Talk:Richard Dawkins/Archive 6

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Oxford Reply

Oxford University's reply to a recent inquiry about the status of Richard Dawkins:

“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.”

Discussion on this is below, under "Oxford Reply discussion".


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)

User:OurMike, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I compliment you on your perseverance and attention to detail. We are making progress despite all the insults that have been spewed against me by atheists and liberals who seem to think that whatever Richard Dawkins says must be true. In fact, Richard Dawkins' resume is not true. It says that he holds a certain professorship, when in fact he does not.
Now that is settled, you want to address the statement by Oxford that Dawkins was granted a professorship in 1996 (not 1995), which was different from the Simonyi professorship. But that raises as many questions as it answers. By 1996, Dawkins already had the post (not a professorship) paid by the Charles Simonyi gift. Apparently this new professorship in 1996 was at no cost to the department that granted it, if in fact a bona fide department actually did confer it. I have not seen any posting of the official letter by Dawkins reflecting this new, apparently cost-less professorship. Was it a merely an honorary one? Was it truly the product of a customary peer review? I see evidence suggesting otherwise, and the fact that no one here can point to the appointment letter speaks volumes. Moreover, even if that 1996 professorship was legitimate, it is not the Simonyi professorship claimed on Dawkins' resume. I see no credible evidence suggesting that Dawkins still holds the alleged 1996 professorship now.--Aschlafly 19:39, 21 November 2007 (EST)
Mr Aschfley. Just to clarity your position. Reading the above you now seem to be accepting that Professor Dawkins is a professor, but you are querying what type of professor he is and under what circumstance he became one. Is that the case? If so,we are, as you say, making progress.--British_cons (talk) 13:11, 22 November 2007 (EST)


Yes that's right. Dawkins' CV is incorrect - the Simonyi Professorship is different from the title that Dawkins does actually hold (that of Charles Simonyi Reader (1995) and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science (1996)). I first pointed this out over a month and a half ago.

I have no idea how Dawkins' - or indeed any Oxford academic's - position is funded, though I'm not sure why you assume that it was without cost. I'm happy to debate University financing arcana, but it is not relevant to whether or not the title has been conferred.

The professorship was not "merely an honorary one". Oxford does not give honorary professorships, though it does give honorary degrees and honorary fellowships (Dawkins has one of those too, by the way - according to the Calendar he is an honorary fellow of Balliol).

The professorship was granted by the Distinctions Committee, which has a very specific and documented process of peer review[1]. There has been no evidence that Dawkins circumvented that process - do you have something that you have not yet shared with us?

The professorship is still extant, as the University Calendar confirms (incidentally, it also states that the professorship terminates in 2008, when Dawkins reaches retirement age, at which point he will become Professor Emeritus in accordance with Oxford regulations[2]).

I think we can shortcut this debate with a very simple question: do you accept that the FOI response, the Oxford University Gazette, and the Oxford University Calendar are credible, legitimate sources on Dawkins' status at the University? Just to remind you, the FOI response states that "Dawkins...had the title of Professor conferred in July 1996"; the Gazette is "the authorised journal of record for the University of Oxford. It provides information of...Appointments to University posts, such as professorships, etc"[3], and the Calendar is the official annual directory of the University's faculty, produced by the University's Public Affairs Directorate.

If you do accept these are legitimate sources then I'm happy to - once again - list in detail the evidence from them that confirms Dawkins appointment, his faculty membership, and his continuing employment, and I hope that the errors in the article will then be corrected. If you don't accept they're legitimate can you please explain why? OurMike 13:33, 22 November 2007 (EST)

User:OurMike, you claim that you pointed out the falsehood on Dawkins' own resume "over a month and a half ago," but I don't see evidence of that at your link. Instead, your link continued to insist wrongly that the entry here was in error, rather than the falsehood being on Dawkins' resume. Despite an abundance of evidence here that Dawkins' leading credential is falsely represented on his resume, you continued to fail to admit it. User:British_cons still won't admit it, nor will Dawkins' atheistic supporters. Obviously the grip of atheism prevents some people from accepting the truth.
The issue of what lesser honor was conferred on Dawkins in July 1996, after he received his current Simonyi post, is a curiosity. Whatever it was, it appears to me that (a) it was not a fully compensated professorship, (b) it was not a permanent faculty position in an academic department in which Dawkins now serves, (c) there was a general disclaimer raising doubts about which department approved the announced professorships, and thus (d) it did not satisfy the customary attributes of a professorship. Again, I invite Dawkins to post his letter of this appointment, if it was even an appointment. Note that his resume does not include any reference to this appointment or honor beginning in 1996, though his resume includes many lesser honors.--Aschlafly 15:03, 22 November 2007 (EST)
Just so we get this clear, you now do accept that it was some form of professorship?--British_cons (talk) 15:26, 22 November 2007 (EST)

Aschlafly, Perhaps you did not scan down far enough. The section where I suggested that Dawkin's professorship was separate from the Simonyi endowment is dated 14:39, 11 October 2007. It says "Mea culpa ...I’m not now sure whether Dawkins did go through the election board stipulated in the act for the Simonyi endowment ... The Professorial title would seem to be entirely at Oxford University’s own instigation."

I have admitted, several times now, that I was wrong earlier in these talk pages, and that Dawkins does not hold the statutory Simonyi chair, and that instead he has the title of Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. If you recall, it was me that presented that evidence here, so I'm not sure why you say I fail to admit it.

Why do you assert that Dawkins professorship is not fully compensated, and what relevance does this have over whether the title was awarded by Oxford? In what way does the disclaimer on the Distinction Committee's page mean that it does not satisfy the customary attributes of a professorship (and does this mean that you believe none of the professors listed in that notice hold proper professorial positions at Oxford)? I have pointed to evidence from three impeccable sources from OU which confirm that Dawkins (a) holds the title, (b) is a member of both the Biological Sciences division and the Continuing Education Department, and (c) is still employed by the University. Can you please confirm whether you are willing to accept the FOI response, the Gazette, and the Calendar as legitimate sources, and if not why not? OurMike 16:27, 22 November 2007 (EST)

User:OurMike, you wrote, "Perhaps you did not scan down far enough. The section where I suggested that Dawkin's professorship was separate from the Simonyi endowment is dated 14:39, 11 October 2007. It says 'Mea culpa ...I’m not now sure whether Dawkins did go through the election board stipulated in the act for the Simonyi endowment ... The Professorial title would seem to be entirely at Oxford University’s own instigation.'"
But there's nothing to be "not sure about." The Oxford charter is crystal clear and it has been cited all along in the entry here, demonstrating that Dawkins received merely a "post" from the Simonyi grant, not a professorship. On the one hand you said "mea culpa," then a few words later you say that you're not sure, despite the entry being crystal clear. Then again and again and again you claimed the entry here is somehow false.[4]
I'm not trying to rub it in, but am trying to understand what it is about atheism that makes people thinks its OK for Dawkins' resume to contain this central falsehood about his credential. For example, why aren't you criticizing Dawkins for this???? Note how your ambivalence of this academic falsehood, which result in many employers firing someone in the U.S., enables other atheists to continue to pretend that Dawkins' resume is true, when it is not.
User:OurMike added, "If you recall, it was me that presented that evidence here, so I'm not sure why you say I fail to admit it."
The entry has contained the above link and direct evidence before you began claiming the entry was false, yet now you try to take credit for it!
UserMike added, "Why do you assert that Dawkins professorship is not fully compensated, and what relevance does this have over whether the title was awarded by Oxford? In what way does the disclaimer on the Distinction Committee's page mean that it does not satisfy the customary attributes of a professorship (and does this mean that you believe none of the professors listed in that notice hold proper professorial positions at Oxford)? I have pointed to evidence from three impeccable sources from OU which confirm that Dawkins (a) holds the title, (b) is a member of both the Biological Sciences division and the Continuing Education Department, and (c) is still employed by the University. Can you please confirm whether you are willing to accept the FOI response, the Gazette, and the Calendar as legitimate sources, and if not why not? OurMike 16:27, 22 November 2007 (EST)
"impeccable sources"??? Not at all. You provide no specific links for your three statements above, and they are not reflected as you state on Dawkins' own resume. The announcement by Oxford contained a prominent disclaimer suggesting that the department was not final, which raises doubt as to whether an academic department conducted customary peer review at all in this case.
We still don't have a copy of his appointment to any professorship, which presumably Dawkins could easily post if it exists. The claim of an appointment to a professorship (not the Simonyi professorship) is contrary to Dawkins' own resume (e.g., note the dates), adding further reason to be skeptical. But even those two issues were overcome, and they have not been, the appointment does not appear to me to be a customary professorship.--Aschlafly 18:56, 22 November 2007 (EST)
Here is the link to the Oxford University Gazette [5]. The citation from the FOI response and the Oxford University Calendar were posted here. I hope that helps. Feebasfactor 19:12, 22 November 2007 (EST)

Aschlafly, while you are of course free to doubt whether Dawkins holds a "customary" professorship, the simple, verifiable fact is that Oxford University consider that he does. Thanks Feebasfactor for pointing out - yet again - the references that confirm this. Unless you have evidence that the University has lied about Dawkins' appointment (in their FOI response, in their official journal of record, and in their staff directory) then this basic fact is incontrovertible. OurMike 09:20, 23 November 2007 (EST)

No, User:OurMike, the evidence is contrary to your claims, which you cling to most likely for ideological reasons. Nothing in Feebasfactor's links suggests that "Dawkins holds a 'customary' professorship." Dawkins' resume claims he received a professorship in 1995, while Feebasfactor's link refers to 1996 and even then with a important disclaimer. 1996 was after Dawkins had already accepted a different "post". Whatever Dawkins may have received in 1996, I have not seen any official recognition that he "holds" that position today as you claim. Nor have I seen Dawkins post any official letter conferring a professorship upon him, despite the challenge to his claimed credentials.--Aschlafly 12:52, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Aschlafly, the Gazette and the FOI response explicitly state that Dawkins was awarded a professorship, in 1996. It can’t be clearer. Oxford does not award professorial titles except via peer review or election to a statutory chair – so if he holds an Oxford professorship he is indeed a ‘customary’ professor. I agree that Dawkins’ CV is wrong, but you can’t on the one hand state that the CV is wrong (which it is) whilst simultaneously dismissing my evidence because it contradicts the CV!
You still haven’t answered my question: do you agree that the Gazette, the Calendar, and the FOI response are legitimate sources of information on Dawkins’ status at Oxford? The Calendar isn’t published online, but I’m sure your local library can arrange to have a copy delivered if you want to see the pages yourself, confirming Dawkins still holds the title. Anyone with access to an interlibrary loans service can verify this very easily. Bibliographic details are here: Alternatively you could contact Oxford University directly – you can file a legally binding FOI request by email here: It takes seconds. However if you don’t want to check the references yourself I can take a photo of the relevant pages from the Calendar when I’m in the office next week and post a link to them here. Would that satisfy? OurMike 09:35, 24 November 2007 (EST)
User:OurMike, I have complimented you on your diligence and perseverance, haven't I? But I just hope you're not clinging to atheism here. If so, you'd be doing yourself a big favor by recognizing the falsehoods inherent in atheism ... and the resume of its leader. Then you can move on the better for it.
Having acknowledged the falsehood on the Dawkins' resume about holding the Simonyi professorship, and about the false 1995 date for the other alleged professorship, you press further in reliance on Oxford catalogs that, in turn, likely rely on the announcement here: [6] . But what was that original announcement? It was this:
"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. Any changes will be published separately when agreed. ...
Biological Sciences
J.P. Armitage, MA, Fellow of St Hilda's: Professor of Biochemistry
D.A.P. Bundy, MA, Fellow of Linacre: Professor of Zoology
J. Burley, MA, Fellow of Green College: Professor of Forestry
I.W. Craig, MA, Fellow of St Catherine's: Professor of Genetics
C.R. Dawkins, MA, D.Phil., D.Sc., Fellow of New College: Professor of the Public Understanding of Science"
I'll concede that Dawkins was appointed as a "Fellow", but we've already agree that he was not appointed to the Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. I infer that the title for Dawkins above was "still under discussion" that was to be clarified and "published separately when agreed." But we've found no subsequent publication, so we can infer that the hoped-for agreement for a professorship was never reached. Ergo, I conclude that Dawkins never received the professorship. Of course, if he did, then he can simply post the confirmatory letter. As far as I can tell he has not and cannot do so.--Aschlafly 14:21, 24 November 2007 (EST)
Hi Andy, some comments:
(1) The disclaimer said that the "subject area" was under discussion not the professorship. You quoted it yourself Talk:Richard_Dawkins/Archive_4#Summary_of_Established_Evidence "Please note that in a small number of cases the precise academic subject area in which the title is held is still under discussion. Any changes will be published separately when agreed." It is talking about the subject area, and since you quoted it yourself, you know it. Give evidence that the disclaimer has any bearing on the validity of the title of professor?
(2) The disclaimer was a general disclaimer, that could apply to any of the scientists mentioned in the announcement of the distinctions comittee. Give evidence that the disclaimer refers to Dawkins and not to say I.W. Craig, Professor of Genetics or J. Burley, Professor of Forestry?
I took a break for a month or longer, and it seems like that your tactic is still to keep asking for more evidence, while it is him how has to provide evidence. After all, he is, or at least he was accusing Oxford University of fraud. You said a month ago: "I don't think the department referencing Dawkins in that link even had the authority to grant his professorship. So I'm confident that that is not worth the paper it was written on." Have you found any evidence for any of this in the meanwhile? Order 22:20, 24 November 2007 (EST)
User:Order, I just checked a subsequent year and the disclaimer cited is absent,[7] which is compelling evidence for me that the 1996 disclaimer applies to Dawkins. I've invited Dawkins here to provide his letter of appointment, and I hope he can, but I conclude that he cannot. So, in response to your question, I find it clear that the disclaimer (and lack of a subsequently published agreement) reveals that the named department did not grant a true and customary professorship.--Aschlafly 22:35, 24 November 2007 (EST)

So probably it was probably Dawkins' professorship for which "the precise academic subject area in which the title is held" was still under discussion? Considering the discrepencies we've seen so far and curious circumstances surrounding this professorship, that does seem likely. Feebasfactor 22:48, 24 November 2007 (EST)

(1) In what respect does the disclaimer have any bearing on a professorship being "customary"? Can you give evidence for your claim that an discussion on the subject area makes it impossible for professorship to be customary? (2) You have cited the announcement regarding Dawkins yourself, and your own quote contains several names. Do you have evidence that the disclaimer refers to Dawkins. Pointing to a document that doesn't contain either of the other, doesn't prove your point. Based on what evidence do you conclude that it the disclaimer referred to Dawkins, and not I.W. Craig. Both do not appear on the announcement one year later. What is your evidence? Order 22:55, 24 November 2007 (EST)
User:Order, Richard Dawkins has posted his resume and makes lots of money selling books based on his claimed credentials. We've already exposed one falsehood on his resume (the claim of a Simonyi professorship) and we have further exposed a conflict between the 1995 date for the other alleged professorship on his resume and the 1996 date provided by Oxford. Even Dawkins' defenders, such as User:OurMike, finaly admitted that the claim of a Simonyi professorship is false.
Now we're working on a possible third falsehood relating to the disclaimer connected to his alleged appointment and a lack of the promised published agreement about that. Dawkins, who is profiting from his claimed credentials, can surely post his letter of appointment if it exists. Assuming the disclaimer applies to him, and there is no reason to think it applies to anyone else, then the lack of the promised published agreement suggests there was no agreement awarding even this professorship. Seems to me it's long overdue for you to direct your questions at him.--Aschlafly 23:24, 24 November 2007 (EST)
Not so fast. I haven't seen any evidence that Dawkins is not the Simonyi professor of Public Understanding of Science. All that I have seen is evidence that he was appointed to become the Professor of Public Understanding of Science. Second, we have long ago established that this appointment happened in 1996, and it was in particular OurMike who found and explained this here, here and here. If anything you should complement him for his intellectual honesty, and not pretend you made this discovery yourself.
Back to the evidence that you fail to deliver. An announcement by the distinctions committee in 1997, that doesn't mention Dawkins at all, is not evidence or proof for either of these claim:
  • that the CV maliciously mentions the year 1995 as the start of the professorship rather than 1996.
  • that the disclaimer has any relevance for legal status of the professorship which was granted in 1996.
  • that the disclaimer refers to Dawkins appointment in 1996.
  • claim that the distinction committee exceeded it authority by publishing the 1996 announcement.
The 1997 document that you linked doesn't give any evidence for any of these. And Freebasfactor, I might add, a discussion in 2007 on an American message board, is no evidence at all for the allegation that the 1996 appointment by the distinction committee of the University of Oxford was contended. Order 01:28, 25 November 2007 (EST)
I didn't mean to imply that our contending his professorship here somehow affected the appointment in 1996; I just meant that even today "the precise academic subject area in which the title is held" still seems hard to pin down. Could anyone even explain exactly what he is the professor of, and in which department? You can't just have the title "Professor" conferred and be a professor of nothing. Feebasfactor 11:26, 25 November 2007 (EST)
The announcement by the distinctions comitttee is quite clear about it. Under the header Biological Sciences, it says C.R. Dawkins, MA, D.Phil., D.Sc., Fellow of New College: Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. Unless you find some evidence that this was overruled at a later stage, this is his title, subject area, and the department. But I can already tell you that a discussion on this site isn't evidence for decisions that may or may not have been made by Oxford in 1996. Order 22:05, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Aschlafly, I have to agree with Order. The prefatory note on the Gazette notice, on which you place so much weight, makes it very clear that “the title of professor or reader has been conferred.” Note the past tense in “has”, “been”, and “conferred.”
Whilst it is certainly interesting to note that the “precise academic subject area” of some of the c.180 professors and readers on the list were still under discussion at the time the notice was printed, it cannot be inferred that the actual distinction of ‘professor’ or ‘reader’ was in the balance for any of the listed acedemics. I should also point out that your parsing of the second part of that prefatory note is wrong. The key phrase “Any changes will be published separately when agreed” means that you will only see another Gazette notice if there are any changes. As you have rightly pointed out, we have found no further notices regarding Dawkins on this matter, and therefore must assume there were no changes to the precise academic subject area of Richard Dawkins’ professorship.
As I’ve already pointed out to you, the above was verified by Oxford University this month, when – in response to a legally binding Freedom of Information request – they stated that “Dawkins ... had the title of Professor conferred in July 1996”. Can we all now agree on this point? OurMike 10:00, 25 November 2007 (EST)
We have established that the falsity of Dawkins' resume with respect to the Simonyi professorship itself, and now are addressing a claim that he is some other type of professor.
Dawkins' own resume describes his position at New College as a "Professorial Fellow." While that may appear to be a full professorship, it is not. In the Commonwealth system, a "Professorial Fellow" is like an honorary professor, and is not an "established" position: [8]
"The objective of this regulation is to make provision for certain matters relating to the conferment of titles on persons who are associated with the University in a substantial way but who are not employed in or appointed to established or recurrent positions within the University.
Titles which may be conferred:
1. Honorary Professor
2. Professor Emeritus
3. Visiting Professor
4. Adjunct Professor
5. Adjunct Associate Professor
6. Adjunct Teaching Fellow/Adjunct Research Fellow
7. Professorial Fellow
8. Clinical Associate
9. Visiting Fellow
Defenders of Dawkins here cite a statement by a clerk at Oxford that "Dr Dawkins ... was appointed to the Charles Simonyi Readership and subsequently had the title of Professor conferred in July 1996." Note carefully the distinction drawn by Oxford between being "appointed" and having something "conferred". That is the same distinction drawn above by the Commonwealth academic community between an honorary-type title and an established, peer-reviewed position. Oxford's statement just quoted confirms that Dawkins was not "appointed" to a peer-reviewed professorship. Rather, merely an honorary-type title of "professorial fellow" was "conferred" upon him. This helps explain why Dawkins has not posted any letter of appointment.
Users Order and OurMike, I hope you will view this information with an open mind and not continue to insist, for ideological reasons, that Dawkins was appointed to a peer-reviewed professorship.--Aschlafly 11:16, 25 November 2007 (EST)
I’m glad we’ve now finally reached agreement that Dawkins was awarded the title of Professor from Oxford University. We are making progress.
OurMike, you lost credibility with that comment. I'm sure anything you wrote afterwards is worth reading. Sorry.--Aschlafly 14:24, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Aschlafly, then I retract that statement. I had assumed that you had agreed the title had been awarded, and that we were now discussing the exact nature of the 'professorship'. I'm basing this on your statement above "merely an honorary-type title of "professorial fellow" was "conferred" upon him." Apologies if I've misrepresented your position. OurMike 14:42, 25 November 2007 (EST)
The Oxford clerk said that it had "conferred" a title, which is a term of art meaning something very different from "appoint" or "award", as in "conferring an honorary degree." Also, as already discussed, Dawkins' title was subject to a disclaimer that was never removed.--Aschlafly 16:48, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Aschlafly, please see my response below regarding how Oxford University confers peer reviewed professorial titles. As discussed above, the prefaratory note makes it clear that a title has been conferred. OurMike 17:36, 25 November 2007 (EST)
To clarify about the disclaimer - the full disclaimer read: 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. Any changes will be published separately when agreed. Once again it is not made clear what exactly Dawkins is the professor of; however, this disclaimer only seems to contest the nature of Dawkins professorship, not the validity of the title. Additionally, it identifies the Distinctions Committee as the authority "conferring" the title of professor, so we might question whether they have the authority to do so. Feebasfactor 18:17, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Feebasfactor, it is made perfectly clear what exactly Dawkins is the professor of: he is the 'Professor of the Public Understanding of Science' as it explicitly states in the Gazette notice. Whatever discussions may or may not have taken place subsequently regarding subject areas, there is no recorded change to this subject that anyone has been able to point to, and instead plenty of confirmatory evidence that Oxford continues to refer to Dawkins with this title - not least the University's own Calendar.OurMike 11:30, 27 November 2007 (EST)
But what academic department is that, anyway? Or is Dawkins just a professor at The Museum of Natural History? I acknowledge that he has had the title of professor conferred, and that his position is recognized as valid by Oxford University. The disclaimer, as I explained, was not relevent to that particular point anyway. Perhaps, with all the apparent contradictions in information, I was at some points too readily critical of Dawkins. However, I'm still not impressed with his "bought" professorship, neither with the dubious mistakes on his Curriculum Vitae - and of course, the issue of his professorship being properly peer-reviwed has yet to be resolved. Feebasfactor 23:58, 27 November 2007 (EST)
Woah, hang on. What "bought" professorship? Surely we've now established that Dawkins doesn't hold the endowed Simonyi professorship, but instead holds a professorship conferred by the Distinctions Committee - that's not a "bought" professorship. I'm also not sure why you say the peer-review issue has yet to be resolved, as there is a detailed explanation of the peer review process that the Distinctions Committee went through in the 1995 exercise before awarding the title - see here[9]. This is the same process that the majority of professors at Oxford will have gone through since Oxford switched to this distinctions system in 1995. As for academic department: the Gazette notes that at the time he was conferred his professorship he was in the Biological Sciences Division. That division has since been reorganised as Mathematics and Life Sciences, and the 2007/8 Calendar still lists him as a professor in that division (in the Zoology Department), as well as a professor in the Continuing Education department. OurMike 08:51, 28 November 2007 (EST)
Do you have evidence that the disclaimer refers to Dawkins? Order 22:05, 25 November 2007 (EST)
No, I suppose I don't. See my reply further up for why I think it likely does; however, I can't find evidence to definitively confirm (or deny) this. My explanation of the disclaimer stands, though. Feebasfactor 22:59, 25 November 2007 (EST)
You are entitled to you explanation, even without evidence, but it is just one possible and unsupported explanation. To cover the alternative case, do you have any evidence showing that the disclaimer does not refer to any of the other nominations mentioned in the announcement of the distinction committee? Order 01:55, 26 November 2007 (EST)
Your quotation above re. Professorial fellows is from the 1992 regulations of Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, not those of Oxford University. At Oxford, any holder of a readership, or anyone on grade RCIV or above is eligible to also hold the title of ‘Professorial Fellow’ at the college with which they are associated[10]. Note that this honorific is separate from the actual professorship, which is also why it is listed separately on Dawkins CV.
More substantively you highlight the point that the title was “conferred” rather than “appointed”. This is absolutely correct, but it is not true to say that this means the title is ‘honorary’ or that it was not conferred after due peer review. In 1995 the University - with has a large number of very senior academics but proporionately very few professorial chairs - moved to a system of awarding ‘Titles of Distinction’ – these are professorial (or reader) titles, awarded by the University after peer review, but without an accompanying change in duties or pay. As the Vice Chancellor explained in his oration on the new process in October 1995:
“The decision has been taken to change the University's system of titles of distinction and to enable all those who are deemed, by peer review, to merit the title of Professor or Reader to assume it.”[11]
Professorial and Reader titles are awarded after a long and diligent process of peer review. The details of the 1995 process that Dawkins’ followed is available here [12], and includes review by Faculty Boards, submissions on quality of research, details of the extent and quality of contribution to teaching and administration, and a final review by the University’s Distinctions Board (composition of the 1995 Board that awarded Dawkins is here [13]). In the section on the award of professorial titles the University states:
“(a) The primary criterion 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.”
As I understand it this system of awarding professorships is much closer to the American system, though I'm not an expert. Save for the handful of statutory professors, all academics with the title of Professor at Oxford would have received it as a Title of Distinction rather than as an endowed chair. OurMike 14:15, 25 November 2007 (EST)
OurMike, thanks for your effort to find relevant documents - and they are relevant because they are from Oxford, from the 1995 and 1996, and refer to the appointment of professors in contrast to most of the evidence presented by others in this forum-, lets not forget that it is Andy who should find some evidence. Andy's condescending remarks on clerks of Oxford University are not evidence that the distinctions committee exceeded its authority. In a class conscious British context it could be interpreted as a display of snobbish attitude towards normal staff members, but lets face it, most of documents in organizations are written by staff, and then signed off by the authorized superior.
It is good to see that also Andy made some effort to find supporting evidence, but unfortunately neither the fact that a clerk of Oxford University may have written the announcement, nor the statutes of an Australian university have any relevance. We are still looking for actual evidence for Andys allegation that the 1996 disclaimer has any relevance for Dawkins appointment, and that the distinction committee wasn't authorized. Do we have any evidence for this? Order 22:05, 25 November 2007 (EST)

Maybe there could be some information about Dawkins life

how he grew up, where he is from, how he came to be famous.

Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene Qwertguy 20:21, 22 November 2007 (EST)

Also I think a link to the debate between Mr Hitchens and Mr Mcgrath. If that is possible —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Timoteo (talk)

Oxford Reply discussion

In the Commonwealth system, a "Professorial Fellow" is like an honorary professor, and is not an "established" position, and the "conferment of titles" is akin to an honorary title different from an "appointment": [14] --Aschlafly 14:13, 25 November 2007 (EST)

Would it be possible to find University Oxford, UK regulations for persons employed by the University of Oxford, rather than regulations by Swinburne University, Brisbane, Australia for persons who are associated but not employed by the University of Swinburne? Order 01:40, 26 November 2007 (EST)
Brisbane? That's funny. When I went there I could have sworn it was in Melbourne! Philip J. Rayment 06:17, 26 November 2007 (EST)
Melbourne, Brisbane, its both not Sydney :) Sure, it would have been Melbourne, thanks for pointing it out. Makes not much of a difference to the relevance of the documents, but it demonstrates that you (and I) should check your (my) sources. I just wanted to make sure that people pay attention ;) Order 08:54, 26 November 2007 (EST)

Has the discussion migrated up here? [NB: This was posted before this discussion was moved from the top of the page to the bottom—PJR] I'm not sure what the relevance of professorial fellowships is to the reply from Oxford, which clearly uses the term 'professor' and not 'professorial fellow'. As Aschlafly has rightly remarked "Oxford University chooses its official words carefully and means what it says". A professorial title is distinct from a professorial fellowship, as Oxford's statutes and regulations make very clear. This is why academics - Dawkins included - list their fellowships separately from their professorial titles. Regardless, if anyone really is interested the statutes from Oxford are available online. Dawkins would have been entitled to a professorial fellowship as soon as he became a Reader in 1995[15]. It should also be noted that at Oxford the "conferment of titles" is the standard method by which Oxford grants professorships. The titles are conferred after detailed process of peer review[16]. The majority of Oxford professors will hold a 'conferred' title - including, for example, Prof. Alister McGrath (featured prominently in the Dawkins article) who had his title conferred in 1999 [17]. OurMike 08:15, 26 November 2007 (EST)

Well done Mr Shafley

I really think that we should give Mr Schlafly credit where it is due. Conservative Christians are often stereotyped as being unable to change their opinions or accept new information even when it is obvious. Mr Schlafly, contrary to the opinions of his detractors, has not fallen into this trap. The objection that many people have to the article is the phrase: The title "professor" is misleading, if not fraudulent,. Mr Schafley, after reading only a couple of examples where Oxford specifically calls Professor Dawkins a "Professor" now says things like: The statement by Oxford that Dawkins was granted a professorship in 1996 (not 1995), which was different from the Simonyi professorship.” And “Apparently this new professorship in 1996 was at no cost to the department that granted it, if in fact a bona fide department actually did confer it.” And “Moreover, even if that 1996 professorship was legitimate, it is not the Simonyi professorship claimed on Dawkins' resume. “ Finally Mr Shafley manages to admit, “I'll concede that Dawkins was appointed as a "Fellow".

From this it is clear that Mr Schlafly now regards Professor Dawkins as not only some kind of Professor but is also one of its governors - although Mr Schfley still retains some doubts about the nature of the Professorship and the way it was awarded.

It’s clear that Mr Schafly is making fantastic – though admittedly rather slow – progress; and I really think that we should applaud his bravery and honesty in making these comments. It takes a real man to admit when he is wrong, and this correspondence shows that he IS man enough to change his opinions when presented with facts. He deserves the support and encouragement of all of us in his difficult journey. He is an example of how even the most convinced of people can be persuaded to change their opinions through the provision of clear evidence and sound reasoning. Well done Mr Schlafly! With time and a little bit more effort you may yet be able to agree with all the evidence posted. I sincerely hope you keep up the inspirational the personal development you have demonstrated so far - many people are rooting for you and think you will make it.--British_cons (talk) 13:19, 26 November 2007 (EST)

User:British_cons, your ideological rant above is clueless about the truth. Contribute to this encyclopedia or take your ideological rants elsewhere. Thank you. Do not insist on last wordism here.--Aschlafly 13:33, 26 November 2007 (EST)


Aschlafly, can I please ask for some clarification of your position, as I am getting confused by two seemingly contradictory assertions you're making in this talk page. On the one hand you seem to be accepting that Oxford University did confer the title of Professor on Dawkins in July 1996 (I understand that you argue that a 'conferred' title is only honorary), yet on the other hand much of the page is a discussion over the prefatory note in the Gazette announcement of the title, implying that you still dispute that a title was conferred at all. These two points seem to me to be contradictory, but perhaps I'm just misunderstanding your position. Can I please ask you to clarify which of these two is your current position? OurMike 13:57, 26 November 2007 (EST)

My view is that Oxford "conferred" a "title" akin to an honorary degree and subject to the unusual disclaimer that deprives the title of meaning as a real "professor." The title was conferred in 1996 (not 1995), and I can find no specific confirmation of it on Dawkins's own resume. The clerk who responded to the inquiry with the quote blocked above appeared to be unaware of the unusual disclaimer, which was printed in a section above a list of names rather than identifying Dawkins specifically. The bigger question has been resolved: the Oxford blocked quote confirms that Dawkins is not the Simonyi Professor, as that position "has not as yet been filled."--Aschlafly 14:07, 28 November 2007 (EST)
Perhaps you'll get to my comments below in a moment, but I have a few questions about this view. There are over 100 professors and readers listed on that page. Could you clarify whether you think that all of their titles have been deprived of meaning? Why do you think it's "akin to an honorary degree" given the evidence to the contrary cited throughout this page? Doesn't the disclaimer say that if there were a change to the "precise academic subject area", it would be published? Reaganetics 14:44, 28 November 2007 (EST)
The disclaimer is unusual and has an obvious connection to Dawkins' situation, and the disclaimer does not appear in a similar, later announcement of distinctions. In fact, I think Dawkins has even claimed to change where he holds this title, just as the disclaimer warned. So it is reasonable to conclude that the disclaimer applies to Dawkins' degree, and it is also reasonable to expect an Oxford clerk not to notice it in responding to inquiries or publishing future notices.
As already pointed out ably by others here, saying that one has a professorship in a department to be determined later is as silly as calling oneself "president" of a country to be determined later. It means the term is not being used in its customary sense. And when that department or country is never later declared, then the title is particularly meaningless.--Aschlafly 15:34, 28 November 2007 (EST)
Except that the announcement didn't say that the department would be determined later. It named a department quite clearly. The disclaimer says that it might be changed, and that any changes would be announced. As I noted below, the logic is clear: Unless there is a subsequent announcement, then the department (not the degree) is as listed in the original announcement. If you have any evidence of a change, then please present it. In addition, the subsequent declaration by Oxford shows that the term is being used in its normal sense. Reaganetics 15:49, 28 November 2007 (EST)
In addition, we are still waiting for evidence that the disclaimer referred to Dawkins, and not to Craig, or one of the many others on the list. And what is you evidence that the title was honorary? Order 18:43, 28 November 2007 (EST)
And the announcement didn't even say "department". It said "precise academic subject area", which I take to mean the wording of the title (the "of" part of the title - "...of the Public Understanding of Science", "...of Development Economics", "...of Commonwealth Studies", etc), rather than what department or faculty the professor is working in. Regardless, the University *still* refers to Dawkins as the Professor for the Public Understanding of Science in its current Calendar (and still lists him as a professor in the Zoology faculty). Corrections to the Calendar are printed here. No mention of Dawkins yet. OurMike 11:40, 29 November 2007 (EST)
Oh, and Reaganetics is correct. The wording - and Oxford is precise on its wording - is clear. Unless there is a subsequent announcement then the "precise academic subject area" is as listed in the original announcement. No evidence of a change has been presented. OurMike 11:54, 29 November 2007 (EST)
In your zeal to rehabilitate your favorite atheist, all three of you above misread the disclaimer on the title. Oxford's disclaimer stated: "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. Any changes will be published separately when agreed. ..." That is clear that in certain cases -- most likely Dawkins' -- the subject area for the title "is still under discussion." That language indicates that there was no agreement, and still isn't. That's not a real professorship. One can't be a "Professor of fill-in-the-blank."--Aschlafly 19:14, 29 November 2007 (EST)
Could you give a source that confirms (1) that the disclaimer refers to Dawkin's, and (2) that the disclaimer has makes the professorship invalid. It is more than a week ago since this was asked for the first time, maybe you have been able to find evidence to support these claims. Order 19:48, 29 November 2007 (EST)
User:Order, it's basic logic. If I say that I'll give you $5 but this is subject to my agreeing to give you $5, and say no more, then I don't owe you $5. Oxford said it conferred a title subject to an agreement to confer the title in a meaningful way, and said no more. The title does not exist in a meaningful way.--Aschlafly 20:57, 29 November 2007 (EST)
You analogy is flawed, and you know it. The analogy would be that I owe you $5, to be paid in cash, unless we agree on a payment by credit card. Anyway, this is sophistry, and regardless on how good your analogies will become, what you need is evidence that (1) and that the University considers disclaimer relevant, and (2) that the disclaimer refers to Dawkins. Order 21:37, 29 November 2007 (EST)
User:Order, ultimately atheism leads one to accept logical contradictions, as your analysis displays. At this point you're fighting with logic, not me. And to paraphrase the famous song, "I fought logic, and logic won!"
Please, please do yourself a favor and embrace logic rather than implicitly reject it. When you do, anxiety, depression, despondency, etc. often disappear. Do yourself a favor, if only for a few days. You can return to atheism afterwards if you like. But I bet you don't, if you truly open your mind for a few days. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 22:47, 29 November 2007 (EST)
As someone who knows a thing or two about logic, semantics and syntax, I like to ask you what my logical error is? The syntax of my analogy was much closer to the disclaimer than the syntax of your analogy. I am more than willing to show you the corners of logic if you want. Even though it is a diversion.
Your tactic is to steer away from your obligations to produce evidence. Making up an analogy that doesn't fit, and attempts to infuriate me with condescending remarks referring to depression, anxiety, despondency, etc are an obvious attempt to get out under your obligation to find evidence for your claims. Order 01:25, 30 November 2007 (EST)

(liberal last wordism deleted here. Post earnestly here, or not at all.--Aschlafly 23:10, 29 November 2007 (EST))

There is nothing to support the contention that it is "most likely" Dawkins's area. We know that it occurred in this year and not in other years, but there are plenty of other professors to whom it could apply. Also, please indicate the part of the disclaimer that says that there "still isn't" agreement. Let me ask the question this way: Suppose that, at the time of the announcement, there was still discussion about whether a professor should be in Department A or Department B. The announcement is therefore made that a professor is appointed in Department A, subject to the disclaimer. Ultimately, the professor and Oxford agree that the appointment will be in Department A, just as it appeared in the announcement. Given the text of the disclaimer, specifically the claim that *changes* (not confirmations) will be published seperately, what would you expect to see from Oxford in this case? Reaganetics 14:30, 30 November 2007 (EST)

Andy, I don't really understand how the disclaimer invalidates the title either. Regardless of the precise subject area, the title of professor had already been conferred. Why can it not have been conferred, while possible changes to the subject area are still under discussion? This is what I don't understand.

I still don't think Dawkins' professorship is a customary professorship and probably less impressive than it is supposed to appear, but I don't think the disclaimer proves anything in these regards. Though I at first assumed it did, it might not even apply to Dawkins. Surely, if this one disclaimer bore such weight as to potentially validate or invalidate the entire title - well, why wouldn't OU specify who it applied to? Though Dawkins credentials are far from transparent (example - the contradictions on his CV), I think there are too many assumptions to be made in pursuit of this argument. Feebasfactor 23:12, 29 November 2007 (EST)

Feebasfactor, when an honor is subject to an agreement to be determined and announced, and the agreement is never determined and announced, then the honor is void. If you won't accept the logic of that, all I can do is recommend that you take logic more seriously than you are. I mean that earnestly. Logic will improve your life, not falsehoods.--Aschlafly 23:18, 29 November 2007 (EST)
If you could provide evidence that the conferment was subject to the agreement on the subject you might have case, but the disclaimer doesn't include any provision of this kind. If you can find evidence that such a provision exists, give it. Furthermore, even if such a provision would exist, you would have to provide evidence that it did apply to Dawkins, and not Craig. If you have it give it. Order 01:25, 30 November 2007 (EST)
As Order has noted, the disclaimer does not say what you claim it says. It does NOT say "This honor is subject to determination and announcement." It does NOT say "These people have the title of professor, and the area of specialization is subject to determination and announcement" It says "These people have received the title of professor. This is the area. If it changes, we will announce it."
The use of the word "If" is key. As I explained below, the logic is simple:
1. If the area changes, then it will be announced. (If A, then B.)
2. It was not announced. (Not B.)
3. Therefore, it is not true that the area changed. (Therefore, not A, by application of modus tollens to 1 and 2).
If you think I have made an error here, please say exactly what you think it is. Reaganetics 14:23, 30 November 2007 (EST)
The disclaimer, which applies to honors including Dawkins', says: "Please note that in a small number of cases the precise academic subject area in which the title is held is still under discussion. Any changes will be published separately when agreed. ..."
The "still under discussion" indicates that there was not yet a definitive agreement, nor was such agreement published since. Moreover, while I think Dawkins now claims he holds the title in part in the "Department of Continuing Education," I have not seen publication of such agreement. [18] Have you?--Aschlafly 18:24, 30 November 2007 (EST)
I'm afraid that you didn't answer my request, so let me be more specific in case I was unclear. I laid out three statements above and analyzed them using utterly elementary logic. If you think any of those three statements is incorrect, please specify which one and provide (and justify, of course!) a correction.
I have a simple question--even simpler than the basic logical argument I presented above--and I am curious to see if you will answer. The disclaimer said that "any changes will be published." If there were no changes to a professor's precise academic subject area, what do you think Oxford would do?
Also, I would appreciate it if you would respond to the specific changes I suggested at the bottom of the article. Some of them do not concern this specific issue. Reaganetics 19:54, 30 November 2007 (EST)


I would like to second the call for clarification; I'm broadly confused about the current position, and I don't think it matches well with what's on the main Dawkins page. Here is what I think I understand from the evidence above. I intend this as a tentative summary rather than a definitive statement of the truth, and I'm certainly willing to entertain corrections.

According to Oxford itself, Richard Dawkins received the title of professor from the Distinctions Committee in 1996 (as shown here: [19]. The specific title is "Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" under the heading "Biological Sciences." The announcement says that "in a small number of cases the precise academic subject area in which the title is held is still under discussion. Any changes will be published separately when agreed." There is no direct evidence that this disclaimer applies to Dawkins specifically, but even if it did, it would concern the "precise academic subject area," not the title itself. Moreover, nobody has posted any evidence of changes to Dawkins's "precise academic subject area." I reason as follows: If there is a change, then it will be published separately. It has not been published separately, and therefore, by modus tollens, there has been no change. Accordingly, Dawkins is a Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.

Dawkins is not, however, the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. According (again) to Oxford itself, nobody holds that position; the "statutory...Professorship...has not as yet been filled." If I understand Oxford's reply correctly, Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Reader and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. (I am not certain, however, if one can be both a reader and a professor at the same time--I thought that professor was a higher title than reader and thus superseded it, but I don't have any evidence to support this at the moment. An alternative is that he holds the Charles Simonyi Chair as well as a Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, but is not the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.) There is perhaps understandable confusion about this point: One of the Simonyi pages has as its title "The Current Simonyi Professor: Richard Dawkins." [20]. Obviously it's Oxford's determination that is binding, not Simonyi's (even though the Simonyi page is hosted at Oxford), but it's interesting nonetheless.

Again according to Oxford itself, Dawkins received the title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science in 1996, not 1995. That raises the question of what he was in 1995. The Oxford statement clearly states that in 1995, he was the Charles Simonyi Reader. According to the regulations of Oxford, cited here [21]. a reader is qualified to hold the title of Professorial Fellow (but does not hold it automatically, if I understand correctly). If Dawkins went through this process, then in 1995 he would have been Professorial Fellow and Charles Simonyi Reader.

There is some debate about the honorary nature of Dawkins's professorial fellowship. The claim is that a "Professorial Fellow is like an honorary professor," and the evidence cited is from Swinburne University in Australia. I have seen no specific evidence to show that Oxford follows Swinburne's policies, or that Swinburne follows Oxford's. In any event, the titles listed from Swinburne are not all honorary (adjunct and visiting professors are not honorary, for example). So even if Swinburne's policies are relevant, it's not clear that they treat a "professorial fellowship" as "honorary-type." Nor is it clear that the titles are temporary ("professor emeritus" is not temporary, for instance). In any event, both the titles of "Reader" and "Professor" are clearly based on merit and peer review at Oxford (see here: [22]). Nobody disputes that Dawkins has held the title of "Reader," and therefore it is clear that he has held a peer-reviewed academic position. If he does hold the title of "Professor," and I think it's clear from Oxford's statement that he does, then that is a peer-reviewed title as well.

There is also some debate about his position at the Museum of Natural History. From the above evidence, it seems clear that Oxford did grant Dawkins the title of professor. Dawkins has written the following: "I made a special request that, like several other tenured faculty members of the Department of Zoology, my professorship should be administered through the Museum of Natural History...all of whose senior Curators are tenured members of the faculty of Oxford University, holding joint appointments with Departments such as Zoology and Geology."[23] If this is true, and it would be nice to have independent confirmation of it, then it seems clear that his position at the Museum does not preclude his holding a professorship at Oxford.

If this summary is correct, then the following changes should (I think) be made. Given the dispute over these issues, I have not made them and am instead waiting for discussion.

  • The special terms of this gift allowed Richard Dawkins to bypass the peer review promotion process customarily required before receiving the title of "professor". This sentence should be stricken as incorrect.
  • In other words, the gift establishes an endowment for future professors, but is held initially as a "post" by Dawkins who was apparently never subjected to the full peer review election process specified in the endowment. Strike everything after "Dawkins" as incorrect.
  • when in fact Dawkins' position is at the Museum of Natural History, an institution merely owned by the University of Oxford. Strike as incorrect, or else note that confirmation is required.
  • The title "professor" is misleading, if not fraudulent, as the position donated for his benefit does not satisfy the Merriam-Webster definition of "professor": "a faculty member of the highest academic rank at an institution of higher education." Strike as incorrect and possibly libellous.
  • Richard Dawkins admitted to several key facts above, Specify which. If we are accusing a man of error or dishonesty, we must be precise in our accusations.
  • However, Dawkins was silent on the central characterization above that his online resume is misleading in stating that he is a professor of Oxford University rather than holding a position donated for his benefit which is called a professorship at a museum. Strike as incorrect. He was not silent on the issue and he is a professor at Oxford.

As noted above, I am happy to entertain debate on these issues. Reaganetics 13:49, 28 November 2007 (EST)

I have a few other questions to add to the above.

  • The article seems to draw a distinction between a "post" and a "professorship." Given that a professorship is a kind of post, what is the relevance of this distinction, especially given the evidence that Dawkins does hold a professorship?
  • Michael W. DeLashmutt of the University of Glasgow described the "post" as being a "Chair", not a professorship... Same as previous. In addition, a chair may be a kind of professorship, so this utility of this distinction is not obvious.
  • Leading universities do not permit the "buying" of a professorship for someone. No references are provided, and this seems untrue or irrelevant given the above evidence.
  • As of October 5, 2007, the Oxford University's Zoology Department lists the status of Richard Dawkins status as "other" rather than as "academic".[11] The link no longer works and its relevance is unclear anyway. I suggest removing it.

Reaganetics 13:57, 28 November 2007 (EST)

With respect to the Swinburne regulations, I'd like to add, that the quoted section refers to persons not employed by Swinburne. At Swinburne academic promotions for persons employed by the University are covered by the HR regulations [24]. A level E position at Australian University is equivalent to a full professor. Of course any of the Swinburne regulations are irrelevant, since it is not Oxford. Order 18:51, 28 November 2007 (EST)

Errors in the article

  1. “in fact Dawkins' position is at the Museum of Natural History, an institution merely owned by the University of Oxford.” Incorrect. Dawkins is based in both the Zoology Department and the Continuing Education Departments at Oxford.
Dawkins' "position" is the source of his paycheck, and the statement is correct as to his "position". Whatever honorary, unusual, disclaimed or non-salaried titles Dawkins' may also hold is a different (and uninteresting) matter.--Aschlafly 11:18, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Aschlafly, Dawkins 'position' is in the Zoology and Continuing Education Departments, as has been pointed out repeatedly, and confirmed by Oxford University in both their Calendar and their FOI response. OurMike 11:33, 1 January 2008 (EST)
As I explained, the "position" obviously refers to the source of his paycheck, and that is the Simonyi gift.--Aschlafly 12:01, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Indeed. And as I explained, that “position” is based in the Zoology and Continuing Education Departments. See [25] where the General Board of the Faculties confirms this appointment from 1995 until the retiring age, and its location in the Biology and the Continuing Education faculties.OurMike 13:42, 2 January 2008 (EST)
  1. “The title "professor" is misleading, if not fraudulent, as the position donated for his benefit does not satisfy the Merriam-Webster definition of "professor": "a faculty member of the highest academic rank at an institution of higher education." Incorrect. The Charles Simonyi Readership may not qualify as a professorship (though it is of roughly equal rank to an Associate or Full professor in the US), however Oxford have confirmed that Dawkins subsequently had the title of Professor conferred in 1996. They also confirmed he is a member of both the Zoology and the Continuing Education Departments. He is therefore a faculty member of the highest academic rank at an institution of higher education, and meets both the Merriam-Webster and the Oxford University definition of “professor”.
Dawkins calls himself the "Charles Simonyi Professor,"[26] and it has already been amply demonstrated here (and even admitted by yourself below) that such title is false and thereby misleading.--Aschlafly 11:18, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Then it needs to be clarified in the article that it is the Charles Simonyi Professorship title that is misleading. As it stands the article implies - wrongly - that Dawkins does not hold the title of Professor. It has already been amply demonstrated here that he does. OurMike 11:33, 1 January 2008 (EST)
No, Dawkins' resume claims he became "professor" in 1995, and so Dawkins himself may not be referring to unusual and perhaps honorary titles given to him 1996.--Aschlafly 12:01, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Dawkins resume does, and it’s wrong. My point is that Oxford University refers to him as a professor from 1996, so he does indeed hold the title. The article should clarify that Dawkins statement is wrong, but that he does still hold a professorial title from Oxford. OurMike 13:42, 2 January 2008 (EST)
  1. “his online resume is misleading in stating that he is a professor of Oxford University rather than holding a position donated for his benefit which is called a professorship at a museum.” Incorrect. While Dawkins’ resume is misleading in stating that he is the Charles Simonyi Professor, Dawkins does legitimately hold the title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, which was properly conferred by the University in 1996 after peer review.
No, we've discussed this at length and the 1996 title was limited by an extraordinary disclaimer suggesting to me a lack of customary peer review. Moreover, the 1996 title appears to me to have been merely a non-paying, or quasi-honorary, professorship.--Aschlafly 11:18, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Aschlafly, yet you provide not one iota of evidence for this assertion, and not one iota of evidence that counters the very explicit and unambiguous assertion from Oxford University that the 1996 title was NOT limited by the prefaratory note, did NOT undergo any changes, and was awarded PROPERLY (e.g. via peer review). There really is absolutely no basis for your repeated assertions that the 1996 title is in some way questionable. OurMike 11:33, 1 January 2008 (EST)
I am not aware of Oxford explaining its disclaimer or stating that the title was the basis of full peer review. All the evidence that I see is to the contrary.--Aschlafly 12:01, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Aschlafly, we have discussed at some length already the FOI response from Oxford in which they stated “the title of Professor was properly conferred on Dr Dawkins in the first recognition of distinction exercise in 1996... No changes were made to the academic subject area of this title. Had any changes been made (which they were not) they would not have invalidated the holding of the title of Professor... Professor Dawkins still legitimately holds the title of Professor.” In addition I’ve pointed you to the detailed peer review process used in the recognition of distinction exercises, so I don’t know why you are now claiming you have seen no evidence. Can you please provide your evidence that Oxford are wrong in their response to the FOI request? OurMike 13:42, 2 January 2008 (EST)
The bottom line is that I see no basis for changing this entry. If, however, you wish to suggest an unbiased change that fully admits the falsehoods in the professorship claim as well as the unusual and questionable nature of the 1996 title, then we'd certainly consider it. However, I strongly suggest compliance with our rules here before posting further.--Aschlafly 11:18, 1 January 2008 (EST)
My suggestion would be to simply replace the entire first section with the following:
"Richard Dawkins is currently the Charles Simonyi Reader and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.
Dawkins claims on his CV that he is the Charles Simonyi Professor - a statutory professorial position at Oxford. In fact he does not hold the statutory professorship, rather he holds a standard 'Title of Distinction', which is the more common method by which Oxford confers professorial status onto its academics." OurMike 11:33, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Your replacement is completely unacceptable because it downplays the nature of the position and the misleading claim on Dawkins' resume.
For 25 years Dawkins taught at Oxford without being promoted to a professorship and then a "post" was purchased for him by a wealthy supporter. That's not a real professorship in any real sense of the word. I'm moving on to other issues and suggest you do some helpful edits to other entries here before wasting more time on this.--Aschlafly 12:01, 1 January 2008 (EST)
I’m not sure what the relevance of the 25 years is to the genuineness of his professorial title - according to Conservapedia C.S. Lewis was at Oxford for 29 years before becoming a professor. Does this disqualify Lewis? In any case Dawkins’ readership ‘post’ is NOT the professorship. I thought that point had already been cleared up many weeks ago. The professorship was separate. It was not “bought” by a wealthy donor, it was awarded by the University, in a Recognition of Distinction exercise, carried out in 1996. The vast majority of professorships conferred by Oxford since 1996 have been through identical annual, peer-reviewed exercises. If you do not agree that such titles are “real” professorships then you are saying that the vast majority of ‘professors’ listed in Oxford University’s calendar (including, for example, Alister McGrath, quoted approvingly in the article) are not in fact real professors. Would you like me to start making helpful edits on the McGrath page, pointing out his misleading and potentially fraudulent title? OurMike 13:42, 2 January 2008 (EST)

Further Freedom of Information response from Oxford University


I see that the article has not been updated, and that there have been no further discussions on this page for some time. I’m assuming then, that you still stick by your assertions on this and previous talk pages that the title of Professor was not properly conferred on Dawkins in 1996. As I understand it, your argument is that the prefaratory note on the Gazette notice (“in a small number of cases the precise academic subject area in which the title is held is still under discussion. Any changes will be published separately when agreed”[27]) likely refers to Dawkins, and that because no further notices were published the title was not conferred. You stated earlier: “all three of you above misread the disclaimer on the title...[it] is clear that in certain cases -- most likely Dawkins' -- the subject area for the title "is still under discussion." That language indicates that there was no agreement, and still isn't. That's not a real professorship. One can't be a "Professor of fill-in-the-blank."” and later “Oxford said it conferred a title subject to an agreement to confer the title in a meaningful way, and said no more. The title does not exist in a meaningful way.”

In order to resolve this point I have filed a second Freedom of Information request with Oxford University, directing them specifically to the Gazette notice and its prefaratory note, and asking them whether this means the title was not properly conferred on Dawkins; whether there were any changes to his academic subject area; whether Dawkins currently holds the title; and if he does, which academic departments he is currently associated with. A Freedom of Information request – as I’ve noted before – is binding on institutes of higher education in the UK as a result of the Freedom of Information Act 2000[28], and the University is legally obliged to provide accurate and truthful information[29].

Oxford’s official response on 11th December was as follows:

Thank you for your request for the above information.
a. I confirm that the title of Professor was properly conferred on Dr Dawkins in the first recognition of distinction exercise in 1996.
b. No changes were made to the academic subject area of this title. Had any changes been made (which they were not) they would not have invalidated the holding of the title of Professor.
c. Professor Dawkins still legitimately holds the title of Professor. He is associated with the Departments of Zoology and Continuing Education.

Happy to provide a copy of the email if you wish. Given the above there can now be no doubt that Dawkins does legitimately hold, from Oxford University, the peer reviewed[30] title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science[31], and that this was conferred in 1996. I think therefore that Reagentics suggestions for changes to the article should be carried out. OurMike 13:20, 12 December 2007 (EST)

(removed silly rant[32])

OurMike, I appreciate your diligence on this, and I do not have any ax to grind here. But I also do not see any errors in the entry, and the responses to your FOIA request are simply too general to be helpful. Did the unusual disclaimer on the announcement apply to Dawkins' position? I'm confident it did. Given that the Simonyi award came first, was Dawkins subjected to real peer review? I doubt it. But if yes, what was that peer review process? Rather than providing substantive answers, the clerk at Oxford is simply repeating what is in its literature, and we've already identified issues with that.--Aschlafly 13:41, 12 December 2007 (EST)
Aschlafly, let me address your points in turn:
1. The errors in the article (and suggestions for changes) have been pointed out in considerable detail by Reaganetics in this section of the talk page.
2. Oxford’s formal response was extremely precise. It unambiguously confirms that Dawkins had the title of Professor conferred in 1996, that the title was conferred properly, and that he still holds that title.
3. Oxford's reply confirms that the prefaratory note - whoever it may refer to - is not relevant to whether the title was properly conferred - "Had any changes been made (which they were not) they would not have invalidated the holding of the title of Professor."
4. The Simonyi award gave Dawkins the position of Reader in 1995, as we have already established. The title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science is separate and distinct. Oxford University’s Calendar makes it clear that he holds both titles, referring to him as the ‘Charles Simonyi Reader and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science’.
5. Why do you doubt that Dawkins was subjected to real peer review? Oxford confirmed that the title was conferred “properly”, and Oxford’s regulations are clear on what process must be followed for the proper conferment of a title. This includes peer review – you can see the details in the link I provided above, but here it is again:[33].
6. What “issues” have we identified with Oxford University’s literature? Are you now asserting that the University does not itself know if it has awarded a title to its own members of staff? If Oxford University is itself not qualified to respond to the question of who holds the title of Professor at Oxford University, then who is? OurMike 14:25, 12 December 2007 (EST)
OurMike, I don't want to this run in circles again and consume your time and mine. I'll be succinct in responding:
1. I glanced at his alleged "errors" and found little more claims that a statement was not relevant. That's for readers to decide. I see no "errors". Quote something specific for me if you can.
2. The clerk did not address the disclaimer, and whether real peer review occurred.
3. The generic, boilerplate response is not helpful.
4. The Simonyi position is a "post", not a professorship as has been stated on Dawkins' resume.
5. Dawkins received the post first and the professorship, if given at all, appears to me to have been honorary rather than the result of a bona fide peer review.
6. The clerk appears merely to be repeating the incomplete information that Oxford has already provided, without explaining the disclaimer and the other aspects of this issue.
7. How about this: quote Dawkins' resume very specifically in your question to Oxford, and ask them to explain it in a satisfactory manner.--Aschlafly 18:25, 12 December 2007 (EST)
Aschlafly, Very well. Specific errors listed above.
Oxford University’s Information Officer (responsible for coordinating all FOI responses) did address the prefaratory note, when they stated categorically that “no changes were made to the academic subject area of this title. Had any changes been made (which they were not) they would not have invalidated the holding of the title of Professor.” I specifically pointed them to the prefaratory note, and they were legally obliged to provide full disclosure in their response. Their answer cannot be clearer.
Oxford also addressed whether real peer review had occurred when they stated that the professorship had been awarded “properly”. However it may appear to you, Oxford’s regulations are absolutely clear that such titles are only awarded after a process of peer review both by faculty or inter-faculty boards and by the senior Distinctions Committee itself (headed by the University’s Vice Chancellor). You have provided no evidence that Dawkins somehow sidestepped the peer review process for this title.
You argue that Oxford are “merely...repeating the incomplete information that Oxford has already provided” yet that information has been complete and consistent from the start. The Calendar, the Gazette, and their FOI responses all agree that Dawkins was awarded a Readership from the Simonyi endowment[34], and subsequently had the title of Professor conferred in 1996[35]. He now holds the title of Charles Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, and is a member of both the Zoology and Continuing Education Departments.
Dawkins’ resume is wrong, and Oxford have already made that clear – he does not hold the statutory Simonyi professorship, and he became a professor in 1996 not 1995. Dawkins’ CV is not in any case their responsibility. However Oxford are, by definition, the ultimate authority on whether or not the title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science was properly conferred by them in 1996, and they have repeatedly confirmed that it was. OurMike 11:05, 13 December 2007 (EST)

The God Delusion

Has anyone here actually read this book from cover to cover? Ajkgordon 16:46, 16 December 2007 (EST)

How many atheists do you think have read most of the Bible?--Aschlafly 17:01, 16 December 2007 (EST)
Almost all the atheists I know have read most if not all the Bible. But I'm not sure what that has to do with my question above. Ajkgordon 17:11, 16 December 2007 (EST)
Really??? That would surprise me. I don't think that is true about the teenage and college-student atheists.--Aschlafly 18:24, 16 December 2007 (EST)
Actually I should qualify that. Almost all the people I know to be atheists have read most if not all the Bible. I know lots of people many of whose religious beliefs or lack of I have not the faintest clue. So I may know lots of atheists who have not read the Bible. I certainly know lots of Muslims, Jews and Buddists who probably haven't read the Bible. But I still know a lot of people who I know to be atheists and who have definitely read it. And certainly almost all teenagers and college students I know have read it too - that's what you get when you send your children to Catholic school :)
But that still doesn't answer my original question. Anyone? Ajkgordon 07:46, 17 December 2007 (EST)
I can't answer the question because I don't know if anyone here has read it! I haven't, although I'd like to if I had time, but I have quite a few things more important than that to spend my time on. I do know someone who's read it, a young Christian trainee palaeontologist, who says that it strengthened his faith—seeing how weak the arguments against Christianity are!
It wouldn't surprise me at all that a lot of atheists have read the Bible. But I wouldn't be asking that question. The God Delusion purports to be an argument against God. The Bible is not an argument for God; it presumes that God exists. A better question is how many atheists have read a good apologetic for the Bible (or for creationism). As a creationist living in a largely-secular society, I read and hear lots of pro-evolutionary comment and argument, whether that be on nature documentaries, other TV shows, radio (including the ABC's Science Show), newspapers, science magazines, etc. Of course I also read plenty of creationist material. But how many anti-creationists or atheists have read more than an absolute minimum of creationist material? Very few, in my experience, and I've asked quite a few. They generally avoid answering.
Philip J. Rayment 08:09, 17 December 2007 (EST)
But how do you know the arguments are weak if you haven't read it? Or is that a comment from your palaeontologist friend? I haven't read it either (yet) but I'm interested in people's views if they have read it especially if they criticise it. I'm also interested in similar books but from the other side, i.e. robust argument for a diety (not McGrath).
Yes, I'm not sure what the Bible has to do with anything! Ajkgordon 08:15, 17 December 2007 (EST)
That was a comment from my friend. Somebody who is going to argue against the Bible should have read it, but my point is that they should also have read defences of it.
Are you interested in published critiques of it? Here's one.
Philip J. Rayment 08:31, 17 December 2007 (EST)
I presume you don't subscribe to the Muslim faith. Should you have read the Koran? ;)
Thanks but I'm not looking for a critique - they're ten a penny. I'm looking for a book or books that logically demonstrate why a God must exist - in isolation from Dawkin's The God Delusion or similar books from Harris or Hitchens. Ajkgordon 08:46, 17 December 2007 (EST)
I haven't read the Koran, but I would if I was going to do much arguing against it. Because I haven't, I don't.
Arguments for God? There's a brief argument (part of one chapter) here.
Philip J. Rayment 08:56, 17 December 2007 (EST)
Hmmmm... a little weak, Philip. There are plenty of atheists who don't argue against the Bible - they just don't believe in God. But you would still argue that they should read the Bible because in effect they are arguing against it. The same could be said for your disbelief in Islam or Buddism or Hinduism. (I'm just playing Devil's Advocate, btw :)
Thanks for the link. TBH, with all the quoting from the Bible it doesn't look quite what I'm after. Saying that the Bible says that God exists is a bit too circular for my purposes, i.e. to find a standalone counterpoint to The God Delusion before reading it. Ajkgordon 09:09, 17 December 2007 (EST)
No, I would not argue that they should read the Bible "because in effect they are arguing against it". I think they should read it because it's true and that they should become Christians, but that's an entirely different argument. You are putting words in my mouth then criticising me for being inconsistent based on those fictional words.
You clearly didn't look at the link I gave you very well, because (a) it doesn't have circular arguments (you've jumped to conclusions there; you might as well say that someone shouldn't read the Origin of Species to find out the reasons for evolution because it says that evolution exists!) and (b) you clearly didn't see the appendix to that chapter, "Non-Biblical evidence for the Creator God of the Bible".
Philip J. Rayment 09:16, 17 December 2007 (EST)
Alright, calm down, mate. I should have phrased it better perhaps by saying "wouldn't you?" at the end. But the point is you still believe that atheists are wrong partly because they haven't read the Bible. No matter.
Yes, I didn't read your link fully (I'm at work and don't have time) - I only skimmed it. But it does have five Biblical references is the first three short paragraphs. Yes, I saw there is a section on non-Biblical evidence. But I notice that it seems to be refuting an old universe, evolution, etc. rather than simply arguing the case for God. That's perilously close to God-Of-The-Gaps. But thanks, I will read it properly. Ajkgordon 09:29, 17 December 2007 (EST)
I believe atheists are wrong because they believe that no god exists, when He actually does exist.
So what that it has biblical references? If you are going to find out about God, surely the Bible is one of the primary sources?
The arguments are not god-of-the-gaps arguments, but positive arguments from what is known.
Philip J. Rayment 18:03, 17 December 2007 (EST)
<---- I don't particularly want to find out about God, (at least not for the purposes of this exercise). I want to find out about the arguments for the existence of God in contrast to Dawkins' book which presents the arguments for the non-existence of God. The excerpt you pointed me to doesn't do it, I'm afraid. While it was very kind of you to present me with the material, I find an argument for the existence of God relying primarily on what are essentially "Look, it says so in the Bible" statements not especially convincing.
I'm also aware of the traditional arguments such as the ontological, moral, cosmological, and anthropic ones - arguments that stand or fall by themselves without recourse to the Bible.
What I'm after, I suppose, is a foil to Dawkins' book that could offer a decent logical counterpoint to someone who's never contemplated matters of religion or God. Someone suffering deep amnesia or one of those lost children growing up in the jungle by himself. In that case, references to the Bible would be meaningless. And McGrath's work is simply a rebuttal of Dawkins, so again, not what I'm looking for.
Do you see what I mean? Ajkgordon 09:48, 18 December 2007 (EST)
I see what you mean up to a point, but...
I understand the distinction between finding out about God and finding arguments for His existence. My point was that a book that tells you about God is highly likely to provide evidence for his existence.
I still maintain, however, that calling them '"Look, it says so in the Bible" statements' is a mischaracterisation. What you are essentially doing is asking for arguments for God's existence yet arbitrarily excluding some of those arguments because they refer to the Bible.
You are excluding arguments that refer to the Bible. You are apparently excluding some arguments that do not refer to the Bible. That doesn't really leave much room for anything else, unless perhaps you are looking for specific answers to Dawkins' specific arguments, but if that's what you wanted I figure you would have clearly said so.
Why would the Bible be meaningless to someone suffering amnesia, etc.? Taking that line of thinking to it's logical conclusion could exclude any encyclopedia, any ancient document, any newspaper, book, or magazine, etc. If the person is that ignorant, you simply have to explain some of these things. So why not explain what the Bible is also?
Philip J. Rayment 02:32, 19 December 2007 (EST)
<---- But anyway, this gets us even further from my original question. Has anyone here read Dawkins' book in its entirety? Ajkgordon 09:48, 18 December 2007 (EST)
I've read it, but I somehow doubt your question was guided at me.--British_cons (talk) 14:17, 18 December 2007 (EST)
You'll do :)
What did you think? Was it hysterical as has been suggested? Was it sarcastic (I can guess that it was)? Does it produce good arguments for the non-existence of God or is it simply a sneery put-down to the rise of fundamentalism? Was it simply preaching to the converted or could it "raise consciousness" among believers?
Can you recommend an opposing book that argues for the existence of God on its own merit without simply rebutting Dawkins or quoting the Bible?
Thanks. Ajkgordon 16:09, 18 December 2007 (EST)
Three books made me an atheist Brief history of time, Koran and the christian Bible. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by JBuscombe (talk)
Was it hysterical? I didn't think so. I thought it was well argued. Was it sarcastic? In places, most certainly. Does it produce good arguments for the non-existence of God or is it simply a sneery put-down to the rise of fundamentalism? That's really a value judgment. Actually Dawkins doesn't say in the book that God doesn't exist - he only points out that his existence is wildly improbable. He does however take some time disposing of the "proofs" of God's existence. Was it simply preaching to the converted or could it "raise consciousness" among believers? He explicitly states that his objective was consciousness raising. I think it would work for both audiences. Can you recommend an opposing book that argues for the existence of God on its own merit without simply rebutting Dawkins or quoting the Bible? Sorry, can't think of one. Hope you get other responses for others who have read the book.--British_cons (talk) 16:10, 19 December 2007 (EST)
Ta. Ajkgordon 08:11, 20 December 2007 (EST)


Aschlafly, any chance of you unlocking this article any time soon so that the errors can be corrected? OurMike 10:42, 1 January 2008 (EST)

OurMike, I've been extremely patient with your comments and rule violations here. Your last 33 edits have been talk, talk, talk, which may hold the all-time record. Usually such rule violators are blocked much earlier than that.
The entry here has no identified errors. Conservapedia exists to tell the truth and will not compromise its purpose to mollify those made uncomfortable by it. The entry tells the truth. I suggest you comply with our rules and improve the encyclopedia here before wasting more time on your discomfort with the insights in this particular entry. Godspeed for the New Year.--Aschlafly 10:47, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Aschlafly, I identified three very specific errors in the article here and made a list of them eariler in this talk page - see Talk:Richard_Dawkins#Errors_in_the_article. You asked me to do this earlier in our discussion but then failed to respond to them. I have taken considerable pains to try to alert you to the factual errors in this article, and provide you with clear and unambiguous evidence which would improve the glaring inaccuracy in this entry. Unfortunately I'm unable to make any improvements to this particular article due to it being locked. OurMike 10:57, 1 January 2008 (EST)
...actually, it is unlocked... --JakeC 11:04, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Good lord, so it is. My mistake. OurMike 11:05, 1 January 2008 (EST)

Reversion explained

Order's second edit introduced a redundancy; his first was imprecise.--Aschlafly 21:22, 3 January 2008 (EST)

First, it is a particular museum of natural history. Not sure if the future entry Museum of Natural History will be specifically the Oxford museum, or an entry on any museum of natural history. In the latter case it shouldn't be capitalized. Either way, the Oxford musea (Pittrivers and Natural History) are part of the university, not owned by it. Oxford has a structure that is different from most other universities in the world (with an exception of Cambridge, maybe). Second, what is imprecise about "endowed position"? Order 21:37, 3 January 2008 (EST)

Reversion unexplained

Were you intending to do me the courtesy of explaining your reversion of my edit? --GDewey 16:58, 4 January 2008 (EST)

Your changes added at least one error, deleted information, and changed numerous things. I don't have time to explain all the flaws now. For starters, you claimed he became a professor after spending 2 years at Berkeley!--Aschlafly 17:28, 4 January 2008 (EST)
I'll take that as a no, shall I? --GDewey 20:09, 4 January 2008 (EST)
P.S. You are, of course, entirely wrong. My edit was correct. I can only assume that the real reason that you "don't have time to explain all the flaws" is because there weren't any. --GDewey 17:09, 6 January 2008 (EST)

Tidy up

This article needs a tidy up. It seems to me rather messy and doesn't have a particularly logical flow. I won't comment on the potentially slanderous and inaccurate claims of the "misleading" and "fraudulent" aspects of Dawkins' professorship - the arguments for deletion of that particular part of this article have been raked over many times and the author(s) of those remarks are unlikely to be swayed.

I suggest, however, that it is structured better and I suggest the following.

  • Intro: status as populariser of science, champion of Darwinism, confrontational anti-theist.
  • Early life, education, early career.
  • Major books and other works and the controversy they have created. However, the article should describe what the books are about rather than simply listing criticisms of them.
  • Criticisms of Dawkins' opinions and work from religious apologists.
  • Criticisms of Dawkins' opinions and work from other scientists.

Most of the content would stay but just be re-ordered and re-worded where necessary. It would make the article much more readable. Ajkgordon 11:20, 7 January 2008 (EST)

Oh, and pictures of his critics all over the place are distracting and not especially helpful. Ajkgordon 12:43, 7 January 2008 (EST)

Your reorganization would introduce placement bias by pushing criticisms out of view for most readers. Often you see that on Wikipedia, where the misleading stuff goes first and the truth is pushed way, way down and out of sight until the end.--Aschlafly 12:58, 7 January 2008 (EST)
Not at all. The intro itself should cover the major controversies and criticisms as, certainly from this site's perspective, they form much of his defining characteristics. Then more controversy in the second section after the intro, (I can't see there would be any controversy of his early life, education and early career but that section would be and is pretty short), and further controversy in the remaining sections I listed. No, the article could remain as critical of Dawkins as it is now but would become much more readable. Ajkgordon 13:05, 7 January 2008 (EST)

To Clarify This Whole Mess

As there still seems to be some questionmark, in some people's minds, over the legitimacy of Richard Dawkins 'professorship', this seems to indicate that Oxford University considers the post of the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science a 'professorship', and that Richard Dawkins holds it. Now, unless someone here is basically saying they are more qualified than Oxford University itself as to what does or does not constitute a 'professorship', then that seems to be the end of the matter, and the article should be corrected, unless this site wants to leave itself open to accusations of the same kind of bias and ineptitude it accuses Wikipedia of. Zmidponk 22:05, 25 January 2008 (EST)

Oxford University might think he's a professor, but does Merriam-Webster? Feebasfactor 22:27, 25 January 2008 (EST)
If you read the archives of this talk page you will see that Merriam-Webster does indeed think that Dawkins is a professor. --GDewey 22:32, 25 January 2008 (EST)
Yes, I wrote to Merriam-Webster and they replied specifically stating they consider him to fulfil their definition of Professor. But when I posted that here the response was "How would Merriam-Webster know?"--British_cons (talk) 13:54, 26 January 2008 (EST)
Ah, but what about the disclaimer on this page? It could apply to Dawkins, could it not? Feebasfactor 22:47, 25 January 2008 (EST)
Again, there has been previous discussion. The simple answer, however, is that even if the disclaimer does apply, it only relates to "...the precise academic subject area in which the title is held...". It does not indicate that any individual referred to as "professor" (or whatever other title) might lose that title. The fact that the libelous portion of the article has remained (notwithstanding edits made by me and others) is a stain on the reputation of this site. --GDewey 22:55, 25 January 2008 (EST)
It is undeniable, however, that there is no direct documentation confirming Dawkins ever passed through the peer review process required for professorship; that can only be inferred from other documents under the a priori assumption he is a truly legitimate professor. Feebasfactor 23:02, 25 January 2008 (EST)
No direct documentation? You know that?
For crying out loud, Oxford says that he is a professor. If you have some proof to the contrary please post it. Put us all out of our misery. --GDewey 23:16, 25 January 2008 (EST)
Given that the distinction committee gave him the title, we have to assume that he holds the title legally. Unless you have proof that someone exceeded its authority, Feebas. Do you have such evidence? Order 08:57, 26 January 2008 (EST)

None. But Please don't shoot the messenger. Feebasfactor 17:09, 26 January 2008 (EST)

Just because he has made himself look foolish doesn't mean that you have to also. --GDewey 17:19, 26 January 2008 (EST)
Well, it was an interesting exercise in playing Devil's Andy's Advocate, and it nicely showed just how hilariously senseless the long-term discussion up to this point has been.
Here's the thing: On CP, Andy alone decides what truth is and what counts as evidence. And Andy decided that no matter what Oxford or M-W say, Dawkins is not a real professor.
You can compare this to the Gun Control discussions. Or to the discussion about JKR (Main Page talk). Or the discussion about drugs. Or the Pulitzer Prize. It's the same issue over and over again. No matter how much evidence you find, no matter how completely you blast Andy's "arguments" out of the water, no matter how much you question his made-up "obvious" statistics, no matter how much you dispute his "indisputable" conclusions, you can't prevent Andy from pushing his agenda. Period.
This article is lost. Andy has spoken. Give it up already. Go on, edit something else... and pray that Andy doesn't decide to "improve" the article you worked on. Or even better, go to Wikipedia. They don't have night-time editing restrictions "rights", they don't have image upload restrictions "rights", and nobody threatens to ban you just because you didn't fulfill some completely arbitrary (and ever-changing) productivity ratio. --Jenkins 18:12, 26 January 2008 (EST)
Jenkins, I see that you violated our 90/10 rule against talk, talk, talk, and I also see that you've been blocked, so I won't belabor the point. Yes, those more interested in talk than substance should go elsewhere. Maybe Wikipedia welcomes endless talk. We want substance here.--Aschlafly 20:50, 28 January 2008 (EST)
In that case, YOU provide 'substance' that backs up YOUR assertation that Dawkins is NOT a professor. Merriam-Webster, the very people quoted as defining 'professor' in a way that Dawkins does not fit, flatly disagrees with you. Oxford University flatly disagrees with you. In short, EVERYONE who has got ANY direct knowledge or authority on the matter seems to think Dawkins is a professor, yet YOU say he's not. Zmidponk 12:00, 29 January 2008 (EST)

Feebasfactor, we have the "direct documentation" of Oxford University in its response to a legally binding freedom of information request, in which they stated that the professorship was conferred " the first recognition of distinction exercise in 1996", that "No changes were made to the academic subject area of this title. Had any changes been made (which they were not) they would not have invalidated the holding of the title of Professor" and that "Professor Dawkins still legitimately holds the title of Professor. He is associated with the Departments of Zoology and Continuing Education" In addition we have the formal announcement of the Distinctions Committee (chair: Oxford University's Vice Chancellor), the official Oxford University Calendar, which both confirm the conferment of the title, as well as countless references to Dawkins as Charles Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science in Oxford publications. The direct documentation from Oxford University re. the distinction exercise of 1996 explicitly states that the Distinction Committee only awards titles after peer review. OurMike 15:02, 28 January 2008 (EST)

OurMike, your last 50 edits or so here have been on one and only one topic: Richard Dawkins. Let's be honest: don't you see something wrong with that edit pattern?
A wealthy supporter donated a post for Richard Dawkins at Oxford. That's not a professorship in any accepted meaning of the term. Did the university later save face for him by conferring a cost-free, honorary-like professorship so he could pretend to look important? For you to spend about 50 consecutive edits on that question and in defense of a donated post for someone who had not earned a real professorship in many years prior to the donation is, frankly, astounding.--Aschlafly 20:50, 28 January 2008 (EST)
Do you have evidence for any of your allegations? You have been asked for months now, and it seems that the best you found were some regulations from Swinburne University, that even withing the context of Swinburne University would not have been relevant. Maybe this explains why OurMike keeps going on, even though he should have understood by now that no evidence in favor of Dawkins seems to be sufficient, while no evidence against Dawkins seems to be necessary. Order 21:31, 28 January 2008 (EST)
1) A wealthy supporter donated money to set up a specific post for a specific purpose at Oxford. As Dawkins helped him considerably in doing so, he suggested Dawkins be the first holder of this post. Oxford University agreed that Dawkins should be the first holder of this post. If you are saying that's not the case, provide evidence of it, instead of making wild accusations with zero evidence backing them up.
2) Whether or not Dawkins earned a 'real professorship' is entirely opinion, as is the assertation that the Charles Simonyi Chair is not a 'real professorship' - opinions that seems to be devoid of facts backing them up. The only thing that is fact is that Dawkins was not a Profesor before he was given this post. Nothing unusual in the slightest in that - do you think Professors are born as Professors? Zmidponk 12:00, 29 January 2008 (EST)
Something else I've just realised - if you read the article, it actually explains the thing that seems to be the one and only solid bit of evidence that this whole thing is based on - the CV. You see, what it seems pretty clear to me is that the Simonyi Chair was set up in 1995, and Oxford granted Richard Dawkins the position of 'Reader', and thus allowed him to start undertaking the responsibilities of the Simonyi Chair. Then, after undergoing the normal peer review process, as referred to in the article ('The post becomes a "professorship" when a subsequent beneficiary is promoted to the position based on a peer review election process'), Dawkins was promoted from 'Reader' to 'Professor' in 1996. So Dawkin's CV reflects the fact he started the 'job', in effect, in 1995, even though he wasn't officially a 'Professor' until 1996. Zmidponk 12:17, 29 January 2008 (EST)
Zmidponk, broadly you are correct, though just to clarify one point - Dawkins is *not* the statutory Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. He holds the Simonyi Readership (which Aschlafly insists on referring to as a 'post') which he was awarded in 1995. As far as I can ascertain he didn't ever go through the peer review process outlined in the founding statutes of the Chair. (As an aside, an Oxford 'Reader' is equivalent to an Associate Professor in a US university but let's not complicate things). However, in addition to the Readership, the title of "Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" was conferred on Dawkins by the University in 1996 during a peer reviewed Recognition of Distinction exercise. Recognition of Distinction is now the standard method by which Oxford grants professorships, as the number of statutory professorships at Oxford was too small compared with the size of the academic body, and so this alternative system was introduced to ensure that academics of appropriate standing and ability were properly recognised. This means that Dawkins now holds the formal title (as listed in the University's Calendar) of "Charles Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science." The Reader part comes from the Endowment, the Professor part comes from the Distinctions Committee. It is strictly inaccurate, therefore, to say he is the Simonyi Professor. Dawkins' CV appears to be wrong in stating that he holds the Chair and that it was awarded in 1995, however Dawkins' inconsistencies in his own CV do not detract from the fact that he is a professor in the eyes of Oxford - and indeed of the rest of the world bar Aschlafly. OurMike 17:44, 29 January 2008 (EST)
Thanks for the correction. Zmidponk 20:54, 29 January 2008 (EST)

Aschlafly, You have still failed to provide a single piece – not one single piece - of evidence that backs up your claim that Dawkins’ title is “not a professorship in any accepted meaning of the term”. The reason I’m still posting on this talk page is because I’m still waiting for you to provide something more than argument by assertion to back up your position.

The professorial title conferred on Dawkins in 1996 was conferred properly as part of Oxford University’s standard (peer reviewed) Recognition of Distinction exercise - exactly the same process by which almost all Oxford professors since 1996 have received their titles. This has been confirmed by Oxford University’s Distinctions Committee, Oxford University’s Vice Chancellor, Oxford University’s Calendar, Oxford University’s Gazette, and Oxford University’s Information Officer. If you have any evidence at all that contradicts them can you please produce it? OurMike 07:49, 29 January 2008 (EST)

Well, my factually correct and proper edits have been reverted multiple times, at the last instigation 'pending the outcome of the discussion'. I see no more discussion. Does this mean those who are arguing against me concede that my edits are, in fact, correct? Does this mean I can now actually revert the article so that it bears some basis to the facts? Zmidponk 12:18, 30 January 2008 (EST)

No. Ajkgordon 12:20, 30 January 2008 (EST)
Explain why not. Zmidponk 12:22, 30 January 2008 (EST)
Um, something about atheism. Ajkgordon 12:24, 30 January 2008 (EST)
You got it wrong - 'Liberal deceit' is what you should have said. Zmidponk 12:26, 30 January 2008 (EST)
Oh yeah, I can never remember. I get the two confused. Ajkgordon 12:30, 30 January 2008 (EST)

What can we say? Anybody can email either Oxford or Merriam-Webster and get confirmation of the facts. It's easy. They have no doubt about it. I emailed Oxford at and Merriam-Webster at - they say he's a professor. (I look forward to another "last wordism" block for saying this.)--British_cons (talk) 14:34, 31 January 2008 (EST)

But that doesn't work. Verifying that he is indeed a professor doesn't help in discrediting him and his academic authority. Ad hominen rocks! Ajkgordon 15:35, 31 January 2008 (EST)

Well, that's now a full week since I asked if it has been conceded that Dawkins is, in fact, a professor. I am going to take the continued silence as a 'yes, the point is conceded', and alter the article accordingly. Zmidponk 14:19, 6 February 2008 (EST)

Get Richard Dawkins to correct his own resume and after you do that, then return here.--Aschlafly 14:36, 6 February 2008 (EST)
You are the one making the claim that Dawkins is not a professor - you prove that first. Zmidponk 14:38, 6 February 2008 (EST)

Request for evidence

Aschlafly, reversions are so quick on the Dawkins article that it is effectively locked to non sysops. Thus on Conservapedia Dawkins remains stripped of his professorial title. Eppur si muove.
I and other editors have provided a mass of information on these talk pages about Dawkin's qualifications: from Oxford University's official Calendar; from the Gazette - Oxford University's official journal of record; from Oxford University's Distinctions Committee; from Oxford University's statutes and regulations covering the award of professorial titles; from statements by Oxford University's Vice Chancellor; and from responses from Oxford University to freedom of information requests. All of these sources, every single one - confirms that Dawkins had a peer-reviewed professorial title conferred on him by the University in 1996, and that such titles are legitimate professorial titles consistent with professorships in other high-ranking universities around the world. If you have evidence that contradicts these sources can you please provide it? OurMike 09:12, 1 February 2008 (EST)
I note, for the record, that you have been asked directly for such evidence on at least 18 separate occasions on this page of the talk section, since 23rd November. I haven't even started checking the archives. That count only includes specific requests for evidence, not the even more numerous occasions when you have been implicitly asked for evidence through the provision of counter-points to your arguments. On every one of those 18 occasions you have either ignored the request, or responded with a non-sequiter. No doubt this is an oversight on your part, and that you will now provide us with the evidence that supports your position. OurMike 09:12, 1 February 2008 (EST)
Unanswered requests for evidence from Aschlafly:
OurMike 07:49, 29 January 2008 (EST)
Zmidponk 12:00, 29 January 2008 (EST)
Zmidponk 12:00, 29 January 2008 (EST)
Order 21:31, 28 January 2008 (EST)
OurMike 13:42, 2 January 2008 (EST)
OurMike 14:25, 12 December 2007 (EST)
Order 01:25, 30 November 2007 (EST)
Reaganetics 14:30, 30 November 2007 (EST)
Order 21:37, 29 November 2007 (EST)
Order 19:48, 29 November 2007 (EST)
OurMike 11:54, 29 November 2007 (EST)
Order 18:43, 28 November 2007 (EST)
Reaganetics 14:44, 28 November 2007 (EST)
Order 01:40, 26 November 2007 (EST)
Order 22:05, 25 November 2007 (EST)
Order 22:55, 24 November 2007 (EST)
Order 22:20, 24 November 2007 (EST)
OurMike 09:20, 23 November 2007 (EST)
OurMike, I'm not going to spend all my time repeating myself because you won't accept the obvious. I believe you've admitted that the credential of "Charles Simonyi Professor" claimed by Richard Dawkins on his resume [36] is false. Your emails should be to him demanding correction. Your ideology, however, apparently compels you to seek some sort of concession from us. You're wasting your time. Get Dawkins to correct his resume first, then you can ask more questions here.--Aschlafly 11:52, 1 February 2008 (EST)
Aschlafly, Dawkins CV is wrong, he is the 'Charles Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science' and not - as his CV states - the 'Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science'. I've been agreeing with you on that since at least November. However this article is also wrong in claiming that Dawkins is not a professor at Oxford. He is, as Oxford University have confirmed consistently and repeatedly.
Since you still haven't shown any evidence for your assertion that Dawkins does not hold a legitimate professorial title from Oxford University you wouldn't be repeating yourself if you were finally to provide some. I ask once again - do you have any evidence for that assertion? OurMike 12:18, 1 February 2008 (EST)


Richard Dawkins has announced that he will retire from the post in September 2008.

The University of Oxford are advertising for his replacement (again, clearly describing him as "Professor Richard Dawkins").

There's also a discussion on the RDF web site which includes some comments from Dawkins himself.

Davorg 06:19, 11 February 2008 (EST)

Of course, this kind of puts those trying to say Dawkins is not a professor in a quandry. How can he retire from that position if he was never a professor? If he isn't a professor, he simply cannot currently hold that position to retire from it. I await, with interest, to see how the article will be altered to reflect this. Urushnor 11:44, 11 February 2008 (EST)
Hmm, well, it's been a month since I posted the above, and the article still hasn't been altered. Does this mean the folk who are saying he's not a professor are taking the 'stick my head in the sand and hope it goes away' approach? Urushnor 09:56, 12 March 2008 (EDT)
I guess that when he retires from his professorship in September 2008 the article will be amended to say, "See, we were right all along. He's not a professor any more." --British_cons (talk) 14:44, 19 March 2008 (EDT)


Hi Ed. I see you've added another line about Dawkins not having gone through peer review for his professorial title (which according to Oxford University is that of 'Professor of the Public Understanding of Science'). Curiously the statements from Oxford University's Freedom of Information officers, the Oxford University Gazette, the Oxford University Calendar, and the Oxford University Distinctions Committee, have all consistently agreed that Dawkins did have this title conferred "properly" in 1996, as part of a Recognition of Distinction exercise (Oxford's now standard method for conferring professorial status). This exercise followed an exhaustive process of peer review, including the submission of: information on lectures and classes given; graduate supervision undertaken; University examining undertaken; undergraduate teaching; advanced study and research carried out (including publications and grants); and future plans for research. The peer review process further required applicants to go through review by a faculty or inter-faculty board, which would have then had to recommend him to the General Board for final peer review (this last board chaired by a distinguished committee of academics, including the University's own Vice Chancellor) before a title was finally conferred. According to the University's regulations,"the primary criterion [for awarding professorial titles] 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."[37]. Aschlafly has been asked directly on at least 18 occasions - on this section of the talk pages alone - for the references that show that Dawkins somehow circumvented this process. Unfortunately he still hasn't got round to providing a single iota of evidence to contradict the University's own pronouncements. Since you've added this extra line I'm certain that you must have finally dug up that proof. Can you please add it to the entry for the benefit of us all and finally clear up the confusion? Thanks in anticipation. OurMike 20:18, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

There's also the little matter of doing a Google search for this matter seems to only bring up this article (unless you count hits that are clearly about something else), so isn't it more than a tad circular to say that he has 'attracted criticism' for this when, seemingly, the only place that voices such 'criticism' is the very page that points this 'criticism' out? Doesn't that make a mockery of 'true and verifiable'? Mind you, virtually the entire section about his position at Oxford does that, so I shouldn't really be surprised. There is also the fact that it isn't just himself that refers to him as 'Professor', but everyone else as well, including various people and groups that, basically, have every reason to attack him on any and every opportunity. Urushnor 20:54, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

"Academics" category

Twice I have added "Category:Academics" to this page, and twice User:TK has reverted it, saying "I learned that to be an academic, one had to first be an honest person. Dawkins fails." Indeed? That's a real Humpty Dumpty definition if ever I heard one! And if it is indeed the case that the definition of academic has been amended to include a concept of honesty, the article on Professor values clearly needs to be deleted. Humblpi 12:38, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

You and your fellow traveler were both reverted by an Administrator as well, Humblpi, in case you didn't notice. And could you grant me the small favour of letting me know why the article you mention should be deleted? --₮K/Talk 12:42, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Humblpi was not reverted by an administrator (and if that's not what you meant, consider that a clarification rather than a correction). Karajou did revert JaniceK without explanation, but I'd guess because of the edit comment she used. Philip J. Rayment 21:22, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, it's a simple matter of logic. Either (as I thought) "academic" means someone who holds a teaching/research position in a university, or (as you propose) it means an honest person who holds a teaching/research position in a university. If the former, (a) Dawkins is an academic, pure and simple, (b) anyone is entitled to their own opinions about the corruption that is rife in our universities, and (c) the article on "professor values" makes sense. If the latter, (a) you are entitled to say that Dawkins is not an academic if you think he is dishonest, and (b) the concept of "professor values" (which the article says are dishonest values) contradicts the idea that honesty is an integral part of being an academic. You can't have it both ways. And what's all this about a "fellow traveler"? I have no connection with, or knowledge of, the other person who followed my example and added the tag. Humblpi 12:50, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Perish the thought it could mean both! How can one be dishonest, as Dawkins clearly is on many fronts, and be an intellectual/academic? I didn't create the article you point to, btw. --₮K/Talk 12:56, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
You could of course argue that Richard Dawkins already has been assigned to enough categories, and that it doesn't suit the purposes of this encyclopedia to tag him as an "academic". I'd respect that. But I don't think you can actually deny that he is an academic without seriously undermining a case that is being made elsewhere in the encyclopedia! And without seriouly distorting the English language. Humblpi 13:10, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

"Deceit" category

Apart from the claims here that he's been deceitful about his professorship, how has he been deceitful, at least in any significant way? Arrogant: yes; bigoted: yes; but deceitful?

As for the edit comment "...Perhaps posting on the talk page would have been nicer...", I did post something on the talk page, and I felt that my own edit comment sufficiently conveyed what else needed to be said. Humblepi has already explained what's wrong with the claim that honesty is part of the definition of being an academic, so I saw no need to repeat that.

Philip J. Rayment 21:50, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

Well, whatever you say, obviously, Philip. I thought, just perhaps, all of you missed my own edit comment that I had asked Andy to comment/decide the issue. Obviously not. But since it was Andy and Conservative who introduced much of the material about Dawkins being a deceitful person, I cannot see why the category shouldn't be applied to him. You seem, Philip, to somehow believe in degrees of deceit, as if just a small amount of deceit wouldn't be worthy of the category, but a larger amount (decided by you?) would make the application more worthy? I am sure whatever your own unilateral decision is, it will of course be the right one, and fall into line with what the liberals posting here want. --₮K/Talk 21:57, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Andy's not here to decide every disagreement. If the issue was unable to be resolved, then Andy can be a last resort, but it was premature to involve him in it. I guess that HelpJazz has answered the bit about degrees of deceit, so I don't need to comment more. You say that Andy and Conservative introduce much of the material about Dawkins being a deceitful person, but I asked how he was deceitful (i.e. I asked for specifics), and you've not supplied any. Yes there is a lot of (justified) criticism of Dawkins in the article, and without checking the history I'd expect that you'd be correct that it was introduced by Conservative and Andy. But deceit does not appear to be one of those criticisms!
You comment "decided by you?" was uncalled for. It was you who decided that the category should be there, and I did not remove it. Instead, I merely asked a question about it on this talk page. That is, I tried to discuss it, not make a unilateral decision. Unlike some people, I try and discuss rather than making unilateral decisions. And for things like this, I try and discuss things openly, not with private e-mails that exclude anybody not included in the e-mails.
Philip J. Rayment 07:21, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
If there is no differentiation, then we need to add the category to every bio page, except for that of Jesus. Surely every person who ever existed has told a lie at least once in their lives.
Obviously the question is not if we draw the line, but where. HelpJazz 22:00, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Fair and valid point! I have, accordingly, emailed Andy and several sysops, seeking the return of the category that was removed without proper thought: Liberal Deceit. Surely this matter isn't so pressing on the panting liberals, that we can forego immediate action for 24 hours or so, huh? --₮K/Talk 22:06, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Are you talking about category:Liberal Deceit or category:Deceit? If the latter, when you posted this, it had not been removed. Philip J. Rayment 07:21, 1 April 2008 (EDT)

Apologists category

Can somebody explain to me why he is in the Apologists category? Everyone else in the category is a Christian apologist. Perhaps it should just be renamed Christian apologists, because almost anybody who believes in a cause and is an activist would be an "apologist" for the cause, and I know that Dawkins is not what I had in mind when I created the category. DanH 23:08, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

What's up is down, and what's down is up, it appears, Dan. I was going to remove the category earlier, but since I ran into so much flack for the simple change I made, just decided to email Andy about the situation, rather than make a big whoop here. ;-) --₮K/Talk 23:12, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
Then perhaps it would be best to revisit this in a couple of days, when all has died down. DanH 23:13, 31 March 2008 (EDT)
I reduced the categories, including removal of the "apologist". That inclusion could have been due to prior vandalism.--Aschlafly 23:17, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

Term list templates

Are for the listed terms. Not for "see also" snark & political commentary. If you want to put Dawkins & ACLU on the same template, maybe you should create a new one. But please honor the longstanding wiki-principle about term templates.-DParker 00:15, 1 April 2008 (EDT)

This isn't WP, DParker, and we don't even want to be like it. Just FYI. The template explains some noted liberal traits, Dawkins is a liberal, therefore the template is helpful to users. --₮K/Talk 00:28, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
Generally, a category provides the "See Also" links, and a "See Also" listing of the entirety of the category becomes duplicative. It's just beating a dead... well, donkey, I guess. I'm not trying to object to you fashioning your take-down of Dawkins in whatever way you want, I'm just an editor at heart and by trade, and this is poor editing.-DParker 00:33, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
I disagree. The template, which I didn't make, makes it easier to see liberal-deceit and actions, is all. It is a more a matter of making things easier for users, not editors, or wiki gnomes, see? --₮K/Talk 01:04, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
There's no point in being different to Wikipedia just for the sake of being different. DParker is correct in what he says about such navigation boxes. It should not be here. Philip J. Rayment 07:24, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
Because this template is now is used on several pages, I have started a discussion over its use here, on its talk page. HelpJazz 10:21, 1 April 2008 (EDT)


Please excuse my ignorance (not deliberate, I assure you) - but in what sense is Dawkins a liberal? Isn't "liberal" a political viewpoint? What are Dawkins' political views? How do you know whether he is liberal or conservative? Or has the meaning of "liberal" been adjusted to encompass "everything and everyone we disagree with"? This is a slippery slope, and by indulging in this sort of unfocused catch-all labeling of a man who (AFAIK) has no public liberal sympathies, you conflate and blur and weaken all the arguments. The list of the "Liberal characteristics and traits" at the bottom of the article is utterly irrelevant to Dawkins, and looks more like a childish "here are some other things we don't like" attempt to pile on the guilt-by-association. Conservapedia descends into a parody of itself, I fear. Humblpi 06:26, 1 April 2008 (EDT)

LOL! You're not fooling me on April 1st!  :P --₮K/Talk 06:55, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
I am not trying to fool anyone. I am asking a serious question. Humblpi 06:56, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
I think the word "liberal" is used too broadly (no doubt partly because Aussies don't use it in quite the same way as Americans), but to actually give you an answer, I'd say that "liberal" is used roughly-speaking to mean anybody who rejects the traditional Western values that have been derived from the West's reformed Christian heritage. As such, "liberal" includes atheists, agnostics, compromising Christians, people who's political views are along those lines also, and so forth. That's probably not a very precise definition, but then I'm not sure how precise a definition could be supplied anyway. Philip J. Rayment 07:31, 1 April 2008 (EDT)

Sorry, Humblpi, that I mistook your post for our American "April Fools Day". I think Mr. Rayment has hit the nail on the head, pretty much. As it were. --₮K/Talk 07:56, 1 April 2008 (EDT)

Well, he self identifies as a liberal. I don't think this is contentious.
Oh and LOL at TK's "American "April Fools Day"". Ajkgordon 08:11, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
I tip my hat to you good sir! As it were. --₮K/Talk 08:16, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
I read today that the origins of April Fool's Day are unknown, but yesterday I read that it came about from the time that the calendar was changed to make Jan. 1st the start of the year instead of March 1st (although how that fits in with April 1st I'm not sure). If that's correct, it predates America's founding (i.e. European influx) by more than a few years! Philip J. Rayment 08:53, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
The French claim that it came about in the early 16th century when they changed New Year's Day to 1st January from 1st April (not 1st March). The joke was to give mock presents to people who may not have heard about it and, if they fell for it, to call them le poisson d'avril. The same term is used today if someone falls for a joke. The fish has something to do with the Zodiac but I can't remember what. Ajkgordon 13:49, 1 April 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps what I read did say 'from 1st April', but I didn't pick up the bit about the French, and I think it did actually mention the Pope changing the calendar, so perhaps what I read was confused anyway. Philip J. Rayment 05:43, 2 April 2008 (EDT)

"Artful" wording?

The article says "Richard Dawkins announced that he is retiring from his position in September 2008, with perhaps artful wording ... 'The University of Oxford has advertised the Charles Simonyi Professorship in the Public Understanding of Science. I retire from the Chair in September 2008.' "

  • Just for information: Note that "the chair" is perfectly standard formal terminology at Oxford and other British universities for a post of Professor. The terms the Professorship and the Chair are exactly synonymous. The suggestion that the wording is "artful" is therefore baseless, and appears to be in breach of CP commandment #5. Just thought I should let you know about British terminology, to clarify the position. Humblpi 13:35, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
I don't buy it. "Professor" requires intense peer review of one's work. A "Chair" is a less rigorous term that can apply to any endowed position.--Aschlafly 14:00, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Hi Aschlafly. A "chair" is a standard term in academia for a professorship, and is in common parlance - certainly in the United Kingdom and as I understand it throughout most of the rest of the English speaking world. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as " 6. a. The seat from which a professor or other authorized teacher delivers his lectures. b. Hence: The office or position of a professor." Oxford University's records make it clear that Dawkins professorial title was conferred "properly" after due process of peer review in a Distinctions Exercise (the standard method Oxford now uses for conferring professorial titles, as for example in the case of Prof. Alister McGrath). I have provided evidence of the exact peer review process followed in 1995/6, including the names of the members of the Distinctions Committee that carried out the final peer review. You have been directly asked on this talk page at least twenty times now (and counting) to provide a single piece of evidence that Dawkins somehow avoided that process, but to date you haven't yet done so. I ask again - do you have any evidence at all that Dawkins' title was not conferred on him properly and in accord with Oxford's statutes and regulations? Thanks in anticipation. OurMike 14:20, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
OurMike, you're arguing with yourself at this point. Your own definition of a "Chair" proves that it is broader than the distinguished title of "professor": a Chair is "the seat from which a professor or other authorized teacher delivers his lectures."
I recall that previously you admitted that Dawkins is not the "Charles Simonyi Professorship in the Public Understanding of Science," and so I do find it artful wording for Dawkins to say he retires "from the Chair in September 2008" (emphasis added). Give the British their due: they choose their words carefully.--Aschlafly 14:40, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Aschlafly, you appear to have missed part b of the definition: "Hence: the office or position of professor." I do agree that Dawkins is not the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. Oxford University's records make it clear that his title is in fact Charles Simonyi Reader, and Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. For the twenty-second time, do you have any evidence that Dawkins did not go through the peer review process for the conferment of his title of Professor, as awarded by the University's Distinctions Committee in 1996? OurMike 14:46, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Your complaint is unrelated to the topic at hand. But to answer you anyway, I don't see anything on Dawkins' resume indicating that he went through the customary peer review process in 1996, and I don't see anything on his resume that in 1996 he was then awarded the highest distinction of "professor" by a particular department. Don't you think he'd have it on his resume if it happened as you hope??? I do see from his resume, however, that Dawkins won the "Humanist of the Year Award" in 1996. Perhaps that is what you're talking about?--Aschlafly 15:14, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
No Andy, I'm talking about his title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. Oxford University are unambiguous in confirming that this was conferred "properly" by the Distinctions Committee in 1996, which awards titles only after an extensive process of peer review. We both agree that Dawkins' resume is wrong. Do you have any evidence at all that Oxford University are wrong? OurMike 15:25, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
If Dawkins earned something special in 1996, like a peer-reviewed full professorship, then I'd expect to see that on his resume with a correct date and department. I don't see it. Dawkins can easily correct his resume or post an official letter that describes what, if anything, happened in connection with a real peer review of his work - if, in fact, a real peer review actually occurred and resulted in the conferring of the highest distinction by an academic department. I'm not holding my breath that we will ever see meaningful confirmation of your claim in the form of a corrected resume or letter conferring an official honor.--Aschlafly 15:34, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Aschlafly, the inaccuracy of Dawkins' resume is irrelevant to the fact that Oxford University confirms that Dawkins' professorial title was conferred "properly" in 1996, after due process of peer review. Do you have any evidence at all that Oxford University's records are wrong? OurMike 15:41, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
You admited it yourself: Dawkin's resume is innacurate, and therefore wrong; it is placed with Oxford's records, which makes the records wrong. This argument was settled long ago, so drop the subject. Karajou 15:44, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Karajou, Dawkins' resume is on a (long neglected) personal webspace. It is not an official "Oxford record" - the official records are the Oxford University Gazette (their journal of record), the regulations pertaining to the Distinctions Committee's Recognition of Distinction Exercise of 1995/6, the minutes of the Committee, the Oxford University Calendar (the official personnel listings of the University), and the University's responses to legally-binding Freedom of Information requests.It is the contradiction between Dawkins' CV and exactly those official records which show that Dawkins is incorrect in stating that he was awarded a professorial title in 1995. They also confirm that his title was conferred by the Distinctions Committee in 1996 after due process of peer review. OurMike 15:51, 5 April 2008 (EDT)

[undent] Oh dear! I seem to have started it off again! I was just trying to correct what I assumed was a simple American misreading of British terminology. You may "buy it" or not, as you choose, and you may "find it artful wording" if you like. I am just telling you the facts. In Britain, where Dawkins is based, "Chair" = "Professor", pure and simple, and there is absolutely no hint of artifice. As something of an aside, indeed, you might care to note that the title of Professor is far less freely bestowed, and far less commonly used, in the UK than in the USA. British "Professor" is roughly equivalent to American "Distinguished Professor". And Oxford University makes it quite clear that Dawkins is one. Humblpi 15:52, 5 April 2008 (EDT)

No, the point I see with regard to the Richard Dawkins article is not so much our critics worrying about something as petty as a wrongly-written resume, but that we would dare write an article critical of him. And why not, when he has written and spoken this [38], which is nothing more than an attack on those who profess a belief in God, and he is pushing those religious beliefs on the rest of society. We here do not go to the church of Dawkins. Karajou 15:58, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Fine, but the article is factually wrong in stating "The special terms of this gift allowed Richard Dawkins to bypass the peer review promotion process customarily required before receiving the title of "professor"". The endowment has nothing to do with Dawkins' title of professor, which was conferred by the Distinctions Committee in 1996, as I have pointed out repeatedly. The article also states "The title "professor" is misleading, if not fraudulent, as the position donated for his benefit does not satisfy the definition of "professor": "a faculty member of the highest academic rank at an institution of higher education."" Again, this is incorrect, for the same reason - Dawkins' title was granted by the Distinctions Committee, in proper accordance with Oxford regulations, and after a due process of peer review. If these factual inaccuracies could be corrected I have no problem with leaving the rest of the article untouched. OurMike 16:04, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
In response to Karajou - An article that is critical of Dawkins is very welcome, but it would be a much better article if it were factually accurate. Using a distortion of the truth to make the point weakens the case and undermines the mission of CP. There's plenty to comment on and criticise in Dawkins' writings etc., without getting the facts wrong! Humblpi 16:24, 5 April 2008 (EDT)
Dawkins surely knows how to correct his resume. Unless and until that happens, his distinction in 1996 was to win "Humanist of the Year," and I don't see on his resume a full peer review of his work that resulted in the alleged award of the highest academic distinction of "professor" in that year. And, no Humblpi, the term "Chair" is not identical to "professor" anywhere. You don't cite anything for your claim that it is. Simply look up the terms in the dictionary and you'll see an important distinction.
I'm not going to waste any more time on the attempts by a Dawkins' supporter to explain what he concedes is incorrect on Dawkins' resume. Also, the 90/10 rule is going to be applied here to as it is elsewhere on this site, and violations may result in reversion too.--Aschlafly 17:03, 5 April 2008 (EDT)

OK. One more time, and then I'm done. From my British dictionary (Collins English Dictionary, as it happens – but it could be any number of others):

  • Chair: a professorship
  • Professor: a holder of a university chair

So there is no difference, in UK terms, between being a professor and having a chair. I started this thread in a simple effort to help CP by correcting an apparent misunderstanding of UK terminology. I repeat my point that inaccuracies undermine the message. I leave it there. Humblpi 06:42, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Aschlafly, you appear to be arguing two contradictory points - on the one hand you argue (and I agree) that Dawkins' CV is wrong. But you also appear to be arguing that Dawkins' CV alone is the ultimate authority on his academic status. Odd. What is written on Dawkins' CV is irrelevant to whether or not he truly holds a professorship. However the University - the body that is actually responsible for conferring professorial titles - has confirmed that the title of Professor of the Public Understanding of Science was conferred on Dawkins "properly" in accordance with the Recognition of Distinctions Exercise (which includes an exhaustive process of peer review), in 1996. For the twenty-fifth time I ask you directly: do you have any evidence - any evidence at all - that the Oxford Gazette, Oxford Calendar, Oxford Distinctions Committee, and Oxford's Freedom of Information responses on this matter are incorrect? OurMike 11:00, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
What is at issue here is whether the school really did follow their own rules about peer review, or simply gave him the title. There's nothing wrong with granted a title, position, degree or any other type of honor; however, academics make a distinction between honorary and earned doctorates. Likewise, Mr. Schlafly is making a distinction between 'real' professorships and some other kind which doesn't really count for anything.
I'd like to see some evidence showing that Oxford followed the normal procedures when granting the professorship to Dawkins. If you can't produce it, then I can only assume that your reasoning is unsound. --Ed Poor Talk 11:16, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Ed, thanks for your constructive engagement. The evidence is pretty comprehensive:

  1. The University does not award ‘honorary’ professorships - the statutes and regulations have no provision for honorary professorships (though the University does award honorary degrees[39], and the colleges can award honorary fellowships). All professorial titles at the University are therefore either statutory professorships, or were awarded via a Recognition of Distinction Exercise.
  2. In Dawkins case the title was awarded via a Recognition of Distinction Exercise. The University – in response to an FOI request – confirmed that the title had been conferred properly via the first such Exercise in 1995/6. This is also confirmed in the Gazette notice of 22nd July 1996 [40].
  3. The details of the process followed are available online [41], and make it clear that peer review is a necessary requirement before the board can grant a title. To excerpt the relevant sections:
    1. "Individuals should now be invited to submit themselves for consideration in this exercise...All applications will be forwarded for consideration on behalf of the relevant faculty board or other appointing body, whose comments should be sent to the Secretary of Faculties...The General Board's Distinctions Committee will then consider all of the material and make recommendations to the Board by the end of Trinity Term 1996. The Board will in turn make recommendations to Council."
    2. "The primary criterion 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."
    3. "Those who wish to put themselves forward should indicate whether they wish to be considered for the conferment of the title of reader or of professor, or either. They must submit information set out under the following headings [the gazette then lists: University lectures and classes given; Graduate supervision and other graduate teaching undertaken; University examining; University administration; Undergraduate teaching for college(s); College administration; Advanced study and research, including publications, grants, etc; Future plans for research; Any other relevant information]."
    4. "All of those who wish to be considered must make such an application to the Secretary of Faculties, University Offices, Wellington Square, by 1 January 1996 (it is not open to faculty board committees to invite individuals who have not put themselves forward to consider doing so)."
    5. "References will be taken up in all cases by the Secretary of Faculties"
    6. "References received will be passed on immediately to the committee to which the relevant faculty board has delegated its consideration of the applications. That committee must assess all of the applicants in the light of the material they have submitted and of the references received, and strictly by reference to the criteria in [point 2 above]. The committee should then submit its comments to the Secretary of Faculties for the Distinctions Committee."
    7. "...the faculty board's committee is expected to address explicitly in each case the question whether in its opinion the individual meets the key elements of the relevant criteria, namely (a) quality of research achievement and its comparability with that expected of professors/readers in other major research universities; (b) extent and quality of contribution to teaching and administration for University and college."
  4. For information, the membership of the Distinctions Committee in 1996 is listed online[42]

Or to summarise the above: Dawkins went through peer review. OurMike 11:55, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

It sounds like you are agreeing with Mr. Schlafly's reasoning, while asserting that we should believe that Oxford jumped through all the necessary hoops - merely because they certify that they have done so. Kind of like Bill Clinton saying that he "followed all ethical requirements regarding relations with junior White House staff". I bet taxpayers would like to be able to tell the IRS that they "followed all the instructions on the income tax form", and so that the IRS decide to cancel their audit.

What I'm asking for, in case I wasn't clear before, was an audit - not an assertion; and proof of having followed the requirements, not a list of the requirements they were obliged to follow. --Ed Poor Talk 12:14, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

I wonder if I might ask for a small clarification of your analogy Ed, as I was slightly confused... isn't Oxford the authority on awarding its professorships in this situation, as the IRS is the authority in your taxpayer example? And if the IRS concluded that the taxpayer "followed all the instructions on the income tax form", wouldn't that settle it?
Or rather... when you say that "Oxford jumped through all the necessary hoops", are you comparing them instead to the taxpayer? In which case... what is the "IRS", the authority that Oxford University is answering to here? Feebasfactor 12:33, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Good question. If Oxford is merely asserting that Dawkins is a professor, then there's no dispute at all. But that's not the point.

What's at issue is whether Oxford followed its own rules, and also whether they followed the standard rules of academia. To use CP itself as an example, I constantly read complaints that "sysops are breaking the CP commandments". Will these complainers be satisfied with an assertion from the project director like, "No, we aren't breaking the commandments"? --

Ed, you want proof? Sure thing. The University responded to a legally binding Freedom of Information request on 11th December: "Thank you for your request for the above information...I confirm that the title of Professor was properly conferred on Dr Dawkins in the first recognition of distinction exercise in 1996....Professor Dawkins still legitimately holds the title of Professor. He is associated with the Departments of Zoology and Continuing Education." For the title to have been properly conferred, and to be legitimately held according to the University's own regulations, it 'must' have gone through the peer review process. The only other possibility is that Oxford University are lying. Is that now your assertion? OurMike 12:52, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

I've repeatedly asked for proof that their assertion is true; you have repeatedly responded by reminding me that they've made the assertion. I must therefore conclude that either (1) you do not understand my question or (2) you have no evidence. --Ed Poor Talk 12:58, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

As no more than an interested bystander, I can confirm that in the British English speaking world, the words 'Chair' and 'Professor' are completely synonymous. You might check this article to see the various meanings applied to both words around the world. Billabong 13:08, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Often, but not always, "chair" and "professor" are synonymous. But when a "chair" is donated (endowed) for the special benefit of someone who has not earned the title of "professor", the terms obviously do not have identical meanings.--Aschlafly 13:41, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
I'm a bit confused. In Mr Aschlafly's opinion, what body is best qualified to clarify whether or not Mr Dawkins is a professor at Oxford University?--British_cons (talk) 15:21, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Ed: The reasoning you and other sysops are using to assert Dawkins is anything but an Oxford professor just boggles the mind. Oxford is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning on this planet and it should be common sense to think if they say Dawkins is a professor; then he IS a professor.
The idea that Oxford should somehow bow down to Conservapedia's demands and provide an 'audit' is patently absurd and smacks of arrogance. OurMike's evidence is VERY comprehensive and goes above and beyond anything called for in the commandments of this encyclopedia. The crap that is presented as fact in the Dawkins article is giving conservative Americans a bad rap, yet any attempt to change the content is met with reverts, insults, and blocks.
There is something else you need to know Ed, OurMike has made 90 edits to Conservapedia and 14 of them were main space edits so he did not violate the 90/10 rule. This means he is not here 'merely to talk'. The talk entries show merit because he trying to make Conservapedia look respectable instead of like a lunatic fringe blog.
As far as insults go, where is the proof? You are asking for an amazing level of proof for Dawkins professorship yet you are providing none for OurMike's alleged insults. See a double standard here? I have been insulted and bullied by sysops since my first day on this encyclopedia but absolutely nothing has happened to them. Why are the sysops allowed to follow one set of standards while the lowly editors like OurMike and I must follow the commandments to the letter and any other rule an administrator makes up? If I were to act like the people that have blocked me four times so far, I wouldn't have lasted a week. --Jimmy 17:21, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Jimmy, apparently you are only here to discredit the project.

  • You invoke Oxford's prestige
  • You insult the project ("arrogance")
  • You complain of inconsistent application of rules - which is actually the issue with Oxford!
  • You make accusation of bullying, but provide no examples

All of this is typical Liberal reasoning, and frankly, it gives "rationality" a bad name.

The biggest difference between conservatism and liberalism is that conservatives believe there is an absolute truth which human beings can discover through faith and reason. Liberals aren't concerned with "truth" but in "what they can get" - generally because they are materialists who don't believe in life after death or God or any absolutes at all.

Richard Dawkins is the the epitome of a certain kind of liberal evil, in that he attacks reason itself while pretending to exalt it. Al Gore's Assault on Reason does the same thing, only since he's a university dropout his book is much less well-written or influential. (Note that I only changed the subject after actually addressing your points.)

Cheers. --Ed Poor Talk 07:06, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Ed: Let's take your accusations one at a time. Obviously you have not looked at my contributions, only someone in denial would make the claim that I am 'only here to discredit the project'.
There is nothing wrong with invoking Oxford's prestige. What is wrong are the efforts to try and discredit an Oxford professor by insisting he was not awarded his professorship without the proper review just because certain sysops on this site make ludicrous demands. What about applying the same standard to Prof. Behe? His article could use the same treatment don't you think?
If someone could actually give an example of Oxford's 'inconsistent application of rules' then maybe there could be a serious discussion. So far that has not happened. OurMike on the other hand has provided plenty of evidence.
If you want evidence of bulling, just look at my talk page, the public schools page, and just about half the instances when Schlafly bothered to answer some of my questions. Joaquín Martínez gave me a hard time about my very first edit even though he admitted to not reading all of it (twenty words). Iduan blocked me for two weeks for copying from a hate site even though he admitted I didn't reference a hate site. I didn't copy from the site either but that didn't seem to matter to him. Crocoite blocked me for a day for a violating the tattling rule he created several hours AFTER he blocked me. Karajou blocked me for a week because he didn't believe I was a military retiree and said I was using the site to insult serviceman, apparently because I said many military people might vote for Obama. I'm not sure because he didn't have the guts to discuss the matter directly with me. Mr. Schlafly has directed inappropriate language at me that would easily get me blocked. The last time this happened is when he called me 'clueless' because I insisted Obama visited Western Europe as part of his Senatorial duties. The fact that Obama actually visited Western Europe was easily verified because the reference was listed on the Obama article. If I called Schlafly 'clueless' could I expect to be blocked? One more question, can I follow the example of the Conservapedia leadership and make edits that are completely devoid of references? This happens on a routine basis on the articles I have edited.
Your straw man misrepresentation of my 'liberal reasoning' does nothing to further your position. But if you insist on making them, there is nothing I can do to stop it.
Materialists are very rare in America when compared to theists of either the conservative or liberal persuasion. Saying most liberals don't believe in 'life after death or God or any absolutes' just shows how ignorant you are of the facts. If you care to continue with this assertion, please provide the evidence.
You never addressed why OurMike was blocked, this means you have not addressed all the points I made. This is just another example of an editor being blocked because a sysop couldn't adequately address their arguments. I see it happening all the time; someone is accused of 'talk, talk, talk' whenever they try and reason with a stubborn sysop that won't listen to reason. --Jimmy 21:12, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

"Artful" wording? II

It seems arguing these points, and Dawkins, has actually become a "cottage industry". --₮K/Talk 15:42, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Matter of dispute

Ed Poor, you made an edit that claims that "...whether this post was granted according to normal academic procedures is a matter of dispute." Obviously it is a matter of dispute on CP, but is it a matter of dispute in any other reputable source? Ajkgordon 15:44, 6 April 2008 (EDT)


In the UK, the term "Professor" is a legal term and cannot be used by anyone who isn't one. If Dawkins is using the term without being one, then he is breaking the law. Ajkgordon 15:48, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Indeed so. And surely, if the University is such an august institution, it would have a very serious problem with anyone running about calling themselves a Professor of the University if they were not? I imagine there could be few offenses against a University worse than this. And since they have not only remained silent on this matter for a decade, and since they are on record as asserting that he IS a Professor, one can somewhat safely assume 1+1=2. Really, exactly what evidence will suffice to settle this for once and for all? Billabong 16:57, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Wow, this is a new one: no one can complain about Dawkins' representations on his resume about his credentials at Oxford unless Oxford itself first complains!!! Whatever "logic" might be ascribed that argument, it surely is not analogous to saying "1+1=2".--Aschlafly 17:03, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
One doubts whether any party in this debate would be more upset about Dawkin's supposedly false claims than the University itself. And since they remain silent on the issue, and in fact are supportive of his claims, doesn't that speak volumes? Billabong 17:14, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
I hate to break it to you, but if someone complains that Dawkins (or anyone else) is calling himself a professor at Oxford when he isn't, when Oxford have already conferred the professorship, and then go on record as saying that that Dawkins (or whoever) got that professorship in the proper manner, it is the person doing the complaining that is claiming that 1+1 does not equal 2. Oxford are the authority when it comes to this question. To revisit Ed Poor's analogy above, it's as if you have made a claim that somebody hasn't paid their taxes, then then someone presents a statement from the IRS tells you this person has, indeed, paid all tax due, in the proper manner, just on a different date than they claimed, but you continue to claim they have not paid any taxes whatsoever. Now, unless you are basically accusing Oxford of flat-out lying (and, if you are, provide evidence of this, please), Dawkins is clearly the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, and is a professor, in every sense of the word. Urushnor 17:44, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

I agree with Andy's "wow". And feel the need to warn Andy of a new tactic, and that is branding arguments and opinions about liberals as "ad hominem arguments" (not technically the same as ad hominem attack) but considered, when it suits liberals, as the same as an attack. Since they refuse to recognize fact as to their arguments and shading of words, anything anyone says against liberal opinion is now an ad hominem argument. Just another way to silence anyone who differs with them. :S --₮K/Talk 17:16, 6 April 2008 (EDT)

Well, an 'ad hominem' argument is an argument against a person, rather than what they say. It seems certain people take issue with what Richard Dawkins says, and have attempted to throw doubt on his academic credentials in this article, by taking one relatively minor error on his CV and blowing it up to suggest he's not a professor at all, when that is in direct disagreement with the abundant evidence offered on this Talk Page. Does this not fit the definition of 'ad hominem argument'? Urushnor 17:44, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
I still would like Mr Aschlafly to tell us who he thinks would be the most appropriate authority to confirm Mr/Professor Dawkins' status at Oxford University.--British_cons (talk) 18:04, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps Ed Poor needs to dust off writing plans for some, and ask that cottage industry be created! It is indeed an industry here for many. And Urushnor, this is not Wikipedia, therefore throwing out liberal inventions isn't accepted by CP. Since most liberals refuse to accept as fact even ten thousand examples of their word-twisting and shading, anything they disagree with is now labeled an ad hominem argument. Then that is somehow morphed into a ad hominem attack because, I assume, making a statement about liberals in general is thought (by liberals) as being personal. Wow. --₮K/Talk 18:30, 6 April 2008 (EDT)
Sorry, you need to clarify yourself. Are you saying that the entire concept of an 'ad hominem' argument is a 'liberal invention', or are you saying that it's only 'liberal invention' that saying Dawkins isn't a professor is an ad hominem argument? If it's the first, then I trust you can actually come up with the details of what, exactly, makes you think that. If it's the second, I trust you will therefore be able to explain, exactly, how it does NOT fit the definition of an ad hominem argument. As for your comments about making statements in general about liberals is an ad hominem attack or argument, well, quite often, especially on this website, it is. The only difference between this and a 'classic' ad hominem attack is that, instead of applying your comments to one specific person, you are applying them to an entire group of people. If you disagree with what someone says, or even what an entire group of people say, address what is said, instead of attacking or arguing against that person or those people themselves. In other words, prove them wrong, instead of just calling them a liar or denigrating them. Urushnor 11:30, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

To drag the topic back on track.... If what we say on CP about Dawkins' professorship is true and therefore Dawkins is acting illegally, then wouldn't it be a an opportunity, even obligation, to take the matter further? Surely we would all wish that people were not allowed to illegally call themselves professors and influence the education of our children? DOes anyone have any suggestions? Ajkgordon 06:42, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Perhaps it would be best if we figured out exactly what we are arguing here. Just scrolling down this page it appears that there is some confusion...
Are we saying that Dawkins is not a professor, because Oxford University does not consider him a professor
Are we saying that Dawkins is not a professor, because although Oxford University does consider him one the process they undertook to appoint him was flawed.
I think that once we answer this question many unnecessary arguments will be ended, and we can focus on the issue at hand. TheGySom 06:49, 7 April 2008 (EDT)
Doesn't matter which. The fact is CP considers Dawkin's claim of being a professor illegal. As an educational resource, surely CP is obliged to take the matter further, especially as Dawkins is a public educator. Has anyone here taken any steps to bring this to the attention of those in authority who could take real action? Written to the media, to Oxford, to the police and to any other authority that might have jurisdiction over the subject? It might appear negligent if nobody has. Ajkgordon 06:58, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Would anyone who has CP authority like to comment on this? Ajkgordon 11:20, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Ajkgordon, your comments are becoming increasingly absurd. No one has suggested any criminal conduct in connection with this issue. Moreover, your account is in gross violation of our 90/10 rule and you should contribute educational material to this site to bring your account into compliance.--Aschlafly 13:20, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Aschlafly, I apologise if you feel my comments are becoming increasingly absurd, although I fail to see why. I presume you misunderstand so if you permit me, I will explain.
I am not arguing against the contention that Dawkins is not a professor - that has been done to death here and Conservapedia has judged the matter.
I am saying that the title "Professor" in the UK is very much like "Doctor", i.e. it is illegal to call yourself one if you are not. The law here is very clear on the matter.
So, while no-one here has suggested any criminal activity, that is the logical conclusion that follows from the accusation that he is not a professor and so, by extension, it is exactly what is being suggested by corollary.
As Conservapedia is an educational resource and Dawkins preaches much with which Conservapedia no doubt feels uncomfortable, should it not be an opportunity for someone here to expose Dawkins as an alleged fraud by bringing his allegedly fraudulent professorship as outlined in this article to the attention of the relevant authorities?
Surely that would be a good use of resources here considering the large amount of media attention Mr Dawkins receives and the potential that he has in forming the views of our children against the stated aims of this encyclopaedia? The exposure of any illegal activity on Dawkins' part through his allegedly criminal use of the title "Professor" would deliver a severe blow to his campaign against all that Christian American conservatives hold dear. And would gain an enormous amount of publicity for Conservapedia and its message.
I am not qualified to pursue this as I have little experience in these matters, although I would happily consider offering my assistance if pointed in the right direction.
If you still find my comments absurd, please do point out my errors so I can learn from them. Thank you.
On the question of the 90/10 rule, I shall endeavour to make some more substantive edits. Ajkgordon 14:33, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

What a pity...

... that the perfectly reasonable desire to argue against what Dawkins says about religion and biology is constantly side-tracked by this ad-hominem notion that he is not a legitimate professor! As so many people have amply demonstrated in the discussion above, the article is at best on shaky ground in attempting to demonstrate this, and the net result is that the article is weakened and made to look ridiculous. Why not simply set it aside (delete all references to whether or not he is a professor, delete every occurrence of the word) and concentrate on what CP should be doing - i.e., arguing against what Dawkins says. There's surely enough material there to make a good article - and it would be a much better article if it rose above this petty squabbling. Humblpi 10:10, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

U.S. conservatives generally find the "ad-hominem argument" statement/concept as anti-intellectual and a tool liberals (among others) use to stifle free speech. As I have seen it exemplified many places, it is used to drive off, or beat back, people for expressing their opinion by those who disagree with it. To say one cannot make a statement (any statement) without some form of "proof" strikes at the very heart of the United States Constitution's absolute guarantee of free speech. As such, it is of course rejected outright by conservatives, and most Americans. As this is an American Conservative/Christian encyclopedia above all else, foreign notions, the so-called "World View", internationalist approach isn't appropriate here. While Americans, and American law in general, sanction unprovable personal attacks of a spurious nature, we do not demand a person have absolute or even anecdotal proof to make a statement of opinion, because we have confidence in our citizen's ability to judge for themselves the validity of what a person says, based upon their command of the subject and any "proofs" offered to back it up. We do not view public gatherings to debate or discuss ideas as a court room. And a Wiki is certainly not a "court".
Likewise, we observe other so-called "Euro" laws that actually prohibit criticism of a colleagues work performance as "hate-speech" with amazement and dismay. It is indeed, literally a foreign concept to most Americans. We prefer the rough-and-tumble approach to business and life. Perhaps that is indeed "barbaric" to our friends abroad, or perhaps we are just of sturdier stock. The bottom line is, it is completely unfair and unacceptable for foreign citizens to try and impose their ethical and moral concepts on the citizens of another place, then complain when they are not accepted or understood. As the old saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", don't pity them, don't demand they change.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Imagine those barbarian rough-necks, Thomas Jefferson or John Adams on some board 300 years ago, postulating the nonsense above, and someone shouting they were making an "ad-hominem" argument, and what "proofs" did they have to back up their silly, unprovable statement.....remember, Europeans of the time (most of them anyway) did indeed view those men as barbarians, uncultured and under-educated ruffians.

--₮K/Talk 13:50, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

I find your idea that the concept of ad hominem attacks are anti-intellectual and the identifying of them is stifling free speech bizarre, to be entirely frank. To me, it is the exact opposite - if you do not make ad hominem attacks (which, of course, requires that you know what they are and admit they exist), you weigh up and respond to points and arguments, regardless of who makes them, as opposed to dismissing those points and arguments simply because a particular person, or group of people, make them, and encouraging others to do the same by attacking that person/people, as opposed to the arguments made. Also, by correctly identifying ad hominem attacks, and pointing them out, you encourage others to respond to the actual argument, instead of attacking the person/people making them. As to the rest of your comments, they seem to be a very emotive appeal for the 'right' to accuse anyone of anything at all, completely without evidence, and expect the people saying you're wrong to provide evidence you're wrong, rather than you having to provide evidence you're right. You seem to claim this is a fundamental right of Americans, but, considering such things as people being sued for slander or libel, this would appear to be incorrect. Whilst you may or may not be right about the burden of proof required for the right to simply express opinions, you have missed an extremely big fact - this is supposed to be an ENCYCLOPEDIA. It is supposed to express fact, not opinion. Indeed, there is even one of this site's own Commandments prohibiting the posting of opinion in articles. This article fails spectacularly in that regard. As for your comments about "Euro laws", all I can say is 'what in the nether hells are you talking about?' Urushnor 14:57, 7 April 2008 (EDT)
Urushnor, you ignored, to advance your dismissal above, this salient point: "While Americans, and American law in general, sanction unprovable personal attacks of a spurious nature, we do not demand a person have absolute or even anecdotal proof to make a statement of opinion, because we have confidence in our citizen's ability to judge for themselves the validity of what a person says, based upon their command of the subject and any "proofs" offered to back it up. --₮K/Talk 15:11, 7 April 2008 (EDT)
Wait a minute - now I'm thoroughly confused. In my dictionary, "sanction" means "to give effective or authoritative approval or consent". So are you really saying that "Americans, and American law, approve of unprovable personal attacks of a spurious nature"? That's not true, is it? Billabong 15:35, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Sanction means, and I am fairly certain the dictionary you used showed these examples as well, no? Law: a. a provision of a law enacting a penalty for disobedience or a reward for obedience. b. the penalty or reward. 8: to impose a sanction on; penalize, esp. by way of discipline. --₮K/Talk 21:58, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

I did actually address that. However, it may be that you made an error and meant to say 'proscribes'. If so, then I have still actually addressed it, just not expressly. Considering it is only the first part that is concerned with things that are claimed to be 'fact', that is the part that applies to this article. The rest of that statement is concerned with 'opinion', which I have already addressed above. Urushnor 15:45, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

TK, What a big pile of .....--Effbeeayi 15:05, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

Aye. Funny as ____, that one. In fairness, he must have "misspoken," but the whole thing still qualifies as the worst rally-round-the-flag spiel I've ever seen. Priceless. :) --Devotchka 15:44, 7 April 2008 (EDT)

[undent] Let me repeat my challenge (or suggestion, or piece of advice, if you prefer) - remove from the article every piece of text that is concerned with whether or not Dawkins is a professor, and the nature of his post at Oxford, and leave in just what addresses his arguments on atheism/religious belief and biology/evolution. I bet the article would be improved, and far more convincing as a refutation of Dawkins. It would certainly look less like a Conservapedia self-parody. This is nothing to do with my world view (which I have carefully not revealed, here or anywhere on CP), or whether I understand the American Conservative viewpoint. It is just simple advice on how to persuade people and win an argument. Humblpi 15:58, 7 April 2008 (EDT)


I will attempt to be more civil. My apologies.

One of the many factual errors on this page regards the Huxley Memorial debate. The actual votes were 198 in favour of the evolutionists and only 15 for the creationists - VERY different to the 'nearly half' claim that is made on this page.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rolandhulme (talk)

Please support your claim better here, with quotations, before inserting unpolished work into this entry. Thanks.--Aschlafly 17:42, 14 April 2008 (EDT)
Rolandhulme, the source you cited actually said 'on 14 February 1986, the motion "That the doctrine of creation is more valid than the theory of evolution" was defeated by 198 votes to l 5'.
If you look carefully, you will see that "15" is not what it says. It has a lower case letter "L", a space, and the numeral "5".
"So what", I guess you're wondering. This page (linked from the page referenced from the quote you're disagreeing with) says that the book that the Durant article was taken from has "115", and that the (apparent) 15 is incorrect.
Philip J. Rayment 23:23, 14 April 2008 (EDT)

Fair enough. I'll hold off making changes until I've looked further into it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rolandhulme (talk)

If you check out the WP article on Dawkins, and follow up the references there, you'll see that there is some confusion over the number of votes on the creationist side. It seems to have been either 115 or 150, but was mistakenly reported as 15 in at least one place. I can't remember all the details, but I did spend some time chasing this round in circles a while back, and the figure in the CP article does seem to be correct. Humblpi 02:09, 16 April 2008 (EDT)

You all seem slightly confused

There seems to have been quite abit confussion regarding ranks at Britsh universities. Traditionally a university department is structure like so, one professor, one reader and everyone else. Everyone else is usually divided into senior lecturer and lecturer and below them with no lecturing requirments post-docs. They all do research and in theory the professor does all the adminstration (ha!) as the head of department. As you can see there is not a lot of room at the top and it is traditionally dead man's shoes. So the problem is how do you reward someone who has done a good job with someone hogging up the professorship? The answer is simple get someone (private donor or these days government grants) to pay for a chair or professorial fellow and give that person the job and title professor. They are not the Professor of Blog (there is only one) they are the Rich Guy Professor of Blog. This may seems slightly underhand but it is a long tradition which even Isaac Newton was a beneficary of with the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics (the story goes that Barrow was to sick to hold the chair, and so requested that his vastly underqualified but talented student take the chair, as he refused to vacate it otherwise the university agreed). The simple fact is someone ,somewhere has to pay professors wags and there are worse ways then donated chairs. Oxford has a lot of pride and probably would not have accepted the terms for the chair if they felt Dawkins was underqualified. He had held the Readership for 5 years and earnt that rare degree of Doctor of Science so he was more than qualified to become a professor. I hope this clears it up and you remove some of the more rediculous claim you have made. DaBoss3 00:56, 25 April 2008 (EDT)

claptrap/book list/praise

Andy, your most recent edit summary reads: deleted liberal claptrap; list of books is redundant and citing praise by liberals for fellow liberals is meaningless

Now in that edit you deleted this part:

Dawkins has written nine books: eight have been on evolution and evolutionary theory, the other is his New York Times bestselling atheist book The God Delusion.
The first of his books, The Selfish Gene, was published in 1976, and won him international acclaim. It has sold over 1,000,000 copies and has been translated into 25 languages. While the nature of the selfish gene theory has long been disputed on a philosophical level by biological scientists (as a difference of opinion on the nature of the relationship between the genome and the organism), the scientific basis for Dawkins' book has not been disputed by the scientific community and many have hailed it as the second greatest idea in the history of biological science, citing as the first Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by means of descent with modification.
Dawkins' later writings, The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil's Chaplain (2003) and The Ancestor's Tale (2004) have garnered similar acclaim, but have not been as successful outside of the biological community as The Selfish Gene. They have also lacked much of the controversy produced by Dawkins' initial theory.


  • It's a simple description, not going at all into the level of claptrap (which as I understand is a quaint way of saying BS).
  • He is a well known personality, why would a list of his published works be redundant to an article about him?
  • Your statement citing praise by liberals for fellow liberals is meaningless is quite bizarre, not to mention offensive. [Sorry, the old liberal style has got me again. ---user:DLerner--- 10:37, 29 April 2008 (EDT)
They are redundant because the books were already listed in the article. Philip J. Rayment 10:53, 29 April 2008 (EDT)

So... should we avoid liberal reviews of liberals and just include conservative ones? Or perhaps the "liberal praise" could be rewritten to objectively indicate liberal opinion of him without any implicit endorsement? Feebasfactor 10:56, 29 April 2008 (EDT)

Historicity of Jesus Quotations

I noticed some disagreement in the "recent changes" over Dawkins's opinion on the historicity of Jesus. The quote, which was removed by user Richardd and reverted by Aschlafly, is
In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins argues that a "serious" case can be made "that Jesus never lived at all."

This references to an external article which makes the same claim, rather than giving a page number from the book itself. If I may quote from The God Delusion itself, the nearest that Dawkins comes to saying anything of the sort is this quote (from page 97 of the hardback edition):

Although Jesus probably existed, reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament (and obviously not the Old Testament) as a reliable record of what actually happened in history. (emphasis added)

So, Dawkins does not state, as this article insinuates, that Jesus was not a historical figure. Is there a reference from something Dawkins actually said that can be used as a reference, rather than somebody else's webpage which merely claims he did? Eoinc 20:35, 11 June 2008 (EDT)

What the heck

I just added some normal, uncontroversial facts to this article and it was undone. Does anyone want to explain why? Daphnea 19:57, 23 June 2008 (EDT)


Richard Dawkins is running a sock-puppet on Wikipedia, called Laurence Boyce. When I complained, nothing was done. BLP worries were mentioned. This amounts to admitting that Dawkins is dishonest. "BLP" is short for Biography of Living Persons. This refers to libel actions. See Wikipedia Incident no. 382. Laurence Boyce has the same prose style in English as Dawkins. Boyce is interested in Dawkins' books. At one time, there was even a picture of Dawkins on Boyce's User page. There are other similarities between the two. If this is used here, there is the obvious possibility of a libel action from Dawkins. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jackson123 (talk)

I can't find "Wikipedia Incident no. 382", and perhaps because of that, can't find any basis for this claim. Your response to Karajou on your talk page provided no real evidence. Philip J. Rayment 11:12, 24 September 2008 (EDT)
Rayment, you are not trying to find the Incident No. 382. See "Wikipedia
Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive382#User: RichardDawkins" under "24 RichardDawkins".
Libel worries were mentioned there, under BLP.
—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jackson123 (talk)
I did try to find it, although I didn't want to waste too much time looking, especially when it should have been easy enough for you to have provide a link like this:
That incident was not about Laurence Boyce being Dawkins, but about someone (presumably you) making that claim, and according to them with no evidence. The evidence that you've provided here is circumstantial and not substantial.
Unless there is something considerably more substantial than this, this matter is closed and any further discussion on this will result in administrative action.
Philip J. Rayment 07:53, 25 September 2008 (EDT) (administrator)