Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 3

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Oxford English

The current entry uses "post" all over the place. It has been established before that at the University of Oxford post is frequently used instead of position. This is what the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary has to say on post:

4 [C] a job, especially an important one in a large organization SYN: position: an academic / government post * to take up a post * to resign (from) a post * We will be creating 15 new posts next year. * The company has been unable to fill the post. * He has held the post for three years. * She was offered a key post in the new government.

Since this is site with a focus on the US, it might be better to replace it by its synonym position. Order 21:59, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

There is nothing confusing about the term "post" to Americans. It is not synonymous with professorship in America or England.
Is there general agreement here that Richard Dawkins has never been elected to a professorship based on the rigorous peer review ordinarily required?--Aschlafly 23:03, 12 October 2007 (EDT)
I'd have to say I disagree with you. --Oppen1 23:45, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

No they are not synonyms, "post" is much more general. But why then the "quotes" in the entry, if it just means position?

If there is is general agreement that he was never elected? I guess no, because we got several notes from the university gazette showing that a board was appointed [1], and that some time later Dawkins was officially granted the title of professor [2]. Order 23:22, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

The reason "post" is in quotes is because so many liberals are disputing the facts about Richard Dawkins's credentials, and hence it is important to show the quotes. Why object to quotes unless you're trying to obscure its authenticity?
How do the "quotes" matter? If you want to argue that there is a difference between a lectureship and a professorship, or between a endowed and a departmental professorship. But what is the difference between a "post" and a post? Order 03:54, 13 October 2007 (EDT)
Also, your July 1996 Gazette cite notes that some of the professorships (presumably Dawkins') are subject to this disclaimer: "The title of professor or reader has been conferred by the Distinctions Committee on the following. Please note that in a small number of cases the precise academic subject area in which the title is held is still under discussion."--Aschlafly 00:14, 13 October 2007 (EDT)
I did read the disclaimer, and it says exactly what you quoted, namely that the exact subject for some of the people on the list may still be under discussion. But not the title.
But your reference to the word "post" in [3], and the reference to the disclaimer in [4] shows that you read both of these documents. I infer that you also read that a board was appointed, and that a few month later the distinction committee did grant Dawkins the title of professor.
The onus is now on you to show (1) that the disclaimer refers to Dawkins' position (2) that it matters (3) that there were grave irregularities in his appointment, from the moment that the board of electors was appointed, until his distinction as professor by the Distinction Committee. Both documents from the gazette are legal documents under UK law, so you need stronger evidence than a dictionary. Knowing these documents and sticking to the claims that is appointment fraudulent needs fairly good evidence, otherwise it may become a liability. Not sure that is what you are after, since you said before that you look forward to the day that Dawkins is shamed into admitting that his title is a fraud. Order 03:54, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

Aschlafly: Why “presumably Dawkins’”? I notice that you cut short the gazette quote - it does indeed state that “in a small number of cases the precise academic subject area in which the title held is under discussion” however it also states that “any changes will be published separately when agreed.” Since there is no record of any published amendment to Dawkins’ faculty (and certainly not to his title), there is no doubt that both Dawkins’ title and his faculty association still stand. Order is correct that – if you believe Dawkins’ title is wrong - the onus is on you to show that the Distinction Committee’s award has been revoked.

Since it seems clear that you have read at least some of the documentation I’ve pointed you to, I simply do not understand why the article continues to question Dawkins’ professorial title – now largely by referring to a post which Dawkins was awarded prior to his Professorship. Once again, let me be absolutely clear about the errors in the article:

  1. The “post” cited in the article in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, is that which Dawkins was given in clause 3 of the decree establishing the Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. This post was to be funded “on such terms and conditions as the Council and the General Board may determine.” In October 1995 the General Board determined that this post would be that of the Charles Simonyi Reader in the Public Understanding of Science. This post was in the Biological Sciences Faculty and the Continuing Education department, and not – as the article claims – in the Natural History Museum. Since this post is not the same as the professorial title Dawkins holds, the article is in error when it states “his "professorship" is actually described by Oxford as a "post"”. The two are not the same.
  2. The professorial title that Dawkins now holds was later granted to him by the Distinctions Committee of Oxford University. The gazette makes it clear that this position was in the Biological Sciences faculty, so the article is in error when it states “in fact Dawkins' position is at the Museum of Natural History”.
  3. The professorial title that Dawkins’ holds was granted by the Distinctions Committee of Oxford University. The Distinctions Committee is the University’s ultimate peer review body. Cases for consideration must first pass through a Divisional Board (a faculty-level peer review), and be refereed by a head of house (college), and head of department or faculty before even reaching the Distinctions Committee. When considering cases the Distinctions Committee’s primary criterion for awarding a professorial title is “that research must be of outstanding quality, have led to a significant international reputation, and be comparable in distinction with that expected of a professor in other major research universities.” The Committee also demands that “Where an applicant is a member of the academic staff of the University, he or she must have undertaken undergraduate and/or graduate teaching for the University, and for colleges, concomitant with the duties of the university post and of the college fellowship (where one is held), and such teaching must have been performed well.” The current article is therefore in error when it states that “Dawkins was never subjected to the peer review process”.
  4. Given the above, it is clear that Dawkins does indeed hold a (peer-reviewed) title of the highest academic rank, granted to him by Oxford University, an institution of higher education at which he is a faculty member. The article is therefore in error when it states that Dawkins “does not satisfy the Merriam-Webster definition of professor”.

I hope the factual errors in this article can now be corrected OurMike 12:39, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

  • What is quite clear, OurMike, through your posts elsewhere, is that you can only engage in Liberal Deceit in inserting your demanded changes. The way to get support for your positions here, is to build consensus through networking, avoiding Liberal Hysteria and interacting with other editors to perpetrate deception to achieve your goals. If that is beyond you, perhaps because of limited intellectual ability, perhaps you should stick to those other places that value deceit and parody. So much of the arguing here is quibbling over semantics. Dawkins cannot be turned into a (excuse the pun) Saint by any stretch of scholarly thought. I invite you to actually contribute here, to this, the fastest growing educational site on the web, instead of merely engaging in never-ending debate and plotting subterfuge. Otherwise I am afraid I will soon be bidding you adieu. My contact information is posted on my page. --şŷŝôρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 13:34, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

Positioning of Oxford Post

I propose to move the controversy over his Oxford post to the end of the article. --Ed Poor Talk 19:00, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

Reply

I've reviewed the above comments and do not see any errors in the entry. No specific errors have been identified. The claim above is false that "the article is in error when it states that "in fact Dawkins' position is at the Museum of Natural History." Dawkins' position is at the Museum of Natural History.

Richard Dawkins relies heavily on his claim of being a professor at Oxford University, and so the placement of the explanation of his "post" at Oxford should remain near the top of the entry. Thanks.--Aschlafly 23:50, 13 October 2007 (EDT)

I've reviewed the comments as well, and it looks like you're just ignoring the specific errors that have been identified. I see the article is locked now, so this is probably your final say. You do know that not every one of your readers is as stubborn as you when it comes to reinforcing one's own world view? You know that reasonable people are reading this whole discussion, and that most people have a limit to the amount of logical sacrifices they can make to make something true to them? I realize its your site and all, but I think you'd do it a great service if you learned to pick your battles. --Oppen1 10:21, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
In other words, you can't identify any errors in the entry either, but you dislike criticism of Richard Dawkins' claim of credentials anyway.--Aschlafly 10:27, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Incorrect. As I stated, I read the comments and postings above, and can identify several errors. Furthermore, I dislike your criticism of Dawkins because it relies on these errors. --Oppen1 10:44, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Your comment is not credible. If you could identify an error, then you would. Apparently you can't, but it's obvious that you dislike criticism of Richard Dawkins' claim of credentials.--Aschlafly 10:52, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The comment is credible. I read the postings and links above, and formed my own conclusion. The errors identified by Order and OurMike are already listed. Please re-read the entire discussion, I will not list them again. Richard Dawkins' credentials are non-controversial. --Oppen1 11:29, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
More to the point, you must realize that others are reading the postings, clicking the links, and perhaps learning more about the UK academic system than they cared to know in the first place. You must realize that they are also forming conclusions that differ from yours. Can you accept that given the evidence different readers will form different conclusions? --Oppen1 11:33, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

RD's spokesman wrote:

  • By 1994, Dawkins was distinctly overextended, his public career as elucidator of Darwinism putting pressure on his day job teaching biology at Oxford. If someone could be found to endow a professorship specifically devoted to promoting public scientific understanding, it would free up Dawkin's Zoology position for a full-time scholar and teacher. [5]

I guess this means he used to be a university teacher ("professor") but now enjoys a "professorship" devoted to PR. --Ed Poor Talk 11:39, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

No, Ed, you must've missed the briefing: Dawkins never was a professor and is not a professor. Don't be fooled by the fradulent claims he, Oxford University, and pretty much the rest of Planet Earth make. He only has "a post". =| --Jenkins 11:46, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Jenkins, you need to get out more if you think "pretty much the rest of Planet Earth" is fooled by Richard Dawkins. We're not fooled here and I doubt the real professors at Oxford University are fooled either.
Professorships require peer review, as explained by the citations in the entry. No one has been able to provide any evidence that Dawkins was promoted to become full professor based on a peer review by a specific academic department. Do you finally understand the point now??--Aschlafly 13:10, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
I think we cited plenty of sources from Oxford University itself where Dawkins is called the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science and not "that bloke who just got the money for the post of Public Understanding of Science". But fine, I'll grant you the Good Faith. Find me an Oxford University Professor who backs your claim that he is not a professor. Not just one who doesn't explicitly mentions the title. One who claims that Dawkins never was a professor and that Dawkins' claim is fradulent. So far, we've get plenty of sources that do call him Professor Dawkins, but not one that disputes this claim, aside from your interpretation of the events that happened there, mixed with selective ignoring of history around those sources.
I currently stand by my claim, and said claim is backed up by the OU Gazette, the Charles Simonyi Chair site, BBC, FOX News, Answers in Genesis, The Royal Society, Britannica, Christian Courier, Foundation for the Future, Washington Post, and and and. Where are your sources?
Do you understand now that all sorts of authority and the media disagree with your accusations??? --Jenkins 13:34, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The Distinctions Committee of Oxford University was previously cited. You failed to indicate how that committee does not qualify your peer-review criteria, you only ignored it outright. We have yet to hear any commentary from you on what you believe the Distinctions Committee of Oxford University does or why that does not qualify as appropriate academic review. Furthermore, you have now claimed that the "real professors" (quotes to indicate your definition of professor, a significant detail) share your opinion. Can you back this up, or is this speculation? I challenged you earlier to consider how others would read this page and the conclusions they would draw about not only Dawkins' credentials, but your own motivations in keeping the falsehoods in the article. It's clear that many people who have posted here disagree with you, do you accept these conclusions as genuine, or something else? --Oppen1 13:40, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Here's an analogy: many graduate students earn Ph.D. degrees based on original scholarship. Some people get honorary Ph.D. degrees. The academic community makes a distinction between an "earned doctorate" and an honorary doctorate. The latter looks good when you're trying to impress regular folks, but if you want to wield academic clout, nothing beats an earned doctorate.

The question of Dawkins centers on whether he is a "real professor". In other words, what does his title mean? What does his post imply?

Atheists and materialists (and liberals in general) are fond of citing academic authority when they want to get political support for their absurd positions. The partisans of the global warming theory keep talking about peer reviewed articles in Nature and Science as if these were the be-all and end-all of scientific research. But there is plenty of falsehood in academia; see also Junk Science. --Ed Poor Talk 13:46, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Right, Ed. It's hilarious how atheists make such a big deal about peer review in criticizing material they dislike, but absolutely refuse to allow a criticism of their own based on lack of peer review.
In response to "Oppen1", the Distinctions Committee does not engage in peer review within an academic department. Get the point now? I know, you still want to give atheist Richard Dawkins a free pass and not subject him to the same scrutiny that you use for material you dislike.--Aschlafly 13:53, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Just to confirm: Andy, does your definition of "professor" explicitly demand peer review to qualify as a legitimate professorship? In other words, statutory professorships and professorial fellowships are not "real" professorships in your opinion? I am not criticizing, just clarifying. Feebasfactor 14:01, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
I use the basic dictionary definition, which has already been quoted. That definition, and Oxford's own requirements for the professorship at issue here, implies peer review.
Feebasfactor, are you now suggesting that peer review doesn't matter for scholarship?? Funny how Dawkins' supporters emphasize peer review to criticize the other side, but seem to have a different standard for Dawkins himself.--Aschlafly 14:06, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
I'll spontaneously quote Oppen, who was apparently ignored:
The Distinctions Committee of Oxford University was previously cited. You failed to indicate how that committee does not qualify your peer-review criteria, you only ignored it outright. We have yet to hear any commentary from you on what you believe the Distinctions Committee of Oxford University does or why that does not qualify as appropriate academic review.
Comments? Oh, and I'm still waiting for your sources of other "real professors" who claim that Dawkins is not a prof. --Jenkins 14:09, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
I think it was widely covered whether Dawkins fits the dictionary definition of "professor", and the consensus (read: most people who participated, minus Andy) was that he fits whatever definition people could come up with, if I recall correctly. So unless you find a striking argument against the arguments made multiple times above, I would politely request that you find a source that says that Dawkins is not a "real professor". This is getting more and more like "I don't care what sources X, Y, and Z say - I think something else, and I don't want to admit he's a prof because it might give his position weight."
Right now, we're actually arguing whether Dawkins holds the title "Professor of etcetc". Nobody is implying that he uses that title to get "authority", and I have yet to see a source that says that Dawkins uses his title to claim authority.
What is your position on the issue at hand? Is Dawkins the first Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science? Does he hold that title and thus the right to call himself "professor"? --Jenkins 14:04, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Andy, you continue to misrepresent me. I am not giving Dawkins "a pass" on his academic credentials, they are non-controversial after reviewing all appropriate documentation provided throughout this thread. That is my personal conclusion, and I hold it with confidence. The Distinctions Committee is responsible for awarding the title of professor at Oxford, according to the criteria listed on that page. Your definition and criteria for professorship are irrelevant, I dispute your selective definitions of terms to state who does and who doesn't get to be a professor at Oxford. You have yet to answer my original query - do you understand that individuals reading this discussion and reviewing the evidence will draw conclusions different than yours, define things like "professor" differently than you, and in general find your stubbornness to be an indictment against you and your project? --Oppen1 14:26, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Getting back to peer review for a moment - many people associate it with modern scientific practice of other scientists evaluating and checking a scientific claim. Such practices as running the same experiment in your own lab, to see of the results are reproducible.

But "peer review" is often nothing more than a few friends of the journal editor anonymously reading a scientific paper before publication. This is no guarantee of correctness; and rejection during peer review is not always an indication of poor work. Scientists are not saints: they have their prejudices, same as us normal folks. --Ed Poor Talk 14:16, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Ed, you are unaware how the peer review process works with academic journals. Normally, a journal editor receives an article submission and then sends it out (minus identifying information as to the authorship of the piece) to three to five readers who have some expertise regarding the article’s subject. --McIntyre 14:30, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

So Ed, does that mean peer review is not necessarily the be-all and end-all, and is not always as important as it's made out to be? Wait, I'm not sure I understand what point you're making. I personally don't really know how important peer review is in regards to scholarship, but Andy implied that it is very important. I thought... is lack of peer review the basis on which his professorship is being contested here? Feebasfactor 14:58, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The exact words of our peer review article! (Yes, I knew that.) --Ed Poor Talk 15:27, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Yes...after you placed my words there. I just wanted to make sure you understood that, becuase you said earlier that "peer review" is often nothing more than a few friends of the journal editor anonymously reading a scientific paper before publication. Very clearly, that is not considered peer review.--McIntyre 15:45, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
By "often" I meant "far too often" (not "normally"). The peer review process can be abused, just like a box cutter (meant for opening packages) can be abused by airplane hijackers.
The point is that whether something has passed peer review or not, is not the gold standard for deciding whether it has scientific validity. Many true things are denied by scientists, and many false things are affirmed by them.
I expect as the 21st century grows old, the number of scientific errors (and outright frauds) will gradually diminish. The best way to help this along is to enable scientists to be aware of each other's work, and to encourage them to test theories and hypotheses with actual observations - without fear of academic reprisal, such as not having their research grants approved.
A major problem is that many sources of research money want certain results, and they won't pay for science which shows that what they want is impossible or untrue. Thus bias creeps in (or takes the palace by storm!) - but it doesn't have to be this way. We need to find a way to reward those who uncover the truth. --Ed Poor Talk 17:16, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Open?

Are we to the point this can/should be re-opened? --şŷŝôρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 14:36, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

I realise I'm not a frequent contributer here, but I propose the following text:
Richard Dawkins (March 26, 1941-) is an outspoken evolutionist and atheist from England. He was an assistant professor of Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley for two years before becoming a Zoology Reader at Oxford.[1]. He is now the Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford,[2] a university chair endowed by Dr. Charles Simonyi to "engage in teaching related to the Public Understanding of Science" and to "promote the public understanding of science both within and outside Oxford."[3]
References
  1. Richard Dawkins' Curriculum Vitae
  2. http://www.ox.ac.uk/gazette/1995-6/supps/2_4408.htm#4Ref
  3. § 270. Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science
I'll let the more frequent contributers comment and mold as needed. Hopefully this is a start to ending the edit war. --Oppen1 15:12, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Big improvement. Please rewrite the whole article! RSchlafly 15:19, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Too bad the restatement above is false. The professorship is clearly defined as requiring the following peer review, and there is no evidence that Richard Dawkins passed such peer review:[1]
3. The professor shall be elected by a board of electors consisting of
(1) the Vice-Chancellor, or, if the head of the college specified in (2) of this clause is Vice-Chancellor a person appointed by Council;
(2) the head of the college to which the professorship shall be for the time being allocated by Council under any decree in that behalf, or, if the head is unable or unwilling to act, a person appointed by the governing body of the college;
(3) a person appointed by the governing body of the college specified in (2) of this clause;
(4), (5) two persons appointed by Council, one of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the benefactor;
(6) a person appointed by the General Board;
(7) a person appointed by the Board of the Faculty of Biological Sciences;
(8) a person appointed by the Board of the Faculty of Physical Sciences;
(9) a person appointed by the Committee on Continuing Education.
Assuming he never passed the above peer review, Dawkins likely holds a merely "post". The Gazette summary has a disclaimer implying that it is not based on a peer review faculty vote, which appears to be the case for Dawkins.--Aschlafly 15:57, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
What brings you to assume that the faculty vote on his professorship didn't happen? Which rules were broken if they followed the establishing act? Is the establishing act itself a violation of the rules? And do you have evidence for that?Order 20:16, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
This site's peer review artilce deals with academic publications, not the awarding of a professorship. Why don't you just admit that you simply dislike Dawkin's ideas? With all the evidence that has been cited and linked above, it is clear at this point (and to the rest of the world at large) that Richard Dawkins is a professor.--McIntyre 16:05, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Read the link again: § 270. Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science . That link indicates that Dawkins did not go through the peer review required for this professorship. Maybe you want to call him "professor" anyway, which you have a free speech right to do, but we're factual here and the link is clear.--Aschlafly 16:11, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The linked act marks the start of the process, and the announcement of the distinction committee the outcome. Do you have any evidence for the time in-between? Because the decision by the distinction committee also gives Dawkins the right to call himself a professor. Order 20:16, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
It seems you've created in your own head a set of criteria for professorship specifically designed to exclude Richard Dawkins, based on your own desire to discredit him. We call him a professor at Oxford because Oxford awarded the title. This is fact. You are trying to claim that professor means something else, and we're calling you on it. Quite simply, your definition of "professor" is not fact, it's your own opinion. You don't get to make up definitions, expect Oxford, Dawkins and the rest of the world read your mind, then accuse him of fraud. We're trying to have a society here! --Oppen1 17:34, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

So if Dawkins did not go through the peer review process, and this process was required for his professorship, then - Dawkins does not fulfill the requirements of the Simonyi Professorship, which was "set up with the express intention that its first holder should be Richard Dawkins."

Is that correct? Feebasfactor 16:44, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Isn't that exactly the same question that was already addressed in Dawkins post - confusion resolved? --Jenkins 17:04, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The link is clear: § 270. Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science
No one holds the Simonyi Professorship unless he goes through the peer review process specified in detail in the above link. Because Richard Dawkins has apparently not gone through the specified peer review process, he merely holds a "post" as explained by the link. This is not something a committee or secretary or publisher of a Gazette can alter on their own.--Aschlafly 17:40, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The acts in the gazette are legally binding documents. You say that he apparently did not follow the guidelines. Do you have proof? Why did the distinction committee give him the title? And do you have evidence for this? Order 20:16, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
The current Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science is Richard Dawkins. --Oppen1 18:08, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
You have no evidence for stating that Dawkins did not go through the peer review process specified above. The evidence that he did is that he was awarded the professorial title by the Distinctions Committee, as was reported in the University's official gazette, which is the organ of record for all such awards. The Distinctions Committee is the ultimate peer review body of the University, which considers professorial titles after they have gone through faculty and departmental review. This has been gone through in detail several times already in these pages. OurMike 18:32, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Hi Andy, you frequently asked for a error, and there are many errors. Like that the museum isn't part of the university, like that Dawkins is not the Simonyi professor. You have admitted to have read the document establishing the professorship, and the document granting the title of professor to Dawkins, both legal documents under UK law.

You main argument is that you cannot see that the documents contradicts the claim that he isn't a professor, and you have proven this to be true: you really cannot see that this contradicts the claim that he isn't the professor. Of course it is your right to do so. However, this says in the end more about you than about the professorship.Order 20:16, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Folks, I don't see how the Distinctions Committee has the power to change the charter of the professorship quoted above. If someone has information that the Distinctions Committee has such overreaching power, then let's see it. Otherwise, accept the above-quoted definition of the professorship as requiring the enumerated peer review. Thanks.--Aschlafly 20:57, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Exactly, we have no evidence that the distinction committee has overreaching power. And you didn't present any either. From the fact that the committee granted the title to Dawkins, we have to assume that everything went according to the books. If you have proof that the distinction committee overreached its power and broke the rules, give it. Order 00:03, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
The charter of the Simonyi professorship is proof enough. It states the requirements of the professorship, and the Biological Sciences and Distinctions Committee lack that power. One or both of those entities acted beyond their authority, or perhaps did not act at all in light of the disclaimer in the Gazette. Apparently no future notice of the professorship was printed, suggesting that the professorship has not been properly filled to this day.--Aschlafly 00:30, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
No, the charter is not proof enough. You have to show that someone violated the charter, or other rules. The disclaimer just states that the subject of for some may not have been defined yet. There are about 50 names on that list. It maybe Dawkins, it maybe someone else, it may be nobody. You are claiming that the distinction committee acted beyond their authority. Do you have proof for that? Because you accuse Oxford University or an Committee within Oxford University of fraud, and you should have proof for such an allegation. Order 01:54, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
Andy, give this up. You're not helping yourself at this point. The Distinctions Committee has the power to change the charter? Overreaching power? Enumerated peer review? You're twisting yourself around the axle, deliberately misunderstanding Oxford policy to support your stubborn notion. Oxford calls him a professor, he is a professor. You have not cited one source questioning his credentials, it is all your own synthesis. And I said it before and I'll say it again, you're deliberately twisting this to support your conclusion so you can call him "a fraud" in your article.
At this point, I think you know perfectly well that Dawkins' credentials are not controversial. I think you made a mistake by claiming that he's a fraud because you simply didn't understand how Oxford academic credentials work. You would have corrected it, but since some "liberal" pointed it out, you dug your heels in and convinced yourself you can argue anything. Your control over this site has given you this hubris that you're invincible in debate with anyone you care to label a "liberal."
Andy, I'd love to have a true "conservative" encyclopedia. This article is so typical of the shrill, polemical discourse that I see all over this site, all over the evening political talk shows, all over internet blogs. We have enough of that, please try and do something different. --Oppen1 21:28, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Andy, if you look at the preponderance of evidence, it is clear that Dawkins is a professor. So why not just admit that he is? I assume you will ask for more “proof,” but at this point it would simply be redundant. Either you did not read the links provided above, or you did not understand what you were reading, or maybe you did not want to.--McIntyre 22:10, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
  • Okay, since no one is interested in editing the article, and having the page open, as I asked at the beginning of the sub head, I will leave it locked. --şŷŝôρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 23:19, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Andy is involved in the discussion, and unless he agrees to change something nothing will change. And if he agrees he can edit or unlock it himself. No objection. Order 00:03, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
  • Well, seems it was okay for Conservative to make wholesale changes, so I have opened the article. I don't see Andy posting no changes can occur, and he is as capable as anyone else of reverting whatever is inserted without foundation. --şŷŝôρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 01:03, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
I meant to say that nothing will change on the parts that are contended. Conservative adds mostly quotes by others on Dawkins, and as long they did say it, there nothing wrong about the quotes. It sure makes the article rather verbose, like the atheism article, but that is just an matter of style. Order 01:31, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
  • Well, if you are happy with it as it is enjoy! I am certainly happy you like it. Although not the most intelligent person contributing here by far, I don't need to be told 20 times how bad or wrong someone is. Perhaps a young child might, but not me. I prefer to actually learn something about the man, other than he is merely a cheater or opportunistic rules bender. I would prefer my references, on line or off, to actually inform me, preferably in their words, and in a detailed manner, what and why they think as they do. I have my Priest and the Holy Bible to tell me what is morally wrong. --şŷŝôρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 06:02, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
The fact that you unprotected the article is admirable, but the problem here is that it's still practically protected: If we take out Andy's wild claims (ah, I see that the bit claiming that "the most productive scientists, from Isaac Newton to Louis Pasteur, were devout Christians" is back again, too), we will be reverted, and if we alter/delete/move/reduce Conservative's... er... "let's quote everything that we can twist into something negative about Dawkins" orgy, we will be reverted, too. Oh, and positive things about Dawkins will be twisted into something negative and then moved to the bottom (see: Royal Society).
People tried for more than a week (or maybe even weeks?) to edit the article regarding Andy's claims, and they were all reverted. People tried for a long time to edit in Conservative's Atheism article (among others), and they were reverted.
So the article looks unprotected, but as long as Conservative and Andy wield their special powers to "win" content discussions (by being stubborn while having the authority to revert infinitely without being told off) and to effectively claim ownership of the article, there is nothing we can do, really. At this point, this article merely represents the views and opinions of Andrew Schlafly and whatever "Conservative"'s real name is. --Jenkins 11:10, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Reply

Richard Dawkins is not a Simonyi professor unless he passed the peer review election procedure by the board of electors as identified above. No such election by the required board has been published in the Oxford Gazette. Case closed.--Aschlafly 23:56, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. The official web page for the seat lists him as such [6] and his name appears as "Professor Richard Dawkins" several times in the gazette. [7] Your assertion that he must pass a "peer review election procedure by the board of electors" and see it "published in the Oxford Gazette" is an invention by you, and only you. --Oppen1 00:36, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

The announcement of the distinction committee, as published in the gazette, is the official announcement that Dawkins holds the title professor legitimately. Indeed that closes the case, unless there is proof that the distinction committee acted illegally. Order 01:28, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Can I propose a simple addition to the text suggested above to close off this particular point?

...He is now the Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford,[2] a university chair endowed by Dr. Charles Simonyi to "engage in teaching related to the Public Understanding of Science" and to "promote the public understanding of science both within and outside Oxford."[3] The legitimacy of the process that led to this appointment has been criticised by [enter name here]. [4 - enter relevant citation] -- Ferret Nice old chat 05:59, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Reply

The continued, strident refusal by liberals and atheists to accept the plain facts about Richard Dawkins' "post" is remarkable. It demonstrates that atheism is not simply disbelief in the unseen, but also leads to rejection and denial of incontrovertible seen facts that they dislike.--Aschlafly 12:28, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Just out of curiosity, according to your estimate, was there anybody who participated in this discussion and who did not accept the plain "facts" not a liberal or atheist? Order 12:42, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
Aschlafly, I'm not a liberal or an atheist and I think that Order and the others are correct. Dawkins has a professorship which was confirmed by a committee. Right now, claiming otherwise is just making Conservapedia look bad. SkipJohnson 12:58, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
I am neither a liberal nor an atheist and I think this article is just plain wrong. Reads like it was written by a lawyer ;-) Ajkgordon 14:00, 15 October 2007 (EDT) please don't ban me!
Really?? Funny how neither of you say what you are. Perhaps a "progressive" like ... Hillary Clinton???--Aschlafly 14:03, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
Like many people, I'm simply not easy to pigeon-hole. That's not deliberate, it's just the way things are. It's a bit like Christopher Hitchens being a neocon and a militant atheist at the same time. I have liberal views on some things, conservative views on others. I'm not a Creationist but nor am I an atheist. It's quite normal and I see no conflict. Ajkgordon 14:09, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, etc., all say the same thing. Trouble is, all support censorship of prayer in the classroom and taxpayer-funded abortion, which reveals their hostility to religion and God's image. How about you?--Aschlafly 16:25, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Why bother to respond to this silly deflection intended to take the focus off of Aschlafly's painfully distorted reading of Dawkin's title? This is simply another casting of "if you disagree with me you are a atheist and a liberal" --- just more nonsensical blather from the smear-meister of Convervapedia, the national enquirer of the internet. RedDC 19:05, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
The continued, strident refusal by you, and only you, to accept something as simple as a professorial title in the face of overwhelming evidence, is remarkable. You finally came around to accepting that there exists, at Oxford, an endowed professorship seat, and then concocted a byzantine piece of "proof" that must exist for us to jump through hoops and go fetch. Your attempt to add this burden is entirely unreasonable, given the fact that numerous sources list him as holding the chair, and you have yet to list even one contradicting it. This whole thing exists only in your head.
The truth is, this isn't about Dawkins anymore. Dawkins has more academic and scientific honors than a dog has fleas, his current title is only a piece of that. This is about you, and your insistence that his professorship is a fraud, a claim made by you and only you. Dawkins' credibility is not in question here - it's yours. I asked you before to consider what any random person of free mind and free will, will think after reading this discussion page. Ask yourself, when you say outlandish things like "The Simonyi chair is not filled, Richard Dawkins is not the Simonyi Professor, case closed, etc," and someone clicks the link to The Simonyi Professorship Home Page and sees in bright cheery text "The Chair was founded in 1995, by a donation from Dr Charles Simonyi. It is currently held by Professor Richard Dawkins and based at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History" what conclusion would they draw about you? What conclusion would they draw about your project? When confronted with overwhelming evidence, your reaction is to dodge our challenge to prove this controversy exists anywhere else but your mind, revert to name calling, then tangent on to Hillary and school prayer. Your tactics are as transparent. Everyone who visits can read all this and think for themselves, how many people do you think actually buy it? --Oppen1 19:07, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
The parents of his students should read this page to get an idea of what slop he's teaching, his seemingly pathological dishonesty, his obnoxious habit of projection, and his complete lack of credibility. 19:25, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
Aschlafly, to respond to your question re. Clinton, Kennedy, etc. I don't support censorship of prayer in the classroom but at the same time I don't support the imposition of it either. (My kids go to a private Catholic school so it's part of their educational experience. However, the school would never dream of teaching creationism in a science class - that would be illegal and against school doctrine. The inerrant biblical view is but one view in divinity classes. I'm happy with this). I believe it's OK to have tax-funded abortion in certain circumstances such as rape or high risk of death of the expectant mother. Tax-funded abortion should be avoided in other cases. I hope that answers your question. I don't know what that makes me according to you! According to me, it makes me neither a liberal nor an atheist.
To put this into perspective regarding this article, I disagree with your assertions about Dawkins' professorship simply because I interpret the evidence differently than you. I would much rather you turned your considerable skills to attacking the manifest problems in his views and his writing rather than on the man himself. His professorship is a red herring. Ajkgordon 08:17, 16 October 2007 (EDT)
In response to Ajkgordon's statement, "I don't support censorship of prayer in the classroom but at the same time I don't support the imposition of it either," I ask his this: do you object to a teacher in a public school leading the class in prayer? This isn't rocket science and there is no need to duck this basic and simple question.--Aschlafly 18:29, 16 October 2007 (EDT)
Well, give me a chance to answer the question before you suggest I might be avoiding it!
Short answer, probably not.
Long answer... it's a bit more complicated than that, isn't it? Where I live (France) it is illegal for state/public schools to have any mention or symbolism of religion. As that principle is engrained into the fabric of society and I chose to live here, then I can't really object to that. But we send our kids to a private Catholic school which does have prayer. Indeed they all did their catechism and confirmation through the school.
But would I object in the country I came from (UK) where it's common practice to have morning prayers after roll call in state schools? Again, no, and I didn't. It's part of the culture there.
I hope that answers your question and allows you to believe that I am neither a liberal nor an atheist. Ajkgordon 12:27, 17 October 2007 (EDT)
No, it doesn't address the simple question above: "do you object to a teacher in a public school leading the class in prayer?" Your manner of ducking the question confirms that you probably have some hostility to faith. Much as you try to appear neutral on that issue, the reality is that nearly everyone is either supportive of faith or hostile towards it. The above question about a teacher leading a class in prayer reveals the hostility in the answers.--Aschlafly 23:34, 17 October 2007 (EDT)
The short answer is: He doesn't. And assessment that he is hostile to faith doesn't go well with the fact that he sends his kids to catholic school. BTW: What is relevance of Ajkgordon position on school prayer for the events that led the distinction committee to grant Dawkins' the title? Order 02:22, 18 October 2007 (EDT)
There is none. Distraction is a normal Andy Schlafly tactic when he is losing a debate as seen here. [8]--McIntyre 08:01, 18 October 2007 (EDT)
What nonsense. I show no hostility to faith in my answer. I thought my answer was pretty straight forward actually - I was simply putting it in context. To repeat:
No, I wouldn't object except in special circumstances.
Special circumstances being something like a Muslim leading prayers at a school with a Christian student population, or vice-versa.
And I backed that up by stating that I didn't object when my kids were at state school and prayers were said. But that I can't object where I live now because it simply doesn't happen.
As you said, it's not rocket science. Straight question, straight answer. You might not want to accept it because you can't equate a non-atheist non-liberal arguing against your obsession with Dawkins' alleged fraudulent professorship.
But as someone else said, this is a distraction. You maintain that anyone arguing against your stance on his professorship must be an atheist liberal.
Wrong. People are objecting here because we think the accusation is false and efforts would be much more effective in arguing against Dawkins' views and methods.
For the record, I find writers like Dawkins and Hitchens damaging to the causes of religion and science. Ajkgordon 08:36, 18 October 2007 (EDT)
OK, I accept your answer, though note that beginning a class with a prayer (e.g., science or history class) is different from your repeated example of prayers generally being said at a state school (i.e., not at the beginning of a specific class).
I'm confident that User:Order and User:McIntyre (see above) would object to a public school teacher beginning a class with a prayer. But don't expect them to admit it.--Aschlafly 17:41, 19 October 2007 (EDT)
Thanks, but I can only respond based on experience or likely experience. State schools in the UK often have prayers at "Assembly", i.e. a school get together after roll call and before the first class. If I was still living in the UK and my kids' school had a teacher who wanted to lead the class in prayers before a lesson, then I can't see why I would object - unless it was causing a conflict with students of another faith. Having said that I would object to Creationism or ID being taught in science class. But that would be very unlikely to happen in the UK (except a handful of faith schools) and impossible in France.
The difference between a US and a European perspective is very interesting. There is not much cross-over between religion and education in Europe (outside divinity classes) whereas it's a major contentious issue in the US. Ajkgordon 17:57, 19 October 2007 (EDT)
Ajkgordon, you're sliding back on your earlier acceptance of teacher-led prayer in the classroom. Now you merely say that "can't see why I would object - unless it was causing a conflict with students of another faith." Suppose one student, an atheist, did object? Do you then object also??? Also, you seem to contradict yourself now by saying you would oject if a teacher taught Creationism or ID in science class. How can a prayer be OK with you, but ID not? Do you object to ID even if that is what all the parents and students wanted? I can see that when all is said and done, you'll object to prayer in the classroom just as the atheists do. Indeed, that is the sine qua non of atheism: censorship of faith in an intellectual setting.--Aschlafly 18:32, 19 October 2007 (EDT)
Aschlafly, I'm not sliding anywhere - it's extraordinary how you can twist what I say into matching what you want to believe.
First of all, I don't define atheism as a faith, so no, that wouldn't be a condition under which I would object to prayers being said in the classroom. I think it would be clear what I meant to most people - I even explained it above; "Special circumstances being something like a Muslim leading prayers at a school with a Christian student population, or vice-versa." Of course, in reality, there would be compromise. A teacher insisting on leading a class of mixed faith in Christian prayer would be simply obstinate and cooler more sensible heads would no doubt step in a find a compromise.
Prayer is not the same as the teaching of ID or Creationism in a science class. At the moment, neither of those "subjects" is classified as science by any education authority that I'm aware of (i.e. in France and the UK) so I would object to a non-science subject being taught in a science class. ID is unknown here but Creationism is covered under biblical inerrancy in religious education.
All this seems eminently sensible and reasonable to me sitting on this side of the pond. I might feel differently if I lived in the deep south of the USA.
But again, this is simply distraction. The point remains - here is one non-liberal non-atheist who feels that the petty argument over Dawkins' professorship detracts from valid criticism of his views and methods. Ajkgordon 09:32, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
Ajkgordon, you've placed so many conditions on your allowing a teacher to lead the class in prayer that, in practice, you do seem to oppose it. You imply that you would object if a student had a different "faith", whatever that means (faith, by the way, is a uniquely Christian term). In sum, apparently you do allow one person to censor everyone else. Then, with respect to ID, you say you oppose allowing a teacher to introduce ID to a class even if every student and parent wants that. There's another word for that: censorship.
If you're trying to convince us that you're objective about this issue, you haven't. As best I can tell, you do support ideological censorship in the classroom just as your allies on this talk page do (but refuse to admit it).--Aschlafly 13:38, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
<sigh> You keep putting words into my mouth. I haven't said that I would "allow one person to censor everyone else" and you're playing semantics with my use of the word faith - transpose faith with religion if that helps. My "conditions" are entirely reasonable given the multi-cultural society in which I live. But please remember, I send my kids to a private Catholic school where they do have classroom prayers (and catechism and confirmation). That should tell you all you need to know about my atheism or lack thereof.
So, in summary, you have again not accepted that a non-liberal non-atheist can disagree with you even though this is a distraction, IMHO, from arguing against Dawkins' beliefs and methods.
Now while I would love to continue this debate, it is the Rugby World Cup Final this evening where England defend their crown against all the odds. I shall be leading my family in prayer to God, Allah, El, Yahweh, Jah, Shiva, Jehovah and any other deities who might take a parting interest in one of the world's greatest sporting events.
And if anyone objects to that, they shall feel my wrath.
COME ON ENGLAND! Ajkgordon 14:24, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
Ajkgordan, I've been perfectly clear about my position and merely question your assertion that you do not object to a teacher leading a class in prayer at the beginning of instruction. No, this does not happen in most Catholic schools and, no, this does not happen in British public schools either. On the one hand you say you have no objection to classroom prayer. But on the other hand you add conditions and other positions that suggest that, as a practical matter, you would object to a teacher leading the class in prayer at the beginning of biology or history class.
Ajkgordon doesn't send his kids to most catholic schools, but to a particular school that has class room prayer. Unless you want to claim that he wrong about it, what most schools do is not exactly relevant. Order 21:29, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
User:Order, maybe Ajkgordon's statements confuse you, but I'm not misled by them. I'm confident that his Catholic school does not begin biology or history class with a prayer. He can correct me if I'm wrong, but that's not likely to happen.--Aschlafly 21:48, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
You might be right about catholic schools not having class room prayer before each and every lesson. My catholic school only had one prayer in the morning, whatever class it was. We could now continue discussing how many class rooms prayers a day you have to have, before it meets your criterium of class room prayer. But calling Ajkgordon's statements misleading, just because you set your own arbitrary standard, is somewhat audacious. Not that this is new, because, and this brings us back to the subject, this is what you did as well with respect to Dawkins professorship. But your standards are still not relevant, the standards set by Oxford are relevant. Order 12:06, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
Feel no need to continue to this discussion, and please enjoy your Rugby match. But, lest anyone be confused, I am not persuaded that you would allow a teacher to lead a biology class in prayer. And, I might add, your allies here who refuse to admit their objection would likewise oppose (censor) such prayer. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 15:32, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
You seem to declare yourself the winner the debate on Ajkgordon's position, simply by declaring Ajkgordon that he didn't convince you that his claims are genuine. Fortunately, you are not judge to decide who is liberal and atheist and who is not. Same holds for Dawkins title; you are not the judge who needs convincing, to the contrary, if should try to convince the others, for example by coming up with convincing evidence. Order 21:29, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
User:Order, you're one of those liberals who won't admit that you oppose (censor) classroom prayer. Your concealment of your position forces others to draw conclusions about your real views, and your credibility.--Aschlafly 21:48, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
Classroom prayer has nothing to with the issue at hand, Dawkin’s professorship. --McIntyre 23:11, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
Where did I conceal my position on class room prayer? I didn't even make a statement on class room prayer anywhere on this page, or CP for that matter. My point is that you aren't the judge, neither on Ajkgordon's position nor on Dawkins appointment. If anything you assume the role of prosecutor, but you failed to deliver proof. You're welcome to second guess in public my position on class room prayer. If it proves something, then that even you gave up to argue your case.Order 23:29, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
Users McIntyre and Order confirm that they will not admit how they oppose (censor) classroom prayer. Do they really think they are fooling anyone here by concealing their position???--Aschlafly 23:45, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
Classroom prayer is a distraction, which as I have pointed out, is a common tactic of Andy Schlafly tactic when he is losing a debate, as seen here.[9] My position on classroom prayer, which you do not know, is irrelevant to the discussion. Please show a little intellectual fortitude and explain your argument that Dawkins is not a professor, and by the way, do not ignore the evidence that has already (and generously) been provided by other posters. --McIntyre 23:55, 20 October 2007 (EDT)
It's amusing how you won't admit that you oppose (censor) classroom prayer. Even if you were right that the issue is irrelevant (it isn't), it's still remarkable how you conceal your position. Is that because once everyone recognizes that you side with censorship, no one will find you to be credible anymore? You lose just as much credibility by hiding your position.--Aschlafly 00:19, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
It is great to see that you can be amused by so little, because I never said anything regarding class room prayer. Or give proof. Speaking about credibility. Order 00:32, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
Andy, you really are a total mind job. For the record: I oppose teacher-led prayer in public school classrooms. I guess this also means I fund terrorists with the profits I make performing abortions on gays. Of course, this is all true inside your head. We all know by now that this is no encyclopedia, it's a monument to your delusional state. If Time Cube guy can have a website so can you. Take care. --Oppen1 00:37, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
Again, I will not discuss my position regarding prayer because it is, your assertion to the contrary, irrelevant. (You are of course, welcome to explain how prayer is relevant) I also will not discuss it because once again, you are employing the tactic of distraction. Please support your argument regarding Dawkin’s professorship. As I have requested from you before, show a little intellectual courage Mr. Schlafly. Surely a man of your intellect and educational attainments realizes that using the red herring in debate indicates a flaw in one’s argument. My creditability is not at risk here sir, but yours is. All the best, Mac. --McIntyre 00:43, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
The question's been settled, McIntyre. If you have documented evidence supporting your position, then show it in a respectful manner. Your above comment is borderline on insultive. Karajou 00:50, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
Karajou, my post is in no way insulting. An individual who constantly uses red herrings and fails to provide support for his position is insulting the intelligence of this encyclopedia’s audience. As for the question being settled, please read the above discussions, including those in the archives. After doing so, I am sure you will agree that it is not settled. As for documented evidence, any objective person will see that documentation supporting the fact that Richard Dawkins is a professor has been provided many times over by other posters. Therefore, the onus of providing proof is on the individual who insists that Dawkins is not a professor. I, and it seems, other people in this discussion are waiting to see it. So lets have no more talk about ID, school prayer and all that. If Dawkins is not a professor, prove it. If one cannot prove it, then concede that he is.--McIntyre 10:29, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
Just to get back to the distraction for a second...
I have misled no-one and am frankly rather disappointed to be accused of such.
I believe I answered Aschlafly's question quite clearly - the conditions, such as they are, were contextual and hypothetical.
I repeat: I would not object to any teacher at my two younger children's Catholic school leading a lesson with a prayer.
I would have thought that was pretty obvious - I have after all sent my children to a Catholic school. How bizarre would it be if I then objected to prayers?
But I admit, it is just my assertion. I have no proof to offer. But, because I have contested some of the issues over Dawkins' professorship, I am automatically damned a liberal and an atheist and my assertion is therefore suspect. It's a self-reinforcing syllogistic fallacy.
Hey ho.
I really ought to take my own advice and leave this argument alone.
Oh, and England lost, damn it! Ajkgordon 17:19, 21 October 2007 (EDT)
Oops, I've just realised the above doesn't answer the question as the question was about public schools.
So: If my kids went to public school and if the law allowed a teacher to lead a class in prayer, then I would have no objection to the teacher doing so. subject to reality! Ajkgordon 16:02, 22 October 2007 (EDT)

principles of weighing historical evidence and the question of dawkins professorship

I believe a main weakness of the debating between the two sides of whether or not Dawkins is a professor approved by peer review is that neither side has appealed to the discipline of historiography (principles of weighing historical evidence). Now there is a Pulitzer prize winning historican by the name of David Hackett Fischer and he is a very logical and astute historian and I think he is a conservative as well (he cited Scripture in one of his works and we all know that conservatives are generally more logical :) ).

Here is some background information:

Fischer, David Hackett, Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought (New York: Harper Collins, 1970). In only approximately 300 pages, Fischer surveys an immense amount of background historical literature to point out a comprehensive variety of analytical errors that many, if not most, historians commit. Fischer points out specific examples of faulty or sloppy reasoning in the work of even the most prominent historians, making it a useful book for beginning students of history. While this book presumably did not make Fischer popular with many of his peers, it should be noted that his contributions as a historian have not been limited simply to criticizing the work of others; since 1976, he has published a number of well-received books on other historical topics.[10]


Here is a overview of Fischer's rules taken from Josh McDowell's "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict and please pay attention to the bolded portions below:

(1) The burden of proof for a historical claim is always upon the one making the assertion.

(2) Historical evidence must be an answer to the question asked and not to any other question.

(3) "An historian must not merely provide good evidence, but the best evidence. And the best evidence, all other things being equal, is the evidence which is most nearly immediate to the event itself."

(4) Evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is no evidence at all. In other words, Fischer is saying that an absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

(5) The meaning of any historical evidence is dependent upon the context from which it is obtained from.

(6) "An empirical statement must not be more precise than its evidence warrants."

(7) "All inferences from historical evidence are probabilistic."

The above rules were taken from Josh McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict, page 674, 1999, Mark MCGarry, Texas Type and Book Works, Dallas, TX, ISBN 0-7852-4219-8)


I think using rules 1,4, and 7 above the issue of whether or not Dawkins is most likely or not most likely a professor is very clear. I will let each side argue their case and afterwords I will offer my verdict on the situation.

Hmmm, it's a good guide but is Dawkins' professorship historical? It's current. If you do want to use those rules, then the assertion that Dawkins is a professor meets #1, the assertion that Dawkins is not a professor fails on #4, and #7 is satisfied by it being more probable (considering OU calls him one) that Dawkins' is a professor than he isn't.
I don't know what your investigative journalist is intending to uncover but if he's using those rules than I imagine not a lot. But then that's not what investigative journalists do. Ajkgordon 15:52, 22 October 2007 (EDT)

Ajkgordon, I would first say that I wanted to correct two things you said. First, I merely said the leader of the intelligent design movement was going to ask a investigative journalist to look into the issue of whether or not the peer review process took place in regards to Dawkins being a professor. There is no guarantee that the investigative journalist will have any interest.

Second, there is a historical question here and namely it is did the peer review process take place in regards to Dawkins being a professor.

Next, Dawkins makes the assertion that he is a professor and implies the historical assertion that a peer review process took place. Andy makes the assertion that "apparently" no peer review process took place. Now Andy is violating rule number #4 above because just because there is no direct evidence that the peer review took place doesn't it didn't take place (absence of direct evidence is not evidence of absence -rule #4). Also, Andy is not giving us any evidence that it did not take place so he is violating rule #1 by making the assertion that it apparently did not take place. Then applying rule #7 with the fact that the Oxford Gazette called him a professor, which is indirect evidence he is a professor, the probability that the peer review process took place is greater than it did not take place.

Lastly, I think our rules of historical evidence should be applied uniformly. Do we have any direct evidence that Dr. Gary Habermas passed peer review to become a professor or that he obtained his doctorate? If we don't and we apply the same standard of evidence that we are using for Dawkins then rightfully we have to put in the Gary Habermas article that apparently Dr. Habermas did not pass peer review to become a professor and he apparently never obtained his doctorate. I think those two aformentioned assertions regarding Habermas would be unreasonable. Conservative 16:16, 22 October 2007 (EDT)

I stand corrected. Twice! Thanks.
Um, are you sure you want to do this? :) Ajkgordon 16:23, 22 October 2007 (EDT)
AjkGordon, I think that when anyone makes an edit to a conservapedia article and they know the attendant talk page exist they are entering into a situation where they knowingly take the risk of being corrected. I also believe that human error is a fact of life and that all conservapedians should be open to revising a mistake they made in regards to editing. Fischer corrects professional historians in regards to historiography so I do think that Andy a non-historian should be open to modifying his post after he sees Fischer's sound historiography principles. Next, Andy has changed his mind in light of evidence before in regards to his decisions (the American vs. English spelling of words commandment) so I don't think it would be disastrous to admit error here. In short, I don't think the whole Conservapedia project would end because Andy revised a post of his. Conservative 16:43, 22 October 2007 (EDT)
Well, good luck. Personally I think that stance is eminently reasonable. Ajkgordon 16:48, 22 October 2007 (EDT)

AjkGordon, I do think that I am acting in the best interest of Conservapedia here. I think that other conservative websites would be more likely to link to this article if the introduction were revised. Given my current contacts I am postive I could get one to two conservative websites with respectable web traffic to link to this article but currently my hands are tied. Conservative 16:43, 22 October 2007 (EDT)

I think you are probably right. I have made the disrepute argument before but to no avail. Ajkgordon 16:57, 22 October 2007 (EDT)
Ajkgordon, I am not saying that anyone did anything disreputable. I do believe that in order to resolve disputes that cordiality and diplomacy should not be discarded. Conservative 20:13, 22 October 2007 (EDT)
No, I meant that the article as it stands runs the risk of bringing Conservapedia into disrepute not that anyone was disreputable. I agree with you about cordiality and diplomacy. Ajkgordon 20:17, 22 October 2007 (EDT)
I think this article has a lot of potential if it had a few revisions. There are a lot of people who would like to hear the other side in regards to Dawkins but currently the first 50 Google results seem to be totally monopolized by the Dawkins fan club. I do think if we created a dissenting view of the first 50 Google results that we might get a lot of traffic. I don't think much effort has been expended to do so in the past and I don't think it would be hard to do as a lot of people are not fond of what Dawkins promotes. Conservative 20:27, 22 October 2007 (EDT)
Conservative, we can't sell our principles just for a few web hits. Giving into Dawkins deceitful claim of professorship would be hypocritical. SSchultz 01:50, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
Schultz, I would kindly state that you are presenting a false dilemna. Show me where the above analyis using a sound methodology for answering historical questions is errant. I could just as easily say Dawkins is a professor and leave it at that but I think demonstrating my position using a sound methodology of deciding historical questions is a far more reasonable approach. Conservative 02:04, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
Conservative, the fact is that Andy has already made a decision on this page. He wants the facts regarding Dawkins' fraudulent professorship to remain. I don't understand why you're choosing to go against him like this. Moreover, all the talk about your methodology for deciding the question sounds a lot like the way evolutionists talk about defending their theories. SSchultz 15:27, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
To be fair, SSshultz, it doesn't appear to me that Conservative is "choosing to go against [Aschlafly] like this" - rather he using an historical research tool to ascertain whether the assertion that Dawkins is not a professor has any merit. It's just another angle to help editors with their judgement. Ajkgordon 16:17, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
I usually disagree with Conservative, and I've raised an eyebrow at his "millions of hits" claims. However, following Fischer's principles is an excellent means of resolving the discussion over Dawkins' professorship. Really, it has gone on far too long.--McIntyre 02:29, 23 October 2007 (EDT)

I was asked to weigh in this matter. Not sure if makes a difference, but at least I can try.

  • First, the principle laid out by the historian Fisher aren't that different from what the CP guidelines try to achieve, except that his are more specific to history writing. There is nothing wrong to look at the best practice used by historians when you write biographical articles. I could even imagine that some of Fisher recommendations would make it into the CP guidelines, since they reflect common sense, used elsewhere as well.
  • As TK pointed out, historians are able to quibble over all kind of things. The nice things about sticking to such guidelines is that you quibble on a slightly higher level, and it increases the chances to stay on topic. In a charged atmosphere, like on this talk page, even the most benign observations become a litmus test on political loyalties, and can lead to personal insults. Take as example SSchultz' latest comment; it doesn't give any evidence on the matter, but instead calls you a hypocritical sell-out. Hardly illuminating any fact, other than SSchultz' idiosyncratic way to participate in discussions.
  • If you want to have lots of web hits, it might even be better say clearly what you accusations are. Bayes asked a few days ago what the allegations are, if not cronyism, bribery, or fraud, but no-one felt competent to answer it. If you would put into the article that you are accusing Dawkins, Simonyi or the University of Oxford of cronyism, bribery, or fraud, and you get some journalist to feature it prominently, you might attract a big deal of people who want to have a look. I mean, who does not enjoy a mud fight. If you don't want to look like some yellow press newspaper, you should of course have some evidence. The kind of evidence you find if you go to the archives of the University of Oxford and look up the minutes of the Distinction Committee. Its boring, I know, the kind of boring the set of rules by David Fisher are. Order 02:48, 23 October 2007 (EDT)
McIntyre, I want to stay on topic but I briefly will say that I think taking a defeatist attitude and saying Conservapedia cannot get millions of hits to various articles stifles creativity and initiative. One article for Conservapedia is getting 600 hits a day. I don't think it is a stretch of the imagination to get an article like that to get 6,000 hits a day via various methods to grow its Internet traffic. Conservative 03:19, 23 October 2007 (EDT)

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