Tag Archives: professor

Conservapedia on Dawkins

I’ve written before about Conservapedia, the web site that is using the same software as Wikipedia to build an encyclopedia of the US christian right’s view of the world.

Usually their nonsense is just amusing. But their article on Richard Dawkins has recently verged on libel. They seem determined to promote the opinion that Dawkins is not a professor. On the off-chance that sanity breaks out eventually and they article is cleaned up, here’s an archive of what it currently says:

Richard Dawkins is the holder of a donated “post” at the Museum of Natural History, an institution owned by the University of Oxford. The “post” does not entail “substantial teaching.”

Currently Richard Dawkins claims on his resume the academic authority of a “professor” at the University of Oxford, but his “professorship” is actually described by Oxford as a “post” during which Dawkins enjoys the income pursuant to the donor’s intent. Leading universities do not permit the “buying” of a professorship for someone. The post becomes a “professorship” when a subsequent beneficiary is promoted to the position based on a peer review election process.

The special terms of this gift allowed Richard Dawkins to bypass the peer review promotion process customarily required before receiving the title of “professor”. 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.

As of October 5, 2007, the Oxford University’s Zoology Department lists the status of Richard Dawkins status as “other” rather than as “academic”. Since March 30, 2005, Dawkins’ online resume has stated his academic credential as “Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford,” when in fact Dawkins’ position is at the Museum of Natural History, an institution merely owned by the University of Oxford. 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.”

It’s a shame that these enemies of reason feel they have to resort to such underhand tactics. They can’t argue with Dawkins’ points about religion so they resort to trying to undermine his academic standing.

It’s worth reading the discussion page associated with the article. You’ll see that there are quite a few people arguing on the side of reason, but that the loudest voice denying Dawkins’ title is the owner of the site. And he is the final arbiter of what the page says.