Jerry Coyne was recently bragging:
Exhibit 1 is what used to be called Dawkins’s “Converts Corner,” now called simply “Letters, Converts“. There are 120 pages of these, each page containing 12 letters. If you do the math, that’s 1440 people who wrote in, most testifying that Richard’s writings, especially The God Delusion, helped wean them from their childish superstitions.
Let’s do the math. I went to the Dawkin’s Promotion site and read the first 12 letters on the front page. I’ll assume that’s a fairly representative sample, which is probably a safe assumption. I’ll also assume that all letters are legitimate and not atheist trolls acting like they have been converted (this is NOT as safe assumption).
When I read the 12 letters on the front page, I found only 2 clear examples of conversion-because-of-Dawkins: a 13 year old who switched to atheism after reading ‘The Magic of Reality’ and someone, with previous issues with his religion, who switched after reading ‘The Blind Watchmaker.’ There were a few that were so poorly worded and ambiguous that you can’t tell when/how the conversion happened. There were a couple of agnostic-to-atheist conversions and finally, almost half had no conversion story to tell- they were just praise for Dawkins.
So, about 17% (2/12) were conversions from religious to atheist and another 17% were conversions from agnosticism to atheism. 0% mentioned The God Delusion as a book that helped wean them from their childish superstitions. There was one person who treats The God Delusion as if it was a Holy Book. Another person treated The God Delusion as if it was a devotional, clinging to it while others around her were criticizing her.
Anyway, it’s clear to me that even by unjustifiably assuming no atheist trolls at work, there simply are not 1440 letters from people claiming The God Delusion led them out of religion and into atheism. That’s just an over-inflated claim that is part of a sales pitch.
Of course, I could be wrong. I skimmed the letters and am writing this early in the morn. So feel free to check out those letters for yourself and tell us what you think of them.