Talk:Signature in the Cell

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Reception section[edit]

  1. This section really needs more structure.
  2. Is Telicom: The Journal of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry a WP:RS? My impression is that it doesn't have much in the way of editorial oversight ([1]).

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 10:17, 26 November 2010 (UTC)


Is it appropriate that the lede is cited to the DI & the book's publisher? It rather suggests lack of balance for such a widely-criticised book. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 12:22, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

Lack of balance is right.. but certainly not in favor of the book. Any attempts to add balance comments to this article are reverted by the editors. (As will this comment no doubt.) So much for objectivity!Asteckley (talk) 04:15, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

They will be reverted when you add unsourced claims. See WP:V & WP:NOR. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:35, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Hrafn.. you are absurdly silly. My addition referred directly to the book itself that is the topic of the entire Wikipedia article...that IS the "source". The level of your bias in censoring any reasonable discussion is stunning! Asteckley (talk) 21:25, 6 August 2011 (UTC).

Asteckley: you insist on intruding your own personal opinions into the article (violates WP:NPOV). Your addition referred to your vague (no page numbers given -- violates WP:V -- it is not cited so no it bloody well IS NOT "the 'source'") interpretation (synthesis -- violates WP:NOR) of the book. It is the level of arrogance in demanding that your own personal interpretation be included in the article that is "stunning". HrafnTalkStalk(P) 02:21, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Hrafn: Seriously? Are you REALLY trying to make the argument that stating that Meyer "spends many pages explaining that complexity alone does not imply intentional design" is an 'opinion'...or an 'uncited synthesis'? You do realize that the book is publicly available, don't you? Anybody reading this article can actually read the book and see that my addition is just an objective observation. You are embarrassing yourself, (not to mention undercutting your own obvious mission of discrediting anything coming from ID proponents). An "opinion" would be if I were evaluating what he says as 'good' or 'bad' or 'right' or 'wrong'. What bizarre world are you living in to suggest that my description of what Meyer's book contains (which he himself would unhesitatingly agree with) is only my 'opinion' or a 'synthesis'? Would it also be an 'opinion' to state that the book is about 'Intelligent Design'? Or that it talks about "specified complexity"? Agree with him or not, the fact is those topics constitute substantial amounts of the book's content. As does a lengthy description of what is meant by 'specified complexity'. And also that specified complexity is NOT complexity alone as PZ Meyers' criticism is trying to suggest. Perhaps we could settle this be removing entirely the reference to PZ Myers, since he himself admits that he had not even read the book before writing his evaluation of it. Asteckley (talk) 05:34, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation.


SERIOUSLY, stating that PZ Myers is wrong because he "overlooks the fact that Meyer spends many pages explaining that complexity alone does not imply intentional design" (rather than, for example, that he believes Meyer's explanation to be malformed or inadequate or similar) -- bloody well requires a secondary source! HrafnTalkStalk(P) 06:10, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

@Asteckley: Policy is VERY clear on this. A reliable secondary source of sufficient notability is ABSOLUTELY required. You are not permitted to interpret the source yourself. Policy allows interpretation only by reliable sources. Please do not add this material again. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 06:22, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Article weakness[edit]

the article needs some kind of at least modest summary of what the it is about. All I get from teh current article is that it is a book by ID'ers that seems to use a lot of poor scientific explaination. What is the book's thesis? A paragraph on that prior to the 'reception' section would be a wonderful addition. --Rocksanddirt (talk) 23:56, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Dubious sources[edit]

There are a number of dubious sources used here--on all sides of the issue, including many self-published blogs with no editorial control and no association with news organizations. Drrll (talk) 07:15, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

I've removed the tag until you provide SPECIFIC examples of what you think are "dubious sources" and why you think they are dubious. Merely making a general objection is insufficient grounds for tagging the article. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 07:21, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I would suggest that a quick perusal of ScienceBlogs (and their "association" with Seed Media Group) and WP:PARITY might be in order. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 07:43, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

You are right that ScienceBlogs blogs are associated with a company that produces Seed magazine, which itself appears to be a reliable source. The problem is that none of the individual blogs at ScienceBlogs are under the editorial control of anyone:

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

WP:IRS says the following about blogs:

"Blogs" in this context refers to personal and group blogs. Some news outlets host interactive columns they call blogs, and these may be acceptable as sources so long as the writers are professional journalists or are professionals in the field on which they write and the blog is subject to the news outlet's full editorial control.

Even though their blogs dealing with ID are heavy on personal attacks (not a shock given the lack of editorial control of opinionated bloggers), they could be reliable if they were under a news outlet's full editorial control--at least the ones written by experts in relevant fields, which is not always the case. Besides the Pharyngula ScienceBlogs blog, these other blogs are also free from a news outlet's editorial control:

  • Leiter Reports blog
  • Jeffrey Shallit's blog
  • Quintessence of Dust Blogspot blog
  • American Scientific Affiliation blog (not under the editorial control of the journal they publish)
  • BioLogos Foundation blog

In addition, the Trinity Broadcasting source makes no claim that it's either a scholarly enterprise or a news organization as far as I know (at least the CBN source claims to be a news article written by a journalist). WP:PARITY does not give sources a pass because of the topic or because of the favorable sources used in an article:

'Of course, for any viewpoint described in an article, only reliable sources should be used; Wikipedia's verifiability policy is not suspended simply because the topic is a fringe theory.

Drrll (talk) 00:23, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

I am going to wander a bit in responding to the above, for which I apologise.

  1. When this book was released, I noticed that it received little, if any, attention from prominent scientific publications. I think this was due to the fact that (i) little of it was particularly new, most was in fact a retread (and slight synthesis) of pre-existing ID claims & (ii) Meyer himself has negligible scientific standing.
  2. That being so, I would probably have advised against creating an article on it, if anybody had asked me. Nobody did (I was taking a leave of absence from Wikipedia when it was created, and the first I knew about it was a comment on my user talk about it).
  3. What we have therefore is an article where the majority scientific view is expressed mainly by self-published blog sources. And so we come back to WP:PARITY. The topic of this article is a book on a WP:FRINGE subject, written by an author with negligible scientific standing, who is the head of an organisation that has a very low and highly inimical reputation in the scientific community, published by the HarperOne imprint, which is known for its religious/spiritual/faith publications rather than for any scientific rigour at all, making claims that have never passed scrutiny in any legitimate peer-reviewed forum. The bar for parity of sources is thus very very low.
  4. On the other side of the parity equation, although the sources are ubiquitously self-published, those publishing are generally recognised experts in the fields in question. For example Jeffrey Shallit is not only an information theorist, he was also the expert rebuttal witness against William Dembski at Dover, until Dembski withdrew. Given that a large part of Meyer's book is based upon Dembski's Info Theory claims, it is hard to imagine a better-placed source to provide the scientific community's views on these claims.

In conclusion, given the scarcity of sources, we are faced with either (i) accepting these sources as having sufficient WP:PARITY, or (ii) merging/deleting this article. Because, to be blunt, this article is not sustainable without them. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 07:56, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

I see what you mean. Deleting the sources that Drrll lists along with the equally questionable American Spectator and Spectrum reviews would leave the article sparsely sourced as far as notability is concerned. It's going to be hard to establish notability solely on the basis of Nagel's Times review, and the two criticisms of that review by Fletcher and Vernon. I've spent a while looking for better sources, but it seems that no one qualified has bothered to write about it. Looking through the first 200 Google hits, I also can't find any evidence that the book has been particularly influential in the creationist community, just lots of low grade reviews, endorsements and marketing. I wouldn't object to deletion or a merge to Dembski's own article. Or to Nagel's article, because, frankly, Nagel's review seems to have generated more press than the book itself has. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 18:42, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
Assuming that it is merged at all, it should be merged to Meyer's article not Dembski's as the former is the author. However I would agree that it would be reasonable to include the reaction to Nagel on Nagel's article (with {{further}} tags providing prominent navigation between the sections in the two articles). HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:14, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
Sorry. Brain fart. Now that Aprock has been bold and cleaned up the article, it's even more clear that this article is primarily about Nagel's review and the reation to it, rather than about Meyer's book itself. I've been looking for secondary sources confirming that the book is notable in creationist circles, but all I'm finding is reviews, endorsements, and some obviously agressive stealth marketing that originates from persons close to Meyer himself, like the reviews on Amazon, most of which are obviously written by shills. I have as yet found nothing that this book has had any significant and notable influence, and that after going through 500 Google hits now. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 11:06, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
I've gone ahead and added the relevent passage to the article on Nagel. There's no need for navigation tags now. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 11:52, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
And I've done the same for the Meyer article. There is now nothing in this article that doesn't exist either in the Meyer or Nagel articles. It can now be deleted without further action. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 12:20, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
"The bar for parity of sources is thus very very low": while the objectivity of sources like Spectrum and CBN can be rightly called into question, given that they probably both advocate for ID and/or creationism (although I don't know how well they would fare at RSN), the "bar for parity of sources" can hardly be called low when 3 of the sources are from one of the most respected newspapers in the English-speaking world, The Times. Also, it's highly unlikely that the American Spectator would be deemed unreliable at RSN, given previous decisions on opinion magazines.
As far as expert status goes for the 3 left over, Fletcher is apparently a physical chemist, not a chemist with a biological specialization. Falk is a geneticist, so he is an expert in a relevant field. Shallit may be a number theorist, but he is not an information theorist. Fletcher and especially Shallit are also unusable in that what's quoted is concerning living people. Accord to WP:SPS policy:
Never use self-published sources as third-party sources about living people, even if the author is an expert, well-known professional researcher, or writer.
That leaves Falk.

Drrll (talk) 19:18, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

WP:Complete bollocks:

  1. Last I checked, neither The Times, nor Nagel, had any scientific expertise whatsoever. Therefore Nagel's unsubstantiated, inexpert opinion expressed in a Times supplement has negligible probative value, and I claim parity of sources for self-published opinions of genuine experts.
  2. A book is not a "living person", so WP:BLP does not apply to opinions of books.

I'm sure Deadhorse-Drrll will come up with numerous spurious reasons why he disagrees with me. I'm really not interested. Unless and until it looks like there is some possibility of a change in WP:CONSENSUS, I see little point in responding further, except to offer a pre-emptive disagreement with whatever he is likely to say hereafter. Have fun talking to yourself and/or to anybody willing to play dead horse piñata with you. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 05:38, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

  1. Last time I checked, there was no policy or guideline that required that reliably-sourced citations to books be in a scientific publication, or its authors to be scientists. We aren't doing something like, oh, I don't know, saying something definitive like the book is scientifically superb. On the other hand, there is the requirement that self-published sources be written by experts in relevant fields.
  2. Opinions about books aren't governed by WP:BLP or WP:SPS, but opinions about people sure are:
Shallit also hefted criticism at scientists and philosophers who have publicly endorsed the book, writing that "The people who have endorsed this book, from Thomas Nagel to Philip Skell to J. Scott Turner, uncritically accepting Meyer's claims about information and not even hinting that he might be wrong, should be ashamed."
But hell, let's not let those pesky little unimportant policies and guidelines get in the way of a some good ol' POV pushing (but, I guess policies and guidelines, which you clearly know well, can come in handy when you want to keep out material you don't like or when you want to decimate or delete an article on a subject you don't like). Drrll (talk) 19:57, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

cleaned up reception section[edit]

There is no need to include every view of every review ever made on the book. Three or four representative reviews are enough to establish the general reception of the book. I've cleaned out many of the incidental reviews that do nothing more than repeat/restate what the other sources have already said. aprock (talk) 00:50, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Before you made your changes, there was approximately 10-15% specific positive comments about the book, with all the rest being specific negative comments, save for one sentence of synthesis at the beginning. Now there is 100% specific negative comments about the book. WP:UNDUE anyone? The single instance of specific positive comments was removed on the basis that Nagel is "in the ID community." Even if he were, it was the highest quality source in the entire article and that's what matters, not what his views are. However, he isn't in the ID community, unless it is believed that someone is if they don't demonstrate sufficient hostility toward the ID community. At the same time that The Times quotations were removed, the clearly unreliable source Trinity Broadcasting, and the questionable source CBN were left in (although they were not in the Reception section, which was the one worked on). But then, they aren't used to add positive comments about the book. As the only appearances mentioned, they serve purely to portray Meyer as a kook. Plus, several remaining sources in the Reception section are sources of very dubious reliability. Drrll (talk) 19:49, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
Left in the Times quote. But there was only one review in the Times, not two. The Spectator is not a reliable source, but an opinion magazine. The Washington Times is a local paper- I think you confused it for the Washington Post.
All in all, the only source that establishes notability is the Times review. I don't think that will be enough to survive AfD. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 00:19, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Sorry about that. I saw two separate The Times references in an earlier version, each with different descriptions. I didn't think that there were two reviews, but I did think that the book was listed by Nagel later on in a best-of-year books list. Still, I should have checked both links, even with two different descriptions.
My recollection from RSN and WP:IRS is that opinion magazines/opinion pieces are reliable sources for opinions, clearly the role of a book review. Please point to policy, guidelines, or a RSN post that indicates otherwise. TAS actually has a fairly large circulation for a US opinion magazine.
No, I didn't confuse The Washington Times for The Washington Post. It is a much smaller paper serving the Washington DC metro area, and again I recall there was nothing in RSN that indicated that it was not a reliable source.
Obviously, neither source are in the same league as The Times, but that doesn't mean that they are not notable enough sources. And despite my mistake that there were two separate articles in The Times involving Nagel, there are two other The Times articles dealing with the book in detail (Fletcher's two separate letters to the editor), both of which are also in the WP article. Drrll (talk) 01:12, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
The Spectator review is completely worthless. The review is written by Dan Peterson, "an attorney who practices firearms law in Northern Virginia." That's as good as a review from some plumber.
The Washington Times review is just as bad, as it's written by Anthony J. Sadar, "a certified consulting meteorologist and an adjunct associate professor at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa." He does not have a doctorate or any other qualifications or experience that would give his opinion any weight.
The three Times articles count as one event for the purpose of establishing notability, as they are a review and two responses to that review. The responses actually say more about the notability of the review than they do about the notability of the book itself. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 01:45, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Undoing GoodFaith edits by User QTxVi4bEMRbrNqOorWBV[edit]

User QTxVi4bEMRbrNqOorWBV recently erased the "Main Points" section, citing WP:SOAP. As per the linked article, a SOAP designation does not apply to this Main Points section because, while it does speak of science/religion/politics, it does so as "an attempt is made to describe the topic from a neutral point of view." Also, the Main Points section does not advertise or promote the book. If the presence of a Main Points section does do that, then an exceedingly large number of WP book articles need to be revised. Another edit, in the lede, the reference to Meyer's degrees in science were deleted and replaced with the term creationist. While I cannot find where Meyers says he is a creationist, I can find where he cites his earned degrees. Thus I am replacing "creationist" with "Philosopher of science" and adding the reference that was cited in his BLP. Best, Purefury182 (talk) 15:26, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Yes, a lot of other articles need to be cleaned up too. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:57, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
I can see how a synopsis of the main points of a book that advocates a fringe theory would seem to itself be advocating a fringe theory. However, it does not follow that all synopses would advocate the theory. Also, WP:SOAP does not differentiate between advocating fringe theories or mainstream theories. It simply states that advocacy in general is not to be done in Wikipedia articles. If anyone thinks the Main Points section departs from a simple synopsis and is not written from a NPOV, please give examples and add to the discussion on this talk page instead of conducting blanket deletions. Best, Purefury182 (talk) 00:45, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
While a summary of a fringe theory is not necessarily inappropriately advocating for the fringe theory, the summary in question here is inappropriately advocating without appropriate context. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:43, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Hello! I am here in response to a post on the NPOV noticeboard. Articles on books ideally have a synopsis. The "Main points" section here seems like content which would typically be renamed "synoposis" and then converted from a list and into prose. It is not clear to me that anyone is contesting this, and my first thought is that the article would be improved by having the material re-added and developed into a synopsis. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:20, 14 April 2014 (UTC)