Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 5

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Further communication with Oxford University

Aschlafly et al. Like British_cons I have also contacted Oxford University by filing a formal Freedom of Information request (now legally binding on Institutes of Higher Education in the UK – see http://www.ico.gov.uk/Home/what_we_cover/freedom_of_information.aspx). Failure to provide accurate information - or to give a legally relevant reason to withhold the information - is a breach of law. The official response from the University’s Information Officer was as follows:

“The statutory Charles Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science has not as yet been filled, although it was established in 1995 by decree. Since then Dr Dawkins, as he was then, was appointed to the Charles Simonyi Readership and subsequently had the title of Professor conferred in July 1996.”

This confirms what I said in my post of 11th October 07 at 14:39 namely that “only [Dawkins] Readership is associated with the Simonyi endowment. The Professorial title would seem to be entirely at Oxford University’s own instigation.”

What we now know is:

  1. A statutory professorship (the Charles Simonyi Professorship) was established by the University of Oxford in 1995. That statutory professorship has never been filled.
  2. Dawkins was granted – by the University’s Congregation (its main legislative body) – the post of Charles Simonyi Reader. This position is equivalent to that of an Assistant Professor at a US university.
  3. In July of 1996 the University of Oxford’s Distinctions Committee granted him the title of Professor. This position is equivalent to that of a Full Professor at a US university.
  4. Dawkins formal title – as listed in the Oxford Calendar is that of “Charles Simonyi Reader and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science.”

You can file an FOI request with the University very easily – see [1]. Now that we have the above clarifications I hope that the following changes in this article can be made without being reverted:

  1. Clarification that the “post” referred to repeatedly throughout the article is that of “Charles Simonyi Reader for the Public Understanding of Science.”
  2. Removal of the error that states Dawkins professorship is actually described by the University as a “post”. The professorship is a separate title to the referenced "post".
  3. Removal of the error that Dawkins did not go through peer review before being granted the title of professor. As the professorial title was granted by the University's Distinctions Committee – which has a comprehensive and documented process of peer review – this is clearly wrong.
  4. Removal of the error that Dawkins position is based at the Natural History Museum in Oxford. The Distinctions Committee award makes it clear that his professorship is based in the Biological Sciences faculty.
  5. Removal of the error that Dawkins title of professor is “misleading if not fraudulent as it does not satisfy the Merriam-Webster definition of “professor”.” As the title was clearly awarded by the Distinctions Committee of the University of Oxford this is clearly not true.

OurMike 15:47, 18 November 2007 (EST)


"Facts are stubborn things." Ajkgordon 09:49, 19 November 2007 (EST)
An fascinating communication OurMike. I await responses with much interest.--British_cons (talk) 16:45, 19 November 2007 (EST)

From Richard Dawkins' resume:

"1995- Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford, and Professorial Fellow of New College"[2]

But from Oxford University per the quote by Dawkins' supporters above:

“The statutory Charles Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science has not as yet been filled ...."

Somebody in England is not telling the truth here. I'll let you guess who that is.--Aschlafly 17:31, 19 November 2007 (EST)

Actually it looks like someone in America is just not ever going to accept any proof about Richard Dawkins academic status. Reality strikes out in Andyland! MikeAnd 17:54, 19 November 2007 (EST)
So Andy, do you accept my evidence above about Dawkins professorial status? Feel free to highlight inconsistencies in Dawkins' resume, but can the errors that I have highlighted here (and repeatedly in this talk page) please now be corrected? Dawkins is a professor at Oxford University, so his title is neither fraudulent nor misleading. I look forward to seeing the article revised. OurMike 17:57, 19 November 2007 (EST)
OurMike, you have not quoted any errors here. Dawkins' resume is false and you need to admit that in order to be credible. Dawkins' current position is indeed merely a post.--Aschlafly 18:02, 19 November 2007 (EST)
Andy, I have quoted five clear and distinct errors, numbered and listed above. Dawkins' resume is indeed incorrect - his professorial title was granted in July of 1996, as per the official communication from Oxford University in response to a Freedom of Information request. The 'post' that you keep referencing is that of the Charles Simonyi Reader for the Public Understanding of Science. Dawkins' was, in addition, granted the title of Professor for the Public Understanding of Science in July 1996 by Oxford's Distinctions Committee. Can the five distinct errors please now be corrected? OurMike 18:07, 19 November 2007 (EST)
OurMike, you're becoming a caricature of someone who cannot accept the truth. The "Charles Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science has not as yet been filled," according to Oxford. Therefore, Dawkins' claim on his resume that he is the "Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" is FALSE. Open your mind, OurMike, and accept the truth. It will set you free.--Aschlafly 20:22, 19 November 2007 (EST)
Andy, any objective person reading this can tell who has problems with the truth. It is not OurMike, but you. Your "open mind" seems akin to a hole in the head.--McIntyre 20:49, 19 November 2007 (EST)
It seems quite clear from the above that Dawkins is a professor and yet the article says (amongst other things) that the use of the term is "misleading if not fraudulent". I would have thought that was a clear and unsupportable libel. I cannot understand why the article has not been changed in accordance with OurMike's suggestions. --Gridley 20:55, 19 November 2007 (EST)
Gridley, Dawkins' resume is false in claiming that he is the "Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science." Perhaps [[atheists] don't care about the truth, but the rest of us do.--Aschlafly 21:47, 19 November 2007 (EST)
The article will not be changed. Reality on Conservapedia is what Andy says it is.--McIntyre 20:59, 19 November 2007 (EST)
I realize that liberals insist on last wordism, McIntyre, but if you post another last-word insult then your account will be blocked.--Aschlafly 21:47, 19 November 2007 (EST)
By threatening to block me Andy, are you not attempting to have the last word? The issue here is that Dawkin’s status as a professor is no longer (if indeed, it ever was) in doubt. Oxford University states that he is a professor. You seem to be the only person who refuses to accept this reality.--McIntyre 22:04, 19 November 2007 (EST)
That's right, McIntyre, liberals don't always get their way and have the last word on this site. Try Wikipedia if you want to insist that liberals always have the last word. Not here.--Aschlafly 22:07, 19 November 2007 (EST)
Why do you insist I am a liberal? Because I disagree with you?--McIntyre 22:10, 19 November 2007 (EST)

Let us stick to the substance of the debate. Oxford University states that Dawkins is a professor. Why can you not accept that? --McIntyre 22:14, 19 November 2007 (EST)

  • No. Let us not. McIntyre, and the others above, OurMike and Gridley; I invite you to check our Conservapedia Guidelines about argument without end, and disruption. Unlike Wikipedia, we encourage debate, but debate without additional facts being added is no longer debate. As Andy has pointed out more than once, nothing has been offered here to contradict what he has shown as fact.
  • I invite all of you to contribute meaningful content (as opposed to meaningless talk page chatter) to this site, the fasted growing educational resource on the Internet! --şyŝoρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 22:39, 19 November 2007 (EST)


Oxford University has specifically confirmed that he is, officially at least, a professor. This has been made clear, so I agree that the article should be adjusted to reflect this new information. But regardless, Dawkins' resume still appears misleading, and a bought professorship is neither impressive nor does it reflect well on the University's policies. Feebasfactor 23:09, 19 November 2007 (EST)
  • Let me bold the above, Feebasfactor, so my meaning won't be completely lost on you...--şyŝoρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 23:26, 19 November 2007 (EST)

File:Frustrated2.gif

Apologies! I thought I might be able to help moderate discussion after the addition of the message from Oxford. I wish this could be worked out, but perhaps not; anyway, I probably have the issue confused again... I think I'll simply stay out of this one, then. Feebasfactor 19:28, 20 November 2007 (EST)

No, Feebasfactor, Oxford has not confirmed that Dawkins' "is, officially at least, a professor." Indeed, there is no such thing as "a professor" in the abstract, unconnected to a specific academic department. One can only be a certain type of professor, and Oxford did confirm that no one is yet the "Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science." Whatever Dawkins' may once have been, I think it's clear that he's not what his resume claims he is now, or was in 1995.--Aschlafly 23:39, 19 November 2007 (EST)
Andy, the apsotrophes at the end of the word "Dawkins" in your first and last sentences are incorrect. -- Ferret Nice old chat 02:48, 20 November 2007 (EST)
No, Aschlafly, Oxford *have* confirmed that Dawkins is officially a professor. They did this most recently in November 2007 in their response to my FOI request when they stated "Dawkins…subsequently had the title of Professor conferred in July 1996." As has already been pointed out in these talk pages that professorship bears the full title of "Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" and was granted by the University's Distinctions Committee [3] - as announced in the Oxford University Gazette, the authorised journal of record for such awards[4]. The title was awarded in the Biological Sciences division.
However if you still need further new evidence, and confirmation of Dawkins' specific academic departments, I have now got hold of the current University of Oxford Calendar (University of Oxford Calendar 2007-2008, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007, ISBN 9780199234141), which lists Dawkins as a professor in the Department of Zoology (p.103), and as a professor in the Department for Continuing Education (p.169). In his entry in the New College section (p.336 where he is listed as a fellow), Dawkins' full title is recorded as:
Dawkins, Richard, MA Dphil DSc Oxf, FRSL, Charles Simonyi Reader of the Public Understanding of Science, Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.
I have no dispute with this article listing every inconsistency it can find in Dawkins' CV (I agree wholeheartedly that there are inconsistencies - my mind is open, I am free) but can the five distinct factual errors I listed earlier in this section please now be corrected? OurMike 08:06, 20 November 2007 (EST)
Oh come on Sysop TK. The man points out five obvious errors, tries to get a clear detailed response - and you tell him this is useless talk page chatter and threaten to block him. Let's have answers not threats.--British_cons (talk) 14:31, 20 November 2007 (EST)
  • Oh, put a sock in it, BritCon! Mike was warned. He presented nothing new! Is this a new advocation for you and others? Has everyone quit their day jobs and devote themselves to re-posting the same thing, over and over again? Give me a break! --şyŝoρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 15:29, 20 November 2007 (EST)
BritCon, we don't allow falsehoods here, not even to promote atheism. You say that there are "five obvious errors," but none of the atheists can identify any specific error. We can't open your mind to the truth, but we can keep out the falsehoods, and we will.--Aschlafly 15:35, 20 November 2007 (EST)

Fascinating. I'm just confused. I don't know if you and Sysop TK are engaged in profound self-parody and are secretly laughing at your own retorts; of if you seriously believe these are valid responses. I honestly just don't know.--British_cons (talk) 15:42, 20 November 2007 (EST)

  • I can prove that isn't even a remote possibility, British_cons, because at our daily meeting of who will say what, this topic wasn't even discussed! Certainly you have been around long enough to know my feelings about this type of "argument without end". What does it accomplish? Read through the FOUR rather large archives. Who has changed their positions? What new information has been brought forth that wasn't just a re-write of something previous? And please tell me where it is allowed or tolerated, to continue discussion once warned by an Administrator to let it be? --şyŝoρ-₮K/Ṣρёаќǃ 16:13, 20 November 2007 (EST)


Um, is this cite not sufficient to demonstrate that Oxford University calls Dawkins a professor? Are both Oxford University and Dawkins incorrect? Or has the university itself been misled?
Are there any other sources that dispute Dawkins' professorship? Ajkgordon 16:18, 20 November 2007 (EST)
Ajkgordon, what you cite is likely a mere repetition of Dawkins' own claim. The official statement by Oxford, quoted above, is that "The statutory Charles Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science has not as yet been filled, although it was established in 1995 by decree." Perhaps Dawkins is a "professor" in some imaginary church of atheism. By Oxford's own official statement, Dawkins is not the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science that Dawkins claims to be on his resume.--Aschlafly 17:12, 20 November 2007 (EST)
No, that's right. According to OU, he's the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science and the Charles Simonyi Reader of the Public Understanding of Science. I wonder if Dawkins uses that form of words on his CV for simplicity's sake? It just seems a bit obvious that OU seems to think he is a professor.
Have there been any other sites, newspapers or other sources that have also questioned his professorship? That would be an interesting addition to this article. Ajkgordon 17:42, 20 November 2007 (EST)
There's that liberal reliance on hearsay again. Oxford itself says the key position has NOT been filled. What credibility is there to statements by less knowledgeable newspapers? None, of course.
All Dawkins has to do is post his authentic letter of appointment on the internet to back up his claim on his resume. Don't hold your breath!
By the way, where is the support for your claim that "according to OU, he's the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science"??? Perhaps you should go into the resume-padding business.  :-) --Aschlafly 19:39, 20 November 2007 (EST)
There's no reliance on my part for what you call hearsay. As I said, it would just be interesting for this article if there were other sources which doubted Dawkins' professorship.
I have no support - I don't have time to delve. I was simply using OurMike's cite above from the University of Oxford Calendar that Dawkins' full title is "Dawkins, Richard, MA Dphil DSc Oxf, FRSL, Charles Simonyi Reader of the Public Understanding of Science, Professor of the Public Understanding of Science." I assume good faith that his quote is accurate.
Even though there might be irregularities in his CV, it does seem to be the case that every document from OU that's been looked at here has listed Dawkins as a professor. Indeed, the OU website is littered with descriptions of Dawkins as a professor.
I'm intrigued. Do you think that OU has made a repeated mistake or, worse, has been misled? If so, then this would be a major story - a prominent and publicly-recognised author, presenter, biologist involved in possible fraud for personal gain. The press would love a story like that, no? And Conservative would be delighted at the increased traffic to this site as a result!
"Perhaps you should go into the resume-padding business." LOL, that's too close for comfort :) Ajkgordon 08:18, 21 November 2007 (EST)

Andy, once again with feeling: the support for the claim that "according to OU, he's the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" is contained in the exact same source that you use as evidence that he is not the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.. That quote again in full (mybolding):

“The statutory Charles Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science has not as yet been filled, although it was established in 1995 by decree. Since then Dr Dawkins, as he was then, was appointed to the Charles Simonyi Readership and subsequently had the title of Professor conferred in July 1996.”

You keep repeating the first part of this sentence - which does indeed confirm that Dawkins' CV is incorrect and that he does not hold the statutory Charles Simonyi Professorship. However for some reason you are ignoring the second part which confirms that OU did confer a professorial title onto Dawkins in July 1996. This professorial title was granted by the Distinctions Committee of the University - see the gazette notice confirming the details of the title here. That notice clearly states that the full title of the professorship is "Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" and was awarded to Dawkins in the Biological Sciences Division. The current University Calendar confirms that he still holds the title, along with the position of Charles Simonyi Reader. If you accept that the first part of the FOI response is the official statement from OU on this matter then you must - by definition - accept the second part as official confirmation that OU granted Dawkins a professorial title in 1996. I am quite happy to admit that some of my earlier assertions in this talk page were wrong, and that the Simonyi endowment turns out to be a bit less cut and dried than I had supposed. I think this article should indeed reflect that Dawkins CV is incorrect in some particulars, and that he does not hold the statutory Simonyi chair. However all the evidence confirms that Dawkins does still hold a full and legitimate professorial position at the University of Oxford, and that his title is that of Charles Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. Just like Oxford say it is. Can the five distinct errors that I have listed earlier on this page please now be corrected? OurMike 14:19, 21 November 2007 (EST)

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