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I don’t care where you shelve it, as long as it’s not next to that one

Larry Moran has noticed a curious arrangement of books in his local bookstore.

sciencebooks

He asks whether those are appropriately categorized, and where they should go.

The Happy Atheist has some sciencey bits and is colored by a scientific attitude, but I’d openly agree it is not a science book. It’s an atheist book. It belongs in a more philosophical section.

Larry likes to argue that the creationists are at least trying to do science, even if they are doing it incredibly badly and dishonestly; the Meyer book refers to more science than does mine, so should it be more deserving of its place in the science section? If we’re calling it bad science, we’re still calling it science, you know. Maybe bookstores need a pseudoscience section to cope with this filing problem (unfortunately, the pseudoscience section might be larger and more popular than the science section.)

I have a simple solution for right now, though. File my book in philosophy/lifestyle, maybe even the religion section (it is anti-religious, in the same way Meyer is anti-science).

File Meyer’s book in the dumpster out back.

Comments

  1. says

    The underlying problem is that book stores are generally obliged to use sections with complementary descriptions. Ideally, book stores would have an “utter shite” section, but it might harm sales.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I used to regard it as a good deed for the day if, when browsing the shelves of Borders, I could pick up a copy of “Darwin’s Black Box” from the Science section and re-shelve it in the “Religion and Spirituality” section. I would do this most weeks.

    Only two things prevent me from continuing this practice. First, happily, Behe’s book seems no longer to be in print in the UK. Second, unhappily, there is no Borders any more.

    Is there a list anywhere of the currently on-sale pseudoscience that requires reshelving if encountered in the wrong bit of the shop?

  3. says

    Maybe all books should have a Dewey classification on the spine. That way we could let the author, publisher and an independent board thrash it out beforehand, instead of leaving it to the whims of bookshops.

  4. says

    I used to regard it as a good deed for the day if, when browsing the shelves of Borders, I could pick up a copy of “Darwin’s Black Box” from the Science section and re-shelve it in the “Religion and Spirituality” section. I would do this most weeks.

    Thus creating extra work for the minimum-wage shop assistant who has to do the stock-taking. Well done.

  5. Sastra says

    Perhaps ‘pseudoscience’ could be filed into “Spirituality?” Bad science isn’t really the same as pseudoscience, which is usually considered to be a simulation of objective methods covering up a subjective apologetic agenda — which is usually some attempt to show that materialism is wrong. Put Meyer next to Chopra.

    Of course, bookstores could always take their cue from medicine and have a section called “Alternative Science.” “Alternative” meaning “wrong but it makes you feel all special and daring.” They could throw books on reiki into the mix now — along with astrology and pseudohistories which purport that aliens built the pyramids. It would be convenient. It would also be fun to watch the ID folks fume over being set next to New Age quantum mind arguments (though they will and do make the same arguments themselves.)

  6. w00dview says

    At the charity bookshop I volunteer at, I have seen Darwin’s Black Box in the popular science section but by far the worst thing i seen was a book about how to treat the “disease” of homosexuality in the sociology section! I told one of the managers that it might be best if we moved it to another section because it would not look good for us to legitimising that crap by putting it within social science. So we came to a compromise and put it into the “Curios” section aka any random shit goes here. Thankfully any climate denial nonsense is put into the politics section and has not infected the science section at all. Still, seeing Behe’s gibberish alongside the likes of Dawkins and Goldacre is a real shame.

  7. David Marjanović says

    Ideally, book stores would have an “utter shite” section, but it might harm sales.

    Do you really think so? Some people seem to disagree.

    (Excuse me while I roll on the floor laughing.)

    On a somewhat-related note, NBC is running a poll as to whether to shelve the Bible under “fiction” or “nonfiction.”

    Gah.

    How much historical truth does the Bible contain?

    Every word is literally true. 46%
    It’s mostly true, with some fiction. 28%
    It’s mostly fictional. 27%

    Total Votes: 106,663

    It would also be fun to watch the ID folks fume over being set next to New Age quantum mind arguments

    Yesssssss!!!

  8. consciousness razor says

    It would also be fun to watch the ID folks fume over being set next to New Age quantum mind arguments (though they will and do make the same arguments themselves.)

    I was going to argue with that until I got to the parenthetical: some of them wouldn’t fume at all.* They eat it right up, alien pyramids and all. I bet if instead of a “Spirituality” section, it was labeled “Crank Magnetism,” some would be excited to hear about this strange new theory about such a powerful and mysterious force. How do magnets work? They’re cranky? Why do they feel that way?

    *It is, of course, a separate question how many have inhaled a lot of fumes.

  9. neXus says

    I’m surprised that there wasn’t a science/anti-science book annihilation when those were placed next to each other… they should separate the two for safety. :P

  10. Nick Gotts says

    I used to regard it as a good deed for the day if, when browsing the shelves of Borders, I could pick up a copy of “Darwin’s Black Box” from the Science section and re-shelve it in the “Religion and Spirituality” section. – sonofrojblake@3

    In the same spirit, I used to re-shelve Tony Blair’s autobiography under “True Crime”.

  11. tomh says

    Amazon lists Darwin’s Doubt in the “Science and Religion” section. And the Kindle unit has it in in the “Religion and Spirituality” list.

  12. David Marjanović says

    Do you really think so?

    Jesus Hüseyin Christ.

    I just watched the first 20 minutes of the official parody sequel (with at least one of the original actors), “The Son of the Man Who Saved the World”. I can’t stop laughing – even though I understand only one word out of 200!

    I have to stop, or my day is over.

    I bet if instead of a “Spirituality” section, it was labeled “Crank Magnetism,” some would be excited to hear about this strange new theory about such a powerful and mysterious force. How do magnets work? They’re cranky? Why do they feel that way?

    Win.

    I used to re-shelve Tony Blair’s autobiography under “True Crime”.

    Your internet is in the mail!

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    Which elements vault the highest?

    A few days ago, someone at the local public library misfiled The Happy Atheist (Dewey # 211.8Mye) in the history (Dewey #s 9xx.xx) section, where I found it. And promptly checked it out, because a Coincidence so Cosmic is defied only at the risk of one’s eternal karma.

    Fwiw, I’ve begun to understand why some of the reviews decry THA‘s pugnacity. I find it more comfortable to read just a few recycled blog posts short chapters at a time, but reviewers face deadlines and have to plow through the totality of a tome in one or two sittings – in this case, rather like trying to eat a whole jar of salsa all at once…

  14. cloudiah says

    Maybe all books should have a Dewey classification on the spine.

    Ah, classification systems. The Dewey classification for this book is 211.8, which puts atheism under “Concepts of God.” The Library of Congress classification for atheism (BL2747.3) is a little better as it is under the broader category of Religions–Mythology–Rationalism.

    /endlibrarynerd

  15. Arete says

    Daz #5

    Thus creating extra work for the minimum-wage shop assistant who has to do the stock-taking. Well done.

    Plus also getting them yelled at by the pissed-off customer when they can’t find the book the computer says is in stock. I worked at Borders when I was in college, and what this kind of thing accomplished was 1) punishing the employees for following the procedures ordered from on-high, and 2) ensuring that we ordered more copies of the book than we would have otherwise, because when we couldn’t find one, we would just special order another one.

  16. edmundog says

    At Barnes and Noble, we have you in Atheism, which is a subset of the Philosophy section, which at my store, is right after Religion. Most creationist hooey winds up in Religion, but we have some in Science (Darwin’s Black Box, Signature in the Cell). When I see someone perusing one, I try to redirect them to Ken Miller. We do have The God Delusion in Science, but that’s because they like to keep all of an author’s stuff together if there’s any justification for it. Same reason John Connolly’s horror/fantasy stuff is in Mystery.

    And to the people who are moving/reshelving stuff: Knock it the fuck off. It’s not funny. The only effect is that it makes more work for me.

  17. John Horstman says

    Seriously, one generic “Science” section with a hodgepodge of books from various disciplines, some of which aren’t even science? Larry Moran deserves a better local bookstore.

  18. anuran says

    Neither should be in the Science section. Creationism is not Science. It is religion. The Happy Atheist is not Science. It is philosophy or autobiography or general interest.

    Ultimately, though, it’s a marketing decision

  19. says

    I recall that the gift shop/magazine section in the movie Airplane! had a section labeled “Whacking Material.” Although I doubt it referred to material for pseudo-intellectual masturbation, the label does seem appropriate for the likes of Meyer and Behe.

  20. Rich Woods says

    I recall that the gift shop/magazine section in the movie Airplane! had a section labeled “Whacking Material.”

    It didn’t stop there.

    “Ah, he’s a boy dog!”

    I’d say ‘run, don’t walk’ but it’s as funny as fuck…

  21. John Horstman says

    @David Marjanović #9: Yeah, the poll numbers are still depressing, especially considering that given the level of internal contradiction in the Christian Bible (any version of the various books that go by that name), it’s impossible for every word to be true. Something (basic logic?) tells me everyone voting for that option has not actually read the thing, didn’t understand large portions of it, or is managing to compartmentalize individual pages or paragraphs in a stunning display of cognitive dissonance.

  22. Ichthyic says

    “How much historical truth does the Bible contain?

    Every word is literally true. 46%
    It’s mostly true, with some fiction. 28%
    It’s mostly fictional. 27%

    Total Votes: 106,663”

    that’s pretty close to the equivalent questions asked in the 30 year long gallup poll. it should even out at about 30% literally true, 40% tru+fiction, and 30% fiction to be completely in line.

    gaaah! indeed, but not surprising, nor really meaningful or informative.

  23. David Marjanović says

    Something (basic logic?) tells me everyone voting for that option has not actually [...]

    Yeah. Exactly.

  24. Ichthyic says

    *reads a couple of Jeremy’s blog posts*

    I think you should write a book Jeremy.

    oh, wait…

    maybe not.

  25. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    When I was a kid our department store kept Isaac Asimov’s science books with his science fiction. I pointed it out to them a couple of times. The second time they explained that they didn’t have a science section as such so they put all his books together and I knocked it off.

  26. David Marjanović says

    File it under: I’ve got a wildly popular blog, so let’s just cut and paste some blogs posts and fashion it into a book.

    Not quite true. Several chapters are entirely original.