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Monday, September 16, 2013

Move This Book?

I noticed a couple of books in the Science section of my local bookstore. One was by a guy named Meyer (Stephan C. Meyer) and the other was by someone named Myers (PZ Myers). I bought the one by Myers because I already had the other one.

There are some people who get upset by seeing these books in the Science section. Some of these people even like to move them to other sections, such as religion and/or philosophy. I even did it myself on one or two occasions in the past. Lately, however, I've become somewhat less dogmatic about the creationist books. They are, after all, books about science even though they may try to bring religion into science. That does not mean their view are non-scientific. Many of those books are no worse than some of the other "science" books on the shelf that have nothing to do with religion.

What would you do? Here are the choices ...
  1. Move the Meyer books to another section.
  2. Move the Myers books to another section.
  3. Move both books to other sections.
  4. Leave both books in the Science section.
I'm especially interested in hearing from Jerry Coyne and his supporters who supported Diana MacPherson's successful attempt to get Amazon to reclassify Darwin's Doubt as a religious book [Reader gets ID book moved from science to religion section].

Amazon puts The Happy Atheist in the "Religion and Spirituality" category. Does it belong in the Science section of local bookstores?


  1. I've noticed something else about the Science books in local bookstores. Thirteen years ago, there were three of four books by Dawkins on the shelf and five or six books by Stephen Jay Gould. Today, those same old Dawkins' books are on the shelf but it's rare to find any books by Gould.

    The Gould books are just as good as they always were but I guess you have to be living if you want to be popular!

    1. Weird, I noticed that there's re-editions of several of Gould's book because I found a few of them at a bookstore in Toronto.

    2. I disagree strongly.
      Gould's books - both professional and popular - are FAR superior to Dawkins' and show much greater insight and intellectual breadth and depth.

    3. I've read books by Dawkins and Gould and speaking as a scientific layperson, while I enjoyed and learned from both authors I can't say that one was superior to the other.

      As for dead authors being less popular, it doesn't seem to work that way with painters. One has to be good and dead before success really comes your way.

  2. The Happy Atheist should not be in Science.

    1. PZ Myers agrees with this statement.

  3. Where to place the book is a marketing decision by the bookstore. I don't see any reason to make a fuss.

  4. It's the old "free market" vs. "regulation" debate, it seems to me. If it works the same way in ideas that it does in economics then I have to reluctantly side with at least some regulation; and one of my rules would be that creationists have to make some meaningful contribution to science (peer-reviewed and reproducible) before they are allowed to fool the public by having their propaganda books classified as science.

    Maybe there should be some new classification, something like "Wanna-Be Science".

  5. The Happy Atheist should be under religion, or under philosophy. Not science. Meyer's, if there was a "snake-oil-salesmanship in action" section that would be the place.

  6. Just out of curiosity, was the title of this post in any way a reference to the Hoffman book?

  7. I don't see any reason to make a fuss at the bookstore, either. The Internet is here to support fussing.

    ~~ Paul

  8. The bookstore puts things where they sell. It is not concerned with your categories. '-)

  9. Perhaps classification depends on how one defines science. If science is an open-ended occupation, trying to discover general truths about the universe based on examination of evidence it is conceivable both books could be classified in "Science", although discerning readers might quibble, or more, about each. But science should deal with controversies by detailed examination not suppression or dismissal. So if Meyer's book is seen as ideologically biased, and worse, as most of us will see it, it can still sit in science, if bad science, and hopefully those reading it will see that.

    Practically, as others have noted, bookstores are private businesses and they can classify anything anywhere, in the hope that it sells.

  10. I agree with the spirit behind the host's thread here.
    Putting Darwins Doubt in the religious secxtion is saying the author is wrong about it being a science book. Whether intellectually or morally.
    Its presented as a science book and received as a science book by many.
    To say its a religious book about religious doctrines is a nasty accusation against someone TRYING to write science.
    its a book about the search for truth and if it strays into God as a creator its not changing its nature as a search for truth in nature.
    Its a rejection of the authors claimed motives or competence.
    Why do these non scientist booksellers know better?
    Its silly. Anyone reading it must reject it on bad science but not bad religion.

  11. They should move Elements Vault through 90 degrees - could fit another dozen on the shelf that way. I guess they're short-stocked on science books, it could also explain some of their other choices for this shelf.

  12. Neither book belongs in the Science section.
    Creationism belongs with religious books.
    The Happy Atheist should be in philosophy or general interest or autobiography. It is not a scientific work