The journalistic backlash continues in both the UK and US against Richard Dawkins and his Foundation’s “Christianity poll.” After accusing Dawkins of profiting from slavery, the newspapers have yet another card up their sleeve.
This week Dawkins debated the Archbishop of Canterbury at Oxford. During that debate, Dawkins reiterated what he stated clearly in The God Delusion: he couldn’t be 100% sure that God doesn’t exist, but as a scientist felt that the odds are very much against it.
He then proposed a 7 point spectrum of theistic probability in which 1 represented complete assurance (“I know God exists”) and 7 represented complete atheistic certainty (“I know there is no God”). As I recall, Dawkins put himself at 6.5 on that scale (Wikipedia reports a 6, but I’m not sure as I don’t have the book at hand), for no scientist can know with absolute conviction that anything doesn’t exist. (I’d put myself at 6.995 on that scale.)
In the debate, Dawkins reiterated that ranking explicitly, placing himself at a 6.9. This was reported by several newspapers, including the two below. But what headlines did they choose to use when reporting the debate? Wait for it:
From the Washington Post:
And the Daily Telegraph:
More dreadful journalism: hyped headlines, the revelation of something that’s been known for years, and a misunderstanding of how science operates.
I wonder what how the Archbishop would rank himself on that scale. Would he put himself at 1?
UPDATE: I missed the HuffPo article, which, though identical to the Washington Post article, has a slightly different headline:
h/t: Diane G., Andrew Hackett