Monday, August 6, 2007

Borders, A different one (promise), 8/06/2007

Now, some people say that Orange County, California is sorely lacking in diversity, and is basically a cultural vacuum. Others say that Orange County is Los Angeles' New Jersey. But I think this is unfair. Just look at the wide variety of bookstores "The OC" enjoys. There's:

Borders, Costa Mesa;
Barnes & Noble, Newport Beach;
Book Soup, Costa Mesa (CLOSED);
Borders, Newport Beach;
Borders, Mission Viejo;
Barnes & Noble, Orange;
Barnes & Noble, Irvine;
Book Baron, Anaheim (CLOSED);
Borders, Tustin;
and not forgetting Borders, Westminster.

I have trouble picking from this embarrassment of riches. So to randomly choose, I set up a map of Southern California on the wall and thrown a dart at it. I come close to obliterating Catalina Island, ending up in the Pacific somewhere. With that in mind I head for Borders in Huntington Beach.

I arrive and make a beeline for "science". In an attempt to widen my mission past the confines of biology, I check out the Astronomy section:


To my delight there is not one problem with the handful books I find. The bookstore has managed to not shelve a single astrology book amongst the science. According to how Intelligent Designista Michael Behe defines science, however, astrology should be considered a scientific theory!

I'm happy that when is comes to the cosmos, this bookstore agrees with science, and not Behe. It seems, though, that this bookstore is mightily confused:


Behe's nonscience (including a copy of Darwin's Black Box) is helpfully relocated to the "Christian Bestsellers" shelf in Religion. They should sell plenty more copies now it's in it pride of place in the correct part of the store:


Note it now shares shelf-space with other intelligent design literature already present by Strobel, and, two shelves down, Dembski's Intelligent Design.

Now, I've seen in other forums on the internets that ID proponents are sometimes labelled "IDiots". Since I believe everything I read on the web, I take this to heart. Look closely, and you'll see Darwin's Black Box next to The Idiot's Guide to The Reformation and Protestantism. I am even doing all the audience-targeting for this store.

I also find a copy of Wells' awful diatribe, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design in biology. This horrible rag doesn't even belong in a bookstore, nevermind in religion.


I remove this nasty tome and reshelve it in politics. I then go and wash my hands.

Another good day's work. Back to the lab to read, write, experiment and generally science-out. Awesome.

~ Ste

35 comments:

maundering gadabout said...

There ARE other bookstores in OC, including even a few used bookstores if you look hard enough.

Ste said...

Excellent! I guess that's what you get when you don't maunder enough.

Please list some for us.

~ Ste

Optimus Primate said...

I feel your pain regarding lack of diversity, my friend. Here in Montgomery, AL, we have two Books-A-Millions and one Barnes & Noble. That's it!

maundering gadabout said...

This isn't an exhaustive list, and certainly some of these you wouldn't be interested in, but there are at least a couple listed here you didn't mention.

Bob Calder said...

It might be a good idea to check the area around various universities to see who survives in the presence of people who read for reasons other than entertainment. The B&N near FSU in Tallahassee, Florida was closed in favor of Borders for instance.

Bob Calder said...

I would also like to comment to Librarians about mis-categorizing books.

When a Federal District Court judge says information bearing the imprimatur of the Discovery Institute is NOT science, it is a good bet he is right.

Generally when a publisher classifies a book, it is for purposes of clarity within the ontology. But when the Discovery Institute people classify their books it is for the purpose of destroying the integrity of the structure of knowledge.

If libraries can't deal with the issue, they have a problem discriminating honesty from dishonesty. The judge said that the Discovery Institute people are disingenuous and dishonest. Just how does that translate into a "different point of view?"

The Factician said...

Bravo!

Colonel Colonel said...

Yes, bravo! What you are doing is a protest- do not pay any attention to the naysayers who say you are giving extra work to employees, you are not changing the corporate system, etc., etc. Protests play by different rules. If MLK had stood outside the doors of the US Senate trying to play by their rules, instead of protesting in the streets of Montgomery, he would not have accomplished as much.

As for the poor bookstore employees- as a former bookstore owner who knows all about re-shelving, well, you are giving them work. B&N can afford it. That's not to say that writing to B&N's corporate address is not a good idea too, but what you are doing is just as useful.

Good work!

Shawn Wilkinson said...

I recommend putting the PIG book in the bargain bin. Props if you're ballsy enough to remove a red sticker from one of the books and apply it to the PIG. I did it at my bookstore, my pics came out too fuzzy for online publication :'(

Joe G said...

Don't worry about the libraries.

There are 6 of us and we can hit 4-5 a day.

There won't be any of Sean Carroll's nonsense, Dawkins' BS, Darwin's blather or Gould's drivel found in the 500 section.

They will all be re-labeled and properly placed.

We have already hit 12 bookstores!

Thanks for the idea!!!

Patrick said...

Just thought I'd mention that books in big bookstores are generally shelved according to the BISAC subject code, which is determined by the publisher. When you see a Barnes&Noble "associate" plowing through a stack of books with a little bar-code reader, that's what she's doing.

And yes, the BISAC system is designed to help publishers and bookstores sell more books. They have no interest in the taxonomy of ideas.

Good luck :)

Ste said...

Joey G,

a) I don't believe you.

b) I am amazed that you still don't get it.

c) Are there any other established scientific facts that don't gel with your bizarre inerrant worldview?

~Ste

Ste said...

Thank you Patrick,

I'm currently contacting bookstores, publishers, libraries, and the NCSE, and none have mentioned the BISAC system. I'll look into it.

~Ste

Patrick said...

Hi ste,

Interesting. I could be wrong. Here's some info anyway.

http://www.bisg.org/publications/bisac_subj_faq.html

MrBullfish said...

Thank you.

Los? said...

For those wondering, "Where do I begin?" here's a helpful list of books I compiled from the Discovery Institute website and religioustolerance.org.

Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (The Free Press, 1996).

Michael Behe, et al., "Science and evidence for design in the universe," Ignatius Press, (2000).

John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, Darwinism, Design, & Public Education (Michigan State University Press, 2003)

W.A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

William Dembski, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot be Purchased without Intelligence (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002).

William A. Dembski, Michael J. Behe, "Intelligent design: The bridge between science and theology," Intervarsity Press, (1999)

William Dembski & Charles Colson, "Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design," Intervarsity Press, (2004).

William A. Dembski, Ed., et al, "Mere creation: Science, faith and intelligent design," Intervarsity Press, (1998)

William A. Dembski: "The Design Inference: Eliminating chance through small probabilities," Cambridge University Press, (1998)

Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler & Adler, 1985).

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (Regnery Publishing, 2004).

Philip E. Johnson, "Wedge of truth: Splitting the foundations of naturalism," Intervarsity Press, (2000).

J.P. Moreland & Philip E. Johnson, "The creation hypothesis: Scientific evidence for design in the universe, " Intervarsity Press, (1994).

Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (Philosophical Library, 1984, Lewis & Stanley, 4th ed., 1992).

Thomas Woodward & Phillip Johnson, "Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design," Baker Book House, (2003).

hungrydog said...

I love this idea (fortunately I don't need to put it into actiion in New Zealand too much, but I will shelve it away in my brain in case I need to use it later)

Shawn Wilkinson said...

Concerning libraries...

I recommend leaving the books wherever they are shelved in libraries. Moving them would encourage people with only simple curiosity as opposed to devotion to buy these horrendously written diatribes. The last thing we should encourage is the honestly curious to buy these texts. Let the riff raff feed the DI's coffers instead.

Joe G said...

Ste,

A) I don't care what you believe. I invite you to come watch us.

B) I get it. Common Descent is not objectively testable. IOW it is out of the realm of science.

For example there isn't any way to test the premise that a population of single-celled organisms can "evolve" into something other than single-celled organisms!

And to this day we can't account for the physiological or anatomocal differencews between chimps and humans. IOW we don't even know whether such a transformation is even possible.

Therefore:

C) You don't have any scientific facts to support your case.

If you did you wouldn't need to rearrange book shelves.

Ste said...

It's stunning that creationists actually believe that evolution has no empirical evidence. How is this possible? There are books about it, TV shows, science lessons at school. There's even numerous entire scientific journals devoted to the study of evolution.

Fundamentalist religion is scary when reality can be brushed aside in such a way (and VERY scary when they force their religious mythology as scientific fact on to our children).

Joe G, you have come at science with inflexible, fundamentalist beliefs that are incompatible with that fact that life evolves. You either reject that life evolves, or you reject your entire religion. Most Christians know evolution to be true - how is that, do you think?

Evolution happens. That's simply reality. If you can't deal with that then fine - but do not think for one second your ideas are based in science. Evolution is falsifiable, and is effectively tested many time daily in labs all over the world.

The evidence supporting evolution establishes it as one of the best upheld theories in science. That you *choose not to believe* this evidence makes no difference.

~Ste

Sam said...

Well done at wasting time and money that is not yours, and essentially making you a thief, harsh as it sounds.
When a customer looks for a book that you "rearranged", and can't find it, and consequently leaves without buying it, are you willing to repay the bookstore?
I didn't think so. Not "ballsy" enough, eh?

Paul Ingram said...

Ste,

At first, I kind of enjoyed this idea, however the more I think about it, the less I think it's a worthy act. While I understand the ontology of many books is disingenous at best, I can't help but wonder how this kind of act would be deterimental if extended further by people who don't agree with you: you'd have creationists shoving bibles into general science; Harlequin romances jammed into Literature; Windows XP books among the Mac books; cat books in the dog section...

This kind of intellectual fiddling is fun, but it's not going to educate, rather it's going to give the old "we're being oppressed" line more credence, while giving booksellers more work to do—unless you're alphabetizing and 'flushing' the section.

Morgan said...

As a bookseller at a Barnes and Noble, I can assure you, you are not doing anything to change our system of organization. Those of us who shelve the books, zone the sections, etc. have literally no control over where the books are categorized. If there is a book about cocktail onions and my computer says it is supposed to be in children's poetry, that is where I shelve it. No, certainly not because I believe it belongs there, but because if a customer should come in asking for said book, my fellow booksellers are trained to look in the computer to find its location. Also, because literally 50 or more people work on the bookfloor at our stores, we will never notice the pattern of where you constantly reshelve the books. So continue wasting your time if it makes you feel slightly less futile.

Joe G said...

ste,

I don't have any fundamentalist beliefs.

I am not a chriatian. I do not care about the Bible- except that is is a collection of books that could be a good read for some people.

"Evolution" as in the change of allele frequency over time is not being debated.

Even YECs accept that "evolution" takes place.

I asked for the scientific data which demonstrates that a population of single-celled organisms can evolve into something OTHER than single-celled organisms.

How can we test or falsify that premise? (the premise being that single-celled organisms can evolve into something other than single-celled organisms?)

Ya see ste, if you knew what was being debated you wouldn't be having this hissy-fit of yours.

ID is NOT anti-evolution.

ID is anti-the blind watchmaker having sole dominion over evolutionary processes.

And ID is not anti-universal common descent- I am because there isn't any scientific data to support the premise. That much is obvious by that lack of responses to my questions for the data.

IOW I can't choose not to believe what doesn't exist.

Joe G said...

Oops- that should say I am not a christian.

I don't have any religious beliefs.

However, I do understand what Einstein once said:

"Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

The observational evidence says we exist. And in the absence of intelligent design or a Special Creation, all you have is sheer dumb luck:

"Chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the very root of the stupendous edifice of creation."-Nobel Prize-winning chemist Jacques Monod


The point being, of course, that sheer-dumb-luck is “Pure chance, absolutely free but blind.”

Sheer- not mixed with extraneous elements

Dumb- lacking intelligence

Luck- an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another

And the issue I have with this position is that it is unscientific- just how do we test sheer dumb luck?

What predictions can be made by such a scenario?

(of course some people would shout about some multi-verse scenario never realizing that such a scenario is not scientific)

Ste said...

Hello Joe,

I find it amusing you demand evidence and falisifiability for the evolution of single-celled organisms and simultaneously support ID. Do you realise why ID is not a scientific idea?

Please Google "Dictyostelium discoideum".

Bacteria share many things with animals. DNA, basic biochemical pathways, many cellular components. . We share even more with eukaryotic single-celled organisms such as yeast. They have nuclei, mitochondria, etc. Such homology does not happen by chance - we are (distantly) related.

The idea of common descent between single- and multi-celled organisms would be falsified by a complete lack of common features.

For more on evidence for common descent, please see this website: http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_3.htm

Just because random mutation is the source of all genetic variation does not mean that evolution is random. Far from it.

Yes we exist. Why are you then surprised that we observe ourselves to be in existence? What else would you expect to observe? Life may be fantastically unlikely (we're not actually sure), but then again so is the chain of events in my life (and in the universe!) that has lead to me sitting in front of this computer typing this comment. Would you claim that fate has lead me down this unbelievable improbable path? Is the designer concerned with my well-being so much that he gifts me with impressive computer hardware?

Come to think of it, I'm going to officially rename the "anthropic prinicple" to the "Steopic principle".

Have a good day :)

~ Ste

lucy said...

First of all, this is great!

Second, maybe you could put one copy of TGD in science, and another in theology? I just can't make up my mind...

Joe G said...

Please Google "Dictyostelium discoideum".

Amoebas and slime molds do not support the claim that a population of single-celled organisms can EVOLVE into something other than single-celled organisms.

The idea of common descent between single- and multi-celled organisms would be falsified by a complete lack of common features.

That's nonsense. Depending on the loss, replacement and extinction events it is totally plausible that no common features would be shared.

Also similarities can be explained by a common design AND convergence.

Just because random mutation is the source of all genetic variation does not mean that evolution is random. Far from it.

Let's see- the genetic variation (mutations) are genetic accidents.

There is no way to predict what will be selected for at any point in time.

Other accidents do happen, meaning that random effects are at play daily. That is why "fitness" is not defined by physical fitness, no, it is defined by the number of offspring one leaves behind.

Chance has a hand in everything in your scenario.

And there still isn't any data that can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans.


What makes you think that ID is not scientific?

It can be objectively tested. It can be falsified. It even makes predictions.

All this is in tyhe ID literature that you wish to hide.

I take it you want it hidden so that people don't read about ID reality. Ignorance is the best when it comes to this debate.

BTW- I take it you didn't know that the fossil record doesn't support Common Descent.

Ya see marine inverts make up the bulk of the record, >95% and guess what? Universal common descent is not observed in that vast bulk. The best one can hope for is a barnacle "evolving" into a barnacle.

The following is what the data and observations say:

Wobbling Stability:

Chapter IV of prominent geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti's book Why is a Fly Not a Horse? is titled "Wobbling Stability". In that chapter he discusses what I have been talking about in other threads- that populations oscillate. The following is what he has to say which is based on thorough scientific investigation:


"Sexuality has brought joy to the world, to the world of the wild beasts, and to the world of flowers, but it has brought an end to evolution. In the lineages of living beings, whenever absent-minded Venus has taken the upper hand, forms have forgotten to make progress. It is only the husbandman that has improved strains, and he has done so by bullying, enslaving, and segregating. All these methods, of course, have made for sad, alienated animals, but they have not resulted in new species. Left to themselves, domesticated breeds would either die out or revert to the wild state—scarcely a commendable model for nature’s progress."


(snip a few paragraphs on peppered moths)


"Natural Selection, which indeed occurs in nature (as Bishop Wilberforce, too, was perfectly aware), mainly has the effect of maintaining equilibrium and stability. It eliminates all those that dare depart from the type—the eccentrics and the adventurers and the marginal sort. It is ever adjusting populations, but it does so in each case by bringing them back to the norm. We read in the textbooks that, when environmental conditions change, the selection process may produce a shift in a population’s mean values, by a process known as adaptation. If the climate turns very cold, the cold-adapted beings are favored relative to others.; if it becomes windy, the wind blows away those that are most exposed; if an illness breaks out, those in questionable health will be lost. But all these artful guiles serve their purpose only until the clouds blow away. The species, in fact, is an organic entity, a typical form, which may deviate only to return to the furrow of its destiny; it may wander from the band only to find its proper place by returning to the gang.



Everything that disassembles, upsets proportions or becomes distorted in any way is sooner or later brought back to the type. There has been a tendency to confuse fleeting adjustments with grand destinies, minor shrewdness with signs of the times.



It is true that species may lose something on the way—the mole its eyes, say, and the succulent plant its leaves, never to recover them again. But here we are dealing with unhappy, mutilated species, at the margins of their area of distribution—the extreme and the specialized. These are species with no future; they are not pioneers, but prisoners in nature’s penitentiary."



The point being, that IF it were left to direct scientific observations, evolutionism fails miserably and all that is left is wishful thinking supported by speculation.

And here is an article which says that it is all "sheer dumb luck"- that is that anti-ID and anti-Creation scenario:

The Deniable Darwin

BTW I am surprised that you didn't link to the "29+ evidences for macroevolution" posted on the talk origins website.

That is usually the standard for people who don't understand biotic reality.

Joe G said...

Why are you then surprised that we observe ourselves to be in existence?

I'm not surprised. It's that since we exist that existence demands an explanation. And all you can offer is sheer dumb luck.

It was luck that destroyed the dinosaurs. It was culled genetic accidents that then led to humans.

What else would you expect to observe?

In a sheer dumb luck scenario I wouldn't expect to be able to make sense of the universe.

"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." Albert E.

Life may be fantastically unlikely (we're not actually sure), but then again so is the chain of events in my life (and in the universe!) that has lead to me sitting in front of this computer typing this comment. Would you claim that fate has lead me down this unbelievable improbable path?

No, I wouldn't make that claim.

Is the designer concerned with my well-being so much that he gifts me with impressive computer hardware?

At least one designer was involved with your computer. Do you think that a computer and the software to run it can come about without the help of designing agencies?

If not, why not? They are less complex than living organisms...

Ste said...

Hi Joe,

If science discovered an organism with absolutely NO features in common with any other living creature then it would falsify common descent. That all life is based on common building-blocks with common structures, common molecules, etc. is VERY strong evidence of common descent. That is the main evidence - if another utterly different form of life were to be discovered we would infer that life arose twice.

Convergent evolution cannot explain identical genes and biochemical pathways in bacteria, bananas, and buffalo.

Chance plays a large role in evolution, yes. But what part of "selection" do you not understand? Selection at random in an oxymoron.

"And there still isn't any data that can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans."
I'm glad you keep up with the latest scientific research: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=00023D61-9116-14E3-911683414B7F0000&ref=rss
...and thousands of other bits of science a simple Google/PubMed search will reveal.

A common intelligent designer can explain this, but since this supernatural idea is not testable, it is not in the realm of science. This may be the truth in the universe, that a single deity creates stuff, but it is impossible for science to say. God may have created the universe as-is ten minutes ago, but science will go on presuming He hasn't and try to give natural (not supernatural) explanations to the patterns they observe. Common descent is one of them.

That's the whole point of this blog. ID isn't science.

You seem to think that critiquing evolution is objective evidence in support of a designer. It isn't. If evolution were to be totally falsified tomorrow, ID still wouldn't be supported. Where is the **positive** evidence?

The huge block of text you pasted doesn't support your conclusion of "evolution[ism] fails miserably". All it is saying is that selection can drive adaptation and maintains populations. Tell me something new. Maybe you need to study some population genetics and look into the field of experiment evolution. I'll ignore the laughable Discovery Institute link - they have been more than discredited recently.

Shoe-horning preconcieved deities into phantom, non-existent gaps in evolutionary theory is not a very good way of discerning what is and is not "biotic reality".


~ Ste

Los? said...

"'Just because random mutation is the source of all genetic variation does not mean that evolution is random. Far from it.'"

"Let's see- the genetic variation (mutations) are genetic accidents. There is no way to predict what will be selected for at any point in time. Other accidents do happen, meaning that random effects are at play daily. That is why "fitness" is not defined by physical fitness, no, it is defined by the number of offspring one leaves behind.

Chance has a hand in everything in your scenario."

I'm not sure you understand what is meant by "selection," Joe. To elaborate on STE's post, randomness (in a sense) certainly plays a factor in what variations/mutations arise, inasmuch as DNA copying "mistakes" can be "random." But randomness plays virtually no part in selection--that is, the likelihood that this variation will be passed on to future generations, etc. This follows the general outline of Darwin's theory.

"What makes you think that ID is not scientific? It can be objectively tested. It can be falsified. It even makes predictions."

Can you link to scientific articles/journals on instances where predictions adhering to ID "theory" have been successfully demonstrated? This seems unlikely without some sort of insight into the "designs" (that is, plans) of the designer, which ID does not purport to know.

I recommend a brief review of the chapter on evolution in Natalie Angier's The Canon, which is useful in explaining the consensus understanding of evolution to those with little training in the biological sciences. At the very least, you may be able to refine your arguments.

Matteo said...

Of course, to the degree to which your website gains fame and notoriety, it will also serve as "exhibit A" for closemindedness, crypto-censorship, and other unsavory associations for the "Darwinist" camp. You can't possibly think this will ultimately have a good PR effect for your cause, can you?

Ste said...

Evolutionary biology doesn't need "good PR", or any kind of spin. It is an established fact. It needs PR as much as the periodic table of the elements needs PR.

~ Ste

Matteo said...

Riiighttt. I've never heard a chemist say, "the periodic table is as well established as evolutionary biology." For some reason chemistry doesn't need to name-drop other sciences to plead for its bona fides.

Whether or not you think evolution needs good PR, it certainly doesn't need bad PR. Your "achievements" here constitute bad PR. If evolutionary biology doesn't need good PR or spin, then it certainly doesn't need some "hero" stalking around bookstores "setting things right". Or does it?

The Factician said...

For some reason chemistry doesn't need to name-drop other sciences to plead for its bona fides.

Fortunately for the chemists, very few religious folk think themselves qualified to comment on the periodic table.

Interesting that they find themselves qualified to comment on biology, isn't it?