Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Scientists: Dawkins misrepresents science

Controversial British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is well-known for his criticism of religion, but a new Rice University study of British scientists reveals that a majority who mentioned Dawkins' work during research interviews reject his approach to public engagement and said his work misrepresents science and scientists because he conveys the wrong impression about what science can do and the norms that scientists observe in their work.

Here. 

19 comments:

John Moore said...

The survey seems to have been flawed, according to Hemant Mehta and the Center for Inquiry. It was sponsored by Templeton, so you have to be careful about drawing any conclusions.

chapman55k said...

Since we are engaging in genetic fallacies, isn't the same thing true for whatever comes from Hemant Mehta and the Center for Inquiry?

John Moore said...

The stated purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to find scientific evidence for the truth of religion. It's not a fallacy when they openly admit their bias.

Anyway, I just said we need to be careful, assuming we're interested in actual truth as opposed to just scoring points in a debate.

Legion of Logic said...

If Mehta said the earth was round, I'd be checking out the Flat Earth Society to see what they say. If the study is flawed, I'd consider the case if it was from a reputable source.

Joe Hinman said...

The survey seems to have been flawed, according to Hemant Mehta and the Center for Inquiry. It was sponsored by Templeton, so you have to be careful about drawing any conclusions.'


Center for Inquiry is the atheist propaganda machine, On atheist watch i have exposed them as nothing a pack of lies. Tempelton is not evangelical and they try to be objective ts not The Dawkies bad mouth Templeton because it gives money to scientists who don't hate religion, Bit that does not make it less objective,

Aron Zavaro said...

It seems like those scientists are endorsing a principle similar to Stephen Jay Gould's NOMA, which has been rejected by theists and atheists alike.

chapman55k said...

John Moore--You might look up the meaning of "genetic fallacy" so you don't sound so silly.

Joe Hinman said...

The stated purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to find scientific evidence for the truth of religion. It's not a fallacy when they openly admit their bias.

Translation they don't hate religion so they are bad. That just means they are honest, CFI does not list it's true objective, which to spread propaganda and destroy faith,

Joe Hinman said...

It seems like those scientists are endorsing a principle similar to Stephen Jay Gould's NOMA, which has been rejected by theists and atheists alike.

that is crazy .That is what the majority of scientists belief if they don't they are nuts, the theists who reject it are creationists. New atheism legitimatized pure hared of rebellion and unfair propaganda im the goal of desultory faith, I warn you the election has me spoiling or a fight,

Joe Hinman said...



CFI atheist propaganda machine

Joe Hinman said...

Nothing shows off the propagandistic nature of the CFI like the Jesus project their most ambitious ploy, and their biggest fiasco. They lured several Christian scholars into working with atheist scholars on the pretext of true scholarship and it was such a disaster that the guy who was the ostensible initiator of the whole thing pulled the plug on the premise that hie was being used for Jesus myth propaganda. This was two years into the five year project.


these are the voyages of the Jesus project, their five year mission...

Jesus project part 2:Orwell hits the fan

Joe Hinman said...

National academy of sciences accept NOMA

wilki: "Also in 1999, the National Academy of Sciences adopted a similar stance. Its publication Science and Creationism stated that "Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each.}"

the article cites NAS docuiment

Steering Committee on Science and Creationism (1999). "Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences". NAS Press. Retrieved 2007-11-16.

Joe Hinman said...

Moore: "It's not a fallacy when they openly admit their bias."

yes it is, besides when they openly admit their bias it means they are less bias than those who don't.

John Moore said...

I was hoping some people might look at the actual survey, and the criticisms I linked to, and then tell me whether the survey is flawed or not. Can we really say that scientists generally think "Dawkins misrepresents science"? What does the survey really say?

Let's see: Of the original 20,000 scientists in the survey, 48 x 80% = 38.4 scientists said they think Dawkins misrepresents science. That's a lot less than 1%. Does this mean scientists think Dawkins misrepresents science? We don't really know, because the original survey didn't even ask about Dawkins.

Go ahead and tell me how mistaken I am. Please use data from the survey. Thanks.

Legion of Logic said...

Just looking at the wording in VR's link, we have

"but a new Rice University study of British scientists reveals that a majority who mentioned Dawkins' work during research interviews"

Note the "who mentioned Dawkins' work during research interviews". A majority of these were critical of Dawkins.

Then we have

Although the researchers did not ask questions about Dawkins, 48 scientists mentioned him during in-depth interviews without prompting, and nearly 80 percent of those scientists believe that he misrepresents science and scientists in his books and public engagements."

Again, 80 percent of "those scientists" were critical - they are identified as the 48 scientists who brought him up of their own volition.

Next is

"Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study's principal investigator and the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice, said that some scientists, independent of their religious beliefs, do not view Dawkins as a good representative because they believe he conveys "the wrong impression about the borders of scientific inquiry."

Ecklund herself says "some scientists", referring to those who brought up Dawkins themselves. Note, the study did not mention Dawkins.

What does this article say? Namely, that of the scientists who brought up Richard Dawkins, the vast majority were critical of his approach to the relationship between science and religion. Nowhere in that article did it say this was representative of the entire 20,000 scientist group - or if it did, I missed it. I see no flaws here.

Now, let's see what Mehta says, much as I despise going to his website.

"So… when you take a large group of people, and whittle them down to less than 1% of the original sample size — specifically picking out those who brought up Dawkins’ name unprompted — it turns out that a lot of them bring him up because they don’t like him!"

Within the context of the larger study topic - in which only 137 were given the sort of interview in which Dawkins could conceivably be mentioned - the fact that the vast majority who brought up Dawkins disliked his approach is perhaps telling, but Mehta misrepresents the facts here. It isn't "whittling away" at the larger study - it was simply stating that the majority who brought him up were critical of his approach.

Seriously, no one should use Mehta as a source for anything. He literally has no idea what he is talking about to a humiliating extent. Jewels like "Christianity says Jesus was born of a virgin mother. That’s a testable claim, and science says humans don’t work that way." I mean, how abysmally ignorant do you have to be to write something like this, and think it is a good point?

The Center for Inquiry link went to Independent's site and had a brief statement from them, so not sure if that's what you were wanting us to see, but it again completely misrepresented what VR's link talked about.

“So it’s certainly not a breathtaking revelation that fewer than 40 scientists out of 137 — culled from a pool of over 20,000 — might not be fans of Prof. Dawkins’ particular approach to science communication. Comes with the territory."

That is not the point. The point is that the vast majority who brought him up were critical - the study itself did not indicate anywhere that a majority of scientists are critical, since the study did not ask that question. It is noteworthy, however, that a majority who brought him up of their own volition were critical. Who knows what actual percentage of scientists don't approve of Dawkins' approach, but I bet it's a lot higher percentage than atheists like Mehta would like to think.

So unless I'm missing something, I see no flaws with the article. A vast majority of the scientists who mentioned Dawkins of their own volition were critical of him.



Legion of Logic said...

I might throw out that VR's title for the post could be considered misleading, but the title of his link only refers to scientists who were cited - not all scientists in the survey.

Joe Hinman said...

Can we really say that scientists generally think "Dawkins misrepresents science"? What does the survey really say?

Not only des he misrepresent scinece but he misrepresents beleif in God as well.

Let's see: Of the original 20,000 scientists in the survey, 48 x 80% = 38.4 scientists said they think Dawkins misrepresents science. That's a lot less than 1%. Does this mean scientists think Dawkins misrepresents science? We don't really know, because the original survey didn't even ask about Dawkins.

scientists are very myopic., They don't understand science in relation to a transcendental view vis the philosophical and epistemological ramifications, they tend to be ghettoized in their own specialties. I've had many discussions with scientists on the net and most of them know nothing about Popper or Kuhn or that sort of thing.I don't need then to tell me he misrepresents science, i can see he does because understand science.

I think it is very possible that we mean two different things by that phrase.


Go ahead and tell me how mistaken I am. Please use data from the survey. Thanks.

Dawkkins is not regarded as a great contribution to theory his selfsih gene thing has not been accepted as any kind of ground breaking work. He misrepresents because he makes it out to be an alternative to religious belief. It's not an alternative because they are not doing the same things. It misrepresents religion because it asserts that belief in God is primarily about a big man in the sky(ontotheology). most of liberal theology is a direct reaction against that.

Joe Hinman said...

"Christianity says Jesus was born of a virgin mother. That’s a testable claim, and science says humans don’t work that way."

It's very testable, just go back in time and examine her during pregnancy but before she gives birth, I have a practical way to do this, unfortunate it invokes contacting this guy called "The Doctor." That might be aproblem.

Joe Hinman said...

the Christian scholar who started the Jesus project pulled the plug because he felt it was being used by Jesus mythers and it the connection to the CFI, read the link, it proves the propagandist nature of the organization.