Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Irvine Barnes & Noble, 7/25/2007

Barnes & Noble in the cultural wastela-, er, heartland of Irvine. I drop by the lone bookstore in the huge outdoor mall, The Spectrum. Bracing myself, I approach the science section.


The science section is tiny, only two small aisles three shelves high, but it doesn't take long to come across a miscategorized book - and it wasn't what I expected. God is not Great by the celebrity atheist Christopher Hitchens.


Seeing as my aim is to re-shelve religion and/or philosophy books to the correct part of the store, I am duty-bound to act. This is a book on atheism from a non-scientist, and it simply does not belong in the science section. Science is a secular process and has nothing to do with the question of the existence, or the non-existence, of a God. It is thus relocated to the Philosophy shelves upstairs. "But what about Dawkins?!" I hear you cry. Dawkins is another well-known atheist, I agree, but he is best known as an evolutionary biologist and his books are strongly evolution-themed.

Let's see what else we can find.

I think I might have picked a bad week to start this quest. Behe's new book must have been just released:


Four copies of The Edge of Evolution were discovered once more in the science section.

I flip a copy and read the back. Here's the beginning of the first quote from the back cover: "Until the past decade and the genomics revolution, Darwin's theory rested on indirect evidence and reasonable speculation..." (Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences). That's not true! I am emboldened by this bare-faced lie from this well-respected elderly chemist, pick up all four copies, and stroll upstairs.

Now, I aim for accuracy in my recategorization, and I was still slightly mad at the lies on the back cover (read the "Editorial Reviews" at Amazon for a sampling), so I sought out the most appropriate section of the store:


Behe's lie-covered volume now rightly resides in the Religious Fiction section (click on the image to see the label). A job well done.

Since the puny science section carried very few science books, there wasn't much other opportunity for other mistakes on behalf of Barnes & Noble. After finishing browsing science, I went to browse the expansive Religion department and got a nice suprise:


A book by Lee Strobel called The Case for a Creator. This book claims to be a scientific investigation on evidence that points to God's existence, and it is shelved correctly in Religion. As I was saying, science is secular, but that doesn't mean it cannot inform people's religion, just as science can inform people's atheism. In fact, it can do this because its a secular process.

How did Barnes & Noble do? Pathetically small science section, the usual Behe books, a non-science atheism book. Not so great. Picked up points with the Strobel book though.

~ Ste

84 comments:

Shelley said...

Thanks for fighting the good fight Ste. I'm gonna help spread the word. :)

maundering gadabout said...

Twofold: One, I like the idea of leaving a note for the bookstore clerks. And two, man, let folks post comments!

maundering gadabout said...

Two comments:

One, I like the idea of leaving a note for the bookstore clerks -- the point is education after all, right?

Two, let folks post! I was hoping to see some crazy 8-page post by Behe himself, but he must not have a google account.

Ste said...

I considered the note idea, it is a good one, I agree. However I feel conspicuous enough strolling about bookstores with a stack of six pseudoscience books, looking for the religion section. To then whip out a small stack of notes and carefully place them in each book would just make me stick out more. Maybe I'll give it a go next time.

People can post comments. I moderated them because I do not want *another* evolution vs. creation debate blog. There are plenty of places for that on the internets. This is about book reclassification, and what constitutes science.

Also, when people post the same basic thing twice, it enables me to only publish one of them. ;)

Engranon said...

Excellent! I thought I was the only one who ever reshelved books at the bookstore. Count me in as an Engineer helping the fight in SoCal.

Jacqueline Passey said...

I love you.

Ethical Mirth Gas said...

I think you misunderstand the whole bookstore categories thing. Bookstores =/= Libraries.

Filing of books in bookstores has nothing to do with the bookstore trying to make a pronouncement about the book's contents and everything to do with the bookstore trying to wave books in front of the people the bookstore thinks are most likely to buy them.

If the bookstore folks thought they could sell more copies of Origin of the Species by shelving it with the Harlequin Romance Novels, they would.

shandon said...

Thank you, ethical mirth gas. As a longtime bookstore employee, I can confirm that, when deciding where to shelve books, the thought foremost in booksellers' minds is, "Will this book sell from this spot?" At my bookstore, we attempt to shelve books where we think customers who don't want to ask for help in finding things will spot them.

Moving books to another section of the store is not "helping" or "making a statement"; it is making a mess. It makes finding a book much harder for the employee who has looked it up in the computer because it's not where it's supposed to be. It means the possibility of a lost sale because the book cannot be found, at least for the moment. It means more work for already underpaid sales clerks to have to move the books back to where they originally were -- because, rest assured, that's what will probably happen.

A friendly email to the manager or buyers at your local bookstore, suggesting changes and your reasons why, would probably have a greater lasting effect. While I appreciate what you're trying to do, I think you're going about it in the wrong way.

Carson. said...

I'm with shandon on this one. Emailing or letter-writing is a decent idea. Even better, as long as you're going to the stores why don't you just talk to the people working in them? If someone came up to me with a stack of Hitchens' book and said "I found these in the science section" I'd say "Oh shi! I'll put them in the Atheism section where they belong, and make sure the category code is changed."

brandi said...

I agree with ethical mirth gas.. things are put into places will they will sell.

To walk into a bookstore and start reshelving is a little more than rude. I work at a bookstore, and it's true - you are just creating more mess. You aren't getting through to ANYONE that way. We get pompous customers in all the time who think that if they turn the cover of some political book that they don't agree with around, they are making a statement. When truthfully, all they are accomplishing is annoying some bookseller who has to fix the mess you made.

You would do much better to write a letter.

Joe said...

They are likely categorized accord to Library of Congress classifications.

You might want to start there.

Doc said...

Keep up the good fight!

Ste said...

Hi,

A little clarification is needed, I think.

I'm not really aiming to educate just the customers who just happen to be in the religion/new age section of bookstores. I'm not really reclassifying books for the sake of accuracy.

I am aiming to write a light-hearted blog that addresses the serious issue of the lack of science awareness in society: Science has been abused by extremist religion, business, and right-wing politics. So much so that the public cannot discern what science is and is not anymore. I mean, lots of people actually believe that evolution does not happen!

I understand the criticisms posted recently. However, if a few books get moved to another part of a store and a few people get an inkling of what science actually is from reading this blog, then it is worth it.

Yeah, yeah, maybe I'm being idealistic here, but with this blog I am performing a public service.

~ Ste

Ithaca said...

Well, it's nice of booksellers to do their best to help the clueless customer who won't ask but just blunders about the store looking hopefully in what might be a relevant section. Does this mean B&N have put all the serious science books in a part of the store unguessed-at by all the idiot savants who are interested in science and look for books on the subject in the science section?

All the irate booksellers are really telling us is: look, the science section is tiny because we KNOW nobody is interested in science. If we HAVE to take a gamble and have a science section, let's at least redeem it by putting books there that will appeal to the sort of person who has no interest in science -- this being the only sort of person clueless enough to look for such a book in the science section anyway.

I can't help feeling that a bad science section can only confirm a bookseller's conviction that no one buys books on science: no one interested in the subject, knowing what's on offer, will bother to look in the section after a first visit.

Anyway, if they are cunningly filing Lang's Astrophysical Formulae among the books on astrology I hope they leave a note to this effect in Science.

Barrett said...

i'm not a biologist, professional, amateur, or otherwise, but i'm going to start helping bookstores too, dammit!

to all the book clerk critics: don't tell me you wouldn't crack a smile when you find behe filed under "new age." have a sense of humor, and civic duty!

Dave said...

You, sir, are amazing. I wonder if your assistance wouldn't be useful at the local public library as well.

Scott said...

You say that you are "aiming to write a light-hearted blog that addresses the serious issue of the lack of science awareness in society..." I agree with this issue, and commend your wanting to fix it. However, you could accomplish the same task by writing letters and promoting a blog where your bookstore research can be found. Moving books around only annoys customers who cannot find the book they are looking for, and makes more work for employees who aren't even part of the process that decides where these books go. Stick to the writing and the notes, but stop causing more work for people who can't do anything about this.

William Mericle said...

Here's one for you:
I once bought an academic string theory textbook in the physics section of Borders.
Should it have been in the physics section (despite being still untested), the math section (my personal hunch), or the philosophy/religion section (the preference of some well known physicists?

Madeleine said...

The thing is, objectors, most people are ignorant about science, and a significant proportion of book sales, I wager, are as gifts. If one of these ignorant people bought a book they believed to be about science, for someone who they knew liked science, and it turned out to be non-scientific, then that's a bit of a disappointment for the recipient of the book. Similarly, when I go to a boats or car section to find a book for someone I probably don't know well, it would be disappointing to find out later that the book I chose was instead about boat illustration or how to make car-shaped cakes. Granted, the distinctions here are probably easier to make, but that's just it - for those who are less able to distinguish between science and non-science, permitting the blurring of this distinction isn't helping.

Arun said...

Should books be categorized into groups that most people find it easier to pick up from? Someone looking for a non-fiction work with 'evolution' in it's title might look up 'Science' first and not be bothered about the exact category it goes into.

John Mark Rozendaal said...

I admire what you are doing - mostly.

However I do not agree with your definition of science. You say that science is a "secular" pursuit, and therefore "god" is not a proper subject for scientific inquiry. I thought that science was not defined as a category of topics but as a method of handling knowledge.

If it were possible to gather data about a "god," data that sould be reproducible, observable by more than one researcher; if it were possible to deduce from that data a reasoned theory about the existence or non-existence of God; if that theory could be challenged or supported by subsequent data collection or experimintation - wouldn't that be science?

Books on "intelligent design" deal with the question of the origin of the species. They are not science NOT because of the topic that they treat. They are not science, (or at least not good science) because they use selective bits of the data to support improbable theories which have not proven to be predictive. (It is a mark of a strong theorem that it is strongly and correctly predictive of the results of subsequent data collection. I don't know of any theorem involving a god that has ever predicted anything. )

Secular, schmecular, sacred schmacred. Why not leave those specious distinctious to the religionists?

John Mark Rozendaal said...

I actually read Christopher Hitchens' angry screed, "God is Not Great." I heartily agree with the premiss, 'tho I did not like the book. What I got out of it is this: the real philosophical problem of the twentieth century is not the problem of "god" nor the problem of "conduct." The essential problem is the question of knowledge, how we know what we know.

Forget Darwin. If more of our leaders, educators, and friends in Asia and Africa could be borught up to speed on Francis Bacon, THEN we would be getting somewhere.

dahamsta said...

Brilliant idea, well done. However I disagree about Dawkins, assuming the book in question was The God Delusion or similar. Your points about him are correct, but his books are surely still very much opinion? I think ye should be consistent if ye want to be taken seriously. Don't go down the Michael Moore road and leave yourselves open to criticism.

Dan said...

Great blog! I have been isnpired to spend a day out with friends, drinking book store coffee and helping the stores out in return.

Warren said...

I like this idea. To take it personally as an affront to bookstores or their employees is to ignore the minor social sabotaging that is a longstanding tradition of intellectual dissent.

If one less person can locate, buy, read and be deluded by Behe, that's a very good thing.

It's even better if his foolish drivel is found shelved among the blatherings of Ramtha, where it belongs.

Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead.

datamuse said...

They are likely categorized accord to Library of Congress classifications.

You might want to start there.


They certainly are not. Most bookstores don't use library classification schemes, at least not in the United States. B&N, like most bookstores, likely uses BISAC, and deviates from it when it suits them.

Check this yourself using any library catalog. The Hitchens, for example, is right in the religion category where it belongs.

To take it personally as an affront to bookstores or their employees is to ignore the minor social sabotaging that is a longstanding tradition of intellectual dissent.

The problem is that the bookstore employees don't know this. All they know is that someone keeps moving the books around and making more work for them. How about getting them on your side and making them allies in your dissent? How about making stock suggestions for GOOD science books? How about TALKING to them, for heaven's sake? You never know...you might well persuade them to move those books of their own accord. The books will be in their proper places and the bookstore employees won't be annoyed. Everybody wins.

Ian B Gibson said...

Filing of books in bookstores has nothing to do with the bookstore trying to make a pronouncement about the book's contents and everything to do with the bookstore trying to wave books in front of the people the bookstore thinks are most likely to buy them.

But then it doesn't make sense for Behe's books to be shelved in the science section - nobody who is interested in science is likely to read anything Behe writes - so by reshelving his books in the New Age or religion sections, we are actually doing Behe a favour - some of those types of people might actually buy a copy.

DaveX said...

Damn, this is the kind of crap that makes me really hate people. Doesn't anyone see that this is just the same annoying, anal, nit-picky behavior of the Fundamentalists? I don't enjoy living with a bunch of folks who just nag each other for their entire lives, gloating over their miniature victories like reshelving books or dropping a tract that looks like a dollar tip at the restaurant.

Just go ahead, have a war, and get it over with. Call me when you're all done.

soforth said...

Ah, quite good. However, this type of ignorant classification is not quite as frustrating to me as the entire section labeled "metaphysics" in many book stores. I am a philosophy grad, and to see that word so degraded (its the new word for 'new age') is painful. How do I go about re-naming a whole section?

Jessican said...

Thanks for creating more work for those of us that work for pennies at the aforementioned bookstore. Now I get to go to work and move all of those books back to where they belong.

Seriously though, if you have a problem with a book' classification, B&N has an internal process for moving books to different categories. Let us know (via letter, email, phone call, or just a conversation with an available bookseller) and we can submit a request for reclassification.

The next time you feel like using your revolutionary tactics in such a manner...please, just don't. You just make my job less enjoyable than it already is. If you seriously want to see change then try the options listed above.

Also, as a sidenote the Hitchens book is supposed to be shelved in Philosophy, so that store you visited actually did shelve it in the wrong place according to corporate standards.

KevinBBG said...

Good work, Ste. You are even helping out the bookstore because the kind of person who wants a Behe book wouldn't go near the science section but probably frequents the Religion section. I might even start doing this myself.

The Factician said...

You've set yourself a Herculean task. That said, could I request on your next trip to remove Hulda Clark's books about cancer from the Health section, and move them to the New Age section? They're often found right in the cancer section.

More about Hulda Clark here. In brief, she's a nut who thinks all cancer is caused by flatworms, and that you can cure yourself using a device that is essentially a 9-volt battery that you use to shock yourself. Her books are disturbingly common in the health/cancer section of bookstores.

Goldstein said...

Say, thats a great idea!

Thanks for the tip.

Bahahahahahahahaha!!!

As far a Hitchens, what does his rant have to do with philosophy?

Shouldn't it be under the section, "Bigotry"?

Ethical Mirth Gas said...

nobody who is interested in science is likely to read anything Behe writes - so by reshelving his books in the New Age or religion sections, we are actually doing Behe a favour - some of those types of people might actually buy a copy.

And I'm sure you're in a much better position to decide stuff like that then the stupid bookstore owners. Maybe you could just plan out the whole economy for us. I'm sure you know better than Dell how many computers this country *really* needs.

And when you're done, could you please see about censoring this stupid internet thing? All kinds of misinformation here. Maybe Google would hire you to weed out all the stuff from their indexes that you think is bogus?

James1123 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one doing this.

aichelux said...

I'm with the angry bookselling clerks.

You can have a "lighthearted" pranking that garners the occasional chuckle from people too self-important to go reorganizing their ideas about what science is anyway, or you can take your idea and actually do something effective.

If you attempt to attack Things Corporate by pinching the underpaid, and uninvested, front lines of employees, you're merely reinforcing the comfortable buffer zone between them and the people who can get things changed.

You have a point. Here's to hoping you find a way to actually *make* it.

Don said...

I work at a Barnes & Noble and I've been itching to do exactly that. Especially since, in addition to Behe, there are a few PIGs which seem to have wandered over from the religious fiction section...

Anonymous said...

Do the bookstores staff put the books back where they originally were ?

Roonie Roo said...

Thank you! PZ linked to your wonderful post from Pharyngula. I know what my husband and I are doing this weekend. :)

Kitsune Bi said...

Typical.

You go around bragging about... making more work for folks, so that *you* can feel vindicated? How very selfish. Also irrational, if you're actually trying to change anyone's mind.

If you actually have a good argument, write it up-- make a nice little book and sell that. Don't go making folks work harder so that you get thrills.

Or is your next project a "light hearted" record of you stealing books and burning them? Oooh, maybe you can take a sharpie and scribble on the covers! Or rip out the pages? Better yet, stand on the street corner beside the store and preach at-- I mean educate-- everyone who walks in.

Anonymous said...

Ha, great site. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

Liberatus said...

Hey, this reminds me of way back when I wasn't in primary school yet. One day I sorted all the books in my parents' bookshelf according to their colors: Red books to red books, blue books to blue books, yellow books to yellow books - that's the right way, isn't it? My Mom and Dad were less than conviced though...

marty said...

I like all the concern trolls, popping up with their "oh noes, now the books ain't in the right spots!" line. Very droll.

I've heard that the placement of books is often paid for by the publisher as is the shelving, placement on display racks, prominence of location etc. I wonder if any of these not-science books are being subsidised for their placement within the science section.

On another note, there is an "Intelligent Design for Dummies" book, which I spotted in a local bookshop. Probably the most accurate title in the series.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Hey Marty-- at least we care more about people than complaining that bookstores don't cater to our personal taste.

vargas said...

I think moving around books to suit your personal ideas as where they should be is about as silly as it gets.

Why don't you call that woman who's always trying to ban the Harry Potter books. I see you and her have something in common: irrational behavior.

Brian said...

A desperate and futile act by a passionate believer in a fading worldview. Don't you have anything better to do with your time?

Thanks for sharing. My opinion of darwinists is justifiably degraded.

Ste said...

"fading worldview"!

Simply superb. Like a scientific fact of life is going to go away because it doesn't gel nicely with fundamentalist views about what is and is not real.

Pssst! There's also these things called *atoms* you cannot see them but they're real.

~ Ste

Brian said...

Ste...It's called the "Theory of Evolution" unlike the "Law of Thermodynamics"; hardly a fact (been that way for nearly 150 years). Many call it a hypothesis.

Your impotent acts of book shifting illustrate the weakness of your position.

Try reading Behe's book. You'll find more science than the Dawkins philosophic rants that you think belong in the science section.

Ste said...

A "theory" is as good as it gets in science.

In science "theory" does NOT mean "speculation", as per the common usage of the word, but is rather an idea backed up by much empirical evidence from multiple sources.

Creationists have deliberately blurred the distinction between these two meanings of "theory" - successfully it seems.

Perhaps a dictionary is in order?

~ Ste

Brian said...

Ste...you're known as "Misshelver" at "post-darwinist dot blogspot dot com/2007/07/edge-of-evolution-misshelved-by-darwin.html" and described as "dim, warped, and petty". I agree.

Ste said...

Ignorance on a subject is forgivable. Deliberate ignorance on a subject you are attempting to debate is not. Begone.

~ Ste

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Ste-
Pot, kettle, black.

mattghg said...

Thankfully, I got my copy online. I'm up to chapter six, and so far I have been badly misled into thinking all that stuff about mutation rates, amino acids, proteins, DNA, haemoglobin coding, red blood cell structure, malaria's MO, intraflagellar transport and fitness landscapes was anything at all to do with science. Good thing you're around to set me straight. Dr. Behe too. I'm sure he could use a science lesson from a bookstore employee.

spencer said...

Also, as a sidenote the Hitchens book is supposed to be shelved in Philosophy, so that store you visited actually did shelve it in the wrong place according to corporate standards.

I think that's kind of the point . . . the "corporate standards" are wrong. Many people (including me) are somewhat skeptical of our ability to change corporate standards with a politely-worded letter. Hence, this blog.

Ste...It's called the "Theory of Evolution" unlike the "Law of Thermodynamics"; hardly a fact (been that way for nearly 150 years). Many call it a hypothesis.

And yet another ignoramus who doesn't understand the difference between the scientific and popular usages of the word "theory" - but insists on making comments like this one anyway.

As for the "many" who call evolution a hypothesis . . . how many of them are scientists, I wonder? I mean, I'm sure you call it that, but so what? I call (tonge in cheek) religion a mental illness - but that alone doesn't make it one.

Brian said...

Ye olde "deliberate ignorance" line...lol. Just because I don't buy into a logically stunted philosophy posing as science with nothing but pseudo-evidence and fraud to show after 100+ years.

Keep your religion to yourself and stop harassing bookstores. The only difference between you and the guys that paint their gang name on walls is they're more effective.

Abby said...

Hey look at this:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/07/the_bookstores_have_noticed_us.php

If someone else has linked you to this already, then please excuse me. I am in a bit of a rush today!!

Jason said...

Why do you find a book like Mike's so unsettling that you feel the need to indulge in this childish attempt at censorship ?

Surely if his claims are bunk then you have nothing to fear by people looking at his ideas and realizing this for themselves ?

Truth has nothing to fear from error, but error has everything to fear by being exposed to truth.

If you think you are right and have the truth and Mike is in error then why are you doing an excellent impression of someone who fears they are in error and wants to make sure nobody else catches on or is shown something that might show your error for what it is ?

And lest you complain that that is not what you are doing, well, that is the impression you give even if unintentionally.

And besides, why didn't you grow out of this sort of childish idiocy when you were 10 or 11. Unless you are 10 or 11 in which case, I apologise and feel free to keep it up.

Ste said...

"Mike"? You mean Behe? Are you two on first name terms?! Fantastic - tell him that science has nothing to do with God(s), and stop trying to lever his religion into it. Also ask him why none of his studies on evolution is in any of the primary research literature. It's interesting how none of this "science" of his has been peer-reviewed, eh?

His books are not unsettling, they are an affront to good science. And when they are found next to absolute, literal geniuses in the bookstore it is offensive.

Creationism only gets scary when fundamentalist Christians try to force their religious myths as scientific fact down our children's throats. A stand needs to be made well before that can happen again. And I might as well have a laugh along the way. Have a sense of humor, I'm saving your child's education.

~ Ste

Larry Fafarman said...

The surest way for Barnes & Noble to put a stop to these shenanigans is to put the book in the best-seller sections throughout the chain. And for good measure, they could add other pro-ID and anti-Darwinist books to the best-seller sections, e.g., Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, Icons of Evolution, and Traipsing Into Evolution. Then B & N could move the pro-Darwinist books to the fiction section. This reshelving problem will then be cured forever. I guarantee it.

Larry Fafarman said...

In fact, I am going to call the Barnes & Noble store in Irvine and make this suggestion.

Larry Fafarman said...

Also, you stupid fathead, you are going to start a reshelving war, with Darwinist books being reshelved in other sections. Two can play this game. I demand that you cease and desist immediately.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Ste- Publishing a book is "shoving it down our children's throats"?

The problem with peer review is the witch hunt that goes out if anyone is *suspected* of sympathy with ID-- now, if stuff were allowed to be publish and then *logically* torn apart, that would indicate that there are flaws.

When someone blocks stuff from being published, then insists that means that there is a problem with the theory because it was not published... well, that is something else.

Ste said...

No, but using political office to force your personal religion as scientific fact in schools is. I was saying we need to make it VERY clear what is science and what is pseudo-scientific junk before it gets to the stage when certain religious groups start trying to brainwash children.

Anyone can publish a book - and that's kind of the point. EVERY SINGLE PAPER submitted to peer-review IS logically torn apart. Doing an end-run around the scientific process does not help your cause. The peer-review process would not accept ID, not because of some grand conspiracy, but because the supernatural is not an explanation that is acceptable to science.

Look, ID is an interesting concept. It's a pretty fun, cool idea. I mean, God could be the cause of every single mutation that is the raw material for selection - and even if this was the actual truth of the universe, science would have NOTHING to say on the matter. It would still search for naturalistic reasons for why these mutations are happening. Science cannot detect the supernatural. This is why there are a ton of devout, religious scientists out there perfect at peace with the world - and plenty of devout, religious people with no problem with evolution (including the Pope, it seems: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19956961/).

I'm not saying that ID is not the truth, just that it is not science.

So go ahead and believe in your Intelligent Design, just don't expect people to take it seriously as a scientific concept.

~ Ste

Jason said...

"His books are not unsettling, they are an affront to good science. And when they are found next to absolute, literal geniuses in the bookstore it is offensive."

You don't have a right not to be offended. A store does have a right not to have to endure this petty vandalism.

But more than that, you behavior and attempts at censorship give the impression you are scared of the book and don't want people reading it because they might get hetrodox ideas.

And frankly, deny it all you want, actions speak far far louder than words in this sort of thing.

Ste said...

Ok. I'll make it clear for you.

I am drawing a distinct line between science and nonscience. I feel like it is an important one to make.

That's it.

~ Ste

Larry Fafarman said...

The store management did not put these books in the science section to make a statement -- the management put them there to try to sell them. Who are you to question the management's judgment?

The Edge of Evolution is much more likely to sell in the science section than in the "religious fiction" section.

Jason said...

"Ok. I'll make it clear for you.

I am drawing a distinct line between science and nonscience. I feel like it is an important one to make."

Yes i'm sure you believe that. That is not what your actions communicate though. Your actions communicate fear and a desire to censor that which challenges your personal dogma.

You can say whatever you like, but your actions communicate a different message, even if that is not the message you intend to communicate.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Ste- we see you making a statement. At the expense of others. And then throwing your arm out to pat yourself on the back.

We are not impressed.

Ste said...

*sigh*

"Who are you to question the management's judgment?"

Pay attention. I'm a biologist.

~

"Yes i'm sure you believe that. That is not what your actions communicate though..."

*Yawn* You've already made up your mind and no conversation or evidence to the contrary will change it. At least your behavior is consistent.

Just to let you know, scientists laugh at this creationist BS. They find it genuinely funny. Fear is the last thing on our minds - until the religion starts to be pushed into science classes.

~

"We are not impressed"

You are so far from being saved, there's no point in trying. You are not the target of my escapades.

Geez people, have a sense of humor.

Jason said...

"*Yawn* You've already made up your mind and no conversation or evidence to the contrary will change it. At least your behavior is consistent."

Hey make an arse of yourself and communicate to people that you are afraid of Mike's book.

I encourage this behavior on your part because it certainly communicates a message I have no problem with you communicating.

chemriot said...

I am a chemist and I find the issue of published science to be an interesting one. People who do not have a scientific background rely on certain classifications, warning labels, statistical analyses, etc., to help them make decisions as to what is credible. Fortunately in the arena of scientific writing we have peer-reviewed journals that aim to ensure the distribution of rigorously tested information. However, with books distributed for commercial gain, there is very little discernment of this sort. We readily accept that a novel will not necessarily tell us the truth, because it is labeled "fiction", but a book labeled "science" leads us to believe we will be getting factual information. I firmly believe that these "pseudo-science" books have no place in the "science" section due to the fact that people will take them as such. This is dangerous. Imagine a book condoning smoking while pregnant or describing the benefits of leaches instead of blood transfusions being shelved in modern "medical" sections!

As to the previous complaints about causing more work for bookstore employees, I have a comment: I worked in a video store for 5 years and people would constantly put things back in the wrong places, sometimes accidentally and sometimes out of sheer laziness. But occasionally we would find Donald Duck videos mixed in with the "soft porn" section and due to the consistency of their cartoon preferences, I am fairly certain it was intentional. Now, whether or not they ardently believed that duck was sexy and seriously took issue with our organization system is up for debate, but it did give us quite a chuckle every time we had to re-shelve it. My overlong point is that compared to the myriad hours re-shelving due to stupid laziness on the part of the customers, the few minutes spent as the result of the prank were no big deal and often a source of much-needed amusement. I agree with Ste: get a damn sense of humor!

Jason said...

"I firmly believe that these "pseudo-science" books have no place in the "science" section due to the fact that people will take them as such"

Well yeah, but for some reason they keep shelving all this drivel by Dawkins and others in the science section.

I also like your implicit, "but think of the children" cry. Nothing like appealing to "saving the children" to justify censorship.

Amanda said...

To everyone complaining that this (humorous approach to a phenomenon disgracing scientists and humans throughout bookstores) is making more work for the employees: more work = more jobs.
I think you are doing a double service for our fellow earthlings!!

Larry Fafarman said...

Amanda said...

>>>>> To everyone complaining that this (humorous approach to a phenomenon disgracing scientists and humans throughout bookstores) is making more work for the employees: more work = more jobs. <<<<<

This misshelving might not only result in a lost sale when the book cannot be found, but could also result in a lost customer. One of the main reasons why people still buy books at bookstores instead of buying books online is that books can be thoroughly examined before purchase at a bookstore.

Anonymous said...

Well, you can leave as many notes as you want but you're wasting your time. The company has those books listed in those sections in their national inventory computer and when the bookseller's go through their section and scan each title (as they are supposed to do everyday), the PDT computer will inform the associate that the book belongs in science and not religion. Whilst I disagree with this, unfortunately the publisher has categorized those titles as science and B&N must adhere.

Your best bet would be to send a letter to their headquarters in New York City. More specifically to the buyer who keeps up the store's inventory of those particular titles. It'll probably be the science book buyer, or some similar title.

Hope that helps,

-E

Barb said...

I have just posted 2 petitions in support of this very effort!

The first petition is for scientists (the experts on what science is and what science is not) can be found at:
http://sciencea2z.com/z_petition_1/

The second petition is for non-scientists who support removing id books from science shelves can be found at:
http://sciencea2z.com/z_petition_2/

One of the signees send me your blog. Wahoo!

Ste said...

Thanks Barb, I'll make sure these get linked from an upcoming post.

Cheers,
~ Ste

annoyed b&n staffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annoyed b&n staffer said...

i work for b&n and have to tell you that booksellers are not responsible for deciding where the books go. that is decided upon by the publishers and book buyers at the home office in new york. don't be one of those know-it-all customers who tell us how to do our jobs. it's just annoying and rude, as is re-shelving the books. we have enough work to do cleaning up after ungrateful slobs like you. i hope that one day you have no choice but to work in retail, then we'll see how you enjoy it. have a nice day!

Ted said...

Dear Ste: The B&N in Lincoln, Nebraska has NO science section, but has two very large, tall aisles devoted to religion and a smaller section devoted to the genre of science fiction. We found this appalling. I think the larger problem is that B&N is responding to what sells, which rarely includes academic books. You may want to investigate which communities have a science section and those that don't. We would be interested to know how corporate headquarters responds to this issue. Good luck. Best, Ted and Mary Anne

Anonymous said...

BISAC categories would be used by a publisher to send data to a trading partner such as Amazon. Their utility for bookstore shelving decisions is limited. That's why a "bookstore category" is printed on the cover of the book.

But what exactly is a "bookstore category"? It's something invented by marketing types, without reference to any standards. BISAC is an industry standard.

As a database administrator for an academic publisher, I can tell you that our marketing team is still searching for an authoritative list of "bookstore categories". Please try not to get your noses bent too far out of shape if the people who sell books for a living persist in putting books where they will sell.

Even academic publishers play this game, which is called -- biologists take note -- survival.

Andreas said...

B&N is like my second home. Haven't picked up a book in quite a while.

Quite an OC there are you? I wouldn't bother correcting the placement of the books or just don't really notice that much. hehe.

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Andreas said...

B&N is like my second home. Haven't picked up a book in quite a while.

Quite an OC there are you? I wouldn't bother correcting the placement of the books or just don't really notice that much. hehe.

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http://www.beadnshop.com