Sunday, September 2, 2007

Please discuss...

Why are some creationist books found in science, while other are found in religion?

I've come across this kind of confusion before, with the books of the pseudoscientist William Dembski with No Free Lunch in science, and Intelligent Design appropriately shelved in religion. Why do some books incorrectly end up in science, while others are correctly placed in religion or philosophy? This is why these poor, confused bookstores need our help, but the underlying reasons for these inconsistencies need to be addressed also. Stay tuned for more.

~ Ste


Heathen Dan said...

Most bookstore rely on what's printed on the books themselves. I've seen woo-woo books labeled "science" and are therefore filed under the science section.

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Daniel James Devine said...

Heathen Dan is probably right; booksellers read an overview paragraph for the book, and if it sounds more philosophical than scientific, it goes in the philo. dept.

After all, what bookseller reads through his books before selling them?

Ste said...

I find it interesting that, as with Dembski's books, titles that *appear* to be legitimate science are counted as science (No Free Lunch), while books whose titles make them unambiguously religious (e.g., Dembski's "Intelligent Design", Strobel's books) end up in religion.

Have some ID authors successfully hoodwinked the bookstores to try and claim scientific legitmacy?

~ Ste

Jason said...

It's because those who determine what books go where in a bookstore aren't the kind of people who use prejudiced terms like "pseudoscientist."

Actually, bookstores do use what the books are categorized as by the Library of Congress. Looking up No Free Lunch on the LoC website shows that it is categorized as:

Evolution (Biology)--Philosophy.
Biological systems.

Perhaps instead of being a gigantic jackhole and picking on the bookstores, you should try to get the LoC to change how they categorize books you personally dislike. (Good luck with that!)

Ste said...

I use the term "pseudoscience" which refers to junk science - that is stuff that trys to appear to be scientific.

Yes, Dembski's "No Free Lunch" is not in the LoC's section, but his book entitled "Intelligent Design" is classified thus:

Subjects: Religion and science.
Intelligent design (Teleology)
God--Proof, Cosmological.

And, not coincidentally, it is found in religion in bookstores too.

So, books that are unambiguously ID are counted as religion (see Strobel's books), but ID books that pretend to be science (see Behe) are counted as science. The LoC class books by what they appear to be - if the published pushes them as science then they are classes as that. The LoC needs notifying of the contents of these books.

I am currently talking to the LoC and making good progress - I shall report soon.

Oh, and please don't flame, it just makes you look dumb.

~ Ste

Stephen Hero said...

@ Ste - the idea that books focused on scientific issues via theological or philosophical frameworks should be categorized outside of science sections seems to be a bit narrow minded. Your attempt to re-classify them is on par with an attempt to disengage science from ethical concerns - as though they are somehow mutually exclusive. Science, philosophy and religion are not now, nor have they ever been, nor should they be conceived of as wholly separate. I would argue that this type of cross-pollination would drive rigorous debate through exposure to a broader spectrum of ideas. I can, however, see how this would be problematic for those attempting to move forward a (thinly veiled) anti-religious program.

Stephen Hero said...
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Stephen Hero said...
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Lori Blough said...

Hello -- former bookstore employee again. For the 10 or so years I worked at Waldenbooks, this is how it went. Giant shipment of boxes comes in Friday night, with 50 to 200 cartons depending on the size of the store - I worked in a tiny one, a middlin' one, and a large "combo" store. By Saturday evening, someone or two had to open all of the randomly filled boxes and sort them onto shelves in the back room - in bursts, in between working the counter and so on. Not a lot of time to think about it, just peek at the cover and pick a category and move on to the next one.

Sunday morning 2 to 6 employees would come in for a couple of hours for a "shelving party". The goal is to get every book out between 8 am and noon before the mall/store opens. Again, no time to seriously examine the books. If we absolutely couldn't decide we'd hit the computer to see what category home office said to use.

Eventually, most things that are not well shelved will get discovered during straightening or scanning for returns. But then again, you always have customers randomly putting books wherever they feel like - like the oh so funny trick of putting erotica in the kid's section... And, as you look titles up you might think about something that needs reshelved - if you have the time. Waldens was notorious for understaffing, so Borders is probably just the same.

Sorry so long... just wanted to give you the "other side".


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