Francis Collins vs New Atheists

In my previous posting, we uncovered the ironic fact that while Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, calls upon scientists to join his anti-religious culture war, Francis Collins, a biologist and evangelical Christian, has actually generated more scientific knowledge than Dawkins.

So what if we tried to help Dawkins by enlisting the work of his fellow Gnu leaders who are also biologists – Jerry Coyne, Sam Harris, and PZ Myers? After all, these three men have viciously attacked Collins on the internet. They publicly opposed Collin’s nomination to head the NIH by suggesting, without any evidence, that his religious faith would lead him to somehow harm the funding of scientific research. Harris has claimed that Collins “has repudiated the scientific worldview” and is “a man who believes that understanding ourselves through science is impossible.” He has also insisted:

There is no question but that nominally religious scientists like Francis Collins and Kenneth R. Miller are doing lasting harm to our discourse by the accommodations they have made to religious irrationality.

Coyne has accused Collins of being an “embarrassment to the NIH, to scientists, and, indeed, to all rational people” and an “advocate of profoundly anti-scientific beliefs.” Myers calls him a “creationist dupe arguing against scientific theories” and “an amiable lightweight” who doesn’t know how to think like a scientist.

You would think that when these three biologists dish out their smug vitriol, it would come from a foundation of having generated more scientific knowledge than the religious guy. But alas, such is not the case.

Recall that Collins has published 384 scientific papers from 1971 to 2007. I’m sure he has published since 2007, as that is where the CV on the web ends. In fact, by searching through PubMed, a database that contains millions of scientific articles, it looks like he has published 483 papers. But we’ll stick with 384 since there could be other “Collins FS” authors out there mixed in with the PubMed search results.

Again using PubMed, I was able to determine that Jerry Coyne has published a very respectable 88 papers from 1971 to 2011. For Myers, I found only ten papers from 1984-1999. For Harris, I did not bother with PubMed. I used his own site where he promotes himself and his publications.

He has published two papers since 2009.

So let’s plot the data to see how well Collins matches up against these leaders of the New Atheist Movement (I only count Dawkins’ scientific articles and small books, not his atheist fluff):

My, none of the New Atheists even come close to generating the same amount of scientific knowledge. But hold on. Could it be? Let’s plot it another way:

Oh my flying spaghetti monster! Collins has contributed more knowledge to the scientific community (and humanity) than Dawkins, Coyne, Myers, and Harris combined!

This calls for one minor modification of the pie chart:

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28 Responses to Francis Collins vs New Atheists

  1. TFBW says:

    Wakka wakka wakka. So maybe we need to think of Coyne, Dawkins, Myers and Harris as Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde?

  2. DonInKs says:

    LOL – perfect. If we are going to think of them at all (I’d rather not, thank you) I suppose that would be the preferred way . . .

  3. J.P. says:

    These guys behave like those bullies of the kindergarden.

    It aounds more to envy than to anything else.

  4. Cory says:

    LOL!! That is awesome! That’s one perfect skewering of the Gnus!

  5. James says:

    That was perfect, Mike. I was just looking at the first pie chart and had not yet scrolled down far enough yet to see the second one. Prior to that, I was thinking, “Hey, that looks just like a certain 80’s video game celebrity. Maybe I should suggest making it look even more like him”. Lo and behold, there was no need once I went a bit further.

  6. Cale B.T. says:

    For further amusement, compare Dawkins’, Coyne’s, and Myers’ publishing record with these two young-earther medical scientists:

    The late Norman Nevin:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Nevin%20NC%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=11645218

    Geoff Barnard:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Barnard%20G%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=19164886

  7. James Bishop says:

    LOL, some atheists are just stupid…..

  8. Matt Brown says:

    Nice work mate-well done!

  9. Donald Fishgrab says:

    You only compared the sheer number of papers they had written. A comparison of how many of those papers relate to actual useable information is even more enlightening. Collins’ discoveries relate to useful and testable theories while many of the others’ relate to abstract or unprovable ideas.

  10. Excuse, may I translate this to Portuguese and publish in my Facebook page, giving the credits? Thank you. By the way, keep up the good work!

  11. Mustapha says:

    Sorry guys, it is about the quality of contents and not the quantity of rubbish that was published.

  12. TFBW says:

    Mustapha, are you assuming that Collins’ work must be rubbish? Because he’s a Christian? Check your bigotry, please.

  13. Michael says:

    Excuse, may I translate this to Portuguese and publish in my Facebook page, giving the credits?

    Yes

  14. Michael says:

    Mustapha, are you assuming that Collins’ work must be rubbish? Because he’s a Christian? Check your bigotry, please.

    Mustapha’s idea of “quality”: R Dawkins (2001) Time to Stand Up, Freethought Today, Volume 18: Issue 2,1-3.
    Mustapha’s idea of rubbish: Hacia JG, Collins FS. Mutational analysis using oligonucleotide microarrays. J Med Genet. 36, 730-6 (1999).

  15. David Mason says:

    One of the charges often laid against scientists by non-scientists is that they live in their own little academic bubble, their own little world and often lack an understanding of the “real” world or the reality of life that non-scientists inhabit. Well, guess what: Harris, Dawkins, Coyne and Myers are scientists who don’t do too much research but instead spend their time communicating it to the public and engaging in public activism regarding the public understanding of science. They are an interface between the world of science and the public. So of course they don’t publish as many papers as Collins does. As a scientist myself, I have come to the conclusion that publishing papers is a boring and “non-sequitor” type of excercise, which is why I have now gone into industry. Science has to impact the public in some way otherwise it is useless.

    Oh, and to be clear, Collins doesn’t “produce” any actual scientific information. His unpaid or underpaid undergrads, masters students and lab techs do that. He just puts his name on the papers they write and then publishes them. That’s how science in academia works. Harris, Dawkins, Coyne and Myers actually do work.

  16. Michael says:

    Well, guess what: Harris, Dawkins, Coyne and Myers are scientists who don’t do too much research but instead spend their time communicating it to the public and engaging in public activism regarding the public understanding of science.

    Bullshit. Harris, Dawkins, Coyne and Myers are atheist activists who are leaders in the New Atheist movement. They have a socio-political agenda that is advanced with propaganda. Part of that agenda is to misinform the public about science, dumbing it down to make it look like atheism is some sort of scientific conclusion. Some of them peddle pseudoscientific notions, such as religion being a form of child abuse or drug use as a way of attaining enlightenment.

    They are an interface between the world of science and the public. So of course they don’t publish as many papers as Collins does.

    They don’t publish as many papers as Collins does because they are more interested in spreading atheism and promoting themselves than doing science. Harris immediately abandoned science after getting his PhD to make money off atheism and meditation. Dawkins abandoned science to become the leader of the New Atheist Movement and pad his $150 million net worth.

    Oh, and to be clear, Collins doesn’t “produce” any actual scientific information. His unpaid or underpaid undergrads, masters students and lab techs do that. He just puts his name on the papers they write and then publishes them. That’s how science in academia works. Harris, Dawkins, Coyne and Myers actually do work.

    This is hilarious. Collins got to that position because his scientific career has been a stellar success. The attempt to paint Harris as the one “doing work” and Collins as the one not producing anything entails a certain hostility toward science.

  17. TFBW says:

    @David Mason: while I have some sympathy for your description of the publication-mill that is modern academia, you completely and utterly lost me with your claim that Sam Harris actually does (scientific) work, relative to Collins. Harris is a celebrity atheist author, not a scientist. I have a passing familiarity with the facts of the matter, and your assertion re Harris and Collins is just so spectacularly wrong that it beggars belief. Seriously: words fail me.

  18. Kevin says:

    Can someone be so duped by anti-theistic propaganda, or hatred of religion (often the same), that they think Sam Harris having a degree makes him a superior scientist to Francis Collins? Just…wow.

  19. Pingback: Francis Collins e os neo-ateus - Logos ApologeticaLogos Apologetica

  20. Nelio Roger says:

    if you want to play the numbers game, even though this doesn’t prove anything, compare the number of Nobel Prize winning scientists in each camp. deists/atheists win hands down over theists.

  21. Michael says:

    if you want to play the numbers game, even though this doesn’t prove anything, compare the number of Nobel Prize winning scientists in each camp. deists/atheists win hands down over theists.

    This is not a comparison between theists and atheists. It is a comparison between Francis Collins and the New Atheist Leaders. Over the years, the New Atheists leaders have launched a public smear campaign against Collins. Harris and Coyne even adopted the fringe, crackpot position of opposing Collins’ nomination to head the NIH. Yet despite all this, the scientific evidence shows that Collins has contributed more new scientific knowledge than the leaders of a group who posture as being “pro-science” in order to advance their metaphysical and socio-political agenda. The irony is striking (which probably explains why this blog entry became so popular over the last week or so).

  22. Xabi123 says:

    To that guy who says atheists win over theists in Nobel Prizes,According to 100 Years of Nobel Prizes reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace,72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, 62% in Medicine,54% in Economics and 49.5% of all Literature awards. Atheists don’t even come close. This any ways doesn’t prove God’s existence, but just shows how atheists like to play like they are the leaders in Science. Anyone’s heard of Francisco J. Ayala? Ayala has published 950 publications and 30 books. And he is a Christian.

  23. Daniel says:

    Lying for Jebus again, aren’t we? Looking through the Web of Knowledge, I found that Richard Dawkins has 139 publications. Harris has around 15. I didn’t check what the others had. Also I love how you put up Collins (Who is an active researcher and head of the Genome Project) to activists like Richard Dawkins and Myers.

  24. Michael says:

    Lying for Jebus again, aren’t we?

    Silly Gnu.

    Looking through the Web of Knowledge, I found that Richard Dawkins has 139 publications. Harris has around 15.

    As I made clear in this entry, and the one linked to about Dawkins, I used their own CV’s. So, Harris has around 15 scientific papers, eh? Well then, list em.

    I didn’t check what the others had. Also I love how you put up Collins (Who is an active researcher and head of the Genome Project) to activists like Richard Dawkins and Myers.

    If you had bothered to read the blog entry, you’ll notice the comparison is earned because Dawkins, Myers, Coyne, and Harris all have a history of making personal attacks on Collins. As I mentioned, “You would think that when these three biologists dish out their smug vitriol, it would come from a foundation of having generated more scientific knowledge than the religious guy.”

  25. Kevin says:

    I’m glad Homer Simpson started the Jebus trap. Now we can reliably identify those with Homer-level intelligence by who is ridiculous enough to actually say “Jebus”.

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