Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 6

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Archive 5 Archive 6 Archive 7

Selected essays

I was thinking... perhaps a "Selected essays" sub-section isn't such a good idea. Dawkins has written so much that we can't come close to listing everything, and there seems to be no objective way of selecting only some.

I don't feel particularly strongly about this; what do the rest of you think? Mikker (...) 21:42, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Selected essays makes sense to me. I find it useful. Midorihana(talk)(contribs) 05:16, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Wikinews article

It seems to be an update. Use info as you will. I am pressed for time at the moment. : Albion moonlight 08:31, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Dawkins on Atheist and Jewish Influence

Dawkins remarks on Atheist and Jewish influence are attracting high-profile comment here - it is the front page of the TimesOnline comment column today. They are quite significant and should be recorded. NBeale 06:19, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

So right wing pundits are quote mining him too, what's your point? Nothing new there.  –  ornis 07:25, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
I've reworded it to introduce the Out Campaign. I didn't know about that so thanks must go to NBeale for highlighting this. Obviously reworded. Ttiotsw 08:04, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Key clause, "as far as many people can see". The whole quote needs to be read, not just the parts you want to read. Additionally, does anyone have access to the entire interview in order to determine the context in which this quote was used? •Jim62sch• 17:59, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
If there has been criticism for his making the comment that is significant we might want to include that. But as it stands this appears to be an attempt to use a round-a-bout method to put quote of questionable context into the article. JoshuaZ 20:06, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
The whole point of the US article (here) was to background Atheism in the US and introduce the OUT Campaign. NBeale missed this totally and just rehashed the cheap antisemitism tagged comment on the Daniel Finkelstein blog without even mentioning the OUT Campaign !. I guess it does look like too good an opportunity to miss in denigrating Dawkins so we should forgive the excitement though that doesn't mean we need keep the edits.
Now that this has been raised though it does highlight the more obvious purpose of the article where under the headline it says "Author outlines campaign to give godless a voice" and "New organisation appeals to 'downtrodden' millions", and in this respect we should highlight the OUT Campaign. We need not reference the shrill voices from the blogville commentators who quotemine Dawkins and to further whatever agenda they are currently running and who think a linkfarm to other blogs improves verisimilitude.
The bit about "as far as many people can see." is a case in point. The emphasis on this I suspect comes from blog here (which Daniel Finkelstein had linked too). Ttiotsw 04:24, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that the OUT campaign is notable enough yet to mention in the article. JoshuaZ 14:09, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
You're probably right. First thing I thought of when I saw the "A" was the "AI" logo of the Art Institute of New York City. I'm happy the whole lot is culled. Ttiotsw 18:40, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Obviously the "Dawkins is an anti-semite" calls are based on misquoting him or quoting him out of context ("reading between the lines" isn't evidence, it's subjective perception, especially when it's far-fetched). The problem is that for Americans in particular atheism == naziism/communism, or at least in the close vicinity of them. That the vast majority of atheists aren't nazi-commies and that most nazis are closer to the conservative christians trying to throw dirt at Dawkins than to Dawkins' own messages doesn't seem to matter for the mud-slingers. If you represent an opinion someone doesn't like and say the J-word, you're bound to get misquoted and crucified. -- 00:07, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

(←) Is it true that (as the article curently says) Dawkins himself "set up ... the OUT Campaign"? Has he not rather just lent his support to it? Actually, I can't work it out. It is rather hard to find out from the website at who exactly is behind it. Either way, it looks like a non-notable venture which does not (at least yet) merit a mention, either in the Dawkins article or anywhere else. Snalwibma 19:23, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree here, it may be notable later, but for the moment it's little more than a coatrack.  – ornis 08:35, 9 October 2007 (UTC)


I've protected the article. Please try to work this out on the talk page. Let me know if it works about before three days time. If the editwarring continues after expiration, I'll be handing out userblocks to prevent disruption. Regards, Mercury 17:14, 6 October 2007 (UTC)


It's ironic that the controversial figure of Richard Dawkins does not have a single criticism on his Wikipedia page. Despite the fact that even some atheists are embarassed (with good reason), by him! And it fails to mention that he supports eugenics. But the pages for Christians, intelligent design advocates or creationists are full of criticisms.

The question is - how can anyone claim that Wikipedia actually practices its NPOV policy? You can't aim solely at those who are lacking in intelligence - most people would notice the startling contrast between the fawning in this article and the style of expression of other controversial figures. They'll actually start with the knowledge that Wikipedia advocates atheists/atheism when they look at any God-related page and will distrust any comments made there. If you intend converting people, you're doing a very lousy job of it. Propaganda is based on being subtle - don't you hypocritcally attack Christians for "shoving religion down people's throats?"

With that said - to the best of my memory, I haven't made any changes on this article. Because they'd be reverted immediately.

DarthSidious 08:09, 9 October 2007 (UTC)DarthSidious

I'm a bit puzzled by this: In a very hasty skim through the piece I counted at least eleven points of criticism from external commentators (E&OE). Would DarthSidious consider explaining his/her point in greater detail?
The widely repeated allegation that RD supports eugenics seems to be based on one original misunderstanding. --Old Moonraker 08:23, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Given w. smith is a discovery institute fellow, it's more likely it was a deliberate smear.  – ornis 08:37, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
If a smear it was certainly a very successful one, retraction when caught out notwithstanding. One small instance: it's not the first time it's appeared on these pages and it was, as far as I remember, very hard to remove! --Old Moonraker 09:43, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm only aware of one other attempt to insert it into this page, and since the editor couldn't produce a single reliable source, it wasn't too troublesome, though I understand there was a running battle at Eugenics over the material. Given that the DI has a ready audience for anything like this, it isn't like they have to try too hard.  – ornis 10:33, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps it was at Eugenics. As Old Moonraker I must try to rely less on my memory and more on checking stuff! --Old Moonraker 11:18, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Well never mind ;), you got any thoughts on the discussion above?[1].  – ornis 12:39, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
You mean despite people like NBeale trying to push their agenda? Can't you or do you not want to see the criticism there?--Svetovid 14:11, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps not only my memory, but also my political sensitivities seem to be fading: when I first read the Atheists arise piece over my toast and marmalade I didn't notice anything wrong with it: RD seemed to be using the "fantastically successful...Jewish lobby" as a positive example to his nascent Out Campaign. I can only congratulate User:NBeale on his better-developed sensibilities in detecting hidden anti-semitism and applying it to Dawkins. --Old Moonraker 16:06, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

DarthSidious - is right why no criticism of Dawkins, this is a POV article without any criticism. Darth would you put together the criticism section? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:33, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

  • There is criticism of Dawkins wove into the fabric of the article throughout. See the extensive discussion on this topic here and here. Snalwibma 16:50, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Well what do you know? The "Eugenics" allegation has just resurfaced again on the main page. --Old Moonraker 20:41, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Allegation? It's a fact that he sent a letter to the Washington post admitting this.

DarthSidious 06:24, 21 October 2007 (UTC)DarthSidious

If it's a fact, then obviously you can produce a reliable source attesting to that. – ornis 06:31, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Miracle fish 12:46, 14 November 2007 (UTC)I don't know about it being in the washington post,but there a few places you can find the quote. He argues that "if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?" and "I wonder whether, some 60 years after Hitler's death, we might at least venture to ask what the moral difference is between breeding for musical ability and forcing a child to take music lessons." Its on his own website for a start, with some predictable protective statements from his supporters.,353,How-Predictable-Richard-Dawkins-Supports-Eugenics,Wesley-J-Smith If you read the full article he's wary of any sort of direct endorsement of eugenics, but he is arguing that eugenics is an area which should definitely be investigated. Its a pretty unorthodox view, and so might be worth including.

Dawkins on Jews:

"When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."

I read that Dawkins said this. Is this true? Should it be included in a criticism section? Seems he is saying Jews run the US foreign policy. Imbrella 19:43, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Just read the stuff a little way up this page, here, and you'll get your answer: No. Snalwibma 20:11, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
I really fail to see your logic. Why should it be in the criticism section? ...not to mention your POV interpretation of the statement.--Svetovid 21:14, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Why shouldn't it be? I find the reason for it not being complete unconvincing, considering on Wikipedia quotations are rarely provided entirely in their context. The real reason for keeping this up and locking the article is to preserve your pro-Dawkins POV and you know it. StaticElectric 02:55, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Abe Foxman, director of the ADL mentioned Richard Dawkins' antisemetic outburst saying, "This is classical anti-Semitism. Just because it's wrapped around an issue of atheism doesn't make it any less virulent, anti-Semitic and dangerous."[2] This is definetley notable, he should be charged with hate-speech. --RucasHost 05:19, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I find that amusing. Is Foxman saying that the Jewish lobby has been unable to to influence American foreign policy regarding Israel? Wonder how that would go down in the next fundraising letter to raise money for lobbyists? In any case Dawkins makes it clear he is commenting on religious Jewish actions, which is quite a different thing from commenting on Jews as a "race". Dawkins is well known for his attacks on all religions, is Foxman expecting the Jewish faith to be exempt because of the racial background of the majority of its adherents? I do say in Foxmans defence he does have a right to be defensive, but there is nothing here to suggest Dawkins is anti-semetic. Bringing it back into context, these are selectively mined quotes by POV pushers. --Michael Johnson 06:43, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Foxman is being ridiculous, but at this point when the head of the ADL is commenting it makes this much more notable. We may wish to reconsider mentioning it. JoshuaZ 15:26, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Foxman is presumably using Dawkins's comments as what would be described in wikipedia as a coatrack, to increase the profile of his organization. He cannot seriously believe that Dawkins is being anti-semitic. Anyway, the whole thing is (IMHO) a storm in a teacup. Recentist junk. No need to do anything with it. Snalwibma 15:40, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't think the ADL particularly needs Dawkins help to raise their profile, though I agree, it is rather a storm in a teacup mostly stirred up by right-wing religionists.  – ornis 15:51, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
The concertn that this is recentism seems to be the best argument against keeping it in. Let's reevaluate in a few weeks. JoshuaZ 16:44, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
If the ADL are plugging this then we know why and it has nothing to do with Dawkins. With respect to Dawkins the ADL and the various shrill Blogs are a fringe view as they are as irrelevant to Evolution or Atheism as you possibly can and thus they are irrelevant to Dawkins unless we can show that Dawkins does in fact have a Political studies background and has published material that has been peer reviewed about politics. Else we're just pushing Dawkins cruft into the article. What next ? - food critic review of what Dawkins had for breakfast ?. Ttiotsw 17:00, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Here are the article on it:

The Zionist and Jewish community don't do themselves any favours when they are quick to call people anti-semitic for these views. People are not as scared of that word now becazuse it is thrown about too easily and become far less meaningful. Robert C Prenic 19:57, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

What Wikipedia editors think about Dawkins' quote and the reaction to it is irrelevant. It's notable because 1) it's noted in the media and 2) it is controversial. It should be covered. AJKGordon 15:19, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

By your own definition what you say too is also irrelevant so no, it *is* relevant what editors think as that is how we derive consensus: The references to date are trivial and really unrelated to Dawkins' field of expertise. Dawkins isn't a notable political commentator AFAIK so comments about politics are really quite trivial mentions. It works both ways - every time Dawkins mentions 'x' we don't simply stick into the article a mention of 'x' (the Out Campaign is a case in point in that it just isn't notable). Ttiotsw 16:32, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Post-protection edit war, ho!

I'm exhausted 2RR, so I'm done reverting for the night. I find the recent edits by RucasHost (talk · contribs) distressing, to say the least diff. To take a quote so far out of context is clearly inappropriate, and skirts our policy on biographies of living persons. Even if the quote were included verbatim in its entirety, it doesn't belong. Just because the Anti-Defamation League wants to get all wound up about it, doesn't necessarily mean it warrants mention in our article. They can have a ball taking his quote out of context, but until reliable NPOV sources pick the story up, it has no place here. Ynetnews clearly does not fit the bill here. This is a scholarly encyclopedia article about Dawkins's life and scholarly work; it should not degrade to "Richard Dawkins: Thursday before last to present".

I hope that the admin who inevitably becomes involved in this content dispute later today will consider addressing the behavior of the POV-pushing edit warriors, rather than protecting the page only to see this cycle repeat itself. ➪HiDrNick! 06:19, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Well said, DrN. The article has for a long time suffered from the efforts of editors like RucasHost (talk · contribs), who want to cram it full of every latest trivial critical comment, no matter how ill-informed and irrelevant. The atheist/Jewish analogy used by Dawkins in that quote has been inserted because it presents yet another opportunity for Dawkins-bashing, not because it adds anything useful to the encyclopedia article. It probably doesn't merit mention at all, actually. I'd simply delete it altogether. Further, I question whether the Out campaign is notable enough, and whether Dawkins' involvement in it is significant enough, to be worth including in the article. Yes, delete all mention of the Out campaign until (a) it is notable enough and (b) Dawkins' involvement in it is clear and substantial. Snalwibma 06:33, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Having an unused "3RR" quota I removed some of the references to third-party quotes, while leaving the reference to the Out Campaign, but I agree completely with Snalwibma: unless the new movement establishes itself it shouldn't be included at all.--Old Moonraker 06:56, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

A "3RR quota". So that's how you view it - as tokens to use to push your POV as far as you can. I do not think that this is how Wikipedia was intended, but you're all hiding behind the tacit approval of the administrators. Shameful. StaticElectric 07:08, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Actually in this case, 3RR doesn't apply to removing this material, in fact those trying to add it can be blocked for doing so.  – ornis 07:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

(←) I have just moved the sentence about the Out campaign to the section on religion. It surely belongs there, not under "other fields". I still think it's recent non-notable cruft that can be deleted (and it's not alone in that!), but it's surely better off in the appropriate section. Snalwibma 07:21, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, I agree ( pretty sure I've said that before ), and have performed the necessary cruftectomy.  – ornis 07:56, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
My error: removal of contentious or poorly sourced material is not limited by 3RR in biographies of living people. Thanks Ornis and StaticElectric. --Old Moonraker 08:26, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
This is extremely relevant, the ADL is a notable and important organization and the fact that they have commented on the matter suggests that it is relevant. If Dawkin's doesn't believe what he said is anti-Semetic he should clarify what he said and then we can post that here to. Until then, there's no good reason to remove this. You just don't want any criticism for Richard Dawkins (that's why the article -- as of yet -- has no Criticism or Controversy section). --RucasHost 16:34, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

WHY has the protected tag been removed - this page is blantantly biased in favor of Dawkins - where is his criticism section??? Someone please put the tag back and start a NPOV cricitism section. thank you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:38, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Criticism is in the text, just not in separate sections. We've been over this before. JoshuaZ 16:43, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Links to Richard Dawkins online Shop

Richard has added links to products on his online much as I admire his work I don't think it is correct for him or anyone else for that matter to do so? Teapotgeorge 11:36, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I moved the links to the end of the article as a temporary measure. If there is a place for the links, it's not inline in the article, that's for sure.  :) ➪HiDrNick! 11:50, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
An editor with the name User:RichardDawkins has added links here and here to material that can be bought from the Richard Dawkins website. This falls within Wikipedia:conflict of interest (especially, financial and self promotion in the Examples section) and thus should be removed. The first edit was modified by User:HiDrNick, but both promotional links still exist in the footnotes. Northfox 23:48, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

I just took a closer look at the User:RichardDawkins edits via the combined diff. The edits break several links, remove material from references, and of course the obvious conflict of interest. Could we be dealing with a hijacked account? If no one protests, I will revert all edits made on October 10th by the RichardDawkins account and contact Richard Dawkins. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pingveno (talkcontribs) 03:19, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Yeah all the links he altered made them dead (except the last one). I also suspected a hijacked account. Maybe someone can email Dawkins and confirm he made those edits like last time. Spellcast 05:36, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
I'll nix waiting until tomorrow afternoon to email him. I'm typing up an email right now. Pingveno 07:09, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I just sent it off. Pingveno 07:22, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
the commercial links are still up. No other controversial edits have been made from by User:RichardDawkins, so it seems that the account was not compromised, after all. Northfox 11:40, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm still suspicious about the edits. There could have been any number ways someone could have gotten a hold of Dawkins' account and any number of reasons why no additional edits have come from the account. I haven't gotten an email back from him yet, presumably because it was the weekend. Sit tight, the reply should clarify what happened. Pingveno 16:50, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I haven't gotten a message back yet after about 3 days (2 business days). The only possible reason that I can think up is that he is busy in preparation for his book tour on the 18th (this Thursday).

I have also fully removed the Conflict of Interest links that were inserted. Pingveno 02:25, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Controversy section

There's no good reason why the well-referenced NPOV Controversy section should be removed. In fact, this article would not be neutral without it.

Removing any well-referenced section without reason is vandalism!

--RucasHost 16:50, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

  • There are as many reasons as you like, above passim. Is it time to get RucasHost debarred from editing this page? Snalwibma 16:53, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm not convinced enough that his edits are in bad faith to block him. However, I have re-protected the article. —C.Fred (talk) 17:14, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • 4 reverts and the page gets locked, now 12 reverts editwarring against consensus, violating BLP, not to mention NPA. Quite frankly I'm mystified how you can construe that as good faith.  – ornis 17:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • There were only 12 reverts because you and your cronies kept removing a well-sourced, neutral, and well-written Controversy section. 3RR doesn't apply when reverting blatant vandalism, which is what your edits were. --RucasHost 17:18, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The problem is, the majority of the discussion above opposed adding the controversy section, because it gave undue weight to the quote. (An editor made mention of Wikipedia:Coatrack also, regarding the comments.) I haven't seen anything that addresses these concerns here on the talk page. —C.Fred (talk) 17:24, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • WP:IS NOT#Wikipedia is not a democracy, it's notable regardless of how many POV-driven vandals think otherwise. --RucasHost 17:27, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • It's also worth nothing that this issue trancends this particular section. These same people have worked hard to remove any criticism from the article, regardless of how relevant or well-referenced it is. --RucasHost 17:29, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm going to ask you nicely for the last time, please stop calling everyone who disagrees with you vandals.  – ornis 17:31, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Repeatidly removing a well-referenced without any good reason section is vandalism. Besides, it's not like you don't do the same thing. Whenever I make legitimate edits you disagree with you dump those annoying templates on my talk page. --RucasHost 17:33, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) I'm going to quote Wikipedia:Consensus, which is how WP:DEMOCRACY says Wikipedia works: "However, stubborn insistence on an eccentric position, with refusal to consider other viewpoints in good faith, is not justified under Wikipedia's consensus practice." While I do not necessarily want to use "eccentric" to label the position, I am seeing behaviour that appears to be stubborn and fails to consider other viewpoints in good faith. —C.Fred (talk) 17:36, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
RucaHost, is this what Jesus would do (lie, distort, attack other people...)?--Svetovid 10:58, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for putting a stop to that, C.Fred! Now that we have time to breathe, let's discuss it. In fact, it has really been discussed at some length above, and the consensus is clear. But, since the same question ("please can I insert that quote about the Jewish lobby?") has now been posed in a slightly different form, let's address it specifically as: Why not a "controversy" section?

  1. Because the question of how to build in criticism of Dawkins has been discussed at length, e.g. here and here, and the consensus was that it is better to integrate the criticism topic by topic. The same goes for "controversy".
  2. The addition puts undue weight on a storm in a teacup over some recent remarks by Dawkins which certain people have apparently wilfully chosen to misinterpret in order to push their own agendas.
  3. This recent "controversy" is very far from the only controversy surrounding Dawkins. Why pick on this one? [Answer: because it suits certain people's POV.]
  4. I find it very hard to assume good faith in the addition of the "Controversy" section. It is not an honest attempt to create a new section for an encyclopedia article, just another attempt to push the "Dawkins is anti-Semitic" nonsense.

Snalwibma 17:35, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Regardless of whether or not you think what he said is anti-Semetic, the national director of the ADL does think it is and that's very notable. --RucasHost 17:39, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
It's Foxman's job to cry "anti-Semitism" at minimal provocation. That's how he gets more money from his donors. Not every time he does that is automatically highly notable especially given concerns about WP:NPOV, WP:BLP and WP:RECENT. JoshuaZ 18:17, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Observation: That parallels an experience I've had with Lisa Lampanelli's article, where she drew some backlash for comments directed at hearing-impaired persons. The criticism from officials in national organizations was verifiable, but when the minor fuss blew over, it was not notable to her article as a whole and was deleted. In retrospect, it ought not have been in to begin with. —C.Fred (talk) 20:05, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I do agree with JoshuaZ regarding Abe Foxman, but I am unsatisfied with the rationale given for the removal of this section. I thus propose we remove Controversy/Criticism sections from the following articles:
Alternatively – let's have a proper "controversy" section at Richard Dawkins. But please don't just use it as a back-door thru which to insert misconstrued biased one-sided inaccurate misrepresentations of what Dawkins said. As JoshuaZ says, it is Foxman's job to misconstrue and use material in this way - but Wikipedia must not fall into that POV-trap. GNUSMAS : TALK 20:03, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
Let's not. See snalwibma's links to find the earlier discussions. In a nutshell there are two major problems with criticism sections.
  1. They rather readily become places to hang every little piece of dirt, slander or controversy that editors hostile to the subject can dig up. In this way they're much like those benighted "In popular culture.." sections, but orders of magnitude more pernicious.
  2. In the opposite direction, they can also become a ghetto for separating criticism of a subject from the rest of the article, effectively hiding it from most readers, without actually removing it.
They also tend to blow out with recentist cruft, quickly become unmanageable, and provide very little context to the criticism they contain. These problems apply to all articles, but are most egregious in BLP's of controversial figures like Professor Dawkins. The 'best solution, and the solution that has been taken with this article, is to integrate notable criticism into the appropriate places in the article. The only real problem with this is when hostile drivebys, scroll down the page expecting to see a criticism section, then come here and blast us for being a bunch of rotten, biased, anti-christian, liberal bigots for not including one. As for those other BLP's that someone brought up, yes, their crit sections should be removed and integrated into the articles like has been done here.  – ornis 22:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
There's one simple reason we don't have a separate criticism section - Dawkins is known for many different things and has been criticized for almost all of them. It makes more sense as an editorial matter to have criticism of each type within the section relevant to that issue rather than lumping it together. JoshuaZ 14:33, 11 October 2007 (UTC)


I came here because the edit war was at such high pitch, both sides were sending WP:AIV block requests about parties on the other side. By protecting the page, I wanted to get discourse at the talk page instead of discussion-by-edit-summary.

Here's what I've observed:

  1. Established consensus is that there is not a separate criticism section; criticism is woven into the article.
  2. No new arguments for a separate criticism section were successfully put forward, other than to include a specific criticism.
  3. The majority opinion is that the specific criticism (involving the ADL) is given undue weight by its inclusion, and/or suffers from recentism or bias in the originating source.
  4. That the arguments presented by some editors make it appear that instead of acting in true good faith, they may be on a path of tenditious editing..

I think the community of editors here is clear that the ADL quote is not to be put into the article. There may be compromising wording that can be found to include it, but compromise can only be reached by reasonable discussion here and not by edit warring. Those who feel strongly about the inclusion of the quote should find a way to work with the rest of the editors here about a middle ground and not against them.

I am unprotecting the article, but I would caution all editors involved to weigh their edits carefully, especially in regard to edits relating to this specific area. —C.Fred (talk) 22:48, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

very disappointed

i can't believe this is a 'good' article. i cant understand why there's no 'controversy' section!!!!! if so many people on the discussion page want one why cant u put it on there. i am very disappointed in wikipedia, i thought it was suppose to provide unbiased information. you guys suck. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

I have just removed the NPOV tag placed on the article by this anon editor, to whom I say simply: If you have any reasons for placing such a tag (other than "there is no separate crticism section", which is extensively discussed above, passim, and on which the consensus is clear) please explain here. Snalwibma 16:56, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
An article does not need to tag criticism explicitly as such to include it. This article is built with the criticism woven inline with the article, and that issue has already been discussed here. In the absence of new concerns, the {{npov}} tag is not needed on the article. Please discuss here why the tag should be replaced before you replace it. —C.Fred (talk) 16:59, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

the neurailty IS disputed quite clearly and it has not been resolved and probably won't ever be. so the NPOV should go up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:02, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

By whom and related to what issue(s), specifically? —C.Fred (talk) 17:05, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

NPOV complaint

No criticism, no controversy section.

Any attempt to add anything critical about Dawkins, such as his recent anti-Semetic outburst and the ADL's comment, is stopped by a gang of pro-Dawkins editors.

--RucasHost 05:08, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

Removed per the conversation above. Care to expand further? Gscshoyru 05:12, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
My twopence-worth: Dawkins recently drew a parallel between atheists and the "Jewish lobby" in America. Whether or not it betrays any anti-semitism (one perfectly valid interpretation is that it was a pro-Jewish comment - see Jewish lobby), the ADL and a few right-wing commentators have chosen to twist it to serve their own ends. If the little controversy it has created belongs anywhere it is at Anti-Defamation League. Even in that context it is recentist cruft which addds nothing substantial to the subject. In the context of the Dawkins article it's not only that, it is also irrelevant. The more general complaint, that there is "no criticism allowed" in the article, is obvious nonsense. Just read the article. And the suggestion of a "gang" defending the man at all costs is equally ridiculous. By "stopped by a gang of pro-Dawkins editors" I think you mean "deemed irrelevant by those who know about the subject". GNUSMAS : TALK 07:14, 13 October 2007 (UTC)
This is the first time I've heard the ADL described as "right-wing", then again it's also the first time I've heard someone consider anti-semetic conspiracy theories to be complimentry. He said, the Jews control US dominate policy, the same thing neo-Nazis have been saying for years. --RucasHost 02:54, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Read what I wrote, and you will see (if you understand basic English grammar and syntax) that I did not say the ADL was right-wing. And where on earth is the "anti-semetic [sic] conspiracy theory" in what Dawkins said? GNUSMAS : TALK 06:39, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
He actually said "When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place." He did not say "the Jews control US dominate policy". He does not even say if it is good or bad. And trying to associate it with neo-Nazis is a nasty trick. In fact if you talk to Australian foreign affairs officials they will tell you how hard it is to draw US attention to other parts of the world, such as Asia, because of this focus on the Middle East. --Michael Johnson 05:00, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Anyway, regardless of how it's "interpreted" it can't be interpreted at all if it's not in the article. It's very notable (because the ADL commented -- regardless of whether or not you agree with their comment -- and it got a lot of press) and belongs in the article! --RucasHost 02:55, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
If it got a lot of press, then there should be a link to the Times of London, New York Times, etc. article available to use in a citation, no? —C.Fred (talk) 03:09, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
No mention at all here in Australia. Probably just a US thing. --Michael Johnson 03:17, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I added 2 citations before it was removed by the gang of Dawkins fans. Here are some news articles on his outburst. YnetNews,, The Jerusalem Post, The Guardian, etc... You can find many more easily. --RucasHost 03:45, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Other than the YnetNews link, those are all op-ed pieces. —C.Fred (talk) 03:48, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
And the YnetNews link is, well, YnetNews. ➪HiDrNick! 04:13, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Here's a non op-ed one from the Guardian. Anyway, what do you have against YNetNews? --RucasHost 04:38, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
And a very nice article it is too. Puts everything into perspective. No mention of the ADL though. --Michael Johnson 04:52, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Irony aside, the article is approaching a hagiography in it's lack of criticism. 06:24, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
Dawkins is known for his written words rather than his saintly actions and it is there that the criticisms of his works need to be placed rather than ad hominem attacks here. To a scientist, a critical review of their work that identifies flaws in their arguments is a much more catastrophic attack than any ad hominem attack in the press. The bar is set high to reflect the relative difficulty in the editing required and so far few editors are up to the task. That is not a deficiency in the article but it reflects the shallow approaches of the editors who criticise the article for its lack of criticism. Cast far and deep and then come back. A soundbite from Southpark or the ADL means you've got stuck on the mudflats. Ttiotsw 06:58, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

(←) What I find most telling in all of this is the use of the word "outburst" by those who want to portray Dawkins as anti-semitic, and who see this as a means of inserting anti-Dawkins propaganda into the article. In all the descriptions of what Dawkins said I see no sign of an outburst. Yes, he mentioned the "Jewish lobby" (in another context), and yes, it was referred to in a number of newspaper articles, but that does not amount to "an outburst" and "a lot of attention". The launch of the Out Campaign may in time become something worth mentioning, but (IMHO) not yet. And of course the stuff about the Jewish lobby could do so too, if it really develops into anything. But don't go stuffing the article with every little reference to Dawkins in the media. Snalwibma 06:35, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Rucahost et al. are not interested in "stuffing the article with every little reference to Dawkins in the media"... only the negative ones.--Svetovid 15:43, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that is an issue - Rucas is clearly POV pushing. But the basic argument has some validity. The anti-semitism accusation has received a large amount of press at this point (I also don't see what's wrong with Ynetnews). The accusations at this point seem stupid but notable. A two or three sentence mention might not be unreasonable. JoshuaZ 19:04, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Indeed - but equally, it should not be stuffed with every trivial positive mention. On which note - does anyone know anything about the Deschner Prize, which RD has apparently just been awarded? It was added to the article today. I edited it down a bit, but it might be for the chop altogether. Anyone? Snalwibma 16:29, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
The article cited by Rucas was quote mined. The same article quoted a counter opinion. As such the citation cancels itself out as an argument without a resolution, much like this one. Jok2000 19:34, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Two points. Firstly all sources quoted misquote Dawkins, effectively making his statement look worse than it is. Secondly the only source that approaches reliability, Ynet, includes a counter opinion from another prominent Jewish leader, in which he says he cannot tell if the comment was antisemetic or not. Interestingly I cannot find a press release, or even mention of Dawkins on the ADL website, so I wonder how seriously they take it. Accusations of racism in any form are very serious. If this one is to be included it should include Dawkins full quote and Malcom Hoenlein's opinion, as well as Foxman's accusation. I'm not convinced it justifies that space. --Michael Johnson 22:37, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Atheism and Southpark

I added a quick reference to Dawkin's on Southpark and his atheism. I know many of you do not like Southpark, but this information is necessary in this artical. Many of you do not like this information, but I think we can come to a consensus regarding it Pilotbob 17:31, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

My edits are being reverted by different users for no reason. This is not fair. I am trying to contribute.Pilotbob 17:35, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
This information is not encyclopedic or relevant per WP:BIO. Further, trivia is discouraged in general, and particularly so in biographical articles concerning living people. Please contribute constructively. --Strothra 17:37, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
You might disagree, but I think this info is not trivia and is constructive. I won't revert anymore today because of the 3RR rule, but I still don't think its fair.
Thanks, PilotBob. The reversion is not "for no reason". The onus is on you to show reason why it should be included! Personally, I am open to persuasion that a brief "has been portrayed on South Park" mention might be inserted under "Awards and recognition", but the consensus hitherto is quite clear (see, e.g., here), and it's not me you have to persuade. And you'll have to do more persuading, and not just asserting I like it and you don't like it! Good luck! Snalwibma 17:41, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Obviously the Southpark info is a controversial issue here. I think consensus must be maintained. What is everyone's opinion on this issue? Does it belong in this article?—Preceding unsigned comment added by Pilotbob (talkcontribs)
There was a previous consensus not to have it. I think it might make some sense to include it especially given how many people (Americans at least) seem to have only heard of him because of South Park. We do however need to be careful that any mention isn't going to turn into a miscelaneous trivia section nor a synopsis of the South Park episodes. JoshuaZ 19:01, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
The whole fucking point about not including Southpark (which personally I like as a program for its puerile humour as deep inside my mind there can flow something somewhat analogous to a Victorian sewer: who doesn't think they have given birth to a brown baby after a long visit to the porcelain god because of Southpark), is that Dawkins did not appear in in. He provided nothing towards the program. It is "passing off" (UK Legal Sense). If we were scraping for grounds for notability then we'd whack it in but we're not. Southpark may reference Dawkins and whatever other personality that piques their fancy but the Dawkins article need no reciprocate. I think it is a little presumptuous to claim that "many of you do not like Southpark, but this information is necessary in this artical. (sic)" on both the grounds that we would not like Southpark and that the information was necessary. Jesus does no one actually read the past comments. I've regurgitated this argument like some day old bile and it still comes up smelling of roses. Ttiotsw 19:32, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
In this case, I don't care one way or the other even though it seems trivial. Not every person that appeared in South Park, The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy etc. should have this information in its biography.--Svetovid 20:12, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm pretty well dead against the idea. I like south park and all, but this is trivia of the worst kind. This isn't an appearance, it's in essence just a mention. There's no reason to cite every single time he's been mentioned somewhere.  – ornis 22:34, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
And lets make it clear, Richard Dawkins does not appear in South Park. He is parodied in South Park. Notable maybe for South Park but not for Dawkins. --Michael Johnson 22:43, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Ttiotsw, that was beautiful. --Strothra 01:08, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

who are you kidding?

it is a well known fact that richard dawkins is a controversial figure and there is clearly little in this article to reflect that! God, why can't you admit this (and dont say 'we never said he wasn't controversial' because thats the message im getting loud and fucking clear. I suppose it is inevitable though) it is fucking obvious a lot of people disagree with the neutrality of this article. To be honest I can't understand. Actually i do agree with his atheist views and most things he says but I hate how a bunch of Dawkins-loving ****s have hi-jacked this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

We've been over this before. There is a large amount of criticism of Dawkins in the text. Search for "critic" in the text which will turn up every variant of that word and note that over half of the uses are criticising Dawkins. So yes, his controversial nature is discussed. JoshuaZ 21:57, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
That is a very general statement. Can you give concrete examples and/or suggest changes?--Svetovid 01:30, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
if u search critic half of them will be 'darwin criticised...' and there's no bloody point being specific seeing as you ****s won't listen anyway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:04, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't want to be seen as patronizing, but it would be in your best interest to act in a civil manner while addressing perceived flaws in an article. It is much easier to abuse people than to act in a constructive manner, but only the latter approach will actually get you somewhere. That being said, I think there certainly should be a criticism section - only a few sentences are devoted to criticisms and there is no elaboration at all. We are often not told who is making the criticisms, only that "critics suggest" a particular flaw.--Tzler 16:43, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Dude... it's a fact that WP is not neutral in matters like this.

DarthSidious 06:25, 21 October 2007 (UTC)DarthSidious

It's a fact, huh? In my world, "facts" are supported by substantial evidence. What, exactly, are "matters like this"? — DIEGO talk 18:10, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but Wikipedia itself is the "substantial evidence" you seek! This site has a decided political slant, but asking someone to provide evidence of this is asking for the impossible -- Wikipedia is simply too vast. It may take months or even years of regular visits to the site before one comes to the uncomfortable realization that there is an agenda being pursued here. Active participation as an editor, and the interaction with administration that such participation will necessarily entail, may help open one's eyes sooner -- or it may not, depending how amenable one happens to be to the particular ideology that is espoused by the de facto ruling class of Wikipedia. When you agree with the slant, you are far less likely to notice it, much less take issue with it.

Ynetnews as a source

From the intro of Ynetnews: "Ynetnews is an English language Israel news and content website operated by Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read tabloid..." (emphasis added). Given the definition of tabloid at the linked article, I'm having trouble seeing how this can be used as a reliable source. Does anybody have evidence to the contrary about the site's reputation? —C.Fred (talk) 21:59, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Yedioth Ahronoth is a tabloid primarily in the sense of the format/spread not to the content. JoshuaZ 22:07, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Do you have a reliable source that says this self described tabloid is not in fact a tabloid? hehe Certainly, if we are to include this point it must come from only the best and most reliable sources (remember BLP concerns apply here), and then probably more than one source is needed, along with some balancing material for NPOV. And, unless this accusation is made from a few notable organizations, I don't think it merits inclusion into his bio article.Giovanni33 22:36, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Quoting the article tabloid "A tabloid is a newspaper industry term which refers to a smaller newspaper format per spread; to a weekly or semi-weekly alternative newspaper that focuses on local-interest stories and entertainment, often distributed for free (often in a smaller, tabloid-sized newspaper format); or to a newspaper that tends to emphasise sensational crime stories, gossip columns repeating scandalous innuendos about the personal lives of celebrities and sports stars, and other so-called "junk food news" "(emphasis on the or added). YA is more in the first category, not the second. The self-identification is occurring in that context. JoshuaZ 22:52, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
And it is listed at List of newspapers in Israel. After another editor dismissed it in earlier discussion, but it got used again in a cite, I wanted to open the question of how reliable a source it is. —C.Fred (talk) 02:12, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Both of you are relying on other WP articles to support your points. That doesn't count. WP does not really on itself as a reliable source of information. :)I'm sure if the allegation is notable and accurate, we could find sources that no one would question, and we need at least two of those, I think, to include these rather serious allegationsGiovanni33 06:57, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Discussing whether Ynetnews is a reliable source, and the precise nature of a "tabloid", is really beside the point. The issue is - What do you want to use it as a source for? Dawkins mentioned "the Jewish lobby". A few people have predictably seized upon the opportunity to call him anti-semitic, regardless of the evidence. Sure, it's a news story for a few days. But we are dealing with an encyclopedia article here. Does this little incident add anything meaningful to an understanding of the subject of the article? Rather less than the fact that Dawkins was parodied on South Park, actually. Snalwibma 07:07, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Well the concern really is whether enough reliable sources have discussed the matter that we should discuss it. If, for example, we had 10,000 reliable sources that had discussed Dawkins and South Park it would be hard to argue against discussing it also. So whether Ynet is a reliable source is relevant. JoshuaZ 15:11, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Thank you, JoshuaZ, for making the better point along the path I started. A single article in the Times of London would not really make the event notable. However, coverage across multiple newspapers and, IMO, multiple days would demonstrate that the story has gotten significant coverage and should be mentioned in the article. —C.Fred (talk) 16:35, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Does it really matter how many sources carry an unfounded accusation? If we need reliable sources, then John Cornwell, and reviewers of Darwin's Angel, already made it quite clear that Dawkins is an antisemitic hate-monger. This being biography of a living person, one should include such accusations of racism, only if it comes from a reasonably impartial source. In short, the statement by User:Michael Johnson yesterday is still true today: this isn't worth the space required for a fair treatment. --Merzul 19:09, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Be careful what you redlink

I can't believe the above discussions are still going on... Anyway, in the next couple of weeks, I will occasionally click on a random redlink on this article, and then I'll do my best to write something. The first, which was simply the longest redlink, wasn't exactly encouraging: Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic. At some point, I even suspected it was a hoax, I mean the motivations signed by Mikhail Gorbachev are extremely exaggerated, and not just for Deepak Chopra, who received the price for being, and I suspect Dawkins wouldn't quite agree, "one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time" :) --Merzul 14:36, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Controversy on Richard Dawkins

This whole talk section on this issue is completely irrelevant, since the controversy section is merely stating a story that was made in the papers and comments by the ADL. This does not suggest in a any way that Richard Dawkins is an Antisemite, it just quotes what was said about him. Most profiles of people here on wikipedia have a controversy section whether the controversy is justified or not, whether or not what he said was taken out of context, whether what what he said was right. At the end of the day, the controversy did happen (it's based on a fact). Wikipedia is based on unbiased, factual and unemotive articles. Readers can make their own judgement what they think of it. The editors cannot make that judgment for them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Marfan8 (talkcontribs) 05:02, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Marfan8, it seems as though you are actually making two points here: 1) This article should have a "controversy" section, and 2) it should mention the "Jewish Lobby" statement and the reaction by the ADL.
You are right, many biographical articles on Wikipedia do have a controversy section, but many others do not. If you read the article, you will notice plenty of criticism of Dawkins, it is just mentioned in the approriate section within the article rather than relegated to a controversy section. Both methods of documenting criticism have their merits (although I don't personally think general "controversy" sections are particularly encyclopedic in biographical articles), and ultimately the consensus on this article has been to include criticism within the article sections in lieu of a separate "controversy" section. Note that that the absence of a "controversy" or "criticism" heading does not indicate that there is no criticism in the article.
Regarding Dawkins's "Jewish lobby" comments (which were actually characterized as an "anti-Semitic outburst" by an editor above), you are correct that Wikipedia articles should be neutral, report verifiable facts (or verifiable opinion from notable and relevant people/organizations), and let readers decide. However, it is neither practical nor desirable to report every single fact and every single opinion on a subject. That would make articles unmanageable and give undue weight to minority opinions and non-notable facts. Also, per Wikipedia's policy on biographies of living persons, these article need to be written conservatively without making Wikipedia a vehicle for spreading rumors or unfounded claims about people. If a particular story is only reported in one small newspaper, and Wikipedia uses that newspaper as source for a statement, Wikipedia has indeed become a vehicle for the spread of that information, when you consider the number of people who read Wikipedia vs. those who read the newspaper in question. Also, Wikipedia is not a news site (see WP:NOT#NEWS) and should include information based on the historical notability of that information (although we can admittedly never know what will be historically notable 100 years from now). This is especially important with BLP articles, because Wikipedia articles have the potential to do harm by reporting unimportant non-notable stories, opinion, or gossip.
That said, I have no personal objection to mentioning the "Jewish lobby" story, since people are obviously coming here looking for it, and the article could possibly appear to be a POV whitewash if the story is not mentioned. If it is included it would be important to include Dawkins's entire quote (including context) and mention the ADL response (in the context of the ADL's mission). However, the current consensus on the page has been not to include the information at this time. Please respect that and feel free to argue your position on the talk page, but don't add the story back into the article without achieving consensus. Thank you. — DIEGO talk 05:44, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Certain people are coming here to insert POV content, which surely is not a reason to give in and allow them.
Show me any impact of this so-called controversy. It's probably hard to find a single mention about it in the media already, only a few days after it surfaced. That, of course, shows how irrelevant it is.--Svetovid 21:43, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, as long as the sole item in the "controversy" section is the allegation of anti-semitism, it is clearly a POV-pushing item and does not belong. Snalwibma 06:52, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
It is one thing to write a coherent section about what Dawkins is up to and include relevant criticism where appropriate, but I agree with Svetovid, it is extremely annoying that people insist on including various well-cited pieces of truthiness without any concern for the proportion, coherence, and flow of the article. --Merzul 13:11, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Separate criticism section

The question of whether to include a criticism section needs to be separated out from the issue of the "Jewish lobby" comments, so I'll start a new section. A "Criticism" section was recently added (and then deleted, and then added, and then deleted). Three points: (1) If there is to be such a section, the argument in its favour needs to be made here first, given the existing consensus against its inclusion. (2) It must be an honest attempt to paint the whole picture of Dawkins as a controversial figure who has attracted criticism, not a quote-mining exercise in inserting one particular allegation (such as that he is anti-semitic), or a means of promoting the views of one particular commentator (like the recent example), or as a vehicle for original research. (3) Any such section must do a great deal better than starting with the weasel words "Some assert ...". I suggest that those in favour of such a section should start by posting a draft here. Snalwibma 06:52, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Those are 3 reasons why the section will not exist then. All these people wanting a separate section almost always broke all 3 conditions.
Valid criticism inserted into an article, logically following that which it's meant to criticize/comment upon is always the ideal status. We have that status now.--Svetovid 10:48, 19 October 2007 (UTC)at all
I agree. Richard Dawkins is a controversial person in general. A separate criticism section is pointless and will only turn into a dumping ground for poorly sourced garbage and vandalism. — DIEGO talk 00:50, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
I must disagree with the above comments. 'Dr.' Dawkins' work is now considered, as I understand it, out-of-date by most geneticists, his ideas on theology are questionable at best, and a concise counterpoint to the general propaganda of him as a distinguished genius of Darwinian proportions is not only necessary to this page but also to the wider world. 14:59, 24 October 2007 (UTC)Inpu Upon His Mountain
If that is the case then it would be an easy task for people to find the counterpoints to address what Dawkins has written or said and juxtapose the content in the article with the counterpoints. I think you'll find you've just confirmed that a general critique section isn't really necessary if we can have point-counterpoint.
On the other hand I seriously doubt that most geneticists consider Dawkins out of date and obviously any ideas on theology are always questionable; that's the whole point, to ask questions, engender debate. Science isn't dogma you know !. Ttiotsw 15:58, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Yet, you can't find a single reliable source. Strange, isn't it...--Svetovid 16:05, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
Fortunately, encyclopedia articles aren't written on the basis of "as I understand it". Evidence, please. — DIEGO talk 19:52, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Dawkins duped?

I have read in several places that Dawkins claims he has been 'duped' by creationists several times. The 'stumped' video and now he says he was tricked into being invovled in the expelled movie. Should this be mentioned in the article?Dontletmedown 14:04, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think it has gathered enough attention to be included, nor has it been reported in any reliable sources.--Svetovid 21:38, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
He wrote about that in A Devil's Chaplain. 19:38, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
Please quote the specific language and cite the page. Thanks. Finell (Talk) 20:27, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't know, if this will be useful, and whether it is important or not, but Joan Bakewell's review of the God Delusion begins with a fairly sympathetic account of one such duping. This information could be useful, and maybe will be more noteworthy as the Expelled movie is release. I think I've seen such "doubt scenes" on YouTube and wondered what was going on. But is this notable enough to be included in a biography? I'm not sure. --Merzul 21:01, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

The 'stumped' video mentioned above, by the user "Dontletmedown" was a hoax: (skip to about 13:00 in the video). Dawkins covered this in his recent talk at the AAI 2007 convention. --Blob4000 (talk) 05:15, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Comments about Jews

I have added a line under the religion section. I have the source in The Economist (a very reliable source) [3]

I am not if it is in the best section, so please feel free to amend it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:14, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Please check the previous few discussions. We've been over this recently. While the Economist article is interesting, the mentions the Dawkings quote only in passing, and in the context of an article talking about people being misquoted and taken too literarly to begin with. It illustrates very well the reasons why we choose to leave the quote out of the article to begin with. Cheers, ➪HiDrNick! 23:28, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Illicit Imprudent removal of in-line criticism of D

Snalwibma has repeatedly deleted the following section. However, the section in question comprises new information and is sourced. In other words, it meets Wikipedia criteria. I would suggest, therefore, that its deletion should be considered vandalism. I would appreciate input from other editors regarding this matter. Here is the section in question:

"Along the same lines, it has been asserted that as a public intellectual, Dawkins engages in irresponsible and irrational dogmatism, making claims about things that science, properly understood, does not even claim to address. For example, Dawkins states, “there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the universe.” However, critics point out that there is no scientific basis whatsoever from which to make such a claim. Furthermore, modern science has abandoned the project of discerning the purposefulness of the cosmos and has instead turned to the perhaps easier and more immediately and useful goal of figuring out how nature works and how it can be manipulated. Because there are no grounds in science to deny the cosmos has meaning, critics conclude that Dawkins denial of the meaningfulness of the cosmos arises from a simple dogmatic hostility to those who see purpose in the universe itself, or, put more simply, an animus against religion.[1]"
Excuse me, but there is nothing "illicit" about my editing, and I think you should go and read what is meant by vandalism. Please assume good faith. This is the fourth or fifth time LCP has attempted to get this extended quote from one commentator in. I think it adds nothing new, is unbalanced and unhelpful. Please explain why you think it should be included. Snalwibma 21:25, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

The deletion is much justified. There is nothing in our policies that demand all well-cited information to be included in an article! In fact, according to our policy on verifiability, being well-sourced is merely the threshold for inclusion. That is, it is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for inclusion:

Wikipedia:Verifiability is one of Wikipedia's core content policies. The others include Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in Wikipedia articles. They should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should try to familiarize themselves with all three.

Here though, the guiding policy is that on Biographies of Living People, and if you look at the religion section of this article, there is more than enough opinion there already. --Merzul 21:28, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Criticism generally is unbalanced. It is “the act of criticizing usually unfavorably”. Also, “balance” is not a criteria for inclusion.
Regarding Snalwibma’s other claim, that it is “unhelpful,” perhaps I am missing something. Can someone show me where the article currently includes the criticism, “Dawkins engages in irresponsible and irrational dogmatism”? Also, the section is not an “extended quote.” It is a summary of the salient points of an article from the on-line version of a major publication with a 50 year pedigree and 350,000 subscribers. [4]. Because the criticism is unique and from a notable publication, the “more than enough” criticism of Merzul isn’t salient.
The final point of confusion that needs to be cleared up has to do with the validity of including the type of information that I want to include. Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons states, “The views of critics should be represented if they are relevant to the subject's notability and can be sourced to reliable secondary sources.” The section meets this criteria and does not contradict any of the other criteria for inclusion.
Regarding my use of “vandalism,” I do take Snalwibma’s point, and I do “excuse” Snalwibma. However, because the section adds a new perspective, and the revision leaves that perspective unrepresented, thus weakening the article, I am not sure what else to call Snalwibma edits.
The section in question should be included as it represents a unique and important point of view published in a significant publication. Against this claim Snalwibma’s personal opinion that the section is “unbalanced and unhelpful” and Merzul’s personal opinion that the article already has “more than enough opinion” lack cogency.
LCP 22:16, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, let's see. In the "Religion" section of the article I find the following criticisms of Dawkins (reproduced here with references omitted):

Critics said that the programme gave too much time to marginal figures and extremists, and that Dawkins' confrontational style did not help his cause ...
Oxford theologian Alister McGrath, author of Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life and The Dawkins Delusion?, has accused Dawkins of being ignorant of Christian theology ...
McGrath argues that the science upon which Dawkins solely relies for answers, has limits in its ability to answer certain questions, such as "What is the meaning of life", or "How did life originate?"...
Another Christian philosopher, Keith Ward, explores similar themes in his book Is Religion Dangerous?, arguing against the view of Dawkins and others that religion is socially dangerous. Criticism of The God Delusion has also come from professional philosophers such as Professor John Cottingham of the University of Reading...
Other commentators, including Margaret Somerville ... have suggested that Dawkins "overstates the case against religion”, asserting that global conflict would continue without religion from factors such as economic pressures or land disputes...
... similar ideas proposed by Martin Rees regarding the coexistence of science and religion without conflict, calling the former "positively supine" and "a purely political ploy to win middle-of-the-road religious people to the science camp” ... Regarding Rees's claim in Our Cosmic Habitat that "Such questions lie beyond science, however: they are the domain of philosophers and theologians ...
Rees has suggested that Dawkins' attack on even mainstream religion is unhelpful ... and Robert Winston has said that Dawkins "brings science into disrepute"

How exactly does your proposed addition from Carson Holloway add anything new of note? If it does, please go ahead and work it in. But it certainly doesn't merit a whole big paragraph to itself. Keep it balanced, keep it in proportion, insert it in a suitable place. Go ahead! Snalwibma 23:27, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the excellent summary! I agree that the full paragraph does restate some of what has already been said. What would you think of the following inserted before the last paragraph in the Religion section:
“Because he makes claims about things that science does not claim to address, it has been asserted that as a public intellectual, Dawkins engages in irresponsible and irrational dogmatism; that his denial of the meaningfulness of the cosmos arises from a simple dogmatic hostility to those who see purpose in the universe itself, or, put more simply, an animus against religion.[2]
LCP 23:44, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
I am still struggling with two things. First, the sentence does not include the idea that a big part of the problem is that D’s use of his authority in science to make claims about religion to which science does not speak results in a great deal of angst in many of his readers. How important is it to state this idea? Second, would it be better to say “Carson Holloway argues…” rather than “it has been asserted…”?LCP 23:49, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
I think that LCP's proposed addition reflects a fair criticism of Dawkins. However, it is a criticism he addressed at length in The God Delusion. An important message in that book was his assertion that, despite the fact that many of his fellow scientists have chosen to adopt a "non-overlapping magisteria", hands-off approach to questions of God, purpose in the universe, etc., Dawkins (along with his nemesis, The Templeton Foundation) believes these are issues that science can address. Dawkins claims that proposing that God exists is indeed a hypothesis for which evidence can be evaluated objectively, and claims that have no supporting evidence should not escape the lens of scientific inquiry simply because most scientists currently choose not to address them. Dawkins's whole point is that science should speak to questions of religion because religious beliefs, while not directly testable experimentally (except the power of prayer, faith healing, etc.), do not deserve to go unchallenged by a reasoned analysis of the evidence. In all fairness, if you include this criticism, please include Dawkins's response, which comprises a significant portion of The God Delusion (particularly the chapter "The God Hypothesis"). Thanks. — DIEGO talk 00:11, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I think there already is a paragraph that speaks to D’s rebuttal. Please correct me if I am mistaken. The paragraph begins, “Dawkins believes that "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis…”. So, I have two questions. Do you suppose the section I want to add should precede that paragraph? Should I rewrite the paragraph that I am including as follows to clarify that there is another part to the criticism (please see bold text):
“Because he makes claims about things that science does not claim to address and thereby causes a great deal of angst in his readers, it has been asserted that as a public intellectual, Dawkins engages in irresponsible and irrational dogmatism; that his denial of the meaningfulness of the cosmos arises from a simple dogmatic hostility to those who see purpose in the universe itself, or, put more simply, an animus against religion.[3]
Finally, should I mention Carson Holloway by name? I tend to think not since he does not have his own page in Wikipedia. Thanks!
LCP 00:37, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
That's much better! You are now trying to find an intelligent way to weave the point in to the article in such a way that it makes sense and adds to the reader's understanding. What I objected to before was that it was being slapped in regardless of context in what looked like a point-scoring exercise. I for one would have no problem with what you are now proposing. As long as there is a reference I see no particular need to mention Holloway by name in the main text (and your point about him not having a WP article is a good one). But I would be wary of starting "Because he makes claims ..." as if it were established fact when in reality it is Holloway's opinion, and I would omit the angst bit. Something like this, perhaps: It has been asserted that, as a public intellectual, Dawkins engages in "irresponsible and irrational dogmatism" about things that science does not claim to address, and that his denial of the meaningfulness of the cosmos arises from a simple dogmatic hostility to those who see purpose in the universe itself, or, put more simply, an "animus against religion" (ref). (NOTE: I have not actually checked that those two phrases are direct quotes from Holloway.) I would definitely place it immediately before the bit that says "Dawkins believes that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis..." - which might also need a bit of rewritig to make Dawkins' riposte clear. Note that the comments in question come from an article published 18 months ago, before The God Delusion - and some might indeed say that in that book Dawkins has thoroughly dealt with the points made by Holloway. Snalwibma 07:47, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for feedback, edit, and new transition. It looks terrific. Thanks also for the clarification of your intentions. I had mistakenly thought that you were opposed to adding the ideas. I agree that the current version is much better than my first attempt. I do still wonder about including a line about angst. That is a pretty big part of Holloway’s objections to D.LCP 15:25, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

A little ruse

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Creationism by Michael Ruse, first published Sat Aug 30, 2003; substantive revision Mon Oct 29, 2007, mentions "a new crop of very militant atheists, including the biologist and popular writer Richard Dawkins (2006) ... who are not only against religion but also against those — including non-believers — who do not share their hostility. ... In The God Delusion , Dawkins refers to Ruse and Scott as belonging to the "Neville Chamberlain" school of Creation fighters... Ruse and Scott respond that they were better known as the "Winston Churchill" school of Creation fighters..." Worth a look, and perhaps a brief mention... dave souza, talk 10:36, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Does the paragraph on Intelligent Design belong under "Creationism" rather than "Religion"?

The paragraph interrupts the flow in the Religion section and would work better integrated into Creationism or (since some might argue that it is not, strictly speaking, creationism) as a sub-section of creationism. Here is the paragraph: “Dawkins has ardently opposed teaching intelligent design in science lessons. He has described intelligent design as "not a scientific argument at all but a religious one" and is a strong critic of the pro-Creationist organisation Truth in Science. Dawkins has said the publication of his September 2006 book, The God Delusion, is "probably the culmination" of his campaign against religion. Dawkins was a featured speaker at the November 2006 Beyond Belief conference.” LCP 00:27, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

I think it should be moved to "creationism". Even if people object on the grounds that ID is not creationism, these statements are more appropriate there because Dawkins considers ID to be creationism and Intelligent Design is discussed under the umbrella of creationism in the creationism article (two solid precedents). — DIEGO talk 00:30, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Surely the whole of "Creationism" should be either in or a sub-section of "Religion" anyway? ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 10:55, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, maybe it "should", logically - but the subheading structure of the article is a convenience for the reader, not a rigorous attempt to classify the content. If "creationism" is made a subdivision of "religion" it would make that section too long and unwieldy, and make the article less clear and easy to read. Perhaps "creationism" should be placed after "religion"? But you could also argue that its current position is better - it sits between evolutionary biology and religion, and that creates a logical flow from RD's work in evolutionary theory to his response to other ideas about how the natural world came about, to his more recent outright attack on the basis for those creationist ideas. I think I've just persuaded myself that the present structure, and sequence, is correct! Snalwibma 11:59, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I think you are probably right although it does make creationism seem as though it's not religious! But yes, your point is good and well made. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 16:07, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

(←) I see someone has just moved "Creationism" to come after "Religion". I persuaded myself that it was better the other way round, as it was - but I clearly didn't persuade everyone! Any thoughts, anyone? Snalwibma 06:38, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

You can justify it either way round.
  • "Creationism" then "Religion" - (as per your logic) because it flows from evolutionary biology to ID/Creationism to religion
  • "Religion" then "Creationism" - because that is the priority Dawkins appears to be following at the moment. Maybe his attacks on Creationism are better explained by describing his anti-theism first.
I dunno - I'm easy either way. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 09:56, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
I was inclined in principle to put creationism first, as Dawkins opposes it on scientific grounds rather than religious grounds, but the religion section follows on well from the meme bit, so no objections either way. .. dave souza, talk 10:19, 8 November 2007 (UTC)


There should be a criticism section of Dawkins, I know that there has been much criticism of his views, particularily his patronising manner to intelligent academic religious believers, the fact he has not even a basic understanding of theology or of philosophers that have asked exactly the same questions he has asked and awnsered for himself, the fact that his field is neurobiology but he constantly rants about things which he evidently has not studied in detail (I suppose this is due to arrogance that he has in assuming that he is so intelligent he doesnt need to consider other academics or the opinions of religious believers), and the fact he creates the most patronisingly weak straw-man arguments about religion from his own warped personal experiences (i.e. in the God delusion assuming that because he saw a devil face in the window duye to his Catholic upbringing and it wasnt really there, that all christians have nothing to base their beliefs on because they all believe in God for similar reasons, i.e. seeing devil faces in windows!??). I know this is all very POV and you dont have to agree with me, but my NPOV point is that there has been a lot of criticism about Dawkins and this is not given due weight in the article. The article somehow makes Dawkins out to be an expert on religion when he has refused to study it at all, whether it be the Bible or simple philosophical questions on it. He is also deinetly not 'outspoken' iif you look up the defenition of the word.Robin Amos 23:01, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

There has been much debate on this page and previous archived discussion pages on whether there should be a separate criticism or controversy section. The consensus has been up and until now that there is plenty of sourced criticism and controversy within the article itself. The advantage of doing it this way is to enable the reader to put the criticism into context - criticism sections tend to become a dumping ground for badly sourced criticisms with undue weight and shed little or no light as to why they are controversial. If you read through the entire document you can see that there is a fair amount of criticism and controversy covered.
You should be careful of assuming that many of your POVs should be included as fact when many of them are clearly incorrect. Let's take some examples.
  • Yes, he can be patronising but look up debates he's had with academic believers such as the Bishop of Oxford or Alistair McGrath. He seems to be patronising to fundamentalists far more.
  • Your assertion that "he has not even a basic understanding of theology" is very bold and unlikely.
  • His main field is evolutionary biology rather than neurobiology.
My point is not to answer your criticisms so much as to point out using some simple examples how quickly they would be removed if they formed the basis of a criticism section.
Hope that helps. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 18:43, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Miracle fish 13:17, 14 November 2007 (UTC)I don't quite know about the point that you're making, but i do know that at least one of your assumptions are incorrect. The statement "he has not even a basic understanding of theology", is not unlikely, it is undeniably true. Dawkins does not care for this critique of his work because it "assumes that there is a serious subject called Theology, which one must study in depth before one can disbelieve in God." and asks "Would you need to read learned volumes on Leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?" These are quotes from his own site. [5] If he doesn't even beleive theology exists, how could he have even a basic understanding of it? I'd say its a fair criticism, the kind that could, and perhaps should, be included on his page.

How does any of that make the statement "he has not even a basic understanding of theology" undeniably true? All he is saying is that you don't have to study theology in depth before disbelieving in God. It says nothing about whether he has or not. And, even if he hasn't, he almost certainly has at least a "basic understanding of theology" and probably a lot more. Basic =/= Deep. Of course he believes that theology exists. He just doesn't rate it being, as it is, the study of something he believes doesn't exist. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 13:39, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Oh, and my point was simply that the previous poster would need to back those statements up before they could be used as cited criticisms of Dawkins or they would be quickly removed. That was all really. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 13:50, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
It should definitely be included in the article as a major criticism of Richard Dawkins that he claims the right to promote a disbelief in Leprechauns, without having the necessary background knowledge. How dare he! One can certainly understand the outrage among true Leprechaun believers! --RenniePet 13:57, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
And where are his credentials on the Celestial Teapot orbiting Pluto, hmmm? What studies has he made, both practical and academic, on the existence (or non-existence) of it? Has he booked time on Hubble? Where are his learned papers? Come on Dawkins, come clean. You don't know anything about it, do you? ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 14:10, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

(←) Actually, Dawkins' woeful ignorance of theology is covered in the article (e.g. The McGrath comment that "Dawkins is ignorant of Christian theology and thereby fails to engage religion and faith intelligently"). If anything, what needs strengtening here is Dawkins' riposte to such silly point-scoring criticisms. Snalwibma 14:15, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

S'all relative though, innit? By McGrath's standards, almost everybody is ignorant of theology and so argues from a point of authority. WHat I was taking issue with here was the claim that Dawkins has no understanding of theology. I can be fairly certain he understands it better than most of us and indeed quite well enough to have a valid opinion on it and disagree with a lot that it apologises for. But if Dawkins has made no stronger riposte to this criticism, how can it be "strengthened" here? (Or am I missing something?) ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 14:26, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Ah yes, sorry - not making myself clear enough. I didn't mean that Dawkins' riposte should be strengthened; rather that the representation of that riposte in this article could be made stronger. At present this line of argument from RD is represented by "Dawkins stated his position that Christian theology is vacuous, and that the only area of theology which might command his attention would be the arguments to demonstrate God's existence." That's a bit vague and waffly. Maybe we should include something about the leprechology remark, to make the point clearer and more concrete. Snalwibma 15:15, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Or a link to this reference. [6] (Assuming it's not already in the article - haven't checked. Unfortunately, it's a blog, but it's a blog by an Associate Professor.) --RenniePet 15:22, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
And it is a blog that has its own wikipedia article! It is already referred to fairly fully at The God Delusion - so perhaps needs only a brief mention here, maybe alongside the leprechauns. But it would certainly be good to have something to represent this line of argument. Snalwibma 15:35, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Dawkins on theology: "Theology has no place in a university".--Svetovid 21:49, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Second-class degree

Recent addition (and not for the first time): "He gained a second-class BA degree in zoology in 1962...". Yes, it's accurate. But is it worth including? I suspect the motives of those who from time to time insert these words - it looks like yet another attempt to denigrate Dawkins (he only got a second-class, i.e. second-rate, degree). The fact is that the vast majority of degrees from Oxford in the 1960s would have been "second-class degrees". Only a handful of particularly outstanding and/or lucky students got a first. My inclination is to delete the class of the degree, on the grounds that it adds nothing of value and could be misinterpreted. Snalwibma 09:39, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Would using a piped link to British_undergraduate_degree_classification#Second-Class_Honours help the position? Old Moonraker 09:53, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, if that's indeed what he got, then that's what should go in (although preferably using "2.1" or "2.2" or "second-class honours"). However, the citation is his CV from which I see no mention of the details of his degree. So I'm changing it to simply "graduated" until a source is supplied. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 10:10, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I can see how mention of the second-class degree can serve a rhetorical purpose. However, that is no reason the exclude it. On the other side of the coin, I find it interesting that someone who was not obviously the brightest light on the tree went on to do work that was so important. I would not suggest that D is a genius, but I would point out that it is common knowledge that Einstein was not a stellar student. I second that it should be included.LCP 16:44, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
But it seems we don't in fact have a source for the class of his degree - so I suggest best leave it as elegantly reworded by Ajkgordon, at least until the facts can be established. Snalwibma 16:50, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Sorry I didn't add the caveat.LCP 17:23, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Just to clarify Dawkins did no receive a second-class degree. He gained second-class honours, which is just below first-class honours, and above a third-class honours, and certainly above a pass. Not brilliant but not "second class" in the way POV pushers might like to imply. --Michael Johnson 23:52, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I suppose that amounts to what we call “magna cum laude” in the US, yes?LCP 23:54, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Certainly appears to be. In Australia at least an Honours degree is (or was, there is more flexibility these days) required to progress to post-graduate (Masters or Doctors) degrees. --Michael Johnson 00:10, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

To clarify this further, at the time Dawkins received his degree, the number of First Class Honours degrees at Oxford was smaller than it is now. Roughly half of the graduates awarded scholarships for D Phil work received Second Class Honours. --Bduke 00:17, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Would still be great to have a source. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 09:01, 15 November 2007 (UTC)


It has still not been explained when R. Dawkins moved to England, at the age of two or that of eight. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:38, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Where is the doubt? The article says "at the age of eight". Do you have evidence that this is incorrect? (talk) 11:43, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

In 2003, Dawkins claimed to have left Africa at the age of two. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:53, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

OK, fine - if you have a source for that, go ahead and edit the article. (talk) 12:38, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
The bio on the Simonyi Foundation webpage has the Dawkins family returning to the UK in 1949. The misunderstanding may come from page 234 of A Devil's Chaplain, which has RD and his mother staying in Mbagathi district, Kenya, until the age of two, while his father, a civil servant in Nyasaland, was called to military service. It doesn't say the the family returned to England when RD was two. Old Moonraker (talk) 13:16, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
In "All Our Yesterdays", Richard Dawkins says, " Kenya,where I was later born and lived until I was two." The word "where" clearly refers to Kenya. The "Mbagathi River" is only mentioned later. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Dawkins says that he has no Swahili. He would probably know some Swahili if he had left Kenya at the age of eight.
Dawkins says that Nairobi has probably changed since 1943. He would have mentioned 1949, if he had left at eight. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:54, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
Dawkins never mentions any school in Kenya. If he had left at eight,
he might well have spent a year in a Kenyan school. Information on the Simonyi site
probably comes from Dawkins himself. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:15, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
The Simonyi site does not mention any primary school at all, in England or Kenya, attended by Dawkins. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:12, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia - a threat to reason?

Did anyone see Dawkins' criticise Wikipedia in his recent TV show "The Enemies of Reason"? Forget about corporate capitalism, terrorism, greedy pharmaceutical companies and so on - Wikipedia is an enemy of reason. Much like religious beliefs, alternative therapies and dousing for water, this website supposedly undermines the authority of experience and expert knowledge. Does anyone agree that his disdain for this website ought to be commented upon in the article? --Nicholas 12:13, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Are you joking or just trying to lie? Anybody can see that he said "Wikipedia world presents both great opportunity and huge danger." Jump to 45:12. It's also at Wikipedia:Wikipedia on TV and radio.--Svetovid 12:28, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I just didn't see anything mentioned about this in the article. Dawkins' is seeking to take on the "enemies of reason" and he mentions Wikipedia in that context. Please assume good faith Svetovid. --Nicholas 14:11, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Correct, Dawkins' does say "Wikipedia world presents both great opportunity and huge danger" but - in context - he then goes on a rant against this website for perpetuating unverifiable claims and for undermining expert wisdom. --Nicholas 14:31, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Looks to me like something which might be worth including in an article about Wikipedia, but not in one about Dawkins. Snalwibma 14:33, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
This is as much about Dawkins' ideas and beliefs as it about Wikipedia. Here is a transcript and some chat about what happens in the show: --Nicholas 14:38, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, in that case why don't you go ahead and propose a way of adding something meaningful and useful to the article? - but I'd be wary of trying to insert a phrase like "his disdain for this website"! Snalwibma 14:53, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I think Dawkins was using Wikipedia as an example of how the internet can help spread unfounded rumours and "mind-viruses" very quickly rather than holding up Wikipedia as the source. The way I interpreted his quote starting "Wikipedia world..." was that it is about the mass of data that isn't quality controlled that he was saying presents us with a danger. He goes on to describe the "blog community of racists and religious fundamentalists" - something that few would seriously associate with Wikipedia.
Though what that means for this article, I'm not sure. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 15:12, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
It is possible that Dawkins is referring to my own remarks in this Talk page and the main Dawkins article. See the paragraph entitled "Still".—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:19, 16 November 2007
Oh the irony of saying others to assume a good faith after what you wrote. And I did assume a good faith by asking if you were kidding.
He said that Wikipedia, just like other Internet sources with information supplied by whoever, pose a good opportunity to write quality and true information, as well as made up garbage. This article being under the attack of POV pushers all the time is a great example of that.---- Svetovid (talk) 22:00, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't think Dawkins is talking about Wikipedia at all. He does use the term "Wikipedia world", but my understanding is that he used that as a general way of talking about Internet-based information.

I've now watched the video sequence (44:45 - 47:15) several times. Here's my transcription of it all:

Steve Fuller is, of course, right that the Internet is revolutionizing how we use and consume information. But the impersonal algorithms of Internet search engines do not weed out robust evidence from unsourced, uncorroborated assertion. Wikipedia world presents both great opportunity and huge danger. Paranoid conspiracy theories circulate unchallenged. Sometimes they're relatively harmless, like the rumor that NASA faked the moon landings, which is a bit of a joke because the evidence for going to the moon is so strong.
But how about the malicious and utterly unfounded rumor that 4,000 Jews were tipped off by Israeli agents not to go to work in the World Trade Center on 9/11? It's one of the nasty lies circulating as truth in the blog community of racists and religious fundamentalists. Now such people can find each other anywhere in the world instantly, whipping up scares and reinforcing their paranoia and delusions.
As evidence is devalued even medical progress has become a target.
TV voice (doctor?): "How long has he gone into spasms? .. unintelligible .."
TV voice (news person): "Hundreds of families blame the MMR vaccines for autism, brain damage and meningitis."
When one report, now widely discredited, wrongly linked MMR vaccine with autism, an innuendo circulated that "the establishment" was conspiring to risk our children's health. It led to hundreds of thousands of parents failing to protect their offspring from the threat of measles, a serious disease that in Afghanistan kills 35,000 people a year.
This is the world of private hunches, and no respect for evidence. Reason has built the modern world. It is a precious, but also a fragile thing, which can be corroded by apparently harmless irrationality. We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.

As for the pictures shown, the only thing I recognize as being from Wikipedia is Image:A14golf.jpg. Everything else looks like it comes from other web sites.

I think those two sentences should be removed from the article. Alternatively, if the article should say something about The Enemies of Reason, then it should more generally say that in the program Dawkins attacked astrology, mediums and the general lack of importance of science in modern attitudes, including the parts of the Internet where rumors and conspiracy theories flurish. I don't think it should name "Wikipedia" as such. --RenniePet (talk) 12:22, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Finally got around to reading some of the earlier postings in this discussion. There is a link to this page at, and a bit over half way down the page, in a posting dated Wed 3rd October 2007, 2:56am there is a copy of an e-mail from Dawkins, dated Jul 3, 2006 8:04 AM, in which he says, "I am bowled over by how good Wikipedia generally is"
So unless he has changed his opinion significantly during the following year, I think this too indicates that he was not talking about Wikipedia when he said "Wikipedia world", he was talking about Internet information sites in general.
WR's opinion of Wikipedia is sufficiently poor that I suspect we should not be looking at their view when considering content changes; I suspect they are the originators of much of the misinterpretation, but I could be wrong about that. Dawkins has not contacted the Wikimedia Foundation directly, as far as I can see (there is nothing in OTRS) so saying anything other than the literal text of what Dawkins says in the source is probably original research. Guy (Help!) 16:03, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
The "bowled over by how good wikipedia generally is" quote on WR apparently comes from a discussion on the Richard Dawkins talk page, where User:Laurence Boyce appears to have independently confirmed that the user editing under that name was, indeed Richard Dawkins himself. See the talk header on this page, which also indicates that Richard Dawkins (user name) maps on to Richard Dawkins (real world person, and subject of this biography). Edhubbard (talk) 19:53, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

In the absence of anyone else having done anything, I've tried to rewrite that paragraph myself. I'm convinced that Dawkins (unfortunately) used the term "Wikipedia world" as a general catch-phrase for the parts of the Internet that (claim to) provide information. Also, the bit about the Internet was only about 3 minutes out of two 50-minute programs, so let's not get into too much studying of our own navels. --RenniePet (talk) 13:08, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

He was not referring to the Internet in general!!! He didn't refer to "Britannica World" or "Google World" did he? His is worried by websites like Wikipedia because any old person can edit it and their edits are not peer-reviewed using the normal scientific processes. --Nicholas (talk) 11:09, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Old person? What does this have to do with age?--Svetovid (talk) 11:57, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
That's just a colloquialism for "any person". --McGeddon (talk) 15:37, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
No, no, no! When Richard Dawkins says "Wikipedia world" he means literally Wikipeida on the Internet. And when Nicholas says "any old person", he literally means edits by old people. :-)
--RenniePet (talk) 16:05, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
At least someone got it, ha.--Svetovid (talk) 18:29, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

(outdent)You guys are joking, right? If not, this discussion itself is proof that if D did literally intend Wikipedia, he hit the nail on the head.LCP (talk) 17:21, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Actually, talk pages work differently than articles in the MediaWiki software which powers Wikipedia. By convention, we usually do not edit each other's talk page comments (except in extreme cases). Thus each talk page comment tends to reflect just one person's opinion and expertise level at a given time, and may be guilty of recording misinformation and so on. Articles work differently: multiple users iteratively edit each other's writing, and we have to back up any controversial claims with reliable sources - which tends to rule out most extreme viewpoints being presented as fact; instead, we expressed published viewpoints as viewpoints, with proper attribution. Most people tend to be better at identifying and fixing some small problems than they are at writing entire works of high quality from scratch. Therefore, over time, we expect Wikipedia to evolve toward a better state than it began with. Of course a person might ask, if anyone can edit anything, why doesn't it all turn into garbage? One might ask the same question about randomly mutating genes. Random genetic mutations do generate lots of garbage, but natural selection cleans up the mutations with brutal efficiency. On Wikipedia, our selection mechanism is to document our standards in terms of highly detailed policies and guidelines, which a substantial core group of experienced volunteers meticulously defend, with an escalating scale of enforcement powers. While we do have a continuous influx of new users, most of whom arrive not knowing anything about the site policies, Wikipedia by its nature rather efficiently allows experienced users to oversee and educate new users. The history feature lets us keep track of what everyone is doing, so people who don't follow the guidelines can be identified, corrected, and if necessary, blocked. This doesn't mean Wikipedia is perfect; it's still evolving. But we do have ratcheting mechanisms that tend to drive the site toward progressively higher quality. If someone trashes a good article, for example, anyone can easily revert the article to the previous good revision. If you're looking for a threat to reason based on the wiki model, better bets would include Conservapedia and CreationWiki. --Teratornis (talk) 22:07, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
That all sounds nice in theory but in practice some articles are hijacked by a mob, where people support one another and will add information based on "majority" consensus rather than based on facts. Ironically, your comment should be deleted because it violates a guideline.--Svetovid (talk) 00:13, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Dawkins has actually been very positive about Wikipedia itself and about Jimbo. I don't think this is especially notable for the present article, but it's the fact of the matter. A vague oral comment about somethng called "Wikipedia world", in a context where he's talking about a larger phenomenon, doesn't change that. Metamagician3000 (talk) 07:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Where and when was R.D. "very positive" about Wikipedia? Can you verify that statement? What exactly did he say? I'd very much like to see some evidence. --Nicholas (talk) 15:15, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I think we're getting unhelpfully distracted by the fact that the word "Wikipedia" was used. For a brief one-paragraph summary of an hour-and-a-half documentary, there's no need to give so much weight to such a tangential sentence from it; it's certainly ridiculous to focus on it in more detail than the astrology or homeopathy. I've been WP:BOLD and added "the Internet" to the list of subjects he discusses, removing the "Wikipedia world" reference. --McGeddon (talk) 15:27, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Excellent! I am 100% in support of this change. Snalwibma (talk) 15:32, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Changed it some more. As it was, it looked a little like Dawkins views the Internet in the same light as the dowsing, homoeopathy, etc. ᴀᴊᴋɢᴏʀᴅᴏɴ«» 16:21, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
The article only says that he "talks about" these things, but if we're having to stop and explain that one of the things he talked about is an exception to all of the others, then maybe it shouldn't be mentioned at all, in this one-paragraph summary. As Nicholas Cimini says, there's an article at The Enemies of Reason where we can cover this in better detail. --McGeddon (talk) 17:49, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
R.D. discusses Wikipedia as a "threat to reason". Full stop. And he does so in front of a backdrop of scrolling wikipedia pages, set to ominous music. Some people here seem to be in denial. Whatever the consensus on this issue, I see no special reason for us to discuss the content of Enemies of Reason on this page, the TV show has its own page, unless of course we are also going to talk about R.D.'s attitude toward this website. --Nicholas (talk) 17:38, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
No. He discusses "Wikipedia world" as a threat to reason. The question is, what does he mean by "Wikipedia world"? Snalwibma (talk) 17:44, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I may be crazy, but, talking about "Wikipedia world" in front of a backdrop of Wikipedia pages would suggest to me that he is talking critically about Wikipedia and other web 2.0 facilities, and not (as has been suggested here) the internet in general. --Nicholas (talk) 18:07, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Are you sure, Nicholas, that RD isn't just coining a neatly alliterative phrase to describe the flood of user generated content on the net? He's an adroit and nimble speaker and "wikipedia world" seems to capture it nicely—in fact, it might catch on: he isn't the only one to have reservations about the lack of provision for discernment and quality-control of Web 2.0. I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised if the moody music and menacing montage were added afterwards by the program makers. --Old Moonraker (talk) 18:25, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Nicholas has several times mentioned "a backdrop of scrolling Wikipedia pages". I looked at the footage fairly carefully, and I think there was only one page from Wikipedia, Image:A14golf.jpg, a picture from one of the moon landings, and it was shown as Dawkins was talking about the conspiracy theories about NASA faking the moon landings. All of the other web pages shown were from other news or blog pages, as far as I can see. --RenniePet (talk) 19:28, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

I dunno how you were able to see that properly from the pictures on Google Video? The "scrolling Wikipedia pages" are obvious when viewed on television. Seriously though, he talks about "Wikipedia world" in the context of a perceived "threat to reason". He does not refer to "Britannica World" or "Google World". This is not about the internet, in general, but about a specific online trend and the perceived threat that that poses to reason.--Nicholas (talk) 20:43, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes but that specific online trend to which he was referring isn't specifically Wikipedia. Maybe I'll ask him directly. AJKGORDON«» 20:53, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, okay. We have agreement. He wasn't talking about the internet in general. He wasn't talking about Britannica online, or the BBC, or other supposedly reputable websites. He was talking about Wikipedia and websites like it because these websites are deemed to pose a threat to reason. I agree with him, to an extent. I think that websites like Wikipedia pose a threat to the (very exclusive) boundaries that are constructed around "expert knowledge". However, I also think that that is a good thing! --Nicholas (talk) 21:16, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Actually he was mostly talking about blogs and sites that spread unsubstantiated, malicious rumours, which is not Wikipedia. He did say Wikipedia world presents both great opportunity and huge danger. You seem to have edited that in your mind to Wikipedia...presents...huge danger. We could edit to Wikipedia...presents...great opportunity. When in fact it is obvious from the context he was using Wikipedia world as a generic term for easily edited websites and blogs. And the rest of the quote, presents both great opportunity and huge danger, could equally be applied to any technological innovation, as in electricity presents... or railways presents.... And I bet a caveman once stood up in front of his community and said fire presents.... And guess what, they are all correct. In other words this is neither a specific criticism of Wikipedia, nor a particularly startling observation. Let's drop it as non-notable. --Michael Johnson (talk) 00:33, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm happy to drop it. But I can't help thinking that some people here are in denial. They don't like it when a Professor they respect disses their pastime and when I raise the issue - purely out of curiosity - people start accusing me of lying (see User:Svetovid) or of selectively interpreting the facts (everyone else). Either way, whether we talk about "Wikipedia world" in the article or not, it seems silly to devote a paragraph to The Enemies of Reason, and not to his other documentaries. That programme already has a page devoted to it. Further, it seems even sillier to refer to the internet, in general, when Dawkins clearly wasn't talking about the internet in general. He was talking about a specific trend on the internet which is most (in)famously associated Wikipedia. I agree with User:McGeddon, this whole issue could be discussed in more detail on the Enemies of Reason page and we should delete that debated paragraph from here. --Nicholas (talk) 14:42, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad you are letting it go. But you did start this thread off with Did anyone see Dawkins' criticise Wikipedia, clearly inaccurate. Your statement above He was talking about a specific trend on the internet which is most (in)famously associated Wikipedia. is a reasonable interpretation of the program, and had that been all you said you would not have attracted the criticism you did. --Michael Johnson (talk) 22:00, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
To be fair to the editor (me) who included the more general "Internet", I did so because his target when he said Wikipedia world and the rest of his discussion on spreading religious hatred and conspiracy theories isn't clear. Hence the generality of "Internet". It's clear he doesn't mean specifically Wikipedia but rather something wider. But what? Wikis in general, blogs, Internet 2.0?
While he only spent a little while in only one of his documentaries, it is a significant criticism and, I believe, merits a mention in this article. AJKGORDON«» 15:12, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

> But I can't help thinking that some people here are in denial.

But I've never even been to Egypt! :-)

> seems silly to devote a paragraph to The Enemies of Reason, and not to his other documentaries.

I don't know how many other documentaries he's made. There is a paragraph about The Root of All Evil? in the section about Religion, and that paragraph is twice as large as the current one for The Enemies of Reason.

Going a bit farther back..

>The "scrolling Wikipedia pages" are obvious when viewed on television.

I'm not sure what you mean. Do you have this program on DVD, and are you saying it is different on DVD than the version on Google Video? I find that very hard to believe.

>I dunno how you were able to see that properly from the pictures on Google Video?

What I did was to click alternatively Play and Pause on Google Video, and look at the images in the background. Now, just for you Nicholas, I've gone back and taken another look. :-)

Clip 1: Some marketing text for a natural health product called Ayurveda from India. Very sure it's not Wikipedia (wrong font), although I was unable to find the page anywhere using Google.
Clip 2: The Image:A14golf.jpg page here at Wikipedia, which I've mentioned a couple of times. A picture from one of the moon landings.
Clip 3: A very short clip, but I was able to freeze it and see enough text to find the page with Google: "The Great Moon Hoax",
Clip 4: Nicholas wins this one! It is from Wikipedia - but it took me a hell of a long time to identify exactly what it is. It's the 9/11 conspiracy theories article, but from 19 Sept. 2006! This implies that they started making the TV program over a year ago? Anyway, it's about the claim that Mossad tipped off 4,000 Jews to not go to work at the World Trade Center on 9/11, a theory that the Wikipedia article, both then and now, labels as totally crazy.
Clip 5: Some kind of news page. Definitely not Wikipedia; there's a video player on the page and the layout is completely different. It is never zoomed in on, so there's no way to identify it.
Clip 6: Wow, this is a really subversive site! The BBC! The clip is a news item, "Drop in MMR jabs blamed on media scare". Found it easily with Google.
Clip 7: Shown very briefly and panned back and forth so fast I can't read enough text to identify it. Definitely not Wikipedia, some kind of news page formatted in multiple columns and with a picture in the middle of the page.
Clip 8: Another very brief clip. Definitely not Wikipedia, it's formatted in multiple scrollable boxes. The text "Can we ever trust MMR? The government has not looked at the whole picture." is clearly visible, but a Google search did not find the page.
Clip 9: This is a factual site about measles, Dawkins shows it to document that measles can be a serious disease if you are not properly innoculated.
Clip 10: The BBC again! Dawkins sure has found some questionable web sites! :-) A news item about the MMR controversy.
Clip 11: Damn, another one for Nicholas. It's the Wikipedia article Cognitive dissonance in a version from some time around Sept. 2006. The text that can be seen in the video, "members of a UFO doomsday cult" and "sent by aliens to a suburban housewife" has been watered-down in the current version of the article.
Clip 12: A page from a web site called, (The current formatting of their pages is different from what it was in Sept. 2006.) 'EXCLUSIVE...9/11 Debate: Loose Change Filmmakers vs. Popular Mechanics Editors of "Debunking 9/11 Myths"', dated Monday, September 11th, 2006. (Loose Change is a movie that claims the US Government was behind the 9/11 attacks.)
Finally, there are 3-4 clips that are only shown for a second or less, and none of them look like Wikipedia to me, they have background colors, graphics all over, etc.

Final score? Wikipedia 3, BBC 2, others 10-11.

Apropos, in The God Delusion, Dawkins, explaining the human susceptibility to religion, mentions that our brains have a tendency to see what we want to see. So maybe if you want to see only Wikipedia, you see only Wikipedia, and if you don't want to see Wikipedia you don't see Wikipedia... --RenniePet (talk) 18:25, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

For those who have asked what Richard Dawkins thinks about Wikipedia itself, go to this article that he placed on his website which contains extra material not in the version published in The Guardian. He explicitly praises Wikipedia even while saying that it shouldn't work ... but he says that it does, that it "always comes through with flying colours":,1195,Observer-Diary-27th-May-2007,Richard-Dawkins,page2#47041
Earlier, he made a similar comment on his own talk page as a Wikipedia editor, so it's not as if this was an aberration.
Metamagician3000 08:55, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Main picture

Quick, someone take a free picture of him where he looks even more evil and demonic! If that's possible--Bernard Marx (talk) 22:44, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

LOL, yes! Even Conservapedia have a more gentle picture of him. And they really do think he's a demon. AJKGORDON«» 22:22, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
Seriously, guys, this same picture (commons) is used in a lot of articles on Wikipedia, and the picture is just awful. I wonder if it's intentional. --Bernard Marx (talk) 23:35, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

"Limited understanding"

User:NBeale has added "Some physicists suggest that Dawkins's background as a biologist limits his ability to understand certain issues". Following the link provided (thanks) would give us something like: "John Barrow, winner of the 2006 Templeton Prize for Progress toward Research about Spiritual Realities, told Dawkins 'you're not really a scientist, you’re a biologist' "

I don't think the reference (although illuminating of the view some physicists hold of biologists) justifies the addition. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:40, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

I noticed this too. I'm reluctant to delete it because it's the opinion of a very notable physicist, but it doesn't paint that person in a very favourable light (i.e. disputing that a large fraction of the world's scientists are actually scientists; for full disclosure, I should add that I'm "not really a scientist"). Well, that and it's a standard NBeale trick of muck-raking for anti-Dawkins quotations (verifiable? yes; notable? maybe). --Plumbago (talk) 11:03, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
I removed it. Just saying some and than quoting a single physicist, a winner of Templeton Prize at that, screams of POV.--Svetovid (talk) 11:08, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Well Plumbago is right that Barrow is v notable. I agree that what he says is rather harsh, hence my toning it down. There are plenty of other people who think Dawkins's understanding of science is very limited, and he hasn't made any significant contributions to the scientific literature for ages. I'll try to add some other refs. (PS reverts are not "minor edits") NBeale (talk) 13:49, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
First find the other references, then add it back if there is a consensus to keep it (but I don't think so). Mushroom (Talk) 13:55, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Pathetic attempt to add more malicious dirt. Barrow was clearly joking. Snalwibma (talk) 14:14, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
I concur. Mushroom (Talk) 14:31, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Doh! Rather than read the source document, I lazily just went along with NBeale and assumed that the cited quotation was in context. Reading it now, it's clear that Barrow's quote is at least partially in jest. Will I never learn? --Plumbago (talk) 09:40, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
NBeale (talk · contribs) tries these things from time to time.--Svetovid (talk) 11:58, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

It was clutching at straws by an editor who has a long-running agenda of trying to discredit Dawkins. Metamagician3000 (talk) 22:33, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

No it's a serious point and one that Nobel-laureate Anthony Hewish agrees with. As yet Hewish's talk is not formally on the web but it was recorded so probably will be posted soon. In the meantime, for those who want to understand the issues at least as seen from my PoV, my latest edit proposal was: Commentators such as John Barrow suggest that Dawkins's background as a biologist limits his ability to understand issues like Anthropic Fine Tuning[4] —Preceding unsigned comment added by NBeale (talkcontribs) 00:13, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
NBeale - As is amply demonstrated by the link you provided when you first tried to introduce this trivia, Barrow was making a gentle joke. His comment amounts to no more than a restatement of the age-old suggestion that a biologist is "not a real scientist". And you can go digging all you like for Nobel prizewinners and peers of the realm who disagree with things that Dawkins says - that doesn't make them notable or worth including in this article. As Dawkins himself almost says, a prominent figure with controversial views is bound to attract a lot of fleas. We do not need gleefully to report every flea-bite! Snalwibma (talk) 09:07, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
If indeed it was a serious point, and not just Barrow joking with Dawkins, and notable enough to be included, then it is clear that Barrow was applying the point to all biologists, not just Dawkins. Therefore it would be a disclaimer that should be applied to all articles on biologists, not just the article on Dawkins, and indeed probably to all biology articles as well. After all, we can hardly have readers believe that Biology is a serious science when Barrow tells us it isn't, can we? NBeale, I presume we have your support for this? --Michael Johnson (talk) 21:37, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Even Dawkins can't consider Barrow and Hewish to be fleas! No-one suggests that Biology isn't a real science per se. But it's certainly true that Biology, at least pre-May and Nowak, was not really based on doing detailed calculations but more on quantitative arguments. Dawkins's problem comes in part from the fact that he will wade into fields like theology and cosmology about which he knows almost nothing, and yet pronounce as a "scientist" about them. A real scientist is clear about his or her domain of understanding. That's why essentially no other FRSs are willing to support Dawkins, even if a good many of them are personally atheists or deep agnostics. NBeale (talk) 21:13, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
To me, at least, Dawkins is not saying, "I'm a biologist! You can trust me! There is no god!"
What I hear him saying is, "I'm an intelligent person with scientific training! You can trust me! There is no god!"
Sounds good enough for me. :-)
Claims that you need to be a theologist to understand the existance of god is another way of saying, "Do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?" There is no field of real science that is relevant in determining the existance of a god. As for explaining why so many people do believe this kind of superstition (or conspiracy theories, or worship pop stars), maybe psychologists might be better equipped than biologists. --RenniePet (talk) 21:59, 24 December 2007 (UTC) --RenniePet (talk) 22:50, 24 December 2007 (UTC)
There is no such thing as a "theologist". The problem (for you) is that about 30% of all scientists do believe in God, and world class scientists like the Nobel-Laureate Anthony Hewish do think that there are good scientific reasons for believing in God, based on considerations like Anthropic Fine Tuning which cosmologists (like Hewish) understand and biologists (like Dawkins) don't. To try to equate belief in God with belief in Leprechauns is simply intellectually dishonest. NBeale (talk) 22:32, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Reading that blog entry, ...

  • I marvel at the apparent insecurity of some religious people that makes it so desperately (so it seems) important for them to "disprove" claims that what they believe in is nothing more than superstition. If these people really believe in Jesus Christ and God and so on, why can't they just shrug their shoulders and ignore Dawkins?
  • Science is an on-going process of discovering how things work and in so doing uncovering new areas that are not yet understood. Continued research eventually results in understanding these things, and uncovering the next layer that is strange and totally non-understandable. This has the advantage of keeping the scientists occupied, and also the "advantage" of there always being something that the religious people can point at and say, "scientists can't understand that, it must be God's hand!" (50 years ago the religious straw-clutchers were using things that are now scientifically understood as "proof" that there has to be a god.)
  • If there really is some "intelligent designer" behind it all, it's a being totally beyond our comprehension, not anything at all like what anyone can imagine as a god. And he/she/it sure as hell doesn't talk to us or send us prophets with "holy books", the one weirder than the next.
  • My prediction is that psychologists and behavioral scientists will gain a better and better understanding of what it is that makes people believe in religion, and eventually this understanding will result in a majority of people seeing the currently established religions in the same way we see cargo cult beliefs. Assuming, of course, that we don't have WW III and destroy ourselves before that.

Merry Christmas, by the way. --RenniePet (talk) 23:41, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Just for fun I did a Google search for "Anthropic Fine-tuning" and found this:
--RenniePet (talk) 03:44, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
Amazing - a "physicist" at a real University who takes Stenger's drivel seriously. Worth looking into... Turns out his entire contribution to the Physics literature is one paper where he was 3rd author, which has been cited ... once. Read a real scientist like Martin Rees. Also your modern Morton's Fork is hilarious: if believers provide some of the arguments for belief which igoramuses ignore, we're "insecure" but if we don't, there is "no evidence". Ah well - Merry Christmas NBeale (talk) 09:15, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for Semi-protection

The history page shows a great deal of vandalism almost daily, maybe we should semi-protect this article. What do you guys think? --Hamsterlopithecus (talk) 14:06, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't think so. The article is watched by many people and there's little chance of any vandalism sticking for long. Also, there's not enough of it to be genuinely disruptive. Metamagician3000 (talk) 22:31, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of "Cultural Christian"

Each edit should be treated on its merits and I can see little wrong with the latest, cited quote from Dawkins, that he is a "cultural christian". It is wrongly formatted, and probably could do with a little more context, but User:NBeale's "nice try" might be worth consideration, this time. --Old Moonraker (talk) 10:49, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, you're right. I have had a go at reintroducing it with a bit more context. Snalwibma (talk) 11:10, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Quoting RD in TGD: "We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage" might help for context. --Old Moonraker (talk) 11:24, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Cross posting of the latest edit in the article and my suggestion above: The revised edit stands very well as it is: no need for support from TGD. --Old Moonraker (talk) 11:29, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
The original is at 43mins 10secs into the recording. It's well worth a look, but it doesn't cover much new ground. Go to the reference and follow the links. --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:11, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

More on the topic from Dawkins.--Svetovid (talk) 23:58, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

New Interview on CBC News: Sunday

The co-host at the end expresses her desire to "slap him upside the head". CBC News: Sunday - Richard Dawkins Pdelongchamp (talk) 22:44, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

I think Dawkins did pretty well considering the hostile interviewer. He's probably used to it by now... --RenniePet (talk) 02:07, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
An interesting interview, not too sure about both these points. The uploader, patnmax, seems to share your views:
Evan Solomon, a McGill University graduate with a masters in religious studies, goes head to head with Richard Dawkins with cookie cutter Atheism interview questions and reveals a deep misunderstanding of evolutionary biology along with a lack of journalistic research.
Soloman's co-host Carole MacNeil, in response to Dawkins' calm reasonable responses, reacts with frustration and an inclination toward violence. Added: December 17, 2007
Actually, Dawkins seems to me rather mischievous, and the interviewer seems at the end to have enjoyed their chat when he says there are "few people that are as fine to debate". The co-host then seems excited, a little hysterical, when she says "what about the Darwinian impulse to slap somebody upside the head?", but while she's hinting that she's feeling that urge, she's also critiquing the "brute impulse" unmoderated by Christian values. Of course maybe she's more of an Old Testament girl ;) Dawkins is on good form and pushing it a bit when he compares the charitable impulse to sexual lust, but I must disagree with him describing it as a "misfiring of the Darwinian impulse" to help kin – that works as a "Dawkinsian" selfish gene argument, but Darwin in The Descent of Man sees it more as a matter of civilisation –
p. 100-101 – "As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.... This virtue, one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men, it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually through public opinion."
From what I've seen, Darwin's view is closer to a modern concept of ape social systems developing competitive altruism as a strategy for getting social credit, to the overall good of the tribe... dave souza, talk 12:05, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Entertaining video but irrelevant to the article. --Hamsterlopithecus (talk) 09:54, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Apropos that "Darwinian impulse to slap somebody upside the head?", I wonder how many others felt that way towards the interviewer? :-)   --RenniePet (talk) 16:16, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I second Hamsterlopithecus's comment. This is a Wikipedia talk page for discussing changes to the Richard Dawkins article. Posting and discussing TV interviews is off-topic unless it's done to reach consensus regarding some specific article change. -- Schaefer (talk) 04:55, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Good scientists who are sincerely religious

The last para of "religion" says: Of "good scientists who are sincerely religious", Dawkins names Arthur Peacocke, Russell Stannard, John Polkinghorne, and Francis Collins, but says "I remain baffled . . . by their belief in the details of the Christian religion".[60] Dawkins writes, "There's all the difference in the world between a belief that one is prepared to defend by quoting evidence and logic and a belief that is supported by nothing more than tradition, authority, or revelation."[61]. However ref [61] is a quote from something written 10 years before ref 60 (TDG) and has no connection with the scientists named or with "good scientists who are sincerely religious". Furthermore the 4 people named are well-known for having written books which seek to defend their Christian beliefs "by quoting evidence and logic" - and although (obviously) Dawkins finds their arguments unconvincing he doesn't deny they make them. So I think we should either delete the 2nd sentence or at minimum reverse the order. NBeale (talk) 12:04, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Unless anyone objects I'll make the edit suggested. Comments anyone? NBeale (talk) 18:07, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Neutrality Dispute

Someone (not me) has placed a Neutrality Dispute tag - we'd better have a discussion about it. There is a somewhat adulatory tone. For example "earned him the appellation" - well he's also called "the high priest of atheism" by The Times but I've a feeling that this might get a slightly different reaction. Are there ways in which we could, or should improve the neutrality? NBeale (talk) 12:12, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Ummmm... suggest a new wording and we can discuss it. I can't think of a better way of putting it. Mikker (...) 13:06, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
My Wikipedia experience is limited, but in my opinion it's almost a given that all articles about controversial figures or concepts will always be considered non-neutral by a significant number of people. In other words, I don't see that Neutrality Dispute tag as being something one needs to worry about. Just consider it to be a permanent part of the article. (This is probably not official Wikipedia policy, though.) --RenniePet (talk) 15:19, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Feeling a bit silly - I wrote the above before seeing that the Neutrality Dispute tag had been added by a hit-and-run anonymous IP user, and that the tag has already been removed. --RenniePet (talk) 15:33, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Look we can't just remove the Neutrality tag without discussion. I'm not keen on anonymous edits (indeed I think WikiPedia would be better without them), but I believe that research shows they tend to be no less accurate than signed ones. Let's have a proper discussion. Can anyone make the case for non-neutrality, or shall I try? (PS seems to have been a visitor from Japan so may be less familiar with WP conventions and argument styles) NBeale (talk) 15:44, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
The discussion about article's POV repeats regularly and you have contributed in these debates before. So acting like it's something new and like you just came here and discovered that leaves a strange feeling.--Svetovid (talk) 16:23, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Hi NBeale - and a happy cultural Christmas to you! "We can't just remove the Neutrality tag without discussion"? Oh yes we can, given that it was anonymously applied with no reasons given. But if you want to give reasons why you think the article is not neutral, go ahead - though I think it's been argued over ad nauseam previously. But I'm not quite sure what you propose to do with the description "high priest of atheism", or what "slightly different reaction" you predict. Do you mean you want to include it, but think that the Dawkins acolytes will reject it? Seems a pretty good description to me, from a good source, and perhaps it should go in alongside the Darwin's rottweiler tag. Snalwibma (talk) 17:29, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Hi Svetovid. An editor can't just remove a POV Tag because they don't like it. There needs to be proper discussion. Why might our Japanese visitor have felt that this article was not neutral? Well I can think of a few possibilities. Here are some examples:

  1. There is in general a very adulatory tone. This isn't necessarily a disaster, but people who feel that Dawkins is a Great Man (and the World's Most Famous Scientist - which is sadly true by GHits) have to be particularly careful that they don't insert bias un-intentionally.
  2. As noted above "In a play on Thomas Huxley's epithet "Darwin's bulldog", Dawkins' impassioned advocacy of evolution has earned him the appellation "Darwin's rottweiler".[2]" seems pretty POV, esp in the summary. How about Dawkins has been called "Darwin's rottweiler" and "the high priest of Atheism"?
  3. In this article Dawkins "argues" (7x) whereas his critics when they are reported "suggest". NPOV would encourage us to use suggest throughout.
  4. Some flim-flam of Dawkins seems to be over-hyped. for example an "essay" on "The emptiness of theology" turns out to be 440 words complaining about an editorial in The Independent. (and even Dawkins seems to have noticed that "The achievements of theologians don't do anything, don't affect anything" is a pretty absurd position, which I hardly think he would repeat nowadays (it was 1999). Of course since from my PoV Dawkins is an absurd figure who is completely out of his depth when he moves away from evolutionary biology into fields that he clearly doesn't understand, I don't really mind much if an article holds such "essays" up as examples of his Thought. But as a WikiPedia editor I feel that perhaps we should try to listen to concerns of visitors, and get this quite important article reasonably right. NBeale (talk)
Drive-by tagging is strongly discouraged. The editor who adds the tag must address the issues on the talk page, pointing to specific issues that are actionable within the content policies, namely Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, Wikipedia:Verifiability, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons. Simply being of the opinion that a page is not neutral is not sufficient to justify the addition of the tag. Tags should be added as a last resort. Teapotgeorge (talk) 17:39, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, NBeale. None of these four points is an issue of POV, though they do suggest some improvements that could be made to the article. (1) The "adulatory" tone is a matter of opinion. Coming from your POV I can indeed understand why it appears so. Others would, I think, describe it a reasonably balanced biography. (2) Let's add the "high priest" comment. Done. (3) Yes, the language used (e.g. argue vs. suggest) could probably be tidied up to advantage. (4) Yes, there is probably too much flim-flam (though it's nothing in comparison to the flim-flam from the anti-Dawkins lobby that gets added from time to time!). Let's work on tidying it up. I must add a comment, though, because I am genuinely puzzled - Why do you find Dawkins so threatening? If he is so clearly absurd, and his arguments so self-evidently wrong, why do you bother to devote so much time to trying to counter them? Why not just leave him alone and rest on your certainty in your christian god (who, by the way, is surely far a more absurd figure than Dawkins!)? Snalwibma (talk) 17:55, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Hi Snalwimba. I didn't originally insert the POV tag - but out of courtesy to our Japanese visitor I do feel we should give the issue a fair consideration. As the policy states "if there is a dispute about POV then there is probably a dispute" and we REALLY should give people (say) 5 days to make some comments. WikiPedia is not a Private Members Club. Thanks for your edit on "high priest" though Svetovid immediately reverted it. I'll make one big edit to restore this and deal with the argues issue, but I really think we must as courtesy and policy leave the tag in for a few days. To answer your question - why do some Christians bother to refute Dawkins' ideas? Because (a) he does mislead a lot of people, esp if they have no grasp of philosophy of religion or physics (b) some of us feel we have a "calling" to philosophical apologetics. Hewish didn't bother to address Dawkins until the wife of a friend said she had been persuaded by TGD to stop attending chapel. NBeale (talk) 19:05, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
"(a) he does mislead a lot of people, esp if they have no grasp of philosophy of religion or physics" - no facts, just your opinion.
Again, you just proved you are interested in your limited POV and nothing else.--Svetovid (talk) 19:16, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Hi Svetovid. How or why does being clear about one's POV (in response to a questions from Snalwibma) "prove" that I am "interested in [my] limited POV and nothing else"? The whole point of NPOV is that everyone has a POV, and together we get the articles to be NPOV. NBeale (talk) 08:11, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Do you have any "third-party published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" to support your POV? That is the only point.--Svetovid (talk) 13:17, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Asking for reliable sources to support a POV is completely different from claiming "you are interested in your POV and nothing else" - so I take it that you are withdrawing that assertion. There are a huge number of people who consider that Dawkins is misleading when he strays out of his field, and I don't have time to go through all of them! But I found this at the Royal Institute of Philosophy by Mary Midgeley which is very interesting, even though it's not the strongest example. NBeale (talk) 18:06, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
You only insert things that you like and not something you disagree with or does not support your stance somehow even though it's factual.
That article, written by a moral philosopher and full of metaphysics and semantics, does not support your claim that "he does mislead a lot of people."
"There are a huge number of people." Where?--Svetovid (talk) 20:09, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

For what it's worth, I like the "High priest of atheism" label, so I vote to keep it. --RenniePet (talk) 19:00, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

On reflection, I take it back. It sounds neat, but has the unfortunate side-effect of equating atheism with religions, which is not so good. See, for example, this comment: --RenniePet (talk) 18:42, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a democracy. You need to show why a nickname from a single newspaper editor is notable.--Svetovid (talk) 19:16, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
FWIW (though I'm not going to fight over it) I think the "High priest of atheism" label fits well in the intro, as an example of the kind of label applied these days to Dawkins. It's not in itself particularly notable, but it is a good example of a type. Dawkins is known for two things: (1) evolutionary theory, and more recently (2) atheism. Both these aspects should perhaps be reflected in quotes in the intro. That's why I think it's quite a good idea. Snalwibma (talk) 19:24, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Seriously, we're including the fact that one journalist once called him "the high priest of atheism"? If you do a Google search on "Darwins' Rottweiler" you'll find numerous sources labeling Dawkins as such. "High priest of atheism" is not a common label and just POV pushing. Dawkins is a very outspoken atheist for sure, but a high priest? Should we also include in the intro that Dawkins is wholly misguided, because one source claims him to be so? menscht 18:23, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
The Times is still considered the newspaper of record in the UK, and if The Times says Dawkins "has become the high priest of Atheism" this is more than one journalist calling him so. There are over 1k ghits on this phrase and at least 80% of them are about Dawkins from what I can see. It seems there are actually fewer ghits for "Darwin's Rottweiler" Dawkins (despite it having been stated in WikiPedia as an "appellation that he has earned" and none of them is in a paper as authoritative as The Times. NBeale (talk) 18:42, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
NBeale - I don't know where you get these spurious "ghits" figures from! For the record, there are 10 times as many google hits for "darwin's rottweiler" dawkins as for "high priest of atheism" dawkins. And as for the crazy notion that the Times is the "newspaper of record" - well, that piece calling RD the HP of A was an opninion piece and in no sense an official record. Stop arguing from authority! I still think it's not a bad example of the kind of thing Dawkins is called, and I'm not averse to seeing the phrase used an an illustration (and actually the "priest" metaphor is also quite a good example of the sort of nonsense it's an example of) - but I utterly reject the particular arguments you trot out in support of including it! Snalwibma (talk) 19:24, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Hi S. I now get 849 for HPoA Dawkins and 973 for D's R Dawkins - though when I looked earlier it was from memory c 745 (?odd). And The Times piece (actually The Sunday Times) is a news item by 2 leading ST journalists. NBeale (talk) 22:08, 27 December 2007 (UTC)


I've not been around for a while... and it seems the ELs have deteriorated substantially in that time. I restored a version of them from June, which I think is much much better. Please let me know if this is somehow controversial. Mikker (...) 13:08, 26 December 2007 (UTC)


Dawkins insists that he is opposed to racialism and implies that he is a British patriot when he says that his father was in the war-time British army. His publisher speaks of his fierce intellect. British patriotism leads logically to Teutonic supremacism and white racialism. Dawkins is self-contradictory. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:30, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

This is a fine example of a slippery slope fallacy and reductio ad absurdum. For a greater effect, it should have ended with Dawkins eating babies.-Svetovid (talk) 13:14, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. Or with Dawkins being the anti-Christ. But, fun as this is,, please see WP:NOR. Mikker (...) 10:00, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Points by Martin Rees and Robert Winston

The comments by Martin Rees and Robert Winston were deleted on the grounds that they were "repetitious me-tooist criticism". Rees is the President of the Royal Society and Winston is probably the UK's best-known doctor. Their views on this are extremely relevant. If anyone else is quoted as saying the same thing in the article (which I can't see) then their comments should be considered for deletion. NBeale (talk) 22:12, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Well spotted, NB - I didn't think I'd get away with that deletion for long! (Though I hope you noticed how I reversed the order of the two sentences at the end of the Religion section, as you suggested.) But the use of those quotes from Rees and Winston in this article is indeed "me-tooist", in the sense that they were tacked on to the end of the section with no particular relationship to the flow of the "story", and for no particular reason other than that someone found them and saw them as more sticks to beat Dawkins with. The fact that they are both distinguished scientists is irrelevant. What matters is whether they said anything significant about Dawkins, and preferably anything which has not already been said and reported in the article. I reckon they add little or nothing of substance. I have had a go at reorganising the section, but I have retained all your precious distinguised commentators. How does it work like this? Snalwibma (talk) 22:58, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. Much better. FWIW I don't make an argument from authority that they must be right. I merely think that the reader should know that some of the most distinguished scientists do not agree with his approach (in fact the vast majority of world-class scientists who have commented on Dawkins do not agree with his approach - but that is "OR" and not suitable for the article.) NBeale (talk) 22:44, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

High Priest of atheism and other (nick)names

Inserting this particular nickname into the lead gives undue weight to a single source; however, theists (and sometimes atheists/agnostics too) often call Dawkins (Hitchens, Harris...) atheist fundamentalist ([7]) and other names (Prophet of Atheism, evangelist of unbelief) borrowed from religious terminology, so it probably should be included in the article.
It would show how opponents currently respond to Dawkins and that they use the childish 'you are as bad as us'. Dawkins' response is somewhat written in The God Delusion#Moderate religion and fundamentalism.--Svetovid (talk) 01:54, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I think it's a really bad idea to start listing nicknames, it adds little of value to the article and encourages fly-by editing with tendentious additions of nicknames. (Pretty much the same reason why none of the regular editors think a separate "criticism" section is a good idea). As I see it, we should either have one nickname or none. My vote is for "Darwin's rottweiler" - it focuses on Dawkins' main intellectual contribution (to evolutionary theory) and alludes to the fact that he can be a fierce/controversial figure. What do the rest of you think? Mikker (...) 09:57, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Agree. "Darwin's rottweiler" directly reflects on his field of work, the way he advocates this field, it has an historical context and as such isn't as general as "high priest of atheism" or whatever he's been called the last thirty years. menscht 11:18, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
The more I think about this the more I come to the view that picking one nickname is inevitably POV. Unless there is overwhelming evidence that one nickname entirely dominates the others, what it boils down to is editors saying "I like this nickname, I don't like that one". "earned him the appellation" - forsooth! There is perhaps a case for listing some of the nicknames in the article (in case people want to know who "the high priest of atheism" or "Darwin's rottweiler" refers to) but I can see no reason for picking one, and absolutely no reason for putting it in the summary. FWIW Darwin was completely against people like Haeckel trying to draw atheistic conclusions from his work, and would have been appalled by Dawkins's anti-religious antics. Not for nothing did Mary Midgley dedicate one of her books "To Charles Darwin, who did not say such things". NBeale (talk) 11:36, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Why does it matter wat Darwin would have thought, or what Mary Midgley says about him? The nickname "Darwin's rottweiler" has been cited in numerous sources. I haven't come across "high priest of atheism" once (except for the reference in The Times article), yet you seem to push this particular one although it isn't notable enough. Also, you misrepresent the discussion above by saying that nicknames will be chosen based on the number of editors who "like" the particular name. menscht 11:47, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with mensch about Midgley and Darwin. It's irrelevant. The key point is whether or not it's inherently POV to pick nicknames. I think it's much better to have no nicknames at all than to list a whole bunch. So if we're convinced it's POV (and maybe it is...), we need to delete it and avoid nicknames altogether. Mikker (...) 17:07, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
There are 840 GHits on HPoA+Dawkins so it's not just one article. And the way the lead-in is worded gives the strong impression that the author(s) of the article think his 'impassioned advocacy of evolution has earned him the appellation "Darwin's rottweiler"' (hurrah!) rather than simply that some people call him this. Try 'his impassioned advocacy of atheism has earned him the appellation "The High Priest of Atheism"' and you'll see what I mean. I think it might be OK to record this nickname in the body of the article, but the adulatory way in which it is highlighted seems OTT. Are there any other articles about serious intellectuals/scientists which use nicknames in the lead-in? (BTW when looking for GHIts on D'R I found this article in Discover which shows that people were worried about Dawkins's style even before TGD. NBeale (talk) 23:06, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
OK then - delete the rottweiler from the lead section. But keep it and a suitable mention of other nicknames later on. In fact, it's already there, in the Career section: In 1996, Charles Simonyi referred to Dawkins as "Darwin's rottweiler", a description later adopted by Discover magazine, and the Radio Times. He has also been called "the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell" and compared to Ernst Haeckel. Snalwibma (talk) 23:12, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I've deleted it from the lead... please let's not add further nicks in the body though. Mikker (...) 23:46, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I don't think we should have a blanket ban on nick-names, but let's agree a sensible threshold - eg 1k GHits and at least 3 Reliable Sources? NBeale (talk) 14:39, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
A blanket ban is a bad idea I agree, but a far more important requirement for nicks is that it adds value to the article. Does "high priest of atheism" add value? I'm not convinced. Indeed, the rottweiler one might not meet that requirement either. Mikker (...) 15:09, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

The trouble is that, at one level, any nickname that has reliable sources "adds value" in that it gives properly sourced information. And with someone as controversial as Dawkins, there is a real risk that a subjective decision about which nicknames to cover will introduce POV. 1kGHits+3RS has the advantage of objectivity. Could we at least take that as a starting point, unless there are exceptional considerations either way? NBeale (talk) 12:57, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

There is far, far more "properly sourced information" than we can possibly include in the article. That something is properly sourced, clearly, is not a sufficient condition for it being notable.
How is your criterion objective? I mean, once established, it provides a clear decision rule (so it's objective in that sense), but is the criterion itself objective? Why not 2k? Or 7.564k? Or any other number? Mikker (...) 23:12, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
By an objective criterion I don't mean one which couldn't be chosen otherwise, merely one where there is no room to doubt whether it has been met or not. 2kGHits is indeed just as objective. But I think it'd be good to have a consensus on the cut-off level, so that we don't then get a debate which (may seem/is)based on whether people like the nickname. NBeale (talk) 14:50, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
But there is no evidence of any nicknames being included or excluded on the basis of whether any particular editor likes or dislikes them, and everyone seems to have agreed that "Darwin's rottweiler" and something reflecting the "Dawkins-as-antichrist" view should not be in the lead but should be in the body of the article (as indeed they are in the current version of the article - but please tell me if I'm wrong about general agreement) ... So what is the problem? I am very much against any so-called objective criterion or cut-off level for notability of a nickname. Our primary concern here must be the wikipedia article, and ensuring that it does its job of providing a well-structured and readable exposition of the subject. If we allow a rule that says "nicknames with > xxx GHits should be included and those with < xxx will be excluded" we will just suffer from yet more of the cram-it-in-at-all-costs approach that the article has suffered from so much in the past. One or two determined editors with nothing better to do will take it as an invitation to track down and insert as many nicknames as possible, and appeal to the "rule", without regard to the usefulness of adding it to the article. It'll just be another version of the argument that says "it's well referenced so it must be included", regardless of the merit of any particular statement as a contribution to the article. We must continue to make value-judgements (and yes, they are subjective) about what is useful and what is not useful in the article about Dawkins. We must not allow this sort of spurious objectivity. And don't even get me started on the biases inherent in relying on Google hits as a measure of notability! Snalwibma (talk) 15:36, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Agreeing with Snalwibma. Each inclusion should be treated on its merits with reference to relevance and interest. This is a subjective test, of course, which is open to interpretation and argument, but surely that is preferable to a general rule that can be imposed irrespective of how well it fits the article in question. --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:04, 7 January 2008 (UTC)