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Reshelving Books

Dan over at Gimme Back My God! has an idea.

He got it after reading this post by Saint Gasoline.

Saint Gasoline writes:

Intelligent Design books like Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box or Wells’ Icons of Evolution can be found in the science section of these book stores, along with real science books…

Simply because the books are about science doesn’t necessarily make them science books, for the same reason that a fictional story based upon an historical event isn’t placed in the history section. Perhaps the biggest reason I find this disturbing, however, is because it is very misleading to the general public, many of whom falsely believe that Intelligent Design is a science only to have this hollow belief solidified by finding these horrid books in the science section of the store.

Here’s Dan’s idea (via email):

I got the idea to start a Book Reclassification Day where on a specific day (July 28th) atheists all over can go to their bookstores and move this propaganda back onto the religion shelves at their local bookstore. I even came up with a poster and also a prize to give away to the person or group with the most creative idea of spending Book Reclassification Day.

Personally, I don’t go for this idea. I think it hurts the bookstores more than it does any “damage” to the ID/anti-Science movements. Most bookstore workers have nothing to do with where books are filed. They do need to know where the books are shelved, though, if customers ask. And if atheists (or others) reshelve them, it would just frustrate staff members that have nothing to do with the placements in the first place.

If there was a way to make a case against putting books like Behe’s in the Science section to the CEOs (or whoever makes these decisions) of Borders/Barnes & Noble, I think that might be worth pursuing.

What do you think of Dan’s idea? Is it something he should pursue? If not, is there an alternative idea along these lines that you would support?


[tags]atheist, atheism, Gimme Back My God!, Saint Gasoline, Intelligent Design, Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution, science, Book Reclassification Day, Borders, Barnes & Noble[/tags]

  • http://prosthesis.blogspot.com macht

    I think it is a horrible idea for pretty much the same reason as you. It would be a lot like going to the local grocery store and taking the bagels out of the bread section and putting them in the breakfast section. All it does is annoy the employees by giving them extra work to do. You’d be a hundred times better off having a bunch of people write a letter on the same day to the management of the bookstore saying you think the book is misclassified.

  • http://blog.chrisbradleywriter.com Chris Bradley

    I’m not sure mixing up the books is a bad idea. Sure, the workers have to “fix” things — consider it job security. It’s not like you’re peeling their skin off or something. All acts of civil disobedience cause at least some hassle — it’s sorta their point. And if you’ve gotta go to religion to find Behe, maybe it’ll make someone think.

    That said, the best way to convince corporate officers to do anything is to appeal to greed. Find a way to tell them that if you move ID books over to religion that they’ll sell better and they might give it a whirl. Of course, they might actually sell better and they might be moved back.

  • Rockingham

    In my local book store, I once re-housed a copy of the God Delusion from the science shelf (making sure I left plenty of copies there) to the religion shelf where I put it next to a copy of the bible. Hee hee, I thought. Mind you next time I went in there were no copies of the God Delusion to be found, so either they had all been bought (that’s what I hope) or they had all been burnt by infuriated fairyists.

    I was going to do the same for McGrath’s ‘The Dawkins Delusion’ but there was no shelf for pompous crap.

  • http://lowmag.net eli sarver

    I’ve “turned” Behe’s books in the bookstore, especially when they are displayed face out on the shelf in the science section. Or I’ll put a copy of something more interesting and accurate in front of them.

  • http://www.saintgasoline.com Saint Gasoline

    I think that this would only be effective if we could get a ton of people to do it in a way that would generate publicity. I don’t really see that happening, though.

    I think it would be cool to organize a huge letter-sending affair to whoever is in charge of classifying these books. But I really don’t hold out much hope for seeing any real, lasting change. For now, we’ll just have to see this stuff in the science section, sadly.

  • Mriana

    You know, a new section called Pseudo-science could be formed, but then again, people could get confused with the word science in the title. Wonder if it could be explained like fiction and non-fiction? Pseudo-science is the fiction and the science is the non-fiction. lol

    Yeah, you maybe right. That may not work so well either.

  • http://prosthesis.blogspot.com macht

    Wait … The God Delusion is in the science section too?

  • Rockingham

    Macht – yes, an arguably correct classification; Dawkins makes the case that the existence of the great sulky teenager in the sky is a scientific hypothosis which he then takes great delight in annihilating.

    However, I was surprised when I first saw it next to the Ancestor’s Tale. It is written by a scientist, so it is in the science section. One wonders, based on that logic, why Contact is in the fiction department.

  • False Prophet

    In my experience, bookstores (especially big box ones) misshelve books all the time. Once I went looking for a copy of David Hume’s Dialogues on Natural Religion for a philosophy paper. The store catalogue terminal said it was in, so I scoured the shelves of the Philosophy section, the Christianity section, the Religion section, and even in desperation, the New Age section. No luck. I find a clerk, he checks the computer again and says, “it’s a paperback–someone might have shelved it in Fiction by mistake.” Sure enough, there it is.

    Also, stores with separate fantasy and science fiction sections will shelve authors in the section they’re most famous for, thus Heinlein and Asimov’s fantasy work will be shelved with science fiction, for example, and much of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series will end up in fantasy. Ursula Le Guin seems to be the only author who avoids this.

    Bookstores shelve according to marketing demands. Meanwhile, the library I work at shelves The God Delusion in the 200s with religion but pretty much the rest of Dawkins’s books are in the 500s (natural science).

  • Richard

    The shelving classifiers or CEOs or whomever of these bookstores should be written about this. Time after time I find books for occult research in “New Age” or Philosophy when they clearly should be in one or the other and not both. Luckily, Borders has a metaphysical section where most of my books fit reluctantly given lack of public draw to them.

    B&N is by far the worst I’ve ever seen. My local B&N has a giant section for Christianity and then Islam/Judaism/Buddhism are relegated to a single wall while everything else is crammed into New Age. Any books on atheism (not not agnosticism) are shelved into a number of sections from Christianity to Fiction simply because B&N has no idea how to categorize properly. I mean, I once found a book on Linux Systems Administration in the Business section along with a few others and this wasn’t a mistaken shelving, their tag on the back stated “Business/Systems”.

  • Jen

    I like the idea, in theory, of protesting by moving the books but it would only work if it was large scale, and there were tv cameras.

    I hate bookstores because I can never find anything I want! Say I want a romance novel written by a black woman. I have to search romance, fiction, black fiction, etc. I swear, I do 99% of my book shopping online these days.

    The library is only easy to navigate because of the online card catalogue. My hometown is still on the Dewey, and while I know many of the numbers, its worthless to try to find specific books off of what I think the number should be.

  • Logos

    Christians have thought of this idea a long time ago. As a child I remember hearing on some PTL type show , about what a good idea it was to put books by authors like Hal Lindsey in the new age section in hope of converting a few unbelievers.

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    Having some fun is really one of the main reasons why I thought this might be a good idea – it’s not really hurting anyone and it’s not technically illegial or anything like that.

    What would need to happen is for large numbers of atheists and like minded individuals to take part in this campaign for it really to make any difference at all.

    If everyone who took part recorded their activities on a camera phone or small video recorder it could also help raise the level of awareness.

    Maybe I should record myself doing a “test run” at my local Barnes & Noble to show people how easy and fun this could be?

    Also if more people are interested and start spreading the word maybe I could find a way for more people to donate some prizes – maybe like something signed by Richard Dawkins :)

  • http://www.thegreenatheist.com TGA

    I think a petition or letter campaign to B&N’s management would be more effective.

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    TGA : I definitely agree that a letter writing campaign is the high road to take but in today’s world of YouTube, blogs and the internet a letter writing campaign is not all that “sexy” if you will. A bit of social/bookstore disobedience recorded via camera and posted on the internet in the thousands can garner a much broader spectrum of appeal to mass audiences and it can do it much quicker too.

    Maybe, if my idea gains some momentum then after the “event” we can then do a letter writing campaign because by then we could already have the publicity behind us?

  • http://foshdawg.livejournal.com Richard

    Send this to Dawkins or PZ, have them talk it up and it may get on the news before reshelving even has to take place.

    As I stated on my own blog, I think sandwich boarding would be just as effective (if not more) as reshelving and a lot less hassle for the employees. After all, if they see you reshelving hundreds of books, you’re more than likely to get kicked out of the store or they’d think you’re doing something more sinister.

    I’d say take the high road, too many guerillas are being locked up for stunts these days, just look at the guy arrested last week for putting up viral Zune posters, he spent the night in the hoosegow!

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    I just sent Mr. Dawkins and email regarding this matter. I’ve included it below :

    Hello

    My name is Dan Harlow and I had an idea to help bring awareness to the general public about how bad science books regarding intelligent design get shelved in with the real science at bookstores. My idea is to have a book reclassification day where atheists and rational thinkers can go to their local bookstore and re-shelve these bad books onto the religion shelf where they belong. Participants can record their activities and I will post them to the internet to help further raise awareness.

    I ran the idea past The Friendly Atheist over at http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/03/19/reshelving-books/ and though he does not feel it is the best way to go about this since it will probably just annoy hard working employees who will have to put the books back again I am seeing some support for this idea as well.

    I am interested to see what you might think about this idea and possibly hold a discussion about it on your site. I understand you probably get requests like this all the time and that you are very busy so I understand if you will not be able to entertain my idea. Should you be interested though please head over to The Friendly Atheist website (as per the link above) as that post contains most of the information so far. I too have a website at danharlow.com and my post about Book Reclassification Day is at http://danharlow.com/?p=503

    I must also be honest with you in that I have not always agreed with you on some issues regarding atheism. I have a post on my site regarding this so I understand if you feel that I am just trying to take advantage of your position as a well known atheist who is capable of reaching millions of people on my behalf. But I do agree with your view that science and rationality must win out over religious extremism and we share the same desire to spread the message to as many people who are willing to listen to us.

    I greatly appreciate your time in this matter and I look forward to your reply.

    Thank you,
    Dan Harlow
    fellow atheist and rational thinker
    970-xxx-xxxx (my personal phone number if you feel more comfortable calling me and speaking in private)

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    I just sent Pharyngula a similar email as well.

    Who knows, maybe this ball could actually start rolling. I’m going to keep a positive attitude :)

  • Richard Wade

    I agree with Richard, Dan Harlow, TGA, Macht and others who have doubts or objections to the idea of surreptitiously re-shelving books, but I have a different reason:

    The reason I’m not comfortable with it is it seems right next door to censorship. Libraries and bookstores have controversial books stolen all the time by people who want to suppress them. They throw them in the trash or burn them. If they can’t get them out of the building, they hide them. Moving books around to where you think they ought to be classified may be a “statement,” in your view, but the effect is that people who want them can’t find them. Do you really want to be a censor, interfering with free access to books? What if you were on the receiving end of that?

    A widespread, organized “guerilla re-shelving” event would at best be seen as a stupid prank. It might get one day’s mention in the news, and then be filed away in the minds of the public as just another adolescent, empty gesture of contempt by those “godless anarchists” or whatever dismissive category they invent. It would be a net loss for our credibility.

    Chris Bradley in his second paragraph above has the best idea: Appeal to the greed of the bookstore owners. I’m sure the shelving strategy in bookstores is decided by their marketing departments, just as the shelf placement in supermarkets is done. It’s all about what will sell the books. They don’t give a damn about the implications or connotations of the categories; they just want to put books in front of the people who may buy them. Appealing to the corporate heads to “do the right thing” by taking I.D. books out of the science section, etc. will bounce off like a BB off a battleship. Somehow, and I don’t really know how, we would have to convince them that they’ll sell better in a more appropriate section. Maybe someone has a constructive idea?

  • Richard Wade

    Dan Harlow,
    Sorry I included you with those here who don’t like your idea.
    RW

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    Richard : no problem. I am very open to other ideas so you can technically count me in the group as well :) Though I am supporting the idea and will defend it I will do so only up to a point because I am interested in other ideas. Believe me, if another idea comes up that is even better than I will gladly take part in it.

    You also make a good point about censorship and that is definitely not my intention but in this case the books are just being moved to another section – they will still be available to the consumer.

    You are also correct that this could be seen as a stupid prank but that is also sort of the idea too. The way I see it a prank can bring about awareness to an issue that other high road ideas may not be able to do as well. As long as the prank is not actually hurting anyone then I don’t think it’s too out of line (though if you argue it hurts the bookstore’s bottom line then I guess someone would be getting hurt).

    Let’s say, for example, that thousands of people actually took part in this prank and it even got some media attention. At some point the media would have to ask “Why is this prank being pulled?”. The answer would be “Because we want to show people that bad science is being passed off as real science.” Then the real debate could begin.

    I sort of think of this idea as a catalyst for change down the road. Maybe I am naive but sometimes that is a good thing too :)

    Like I said above I am willing to defend this idea up to a point because if enough people really do feel that this is not such a good idea then I will let it go.

  • Richard Wade

    Dan,
    Thank you for your open-mindedness. I will do my best to keep an open mind as well.

    Your point about a gesture-prank getting enough attention to start a constructive debate has validity, if the negative connotation doesn’t overwhelm the positive. Fundies would most assuredly call us hypocrites by saying we’re suppressing freedom of thought by hiding the books where people can’t find them. The rationalization that they’re still in the store would be brushed aside.

    I sadly agree that the sound-bite, photo-op, YouTube, sensationalist nature of the media makes it so the outrageous or absurd parts of a controversy get the attention, but sometimes the cost is higher than the effect. Is the old 1950′s Hollywood attitude that there is no such thing as bad publicity really true? Some recent gaffs and scandals by celebrities have seriously hurt their careers. Perhaps there’s’ a lesson there.

    One logistical point: You have announced July 28 as the day to do this. To really get media attention you would not just be spreading the word among us heathens, but to the mass media as well. That means that the staff of every bookstore will be ready for you along with a few “defenders of the faith” a.k.a. goons hanging around the bookshelves in question. I’ve seen more innocuous things get ugly. Please be careful.

    Anyway, I will watch with an open mind and hope for the best. As you said you have started the ball rolling. Be aware that if it goes beyond the point that you are willing to defend, you may not be able to stop it. Something about Frankenstein’s monster comes to mind.

  • http://austinatheist.blogspot.com/ AustinAtheist

    I think Dan’s on to something. At least we’re not “liberating” the books. And I don’t think that “guerilla re-shelving” constitutes censorship by any stretch of the imagination.

    There are other bookstores, not to mention the internet. Those seeking a book favorable to intelligent design can find one readily available from many retailers, or they can see what blogs or websites tell them what they want to hear. If anything, B&N’s misclassification is disrupting the free flow of accurate information.

    As with all acts of civil disobedience, someone is bound to be inconvenienced in the process. That’s the whole point.

    That said, subversive activities are not so easily ignored as are angry letters. We stand to have a greater effect if we coordinate our efforts and do both.

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    I was thinking about taking my video camera to my local Barnes & Noble and taping myself moving 1 book. My plan would be not to hide the book but shelve is in alphabetical order with the other religious books – so Johnson would go with the J’s.

    Maybe if I set a good example it would alleviate some of the temptation by others to literally hide the books where nobody could find them since I agree with you that that approach would be hypocritical of me to do. I don’t want the ID books to go away; I just want them on the correct shelf.

    That being said I can also unfortunately assume that other people may be more devious and attempt hiding them in other parts of the store and that would be something I would not support. Of course since it would not take someone in the media long to figure out who pushed this campaign in the first place then the negative attention you spoke of would come rushing too my front door. I would then have to deal with the Frankenstein monster (great allusion by the way) I created.

    Good food for thought, Richard. The repercussions do give me pause. My gut is still saying “go for it” while my head is saying “If you do, be prepared for the consequences.”

  • Richard Wade

    “nuff said by me. Good luck. If you need me I’ll be waaaaay over here.

  • Pingback: Gimme Back My God! » Blog Archive » Book Reclassification Day

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    I was going to do the same for McGrath’s ‘The Dawkins Delusion’ but there was no shelf for pompous crap.

    ROTFLMAO at the sheer irony of this statement in comparison to a book written by Richard Dawkins! :D

  • Logos

    Well, like I said the Christians started this awhile back

  • Zeolite

    This idea appeals to the little rebel in me who wants to do something just a little rambunctious but not really take a big risk. However, I don’t really think it would do much for the cause overall so I don’t think I would actually do it. Well… I might move just one book…

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Rockingham wrote:

    However, I was surprised when I first saw it next to the Ancestor’s Tale. It is written by a scientist, so it is in the science section. One wonders, based on that logic, why Contact is in the fiction department.

    Rockingham, “The Ancestor’s Tale” is a science book, not a narrative and not fiction (unless you’re a creationist!).

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com Globalizati

    It seems to me that most “science” sections at bookstores contain more than just science itself. They seem to have a lot of books about science, from different perspectives. Behe’s crap is an obvious example, but I seem to remember seeing books on the history of science and whatnot in those sections as well. The bulk of his book, if I remember correctly, is made up of lucid explanations of biochemical mechanisms suitable for laymen. Just based on that, it seems like it fits in a science-related section, though, flawed as it is, it would never muster peer review. There are probably lots of books that don’t fit completely within sections such as “science” or “history” or “religion.”

  • http://austinatheist.blogspot.com/ AustinAtheist

    Last time I checked at B&N, books on the history and philosophy of science were grouped together under “Philosophy of Science,” if not separately. I’m sure quite a few other books of questionable merit about subjects besides intelligent design have been filed under both headings. Just bring a label maker and re-shelve them all.

    But seriously, I don’t see that as a reason not to specifically target the likes of Behe. At least with intelligent design, demarcation is not a problem.

  • Pingback: Gimme Back My God! » Blog Archive » Book Reshelving - Day One

  • http://patrickimo.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    My problem centers around Friendly Atheist’s point that this sort of thing would inconvenience the bookstore workers, not to mention the customers. Put yourselves in the shoes of a B&N employee trying to find a “reshelved” book in your store, and I think you’ll see the difficulty we face with Dan’s idea. The customer gets mad, the employee gets frustrated, and eventually Behe’s book finds its way BACK to the science section…

    Dan, something DOES need to be done about the current book classification system. It needs to be made clear via that system that books like Behe’s are just pretending to be real science. I am working on this now. Let’s all stay in touch over this.

  • http://dubitoergo.blogspot.com Tom Foss

    I’m in the habit of turning creationist crap backwards when it’s displayed with its cover out, and just this past weekend I saw a display shelf with four good books on evolution and the Politically Incorrect Guide to Evolution and Intelligent Design in the center. I moved it to one of the ends (someone had already flipped it around backwards) and shifted The Selfish Gene to the center.

    I’m also in the habit of alphabetizing the Graphic Novel section when it’s particularly disorganized, but that’s beside the point.

    I agree, though. Changing the actual section of a book is just going to frustrate the employees, who may not believe in the bunk either. It’d be better, I think, to get a major letter-writing campaign going to the major bookstore chains. Start some public outcry rather than some mild vandalism.

  • http://patrickimo.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Now there’s an interesting idea, Tom. Leave the book in place, but alter its “proper” alignment in space. Turn it upside down, flip it backwards. Thinking people will get the point that somebody didn’t consider this “highly recommended” literature, while the book undergoes no physical damage and can still be found in its so-called “rightful” place according to the classification system.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this? Perhaps a “Book Turnover Day” might work just as well here…

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    Patrick : You know I have heard from allot of people that this sort of thing goes on all the time in bookstores. Employees and customers seem to already be on a “crusade” to reshelve, flip or otherwise express their opinion about certain books by altering their position somehow. I find this rather fascinating that even in today’s digital world books still hold this power in peoples mind and are still banned in schools, burnt in protest and more commonly “misplaced” in the bookstore.

    What is also interesting is that I’ve spoken to people who “reshelve” books on a regular basis but also think the idea of having a day to celebrate it is not such a good idea. Obviously anyone who has moved a book does it to make a statement about how they feel about a certain type of information and knows it is mostly a harmless gesture so why is it different if it takes on a more national agenda?

    I do like the idea of a Book Turnover Day because it is a good sign of protest – sort of like when you turn the American Flag upside down as a sign you need help. There could be something to that and it does feel like it is less of a prank than completely moving the book to another section all together.

    What does everyone else think about Patrick’s idea?

  • http://foshdawg.livejournal.com Richard

    A turnover day sounds more like something I could align myself with especially since it’s not actually causing more work or distress for employees as the books are not actually moved.

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    Richard : I agree with you. I really like this idea too. Turning the books upside down still accompolishes the same basic goal of raising awareness about how we feel about these books and is still fun to do. In fact we don’t even need a day dedicted to this, people could just either take a picture or make a quick video of them doing it that I could post on the site. It could be a book “movement” movement :)

    What does everyone else think?

  • http://danharlow.com Dan Harlow

    Patrick : I need to give you credit for the idea of flipping the books since my last post did not mention that.

  • Rockingham

    Siamang wrote,

    Rockingham, “The Ancestor’s Tale” is a science book, not a narrative and not fiction (unless you’re a creationist!).

    Siamang,

    I know what the Ancestor’s Tale is having read it three times and listened to the CD version a further countless times. My point was that I was, initially, surprised to see the God Delusion in the science section (it was next to the Ancestor’s Tale) as I expected (and hoped) to see it in the religion section, next to the bible. In the GD, Dawkins makes the case that the existence or not of the big smiter, is a scientific hypothosis, which he comprehensively demolishes. So on an objective reading it should be in the science section, but the religious crazies don’t look there, so they will never see it.

    The reference to fiction was to Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, I was being sarcastic. But, if I have to explain it…

  • http://austinatheist.blogspot.com/ AustinAtheist

    I agree that Patrick’s idea for a book turnover day is preferable to re-shelving the books. It will cause less of an inconvenience to employees, and will draw more attention because the books will not be lost, just misclassified and upside down. There’s a better chance that people browsing the science shelves will get the point and have a good laugh. I can’t wait to see pictures.

    I posted about this last night and so far one of the usual suspects, Akusi of Action Skeptics, agrees that Dan’s original idea could cause a bit more trouble for employees than is necessary in order to get the point across. However, we do like the idea of disclaimers (I need to review the comments here and elsewhere to see who suggested that idea). And I don’t mean stickers. Just a small piece of paper could be inserted between the cover and title page (acid-free if you prefer). I think some rough drafts are in order.

  • http://www.saintgasoline.com Saint Gasoline

    The suggestion that I liked best…and I forgot where I heard it first…was to simply put up signs or stickers on the bookshelves (NOT on the actual book–I don’t want to be a vandal) in the particular section that warned people that pseudo-science was there as well. I’m sure one of us could come up with a phrasing witty enough for public display.

    That way there is no ambiguity about what is being done–with flipping books or moving them the employee is likely to think the customer was just another in a long line of messy people who couldn’t properly put away a book. (I suspect most workers won’t even realize who Behe is or why he belongs in the religion section.) With a sign, however, a lot of people may notice and get a chuckle, and the message will be unambiguously delivered. If you really want to be sneaky, you could make the sign as discreet as possible (for example, by making it resemble one of those “Recommended by our employees signs” or putting it next to the sign that displays the section name, or next to any sort of similar sign)..that way the employees might not even notice it for a few days, giving customers more of a chance to notice it.

  • http://austinatheist.blogspot.com/ AustinAtheist

    The sign could indicate that said books have been turned upside down.

  • Karen

    ROTFLMAO at the sheer irony of this statement in comparison to a book written by Richard Dawkins! :D

    How many of his books have you read? “The Ancestor’s Tale” is a work of inventive genius. “The Selfish Gene” is considered by many scientists and science fans to be the best book of popular science of all time.

    You’d be wrong to conclude that everything he’s written is “pompous crap” just because you find his latest book offensive (assuming you’ve read it).

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    I don’t know about “crap”, but everything I’ve seen and read from Dawkins has come across to me as the definition of “pompous”.

  • Karen

    , but everything I’ve seen and read from Dawkins has come across to me as the definition of “pompous”.

    His science books don’t come across as pompous to me, at all. And I’ve got a pretty sensitive pomposity meter. ;-)

  • http://patrickimo.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Rockingham,

    You said “…but the religious crazies don’t look there (the science section), so they will never see it.” Ah, won’t they? Remember that one of those religious crazies is a certain Michael J. Behe, and he has a book where? IN THE SCIENCE SECTION! So, maybe his book isn’t in such a bad place after all, folks. Who knows – maybe as they’re looking for Darwin’s Black Box, they will see The God Delusion and become curious. Next thing ya know, we’ve got ourselves a new Atheist! :)

    I have no friends in the immediate vicinity of my place of domicile, so there’s no one to hold the camera as I turn a book upside down in my local bookstore. :( Taking in a tripod would probably get me kicked out! Any ideas?

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    His science books don’t come across as pompous to me, at all. And I’ve got a pretty sensitive pomposity meter. ;-)

    Indeed, I confess I’ve never read his science books (or even all of The God Delusion – mainly just articles, excerpts and online video clips). I was just commenting on the bit of him that I’ve seen, not his entire corpus.

    But then, I highly doubt most of the atheists here have actually read Alister McGrath either. :)

  • http://patrickimo.blogspot.com Patrick Craig

    Actually, I have to give credit where credit is due. The idea of turning over books originated with Tom Foss’ comment – I just endorsed it. :)

  • Karen

    But then, I highly doubt most of the atheists here have actually read Alister McGrath either. :)

    Never even heard of him.

    But I have read some of Jim Wallis’s books, and I wouldn’t discredit some of the stuff he’s written that I liked – even though he’s getting a lot of criticism from atheists (and others) lately.

    Most personalities are a mix of good and bad. Unless something is truly hateful, I can typically find some worthwhile ideas in it, if I’m sufficiently interested to pursue it.

  • http://dubitoergo.blogspot.com Tom Foss

    I read excerpts from The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker as an undergrad, and while I thought the former took the gene-centric view of life to an extreme that I neither totally agreed with, nor was comfortable with, I thought it was presented in a very even-handed and fairly airtight fashion.

    These days, I’m more comfortable with Dawkins’s conclusions, though I’m still not certain I agree with the whole gene-centric shebang. When I see him in interviews (I haven’t read the God Delusion yet; I’m working on Demon-Haunted World first), I don’t find him particularly pompous, and I certainly don’t find him “angry” as most of his opponents would say. On the contrary, he seems very approachable and amiable.

  • Rockingham

    Mike C wrote:

    But then, I highly doubt most of the atheists here have actually read Alister McGrath either

    I have read both McGrath’s recent books attacking Dawkins (The Dawkins Delusion and Dawkins God) and I am as atheist as they come. He offers no evidence to support his attack on evolution, no convincing arguments to support his belief in god and offers the bizarre argument that in order to be an atheist one must have an encyclopedic knowledge of christian theology (he fails to mention muslim or buddhist theology, but Dawkins is just as much an atheist about those religions, as I suspect McGrath is).

    I am not sure where he expected to go with that argument, it can hardly be taken as a proof of the existance of god, or of the correctness of christianity. Its like saying that you cannot dislike baseball unless you know all the rules and the batting averages of every player.

  • http://healyhatman.blogspot.com Healyhatman

    No it’s an awesome idea. I did it myself the other day: I moved Darwin’s Black Box into the New Age section (there wasn’t a religion section).

    Next time though do what I’m going to do:

    if you find a book in the science section that doesn’t belong there, take it up to the counter and while being both friendly AND helpful, inform the staff that you discovered a book that was in the wrong location.

    Instead of having everyone reshuffle books on a certain day, have groups of people go up ONE AT A TIME in whatever bookstore they’re in, informing the staff the books are in the wrong location. One person going up and saying it won’t do much, but when 5 people come up and say there are non-science books in science section? 10 people?

    So: one person takes up Darwin’s Black Box, talks to staff. Few minutes later, a different person arrives with a different copy (or different book) and helpfully let the staff know it was in the wrong spot. Repeat for as many books they have.

    It would get annoying, but would probably break the tedium of the poor retail-employee’s days anyway ;)


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