Intentional misuse of data?, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(610)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Dr Dawkins,

This debate is not an interesting linguistic and philosophical game since it regards a hypothesis with ethical and sociological consequences probably beyond all others, and it must therefore be dealt with as impassionedly as is possible and with the highest of ethical and academic endeavours.

A scientist is only as good as his data, his methodology and conclusions as you will no doubt be aware.

I point you to just one of those issues which I mentioned (which is just one of the many I have noted at first glance through the book). Page 100 of “The God Delusion” states “only about 7 per cent (of NAS fellows) believe in “a personal God”” as against 90% of the general American population who believe in “some sort of supernatural being”. Surely, you see the problem here! The two questions are massively different – “personal” verses “some sort”? Again I ask, Is this an error? Or is this an intentional misuse of data?

For the integrity of your argument this issue, and others like it, must be addressed, and if an error has occurred it must be properly acknowledged and retracted publicly. As I see it, a failure to do so here would be of gravest ethical concern – even should that ethic be determined by human reason alone. As you are well aware “The God Delusion” has massive popular appeal and therefore influence. It has opened itself for scrupulous examination.

As to the reputation of Professor Dawkins, his work in his own narrow field of genetics is widely acknowledged, but as I mentioned earlier a scientist and his work are only as good as his data, methodology and conclusions. I have questions with regard to all of the above in this endeavour.

Anticipating a fulsome and direct answer to the issue here raised,


Chris Brennan

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