This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← An Apology

An Apology - Comments

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 1 by Steve Zara

One of the reasons Richard has been my intellectual hero for decades is because he openly admitted he was wrong, in the matter of the Zahavian Handicap Principle, for example. His honesty, even enthusiasm, about changing his mind was amazing. I could find no better example of what being a scientist, and an honest person, should be about: having your mind changed by reasoning and evidence, and welcoming that change.

Bravo to Richard for having the decency to admit mistakes. Let's hope the site can move on from this.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:21:00 UTC | #444911

cherryteresa's Avatar Comment 3 by cherryteresa

I agree with you, Steve. And I think that Richard's decision to keep the old forum as an archive was a good one. I'm excited for the new forum. I think they are all making the right decisions here.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:23:00 UTC | #444915

natselrox's Avatar Comment 2 by natselrox

Was it so difficult for Mr. Timonen to have posted his 'notice' in this tone? And his jingoistic reactions following that were not sporting either.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:23:00 UTC | #444913

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

Good on you Richard! Thanks, we all needed to hear from you.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:26:00 UTC | #444916

Virphen's Avatar Comment 5 by Virphen

May I suggest that the forum that is left on line be one restored from the last full backup before the announcement.

Many valuable posts from some very knowledgeable posters were deleted in the events of the last few days. It would be a great shame to lose them.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:27:00 UTC | #444918

Quine's Avatar Comment 7 by Quine

Thank you, Richard, for taking the time to address this situation in what must have been difficult logistics. Yes, it has been quite distressing to us to see the great resource of this community in throws of self-destruction. I hope everyone reading this will put mind and will to the task of rebuilding.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:28:00 UTC | #444920

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 6 by Quetzalcoatl

Richard Dawkins-

Thank you for taking the time to comment in such detail on this matter.

Admitting that things could have been handled better by the management of was very important, and I am glad that you have done so. I think much of the fallout that has been occurring across the internet over the past few days has been fuelled by a lack of clarity on what happened, and what you intended to address in your "Outrage" post on the forum. Hopefully this statement will make things a lot clearer and allow everyone to move forward in a more productive fashion than has been possible to date.

I'm very pleased to hear that users will be able to start new threads in the discussion forum. I know there was concern that the ability to ask for advice on how to handle the religious beliefs of family members, or in schools etc etc would no longer be possible. From what you've said it sounds like the discussion forum will still offer that service, and hopefully serve as the focus for the rebuilding of the community of atheists, secularists, rationalists and freethinkers that have posted here.

Let's hope that everyone can move forward now in the reasonable and rational fashion that we aspire to.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:28:00 UTC | #444919

obscured by clouds's Avatar Comment 10 by obscured by clouds

I want to know more about RDF TV vignettes, and when are you guys going to really use that monster Redone camera, TV Docs? Movies?

Make the Ancestors Tail in to an animated Doc!

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:29:00 UTC | #444923

natselrox's Avatar Comment 9 by natselrox

Definitely looking forward to the new discussion area! Hope it continues to be the great resource for scientific discussions! To a bright future...

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:29:00 UTC | #444922

SharonMcT's Avatar Comment 8 by SharonMcT

Well done, Richard.

I'm sure this has been very difficult for all involved.

Mistakes have been made; let's learn from them and move on. We are all human.

I'm glad the old forum is being kept, and I too look very forward to the new discussions.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:29:00 UTC | #444921

Pete.K's Avatar Comment 11 by Pete.K

Although an infrequent user of the RDF forum, I am well versed in the difficulties of moderating a forum, having been a moderator of one or two myself.

I have witnessed the abuse of both the forums I moderated, and it's users/moderators, such that the owners of them felt it necessary to close them down. I have seen heavily moderated forums lambasted because all and any dissent was eliminated by banning contributors.

When it reaches a point where a public forum creates more work than benefits I see no reason why it should continue, such is life.... unfortunately. This isn't the first forum to be forced to close to protect the owners, and I dare say it won't be the last.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:30:00 UTC | #444924

Zamboro's Avatar Comment 13 by Zamboro

I hope everyone who threw a fit over the forum closure realizes that in doing so, they played right into the hands of our detractors. Don't think this mess escaped their notice. They love nothing more than to see us at one anothers' throats.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:32:00 UTC | #444926

Hilde Blomberg's Avatar Comment 12 by Hilde Blomberg

Thank you, Richard. It feels good to read your apology. And as Sharon says; we're all human.
Now it's time to move forward.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:32:00 UTC | #444925

Ilovelucy's Avatar Comment 15 by Ilovelucy


Thanks for the apology. I'm still unsure as to whether I will ever regain the faith and confidence I have lost in the last few days, but I can follow your example and apologise for any heated and unreasonable comments that I have made elsewhere (not as bad as the ones referred to previously, but still not very nice either). I do appreciate this post though and the acknowledgement of the hard work that the forum moderators and admins put in.


Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:33:00 UTC | #444928

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 14 by Matt H.

I am very happy Richard made this post, however I think the behaviour of RDF staff (either Josh, or Andrew, or both) needs some explanation. By behaviour I mean the deliberate sabotage of the forum by way of deleting user accounts and posts, including Mazille, a moderator responsible for the science-writing award.

It is those acts that have caused me to lose my confidence in The changes themselves do not bother me; there are other forums out there and I was still intending to come here for news updates. It was the hostile stance taken by Josh and Andrew that angered me and while I don't expect Richard to apologise, I do think investigation is needed.

But to end on a positive note; I am glad that the forum will be archived, as there are many posts on there (particularly in the Science and Debunking Creationism forums) which hold a great deal of value.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:33:00 UTC | #444927

mmurray's Avatar Comment 17 by mmurray

Well said Richard. As Steve said an excellent post. Looking forward to seeing the new site.

Welcome to Australia! I hope the jetlag is not too painful.


Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:35:00 UTC | #444931

heavenlycritter's Avatar Comment 16 by heavenlycritter

I hope this honest, gracious and polite response gets as many column inches as all the fuss and bad language has done. Thank you, Professor Dawkins, for setting the tone, as always, of rational debate.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:35:00 UTC | #444930

debunk's Avatar Comment 19 by debunk

Thanks a lot Richard, I really appreciate this. Apology accepted.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:36:00 UTC | #444934

living easy's Avatar Comment 18 by living easy

What a hypocrite. At first he called the whole thing a 'storm in a teapot', now he's changed his tune? And everyone here wants to drink the kool-aid that he did this for noble reasons?

Of course he didn't. It's because he stood to lose money, pure and simple, because the most offended where his hardcore fans that contribute to his living. He didn't want to damage his marketable brand name.

He's the equivalent of politician who gets caught with his pants down. Like Harold Ford, all of a sudden changing his tune about gay marriage, for the sake of winning votes in a place where the gay vote matters.

It's all a pathetic show.

Yes, I'm well aware that this comment is going to be deleted, but I have no shame in speaking the truth.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:36:00 UTC | #444933

decius's Avatar Comment 20 by decius

Richard, I sincerely hope that you can immediately regain your high spirits and that this unfortunate episode won't in any way affect the customary brilliance of your performance. Our Australian friends have been awaiting your enlightening company for far too long and deserve your full attention.

Take care of yourself, my friend.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:37:00 UTC | #444935

Corylus's Avatar Comment 21 by Corylus

I am unbelievably pleased to read this.

The forum is not my normal stomping ground (under 10 posts in over three years) so I don’t feel qualified to get into the “ins and outs” of the place, but I was astonished and very sad indeed to read some of the things that I have over the last couple of days. It left me not knowing what to think. Anyway, enough of my own selfish reactions.

I am very glad indeed that Richard has written this. It takes guts to apologise - this is why I tend to avoid it like the plague myself.

Seriously though, I’m very glad.

Right, I’ll butt out now.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:38:00 UTC | #444936

Jerome's Avatar Comment 22 by Jerome


it's all very understandable; human beings make mistakes - we are not as I said in my blog posts, angels or demons, but humans with human failings -- and I particularly welcome the decision to keep the old forum as an archive. I will even donate to that end. One thing I must ask - can we restore the posts from those 7 or so users who were deleted, (and lose the final acrimony in passing) by using the last back up before the shut down?

;)And apologies to Josh for the unpleasantness - but we were a devastated community - I say that as a Christian member of the old

Jerome, "the white sepulchre".
j x

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:38:00 UTC | #444937

foolfodder's Avatar Comment 23 by foolfodder

Thankyou Richard. Now I can get on with my pointless existence. Good luck with the rest of the tour!

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:39:00 UTC | #444939

I'm With Stupid's Avatar Comment 24 by I'm With Stupid

Apology accepted Richard.

I'm still to be convinced of the new direction of the forum, although I'll be happy to check it out. I suspect you're underestimating the social aspects of the forum in terms of the Foundation's goals though, personally.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:39:00 UTC | #444940

decius's Avatar Comment 26 by decius

Comment #464826 by living easy

Sorry, you are mistaken. He does really care and his apology is sincere.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:39:00 UTC | #444942

natselrox's Avatar Comment 25 by natselrox

living easy,

The world is a much simpler place if you don't want to read people's minds. "It's not who we are but what we do that defines us."

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:39:00 UTC | #444941

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 28 by Mark Jones

This is excellent news.

I'm thankful that Richard has seen fit to clarify some of the events surrounding the forum suspension and issue a mea culpa on behalf of himself and the RDF admin. Although one cannot be happy about the poor communications and PR, I'm sure they wouldn't have wanted their actions to result in the recent 'webstorm', for it has surely caused damage to the reputation of RD and the RDF. I would hope this is not irreparable, and I think this is a good step to reconciliation with the forum regulars. But only they will be able to judge that I guess, but I urge them to accept this olive branch. I feel sure that admins were acting in good faith, even if mistakes were made.

Not being a forum poster I'm not familiar with the ethos there, but it's clear that there was a thriving community with many valuable contributors, even if there were some elements that Richard and the RDF Admins weren't happy with. Despite these elements, it's surely true that there were very many valuable posts and threads that form a treasure trove for the atheist community. It would have been a shame to lose this, even if the *active* forum is to be lost, so a full read only archive is very welcome.

I should say that complete deletion of posts (other than out and out trolls) really shouldn't be tolerated there, or on the FP.

Thanks Richard, and good luck down under.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:40:00 UTC | #444944

Ilovelucy's Avatar Comment 27 by Ilovelucy

Zamboro, what you see as throwing a fit and damaging the cause, was actually an effort by many to counter a tide of misinformation and blame that went as far as the national press. I only hope that the same journalists will read this note and correct themselves. For many of us, this is what we wanted, to have the truth of the matter acknowledged and to prevent the forum from being deleted. We're not out for blood or the public humiliation of others.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:40:00 UTC | #444943

Anthroban's Avatar Comment 29 by Anthroban

Thank you Richard. Leaving the old forums up as a fully searchable archive is a very nice gesture. Thank you for also confirming that individual posts will not be pre-moderated.

I find myself on the fence about pre-moderating topics, however. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how that is implemented and just what the quality of the moderation will be - that is what they'll expect and how closely their judgement will mirror the ethos of the secularist community.

Thank you again for your very gracious apology. I truly appreciate it. You've shown the quality of character so many of us have come to admire.

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:42:00 UTC | #444945

ColdFusionLazarus's Avatar Comment 30 by ColdFusionLazarus

Something like this apology was required and it is good to see. Good communication

We move forward.

But, there were mistakes and it's beyond comprehension that such a collection of mistakes were made. Right from the start the aggrieved Forum administrators have complained that they were trying to speak to Josh and Andrew Chalkley. They never responded.

Should Richard be required to give a warm and detailed description of his changes every time changes are afoot? I would think not. Should Josh have to give careful explanations of his every move? Probably not. But some things should be explained and unpaid staff (and the general user community) should be treated with respect. The fact that no such respect was given shows that there is something rotten about layers within

I'm quite sure that Josh is a very busy person. But a good structure should allow him to delegate the neccessary communication and respect. How can we be sure that the same mistakes will not be made in the future?

Sun, 28 Feb 2010 20:43:00 UTC | #444946