Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Library of Congress (maybe a tiny little bit)


Ok, so no - I haven't made the trip to Washington DC to sneakily run about reshelving junk science. Nor have I hacked into the Library of Congress (LoC) computer system to reclassify stuff. No. What I have been doing is talking via email with some very helpful and responsive staff of the LoC to determine why in bookstores, local libraries, and in the LoC itself, some intelligent design books are in science, while others are in religion/teleology/etc. - and how I can go about changing this.

This has the potential to get to the core of the bookstores apparent confusion...

I decided to focus my initial efforts at first on Behe's two books (LoC full records are here and here [links broken - LoC Control Numbers 96000695 and 2007298379, search at http://catalog.loc.gov/]). I asked that since there is a separate classification for creation science (BS651), why are two prominent Intelligent Design books, classified as biological science (in the 'QH's). The response was enlightening:

"The class number is based on the first subject heading, and subject cataloging/classification is subjective. We also catalog books based on what they indicate they are. They may not have presented themselves as books on creationism."

So if Darwin's Black Box was presented to the LoC as a scientific critique of evolution, and the book appears
to be science, then it is taken as such. One of the hallmarks of ID and creationism is the scientific obfuscation they engage in, trying to pass off their personal beliefs as hard science, and gain scientific credibility in the process. Has creationism been successful in sneaking into our public libraries and stores as science via this route?

I pointed out to our friendly librarian that these books are indeed creationism, and asked how I could go about getting the reclassified. This was the response:

"We catalog it as the book tends to indicate it is. We do not go back unless we are totally wrong based on the book itself. What does this book indicate? If it indicates it is a hard science, then that's how we treat it. ... Unless there is evidence in the book itself that the 1st, most important topic is creationism, what we have stands. And it must be about creationism itself, not tangentially related."

Since Behe's Darwin's Black Box was at the forefront of the resurgence of creationism, and concludes God is at work, therefore is not science - I am confident Behe's books meet these criteria. I argue my case to the librarian and he forwards our conversation upstairs to the Cataloging Policy & Support Office of the Library of Congress. I feel like I am getting somewhere!

A few weeks later I get a response:

"In 2006, the Library of Congress established a new classification number in the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) at QH367.3 for "Critical works" on evolution. The scope note says, "Class here works that argue against the theory of evolution." Behe's most recent work, "The edge of evolution : the search for the limits of Darwinism" (2007) was just classed in that number."

This makes sense as to why we find Behe's new book in science in libraries and bookstores, though I am far from happy. A special classification has been created within science:biology (the 'QH's) for works critical of evolution. One would think that books in this class would be critical of evolution from a scientific standpoint, not a religious, theological, or philosophical one. But, according to the LoC, if it's about science, it goes in Science.

Furthermore:

"A 1996 book, "Darwin's black box : the biochemical challenge to evolution" was classed in QH325, "Origin and beginnings of life" at that time. LC's copy of that book is currently in circulation, but we intend to examine it when it is returned to see if it should be reclassed to QH367.3 or another appropriate classification."

Well, I might have done some good here afterall. Behe's Darwin's Black Box is currently classed as "Molecular Evolution" and "Evolution (biology)", with no mention at all of its real subject. The LoC CPSO is going to see if it deserves to be a part of this new class.

Creationism is sneaking in the back door to sit side-by-side with science. I feel that a new class number within science is not only wrong, but more than a little bit disingenuous. Does anyone know who was behind this new classification of ID books?

I encourage all readers to independently contact the LoC about this issue. Here is a link to "Ask a librarian" for science and technology. When you ask a question you have to sign in and your questions and conversations with librarians are all saved. It's all rather good and easy to use. I have found these people to be polite, patient, and responsive, also. Go for it!


Anyway, that's all I have for now. Happy reshelving.

~ Ste


16 comments:

eagleapex said...

I'm sorry that I'm from the school that Behe teaches at: http://www.lehigh.edu/%7einbios/faculty/behe.html
Sigh.

Ste said...

Don't worry, you're not the only one there ashamed of Behe's presence. Apparently, the faculty are of the same mind and felt the need to post a disclaimer!

"“While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally and should not be regarded as scientific.”"

~ Ste

Jason said...

Thanks for the link. I'll make sure that they are informed about the differences between Intelligent Design and Creationism. I'm sure you falsely portrayed them as one and the same.

Ste said...

ID does not equal creationism, but is a subset of creationism, a type of "creation science". As such it is BS.

~ Ste

Ste said...

Oh, and Jason,

Make sure that when you contact anyone about this to have the same animated gif next to your signature.

~ Ste

Jason said...

ID is a subset of Creationism like evolution is a subset of spontaneous generation.

And what does my avatar have to do with anything?

Ste said...

You think? Don't both think the Creator is responsible for life? Doesn't ID go about this in a specific way?

ID is a form of creationism, there's no way around it - if you disagree then please explain why you think differently.


Your avatar has EVERYTHING to do with it.

~ Ste

Matteo said...

Ste, where should they file books about irrational obsession?

Ste said...

I assure you, this is all perfect rational.

I happen to value science and science education. When anti-science junk poses as legitimate science and shares shelf-space with real science, the public suffers: Science education suffers, scientific literacy nosedives, people become more stupid.

If you don't value science or education then that's just a crying shame.

~ Ste

Jason said...

You think? Don't both think the Creator is responsible for life? Doesn't ID go about this in a specific way?

Creationism takes everything directly from the Bible. ID does not even touch the Bible. In fact, the only thing ID says about a creator is what evolution doesn't even touch: what created the first life. Evolution just assumes the existence of a first lifeform and goes from there. ID simply takes it one step back and says that even the simplest lifeform is too complex to have arisen by random chance and must've been created by an intelligent being. Could have been God, the Wiccan Goddess, Zeus, aliens from another planet (i.e. panspermia, which has been advanced by evolutionists), time travelers, beings from another dimension, etc. ID simply does not claim exactly who or what created it.

ID is a form of creationism, there's no way around it - if you disagree then please explain why you think differently.

This is borrowed, but it sums up a lot of the differences quite nicely:

According the Bible :
- Matter created by God in The Beginning.
- Earth before sun and stars.
- Oceans before the land.
- Light before the sun.
- Atmosphere between two layers of water.
- Land plants first life forms created.
- Fruit trees before fish.
- Fish before insects.
- Land vegetation before the sun.
- Marine mammals before land animals.
- Birds before land reptiles.
- Man, the cause of death.

According to her, 'Intelligent Design' people believe :
- Matter existed in the beginning
- Sun and stars before the earth
- Land before the oceans
- Sun, earth's first light
- Atmosphere above a water layer
- Marine organisms, first forms of life
- Fish before fruit trees
- Insects before fish
- Sun before land plants
- Land mammals before marine mammals
- Reptiles before birds
- Death, necessary antecedent of man

Your avatar has EVERYTHING to do with it.

A nice non-specific answer to dodge actually answering the question.

Ste said...

There are many creation myths that are believed by followers of many religions. A Hindu who believes their God(s) created the Universe is a creationist. It is not a exclusive Christian thing.

ID may not specify which creator is doing the creating, but it's followers are exclusively religious, and almost all Christian. Suffice to say that most ID followers believe the Christian God is doing all the creating.

Also, only young Earth creationists take everything from the Bible. The slightly more sophisticated creation scientists don't take it literally, and accept that "microevolution" takes place, but still deny common descent (in the face of tremendous scientific evidence). ID is a creation of creation science people, not the young Earthers.

The Dover trial established for all to see that ID == creationism. The scam was uncovered for the whole world to see then. ID died that day.

~ Ste

PS. I'm just trying to say your avatar is embarrasingly awful. That's all.

Irving Washington said...

Ste - your blog rules and your infinite patience is an example for us all.

I always look forward to your next post.

Thank you.

Ste said...

Why, thank you Irving. :)

~ Ste

barrett 'n megan said...

glad to see this blog, i was just looking into the issue myself.

Of Pandas and People is also listed in the QNs, so I sent an e-mail off to have it moved. That one should be easy, considering the results of the Dover trial, I'd think.

-m

barrett 'n megan said...

woah! they shot me down.

"We do not go back to recatalog based on court decisions. We catalog books based on what they purport to be."

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