scientific publications, but the rule. Abisharan, take any Wikipedia entry in biology and you find plenty original literature cited. Obviously there is no requirement to be backed-up by a Washington Post layman. And that is the correct scientific attitude. Let me elaborate, because this to my surprise caused confusion, on the quantum thing. It has been shown in neurobiology and psychology that under certain conditions our senses or memories or logical reasoning may fail miserably. There are several examples in my book, more in the books of Mlodinow and the Kazans and many others, all compilations of huge piles of scientific publications. It has been shown that our "common sense understanding" or "everyday ratio" can fail miserably, again illustrated by piles of literature. This failure can be pinpointed by quantum phenomena. While we "understand" that an apple falls down to earth or it hurts after burning or why we stop before the red traffic light, humans cannot "understand" the outcome of the double slit experiment or how each of three quarks making up the proton can be heavier than the proton (except indirectly by mathematical equations) or how a 4D-cube feels in ones hand. Our brain did not deal with those things during 100000 years running after the mammoth. We cannot "understand" what happens during the big bang or inside a black hole. Dawkins' (and a vast majority of scientist's) premise that rationality is a tool which can "fathom" reality always and forever is just plain wrong. Quantum physicists have struggled with this since hundred years and the impression there might be a reality "behind" the reality approachable by our senses is gaining momentum (see Zeilinger, Penrose, Bitbol, many others). Here comes the intuition. Rational intelligence (IQ) is widely distributed following a gaussian distribution. Assume the following. There is another "tool" to understand our world and act in it called intuition. To empower this tool methods have been laid out over 3000 years of asian religious scriptures. The distribution of this tool, presumably, is not gaussian but biased towards low or no intuitional power in most of us, great intuitional power in few mastergrade sports athletes, artists, scientists but limited to particular trained situations, and immense intuitional power in very few mystics, saints and religious founders of all centuries. Notice that up to this point no God is in the game. Dawkins et al. blind out a potentially important human capability to access the world. Rather than blinding it out we should investigate this sense. A "religion is dangerous" attitude fuelled simply by disputable interpretations of the christian church is just no good science. Olaf, I am still not sure whether I may steel additional hours from my children, but when I do I place the draft here or at the God Delusion's talk page first, no problem. And I would be happy to disclose the authorship. Falk55 (talk) 19:20, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

WP:NB defines what Wikipedia considers to be a "notable book". Your book appears to be self-published and sold through a service called "Books on Demand", and I don't see that it meets basic notability requirements. Given that you're only quoting your own rebuttal of Dawkins and questions towards him (rather than a piece of research or data which doesn't exist in any other citable sources), this doesn't seem like a particularly useful piece of self-citation. --McGeddon (talk) 19:38, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

I understand that you guys cannot judge each Wikipedia contribution by expert knowledge and thus have to stick to some formal criteria. I also understand that you tend to be picky because likely you are flooded by crap. But in all your honorable guardian work you should be well aware that WP:NB criteria are fuzzy at best, to the extend that they resort to "common sense should prevail", and unconvincing at worst. According to these criteria Lothar Matthäus' (german soccer player) "Mein Tagebuch" (my diary) qualifies while a habilitation script highly cited in specialized journals would not. Please recognize that the qualification of a scientist can be easily estimated by very few hard criteria: list of publications together with journals impact factors and citation index, i.e. how often one is cited by others - you don't get a job without those numbers in good shape. With respect to BoD: I guess that there are very few if any good books published by BoD, yet I have decided, other than with book manuscripts before, to go for Bod because I can implement corrections, additions, revisions very quickly and print quality is excellent. If all what has been said before still leaves you with the impression that I am only quoting myself I cannot help you.Falk55 (talk) 00:32, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

  • The example of the Washington post was clearly to convey the idea of being notable and well known. Also, it happens indeed that sometimes the contributions of a low IQ former football star accused or murder do qualify better for notability than the new discovery of a genius. It depends on what we are dealing with. Wikipedia does not care about the truth but about the truth that is settled, well known, accepted, notable. About the ideas that you are trying to add: The idea of the suitability of irrational thinking for some purposes is not new. Maybe you should try to use better known references than your own book. Personally I find the argument using the quantum mechanics example irrelevant to the point (and intuitively suggest me that the rest of the ideas also come weak, or flawed, or badly supported). The thing is that it only shows that there are phenomenons in nature that do not correspond to intuition but, certainly that does not imply unsuitability of rational analysis or even worst logic to study and understand those phenomenons. There is a difference between intuition and rationality and even more with logic. The example of sports is more interesting and I can add that irrational thinking is also (contradictorily) useful in areas such as mathematical research (sometimes). The two examples, nevertheless are weak. Both mechanisms are very little understood and using them as a proof of the unsuitability of rational thinking seems ungrounded. There is a simple possible answer. Rational thinking is a learned ability. Notions as simple as the axioms of propositional logic (in which we can base our rational thinking) are all learned. Using learned stuff for thinking is an slow mental process. And there it is, why relying on intuition (whatever that is) is better for the surfer. That is why I personally find those ideas a weak point, not only against whatever Dawkins is saying but, in general. Abisharan (talk) 00:05, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I forgot to talk about the example of the quarks. That one is only there for spectacle, to dazzle, but it has even less content than the others. That counter intuitive fact only relies on the ignorance on the phenomenon and the fact that the manifestations of the consequences of energy and mass being the same thing are not an everyday experience as oppose to the additivity of mass. It only show that intuition relies on experience. It is the same if I, that have never surfed before, try to surf. I can try to use my intuition all I can and pretend to be a jedi and use the force or the flow but I will not be able to ride a wave. Not until I have passed through the experience a number of times (although I am less hopeful in my case). Abisharan (talk) 00:24, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Excellent. I'm happy to withdraw.Falk55 (talk) 00:32, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

It looks like most of what's needs to be said has already been so above, but I just want to say thanks to Falk55 for being open about your COI (which, as you rightly say, does not mean you can't contribute in the area - it's just helpful to other editors to understand your involvement) and taking criticism positively. If you do decide to rewrite the section I look forward to reading it. Best, Olaf Davis (talk) 20:14, 16 March 2010 (UTC)


Could we add something about this Richard Dawkins is supportive of animal rights, and has interviewed a prominent animal rights activist about it, that seems notable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RememberingLife (talkcontribs) 09:19, 15 March 2010 (UTC)


There are some awful spelling errors that need correcting unless they are British spellings? I can't fix it until I get to my 10 posts since this is locked.

Professor314 (talk) 05:50, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Please see WP:ENGVAR. We never change the spelling style of an established article, and generally an article like this (British subject) should use British spelling. Johnuniq (talk) 07:47, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Professor314, feel free to list them here and I or someone else can fix any which are errors and not British spelling. (talk) 10:46, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Reverted to earlier version?

Was this edit by new user Heavyleaks actually a revert to an earlier version of the article? Although the edit summary was "use numerical dates in the citations and sort out some sections", it re-adds the recently-expired protection template and appears to reintroduce a lot of sentences that crop up in old Wikipedia mirrors. I can't see an exact match in the page history, though. --McGeddon (talk) 11:43, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

I noticed and am investigating; will report here. Johnuniq (talk) 23:03, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Which Pope was Pope Nazi?

The section on Dawkins describing the Pope as "Pope Nazi" is indeed ambiguously between Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Pius XII, but it became clear later that he was actually talking about the latter as the context was the making of Saints and Pius XII was contrasted with Mary MacKillop. There was much discussion in the Australian press and the writer in the Herald Sun was critised for not retracting his comment which is the first reference in the article currently regarding this event. I tried to clarify this, using the SMH reference which talks only about Pius XII, but it needs cleaning up probably. There are lots of possible references for this, but I do not have the time right now to find them. --Bduke (Discussion) 00:06, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

There is no point in Wikipedia describing a temporary but now resolved confusion or "ambiguity". The article need only mention which Pope he actually was criticising, not one that some people wrongly thought for a while that he might have been criticising. And I'm ambivalent about whether a sentence about whether or not the Pope actually was a Nazi is appropriate. It could be opening a can of worms that has nothing to do with the article. It would seem that mentioning the (well referenced?) criticism of Dawkins should be enough. HiLo48 (talk) 01:53, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
Here's one ref clarifying that it was indeed Pius [1] Hadrian89 (talk) 02:04, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

Please see the previous section. The editing currently taking place concerns information that was not present in the version prior to the edit mentioned above, and it is likely that the article will be reverted back to its former state (I would recommend that if anyone feels like doing it now). Johnuniq (talk) 03:58, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

I haven't looked at the differences between the current version and the one Johnuniq links to in enough detail to have any strong opinion on a wholesale revert. On the whole, my feeling is that this "Pope Nazi" incident wasn't really significant enough to warrant a paragraph in the article at all: it's the kind of thing that happens with fair frequency to public figures like Dawkins, and I think we have enough examples already. Certainly if we do include it then I agree with HiLo48 that we should just say which pope he actually meant and not "he meant Benedict oh wait no he didn't". I also think saying "Pius wasn't actually a Nazi" is not necessary; perhaps something like "...referring to wartime Pope Pius XII, whose relationship to the Nazi Party has long been controversial" would be better.
As an aside, the following sentence "Prior to the same convention, he debated Australian senator Stephen Fielding, who is a new-earth creationist, on Q&A (TV program)" doesn't seem that noteworthy given the large number of people he debates (and the link to the Pope Nazi conversation is tenuous at best) so I've removed it. Olaf Davis (talk) 11:26, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree with user Olaf Davis that the reference to Australian senator Stephen Fielding is a bit unnecessary in light of such frequency - I did however insert it initially on the basis that it was a rather well-documented debate which he was widely acknowledged as winning, however I retract that in light of the excellent point raised by Olaf Davis. I do believe the whole "Pope Nazi" issue should involve brief mention of the misreporting, which claimed he referred to Pope Benedict XVI and not Pope Pius XII. Nobody claims Pius had links with the Nazi Party, however some do dispute whether he exacted enough protest during the Holocaust, see Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. So Dawkins was not correct in calling him a Nazi, however it must be made clear that he was rather referring to the Holocaust controversy in which Pope Pius XII was involved; it was an offhand remark which must be understood in that context. So perhaps a better phrasing might be "...referring to wartime Pope Pius XII, whose actions during the Holocaust have been a matter of controversy." What do you think of this? Or is it better to retain the current phrasage, which pointedly explains why his terminology was a cause for controversy, as strictly speaking such a claim is factually inaccurate. Thank-you for taking the time to read through this. GoodBooksMelbourne (talk) 12:34, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

I think I prefer your wording to either mine or the current one. "Actions during the Holocaust" is a better description of what's been criticsied; my version did sound a bit more like people had accused him of direct support or being a secret member or something. You're right that the current wording ("not in fact a Nazi") is strictly correct, but since Dawkins used the epithet to mean something a bit loser than "member of the Nazi party" it's not quite the relevant point. I've reworded the statement in the article to GoodBooksMelbourne's suggested version (with a slight grammatical shift). Olaf Davis (talk) 22:45, 10 April 2010 (UTC)


Missing is a clear and important section of CRITICISM of Dawkins, from various perspective (scientific, religious and atheist as well).! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:14, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

This has been discussed many times and rejected. Look in the archives of this talk page. Criticism should be integrated into the article, as it is. --Bduke (Discussion) 22:09, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Revert to 9 April 2010

As noted above, Heavyleaks (talk · contribs) made a large change to the article while using the misleading edit summary "use numerical dates in the citations and sort out some sections" (the user has made no other edit at Wikipedia). That edit restored a lot of dubious wording that had been introduced by a highly banned user (previous discussion here). I had hoped to attend to this issue in a slightly different manner, but it is taking too long. So, sorry for the delay, but I am about to revert to this version (05:14, 9 April 2010 by Andrewlp1991) to restore the article to how it was before the edit by Heavyleaks. I will then examine the changes made to the article since that time and attempt to incorporate them. Johnuniq (talk) 03:20, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

I have finished restoring the good edits. This diff shows the changes from 05:14, 9 April 2010 (just before edit by Heavyleaks) to 04:28, 13 April 2010 (my "finished restore" final edit). Johnuniq (talk) 04:35, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Heavyleaks = Findaknow, Standardfact, Popovvk, Livingrm, Afteread, etc. They are keen to re-organise those sections! John Vandenberg (chat) 11:53, 27 April 2010 (UTC)


I have seen, already too many times, people removing some other's comments as being irrelevant. They are not removed for being vandalism or the like. I don't understand that practice, I don't even like it. If someone considers it irrelevant just say so in a comment to the comment instead of just removing it. Let the others judge by themselves if it is irrelevant or not. After all, this is the talk page, not the article. It is really tedious to have to go to the history to see if what was removed is irrelevant or not. If it were vandalism or maybe even just tagged as such I wouldn't bother, but "irrelevant". Let me (and the rest of us) decide by ourselves. Comments in the talk page are for reaching consensus about aspects related to the article. Consensus is not one dude tagging as irrelevant a comment and then deleting it. Even if it is in fact irrelevant. Abisharan (talk) 18:25, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Well, I have to agree that the last bit removed for irrelevance was truly irrelevant (it certainly has no bearing on this article). Per WP:TPO though, you may be right in that the section shouldn't be deleted; it should be archived instead. That particular section, however, could have fallen into the 'rant' category just as easily. DP76764 (Talk) 18:38, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
I plead guilty. In the past week I have twice removed something from this talk page and tagged it in the diff as "irrelevant": here and here. Maybe I should have flagged them as "vandalism", because in each case the source of the comment I removed was an IP that was used solely for vandalism. Furthermore, the stuff about Deschner being a Nazi has been added to various talk pages several times over the last year or more, always by an IP, and it's pretty clear that it's the same person each time. This person also indulges in vandalism of user pages when an editor reverts his/her inflammatory comments. This is a serial vandal, hence my brutal treatment. In general I would agree that whether something is relevant or not should be left for others to decide - but in both these cases I felt it was not only utterly irrelevant but also part of an ongoing attempt to disrupt this talk page. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 18:51, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
And I'm guilty of that last removal. I'm back from a very long break, and a couple of years ago when I was last editing actively, (as it says in WP:TPO) 'Formerly it was not uncommon to simply delete off-topic posts' and I hadn't realised the practice had changed.
Having said that, I edit in various areas where trolling, ranting and general off-topic posts are common, and if OT posts are left, it often happens that an editor or two will respond to the nonsense, saying 'this is nonsense/off-topic/etc.', the original poster will respond, and an equally time-wasting conversation of no benefit to the article ensues. I too am not trigger-happy about deleting comments on talk pages, but I'll think carefully in the light of the changed talk page guidelines. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 19:06, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Plans for Papal Arrest

Source for later if the event proves notable [2] or heck I dont it may be notable now, but not for me to decide Weaponbb7 (talk) 19:10, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Well it isn't a ONEEVENT and both participants are NOTABLE and it is RS and VERIFIED. It is relevant because Dawkins is always attacking the Church [3]. My own view is that it may result in a change of the law. Kittybrewster 10:34, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
The Times has seriously over-egged the pudding here, in its headline at least. Dawkins quotes the article in full and responds on his website here: Summary: Hitchens proposed trying to start a law suit, RD said 'good idea', Hitchens found a lawyer.
As it stood, our article gives the impression that RD plans to leap at the pope with handcuffs, which is silly. I've removed it - if something happens, like a case in court, it needs a mention, if RD does more than saying 'good idea' to Hitchens. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 10:50, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't agree. In any event, that may be a reason to correct it but not to remove it. Kittybrewster 11:29, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
I did try to re-write it so that it (1) was about RD and (2) wasn't about things that may or may not happen, or haven't happened yet, but there really isn't much there. Certainly there is potential for an important section, if RD gets involved with a high-profile case that has an impact on the papal visit, but as yet nothing suitable for the article has happened, IMHO. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 12:20, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
If I can find a credible reference linking RD to the pope arrest then I will add it and people will accept it, end of. Knowing him though as soon as I put anything on here negative about him he'd threaten to sue me or something..... Cls14 (talk) 11:05, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Don't worry, Wikipedia will make sure that he won't sue you :-) DVdm (talk) 11:35, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
It's nonsense; just a ridiculous publicity stunt. Mentioning it in the encyclopaedia would be giving it undeserved credibility. (Huey45 (talk) 03:52, 30 April 2010 (UTC))

"prominent critic"

Some of you appear to not be too familiar with the word "prominent". "Prominent" means distinguished, eminent etc. "Prominent critic" is an oxymoron; controversial people cannot be labelled as "prominent". Being a contributor to Wikipedia for a long time, I willingly went to the trouble of correcting this error, which may not be obvious to those for whom the English language is not one of their strong points.

I noticed that Edhubbard changed "outspoken" back to the incorrect "prominent" and even referred to it as a point of view issue. Perhaps you are a fan of Richard Dawkins and you like to make him sound good, but a neutral point of view is one of the fundamental principles of Wikipedia, so changing words around when they don't even make sense just to promote your own agenda is entirely unacceptable.

I don't even like Richard Dawkins; I just corrected the incorrect information in order to improve the standard of the encyclopaedia, so it's particularly disappointing to see ignorant editors like StealthCopyEditor undoing my work for no legitimate reason. In the future, I suggest you give the benefit of the doubt to people who have a firmer grasp of the English language than yourself. The fact of the matter is that "prominent" is not the right word due to the controversial nature of Richard Dawkins and his publications. I would be willing to help you find possible alternatives to the word "outspoken" though, if, for some reason, it isn't appropriate either.(Huey45 (talk) 07:47, 1 May 2010 (UTC))

"Outspoken" is good. It's true. It's unarguable. Not offensive. (Unless he had claimed to have taken a vow of silence.) Doesn't even suggest which side of an argument he is likely to take. Wonderfully neutral. I like it. HiLo48 (talk) 07:54, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree with this. "Prominent" needs a source. "Outspoken" does not. No problem.

But can you explain the rationale behind the removal of the term "scientific rationalist" which seems to be referenced by this source, which in turn alas seems to be unavailable online. I did a search for this article/interview ("Why I am a secular humanist") on the site, but I don't find it. So there is no way we can verify whatever it was that was written there - at least not with this reference. Does anyone have access to this source so we can settle this aspect of your edit? DVdm (talk) 08:02, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Oh yeah, I forgot about the scientific rationalist thing. I looked up "scientific rationalist" and it turns out there's no such thing anyway. The article at the end of the link was about "rationalism" and I read it but it didn't talk about anything as specific as "scientific rationalism" either. (Huey45 (talk) 08:11, 1 May 2010 (UTC))
I know, I looked it up too and came up empty. But if it is in the source, then the phrase would merely be scare-quoted - not removed. Anyway, I propose we just add rationalist and leave the scientific bit out. Okay with you? DVdm (talk) 08:19, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Good idea. (Huey45 (talk) 08:48, 1 May 2010 (UTC))
Ok. Awaiting possible comments from Hyperdeath, I'll go ahead. Cheers - DVdm (talk) 09:19, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
The word "outspoken" is generally applied to participants in two-sided debates, and implies that a person is merely giving their opinion. Dawkins, however, isn't giving his opinion; he is merely stating facts. (Or, to be pedantic, as close to facts as science can realistically get.) Would you talk about an "outspoken" advocate for the Pythagoras theorem, or an "outspoken" critic of flat-earthism? As for the word "prominent", he is prominent; he has written a best-selling book attacking evolution-denial, and many other best-selling books on evolution. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 09:33, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Hm. You have a point as well. I now just took the trouble to take a dictionary, and it turns out that prominent is defined as "standing out so as to be seen easily", and "leading, important, or well-known" - note the presence of the word "or" - not "and".

On the other hand, outspoken is "free or unreserved in speech". Hm... perhaps we can take both adjectives :-) DVdm (talk) 09:41, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

(EC) 'Outspoken' has strongly negative connotations: The OED example uses are 'He is very outspoken; but he does not mean to be rude' and 'Sylvia..gets rather outspoken after her second cocktail' - so it's used in the context of rudeness and drunkenness. 'Prominent' just means 'standing out from the crowd' or 'highly noticeable' and is thus more neutral IMHO.
Also, the initial post to this section is grossly in breach of WP:NPA. Other people speak English too, Huey45, and you are not the ultimate judge of correct usage. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 09:55, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Definitions will obviously vary between dictionaries, but it's interesting for DVdm to say "standing out so as to be seen easily". Would you call a criminal "prominent"? What about one of those people who are well-known for denying the Holocaust? No, it's ridiculous to suggest that controversial people can be called "prominent". "Prominent" is for things that are universally seen as good, such as sports players, artists and the like. Hyperdeath, you're clearly getting carried away with your own agenda. Saying "he's stating facts" is nonsense; he's advocating an opinion and I'm surprised that you would even suggest otherwise. "Well-known" is another possibility, since it has an obvious NPOV.(Huey45 (talk) 10:10, 1 May 2010 (UTC))
Dawkins may be controversial when it comes to religion, but when it comes to evolutionary biology, he's simply stating a completely uncontroversial scientific fact, and repudiating ignorant gibberish. As the evolution FAQ makes clear, the truth of evolution is the Wikipedia NPOV position. If you don't like it, you could depart for a more trustworthy encyclopedia. — Hyperdeath(Talk) 13:39, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
FWIW, I'm open to anything. I'm good with "prominent", with "outspoken", and even with "outspokenly prominent" or whatever. Let's not make a war over this - please...:-)

Indeed, surely "well-known" is ok with everyone? DVdm (talk) 10:18, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Saying that 'prominent' is for 'things that are universally seen as good' is simply wrong. "David Irving is a prominent Holocaust denier" is just fine - all that it means is that Irving is one of the best-known of the set of Holocaust deniers. No approval or disapproval is implied. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 10:25, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I also think that prominent means that he stands out - but over a period of time. This describes RD. A random criminal would not be prominent even if he was notorious for a single act. Prominent editors on WP are those whose actions/opinions are widely known. You could have prominent inclusionists at the same time as prominent exlcusionists, so there is no right or wrong about the term. Stephen B Streater (talk) 14:06, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
I too agree that 'prominent' doesn't mean positive, and applies perfectly to Dawkins. That's evinced by dictionary definitions such as the one DVdm gives above, but also in my experience is a simple fact about English as she is spoke. Although 'well-known' would also work, to me 'prominent' feels better for reasons I confess I can't really put my finger on. Olaf Davis (talk) 14:18, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
The thesaurus seems to support my earlier suggestion that "prominent" refers to things that are universally considered good. It lists words like "distinguished", "eminent", "outstanding", "renowned", "great", "exceptional" etc. I really must insist once more that it simply isn't the appropriate word to describe a contoversial figure. Terms such as "outspoken", "well-known", "significant" and "high profile" are all viable options. If this discussion drags on too much, then we could even remove the adjective altogether; the sentence would still make sense. (Huey45 (talk) 14:29, 1 May 2010 (UTC))
There's also Webster with the neutral "2 a: readily noticeable conspicuous" and "b: widely and popularly known: leading", with noticeable as a synonym. Sounds perfectly neutral and factual, and thus really ok to me after all. DVdm (talk) 14:34, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Your link also gives "famed", "high-profile", "notable", "notorious" and indeed "well-known" as synonyms, Huey45 - this seems to confirm that it's not used exclusively positively. We could remove the adjective, but I remain unconvinced that there's any reason to. Olaf Davis (talk) 17:28, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Wherever we end up, using Websters for a British person is totally inappropriate. To settle this quickly, I'm with Huey45. Leave out the adjective completely for now. HiLo48 (talk) 17:51, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
HiLo48, can you please take your favourite British dictionary and tell us how it describes prominent? Is there a significant difference with what Webster says? DVdm (talk) 18:31, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

The Oxford Dictionary says: 1 important; famous. 2 protuberant. 3 particularly noticeable. But again I suggest that the best solution for now is no adjective - just so we can all move on. HiLo48 (talk) 18:38, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. Sounds perfectly adequate. So let's take it by restoring the original, and then move on :-) - DVdm (talk) 19:04, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
Since the term "outspoken" implies that Dawkins relies on mere opinion for his stance against demonstrably wrong and unscientific claims, it seems that the adjective is inappropriately used here. An evolutionary biologist promoting science is not the same action as someone promoting a political opinion, for example. The position Dawkins holds with respect to religion, on the other hand, could properly be described as "outspoken." With this in mind, I have reworded the sentence to read "Dawkins well known for his candid criticism of creationism and intelligent design." Precise language is extremely important in maintaining NPOV. StealthCopyEditor (talk) 22:09, 1 May 2010 (UTC)


Can someone with privileges please add the needed apostrophe to "Dawkins memes refer to any cultural entity...", to give "Dawkins' memes refer to any cultural entity..." ? (talk) 17:55, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

 Done - DVdm (talk) 17:59, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Expelled not in article

I noticed that there is no mention of that movie in the article. I looked back through the archives, and it looks as though some details about it were added about two years ago, but were removed as WP:RECENTISM. Are there any policy based reasons for not adding some mention of it now? Dawkins' involvement seems important, as it was a notable film with Ben Stein, a notable individual. I would think a mention of the interview, with a description of how it was edited for the film and Dawkins explanation of events, would be appropriate. Comments? Torchiest talk/contribs 19:51, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

What would you like to see about the film in the article? I've never heard of it, and your Wikilink takes me to a page about it that is not all that flattering. And I have no idea what interview you're referring to. Can you explain a little more please. HiLo48 (talk) 21:14, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
Ben Stein interviewed Richard Dawkins for the film. The interview was edited, and Dawkins said that it was conducted under false pretenses, because the filmmakers claimed the interview was to be for a neutral movie about evolution and intelligent design (ID), rather than for a movie that was strictly pro-ID and more focused on the supposed ostracizing and firing of professors that believe in ID. All the details about it are in the article for the documentary, in the Richard Dawkins section. I thought a very condensed version of events would be appropriate for this article, as the film caused a notable stir when it was released. Torchiest talk/contribs 21:56, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I do not recall the earlier mention of the film, but I imagine the key hurdle to including information about it in this article is whether the film is sufficiently significant with regard to Dawkins to warrant mention here. Dawkins has been involved with literally hundreds of people in documentaries or debates or books, so some fairly solid analysis by an independent reliable source should be found before including more details here. Johnuniq (talk) 03:14, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
My impression was that this was a relatively larger controversy at the time, but I'm not sure if there's a lot of residual impact from the events surrounding the movie. Might be something to research eventually, but I'm definitely not pushing hard for inclusion. I primarily wanted to get some reasons for why it might not have been added already, and yours are good. Torchiest talk/contribs 17:30, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Torchiest - it seemed larger at the time. There were once two daughter articles about the movie. A year later, people have a hard time remembering what the fuss was about, and the daughter articles are merged back into the main one. Guettarda (talk) 17:39, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Automated peer review

Please remember to run this every several edits: tools:~dispenser/view/Peer_reviewer#page:Richard_Dawkins At this point, it only complains about American and British English spelling differences and the standard copyedit reminder.--Livingrm (talk) 10:24, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

High citability of the "Extended Phenotype"

The statement that the "Extended Phenotype" is highly cited clearly lacks a proper source. While RD is a well-known persona, the fact that he is mentioned often does not mean that this particular work of his is kept in such high regard, especially in comparison with the Selfish Gene or God Delusion. Moreover, high citability has a very specific meaning in the scientific community, and one that concerns mostly scientific papers, not pop-sci books. I do not question the scientific value of the book, only the improper wording. I propose to either change it to, say, "often mentioned", or add a relevant citation. BroodKiller (talk) 12:09, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Would this (or some variation of it) be sufficient as evidence for the phrase "highly cited"? DVdm (talk) 12:35, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
I am not quite conviced that it solves the problem here. You see, while Google Scholar indeed shows "Extended Phenotype" with 2400 cits, it also mentions "Selfish Gene" with over 10 000 citations, and "the Blind Watchmaker" with over 3000, yet none of them are described as being highly cited parts of RD's work. Moreover, the "Selfish Gene" article describes the acclaim and scientific debates caused by the book, whereas there is no such data for "Extended Phenotype".
Even though I don't find it a very strong argument, a quoted google search for "highly cited papers" shows ca. 395,000 results, whereas "highly cited books" gets ca. 23,000. In case of scientific work, citability is a term used specifically in the context of scientific papers/reports published in scientific journals, and rarely used outside of it, so I continue to stand my point. BroodKiller (talk) 23:23, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
See the discussion at Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 13#Extended Phenotype. While a citation is highly desirable, WP:V requires verifiability which is accomplished in the previous discussion. Johnuniq (talk) 02:13, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
I see, the same problem was brought up already in the past. I am not an editor, so I can't make a decision of reviving this issue, but let me just say what I think about this. Now that you've mentioned it, I agree that the current state is compatible with WP:V, but is this enough to warrant it's current form? Based on that, we could also write that TSG is his widely cited contribution, since it's verifiable. Somehow we don't do this. I have found a recent story which sheds some more light on the current status of the TEP (link below, wiki formatting does not like it). It was reaffirmed as a valid concept, but a of good explanatory value rather than high predictive power. Clearly, TEP is not on par with, say, the Neutral theory of evolution (I intentionally play a strong card here). You can say that "Sure, any contribution is still a contribution", even if it's just 'looking at things from a new point of view', but my main aim here is to avoid giving a false impression that TEP is of the same value as some well-established major scientific contributions. I also worry if the major reason for treating TEP the way it is treated is not RD's own desire to make it so (ain't this a potential conflict with WP:NPOV, btw?).
URL (copy and paste):[tt_news]=568&cHash=6695c0683c .BroodKiller (talk) 13:46, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
For what it's worth, BroodKiller, 'editor' isn't a position of authority: anyone who edits any Wikipedia article or its talk page is, by definition, an editor. Any of us can bring up or resume a discussion, or make changes ourselves. If many people disagree those changes may be reverted, but the end product will (ideally) be the result of consensus and not any one person's authority. Olaf Davis (talk) 14:38, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
Sooo, where do we stand? Like I said above, I am still not convinced about TEP being rightly mentioned as RD's highly-cited contribution to evolutionary biology. BroodKiller (talk) 21:16, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
It's a somewhat difficult situation because, as demonstrated above, the information is correct and verifiable, yet we don't have a citation. What is your point? Are you saying that TEP should not be elevated above, for example, The Selfish Gene? Do you have a suggestion? Johnuniq (talk) 10:34, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
BroodKiller — when I last checked the primary literature (see the link that Johnuniq supplied), TEP was cited more than 700 times. I appreciate that ISI is not a resource that most people have access to (or even would want to have access to), so I'm happy to forward you a list of the citations if you'd like. But if citations in the primary literature are not sufficient for you, could you please expand on what would be? Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 10:55, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
P.S. Oops, the above sounds a little brusque. What I meant was, are you after a single source which notes the high citation of TEP in the scientific literature and which we can cite here in support of this, or are you after some examples of the use of TEP that we could cite? I could try to refine my ISI WoK search to look for papers that specifically mention TEP ("extended phenotype") in their title/abstract. That might throw up some more detailed uses of it which might help in the latter case. Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 11:31, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
@Johnuniq: Yes, that's one thing that bothers me, because if we're using this measure then TEP does not seem to be 'worthy enough' of the special mention which it has.
@PLUMBAGO: I am perfectly fine with citations, and I trust the numbers from ISI WoK. Google Scholar also confirms the general observations we discuss here, but I worry that this path may lead us in the wrong direction when judging the 'value' of a scientific contribution. Take for example Motoo Kimura's Neutral theory of molecular evolution - it has shaped the world of evolutionary biology for the last 40 years (with high-profile reviews still being published, see e.g. “Neutralism and selectionism: a network-based reconciliation,” Nat Rev Genet, Dec 2008), and yet the original paper has been cited a little over 1500 times (data from GScholar). If we use here the number of citations as a strict measure of value of a scientific contribution, the real impact that a concept has had on science then we've clearly gone astray in this case. Just to clarify - by no means do I object the validity of citations as a good general-purpose measure of a success of an idea, but this is also why I think specific cases (like this one) should be investigated in detail, if someone points out a potential problem with this.
What I propose is that TEP is described as a 'successful explanatory concept' instead of a 'highly-cited contribution'. The phrase "In 1982, he made a widely cited contribution to evolutionary biology with the concept, presented..." could be reformulated into, say, "In 1982, he introduced into evolutionary biology a successful explanatory concept, presented...".
I have no quarrel with WP:V as a policy towards inclusion of information - info with a source is worth more than info without a source. It works like a charm if no other information is available. I do not think however that it should be the decisive principle if an aspect is debatable. Like I demonstrated earlier with TSG, you can easily take it to an absurdity. Heck, you could even go as far as state that TSG is 'worth' more than the Human Genome Project, because TSG has over 10 000 cits, and the J.C.Venter's 2001 Science paper has only 7500 (GScholar info, again), which is ridiculous to say. I concur that I'm using only GScholar here, so I would be grateful for verifying if what I am saying also holds under ISI data. BroodKiller (talk) 20:18, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

← Ah-ha. I see what you mean. And I think I agree. The current wording is rather clunky, and while not inaccurate, is not as straightforward as the alternative you propose. The citation you gave above about bird nests could be used to illustrate this. It may be worth describing TEP as "influential" to reference this high citation index (the latter could in left in as a footnote?). Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 18:45, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Perfecto. To be honest, I actually like your wording better than my original proposition. Will you do the edit or should I go for it? Cheers BroodKiller (talk) 18:27, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Just edited it myself, please check if you accept its current form. For reference I used a link to a news about the same issue, because wiki did not like the direct ESF link.BroodKiller (talk) 10:19, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

"Influential" does not mean something is correct or has contributed anything. Many wrong ideas are "influential". Intelligent Design is influential. The fact is that the EP is not scientific. It cannot be tested. Dawkins admits this in the first page of the book. It has not been incorporated into evolutionary theory or any hypothesis at all. BECAUSE IT IS NOT FALSIFIABLE. It also explains nothing about the phenomenon it covers. I love how the Dawkins fans originally had the EP listed as a "theory" on here. Took me a while to convince the thick skulls otherwise. Now they hide behind the generic term "concept". ": an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances". "synonyms: see idea" Wow, Dawkins produced an idea. An unscientific one. Savagedjeff (talk) 03:48, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

What do you propose instead then, Savagedjeff? As we have discussed before, and however we might feel about it - Wikipedia's policy is about verifiability, not truth. Do we have a source which discusses and dismisses EP? I have already argued about openly labeling EP as 'explanatory', I wonder what others will say about this again? BroodKiller (talk) 20:58, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
Broodkiller — thanks for your edits. That seems better to me now. In passing, Savagedjeff has been here before. Cheers, --PLUMBAGO 08:59, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Well, I am aware that he's been around this specific issue earlier. As could be deducted from our earlier discussion, I even partially share his opinion about the significance of TEP. However, I think that all we need in this context is being careful with the wording. TEP clearly is an interesting thing, we'll have to see how it will look in the future. If it will live on in the actual scientific literature and community (recent citings etc.), such a state will speak for itself. Just like will speak the opposite. BroodKiller (talk) 12:03, 1 June 2010 (UTC)