Toad in the Hole

October 02, 2006

One Small Step for a Book

Hey, someone tap PZ and the NCSE on the shoulder!

Small victories are encouraging. Here's one from our good friend Emma.

Emma moved to Vacaville from Berkeley when she changed jobs last year. She's been exploring the local cultural landscape, among other things, including the nice puiblic library. A couple of months ago she found something there that ticked her off. In her words:

Well I was at the Solano County public library today and made some
nicee findes in the new books. Except for the following which was in
the science section. Our friends in the Library of Congress gave the
Dewey number of 576.8 DARWIN'S [NEMESIS] 2006. That number places the book in
the life SCIENCES!

I registered a complaint at the reference desk pointing out that ID
is thinly veiled creationism and more appropriately belongs in the
religion section or social science. (Unfortunately, the Dewey system
does not have section for crackpot theories.) I pointed out that
neither assertions of a flat earth nor a swiss cheese moon belongs
in the science section.

Please complain at your local library.

See below for the catalog entry and a review.

Title: Darwin's nemesis : Phillip Johnson and the intelligent design
movement / edited by William A. Dembski.
Publisher: Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 2006.
Paging: 357 p. : col. ill. ; 23 cm.

(Review and comprehensive list of contents redacted. I'll put them at the bottom of the post, for anyone unfamiliar with the book.)

Last week she had better news to report:

Well the Solano County Library called last week to tell me that their technical services section reviewed my complaint and agreed with me. The book has been reclassified as religion. Woohoo, victory! The new LC number is 231.7652 DARWIN'S 2006.
The catalog entry now reads:
Subject(s)
Johnson, Phillip E., 1940-
Johnson, Phillip E., 1940- Wedge of God.
Johnson, Phillip E., 1940- Darwin on trial.
Apologetics.
Naturalism.
Intelligent design (Teleology)
Other Entries
Dembski, William A., 1960-

Sanity occurs in Solano County. Someone buy that woman a beer. Hey wait; I will!
And I suppose I should go see where the Berkeley Public Library has the thing shelved.

Here's the insides:

Contents
Foreword / Senator Rick Santorum -- Preface / William A. Dembski
and Jed Macosko -- Introduction: a mythic life / John Mark Reynolds
-- Portraits of the man and his work -- Your witness, Mr. Johnson :
a retrospective review of Darwin on trial / Stephen C. Meyer --
From muttering to mayhem : how Phillip Johnson got me moving /
Michael J. Behe -- How Phil Johnson changed my mind / Jay Wesley
Richards -- Putting Darwin on trial : Phillip Johnson transforms
the evolutionary narrative / Thomas Woodward -- Thewedge and its
despisers -- Dealing with the backlash against intelligent design /
William A. Dembski -- It's the epistemology, stupid! science,
public schools and what counts as knowledge / Francis A. Beckwith
-- Cutting both ways : the challenge posed by intelligent design to
traditional Christian education / Timothy G. Standish -- Two
friendly critics -- Two fables by Jorge Luis Borges / David
Berlinski -- Darwinism and the problem of evil / Michael Ruse --
Johnson's revolution in biology -- The wedge of truth visits the
laboratory / David Keller and Jed Macosko -- Common ancestry on
trial / Jonathan Wells -- The origin of biological information and
the higher taxonomic categories / Stephen C. Meyer -- Genetic
analysis of coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits
in pathogenic bacteria / Scott A. Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer --
Ever-increasing spheres of influence -- Design and the recovery of
truth / Nancy Pearcey -- Phillip Johnson was right : the rivalry of
naturalism and natural law / J. Budziszewski -- A taxonomy of
teleology : Phillip Johnson, the intelligent design community and
young-earth creationism / Marcus Ross and Paul Nelson --
Implications of complexity and chaos / Wesley D. Allen and Henry F.
Schaefer III -- Epilogue -- Phillip Johnson and the intelligent
design movement : looking back and looking forward / Walter L.
Bradley -- The final word / Phillip E. Johnson.

Review
Publishers Weekly
This Festschrift from friends-and a couple of friendly
critics-honors Phillip Johnson, the Berkeley law professor whose
1991 publication Darwin on Trial and later books helped intelligent
design emerge as a highly visible, and highly controversial,
alternative to Darwinism. While it may be premature to hail Johnson
as "Darwin's Nemesis," these essays reveal him as an influential
strategist and mentor within the ID movement. Contributors to the
2004 symposium that spawned this collection include leading ID
advocates Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Jonathan Wells and Scott
Minnich, as well as Darwin defender Michael Ruse, who has engaged
Johnson in debate. Other contributors address cultural and
political questions beyond evolution itself, such as Francis
Beckwith's timely review of legal controversies over ID in the
classroom, J. Budziszewski's discussion of naturalism and the
Natural Law tradition and editor William Dembski's commentary on
the professional-and often personal -"backlash" against ID
advocates. Readers who are familiar with the basics of ID and
curious about the movement's development and inner workings will
find much of interest, although for an account of the most recent
and current controversies over ID, they will need to consult other
sources. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier
Inc. All rights reserved

Posted at October 2, 2006 04:20 PM

Comments

that is good news!

Posted by: kathy a at October 2, 2006 05:57 PM


One step at a time! I'm going to check out my local libraries.

Posted by: Hattie at October 2, 2006 06:42 PM


Yay, Emma! Nice work.

Posted by: RavenT at October 3, 2006 05:44 AM


Emma, great! I'll check what Davis does with this one...

Posted by: Pica at October 3, 2006 02:37 PM


Yay, Emma!

But I'm still a little confused. So the local libraries can reclassify a book, but the Library of Congress will still have overarching authority over its categorization, no? So should we also complain to the Library of Congress?

And you know how all books have a copy of their LOC info on the same page with the copyright/printing info? If the LOC were convinced to reclassify, would the book have to be republished to correct this?

I suddenly feel I might want to become a librarian.

Posted by: Sara at October 3, 2006 09:38 PM


I was wondering something like that myself, Sara, and I think I know who to ask.

Posted by: Ron at October 4, 2006 02:32 AM


I'm currently drafting a letter to the Library of Congress about their abysmal ignorance of biology, which led them to misclassify a book about Intelligent Design (sic) as evolutionary theory. BTW, this misclassification is EXACTLY what the ID proponents are trying to accomplish. ID proponents aim at nothing less than the discrediting of the scientific method, science education and science itself. I heartily recommend two sites for basic information about ID:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_movement
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

Just in case you haven't twigged to these excellent science sites/blogs, please consider visiting:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
http://www.natcenscied.org/
http://www.aasci.org/

I stronly urge you to chalenge the LC classification of this book at your library! Don't let some student browsing the stacks find this propoganda on the science shelves! ID tries to pass its denial of evolution off as a legitimate "scientific" contorversy. There are NO legitimate biologists who reject evolution.

The ID rejection of evolution has wider implications for wildlife conservation, human medicine and epidemiology. Without evolution, there can be no recognition of niche adaptation, and therefore the unique value of a species adapted to its environment. Without evolution there can be no recognition of pathogen developing immunity to drugs; and the continuing evolution of diseases, such as influenza.

Please take the time to challenge the misclassification of this book. It's important for the future.

Posted by: Emma G at October 4, 2006 09:13 AM


Emma G: Intelligent Design theorists don't "reject evolution". No one denies that "change through time" occurs. That's why you don't look exactly like your parents, and it's why bacteria develop drug resistance.

But intelligent design proponents do reject the neo-Darwinian mechanism of change.

Posted by: Russ at October 20, 2006 09:41 AM


Russ is correct. ID is NOT anti-evolution. If anything it is anti- the blind watchmaker thesis.

I wonder if people realize that that materialistic alternative to ID is "sheer-dumb-luck"? And I wonder how many realize that position is as anti-science and anti-intellectual as one can get?

ID is not Creation. The two are distinctly different. ID says nothing about God or religion. Heck I'm not a Christian, could hardly be called religious and yet I am an IDists- because of the scientific data.

Here is my challenge to you anti-IDists reading this:

Watch two videos- "The Privileged Planet" and "Unlocking the Mystery of Life", and then, if you can without lying, tell us why ID is not based on observation and scientific research, but is based on religious doctrines and faith.

To date no one has accepted the challenge which was first issued 7 months ago.

Posted by: Joe G at October 20, 2006 02:02 PM


Joe G entertains us with the following: "To date no one has accepted the challenge which was first issued 7 months ago."

And by that, Joe means that everyone who claims to have accepted his challenge is, ipso facto, lying. So don't bother with Joe's challenge, as accepting it will just land you on his list of liars.

Posted by: secondclass at October 20, 2006 11:59 PM


Secondclass lives up to his/ her name.

Unfortunately this is typical of most anti-IDists- don't even attempt to understand what ID really is.

And then when their anti-ID reality is exposed (the "sheer-dumb-luck" scenario), live in denial and try to divert attention from that fact.

We exist people. There has to be a reality behind that existence.

And as Justice Lewis Powell wrote in his concurrence to Edwards v. Aguillard, “(A) decision respecting the subject matter to be taught in public schools does not violate the Establishment Clause simply because the material to be taught ‘happens to coincide or harmonize with the tenets of some or all religions’.”

Posted by: Joe G at October 21, 2006 02:15 AM


Joe G said: "I wonder if people realize that that materialistic alternative to ID is "sheer-dumb-luck"? And I wonder how many realize that position is as anti-science and anti-intellectual as one can get?"

I'm sure that Joe G realizes that natural selection involves SELECTION and therefore it is inappropriate and misleading to refer to it as "sheer-dumb-luck" (and why the hyphens?) If so, then Joe G is lying to us, and that is about as anti-science and anti-intellectual as one can get.

Posted by: Mustafa Mond, FCD at October 21, 2006 02:33 PM


According to Monad AND Mayr even the in the "selection" part chance plays an important role. Read "What Evolution Is" page 281 comment #22 (Mayr).

As for Monad:

CHANCE ALONE," the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Jacques Monod once wrote, "is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the very root of the stupendous edifice of creation."

You may disagree with me. But if you are going to disagree with them you had better have some pretty solid data that supports your claim.

Ya see, as Mayr points out, chance plays an important role in selection. Which would be obvious to those who have ever studied populations in the field.

IOW the materialistic alternative is "sheer-dumb-luck" through and through- from the origins of the universe and the laws that govern it, to the formation of galaxies and our solar sytem. And finally to the origin of life and then its subsequent diversity. Just as Monad told us years ago.

Posted by: Joe G at October 21, 2006 02:58 PM


Says Joe G: "Unfortunately this is typical of most anti-IDists- don't even attempt to understand what ID really is."

I was talking about your ridiculous claim that nobody has accepted your challenge. A 30-second perusal of pandasthumb.org reveals that Pim van Meurs and Andrea Bottaro have been-there-done-that. Are they lying?

I haven't said anything about ID on this forum. Perhaps you would like to provide evidence that I haven't even attempted "to understand what ID really is" or retract your accusation. Consider this a test of your integrity.

Posted by: secondclass at October 23, 2006 06:38 PM


Guillermo Gonzalez, one of the authors of “The Privileged Planet” was a (Carl) Sagonite. However the book refutes Sagan.

It was Gonzalez’s paper “Wonderful Eclipses,” Astronomy & Geophysics 40, no. 3 (1999): 3.18- 3.20), that peaked the book’s co-author’s (Jay Richards) interest.

Gonzalez was part of a team of scientists working for NASA on a project trying to determine whether or not there is life “out there”.

At least one peer-reviewed paper (G. Gonzalez, D. Brownlee, and P.D. Ward, “The Galactic Habitable Zone: Galactic Chemical Evolution”, Icarus 152 (2001):185-200) came from that scientific research.

The authors make predictions. For example if/ when we discover other complex life is found elsewhere in the universe, the many factors observed here will also be present there. And that life will be carbon based.

“The same narrow circumstances that allow for our existence also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”

“The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”

“There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”

“The combined circumstance that we live on Earth and are able to see stars- that the conditions necessary for life do not exclude those necessary for vision, and vice versa- is a remarkably improbable one.

This is because the medium we live is, on one hand, just thick enough to enable us to breathe and prevent us from being burned up by cosmic rays, while, on the other hand, it is not so opaque as to absorb entirely the light of the stars and block the view of the universe. What a fragile balance between the indispensable and the sublime.” Hans Blumenberg- thoughts independent of the research done by Gonzalez.

Other G. Gonzalez papers that were the basis of the book (just skimming through the references):

“Stars, Planets, and Metals”, Reviews of Modern Physics 75 (2003)101-120

“Rummaging Through Earth’s Attic for Remains of Ancient Life”, Icarus 160 (2002) 183-196

“Is the Sun Anomalous?”, Astronomy and Geophysics 40, no. 5 (1999):5.25-5.29

“Are Stars with Planets Anomalous?”, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 308 (1999): 447-458

“Impact Reseeding During the Late Heavy Bombardment”, Icarus 162 (2003):38-46

“Parent Stars of Extrasolar Planets III: p Cancri Revisited”, Astronomy and Astrophysics 339 (1998): L29-L32

“Stellar Atmospheres of Nearby Young Solar Analogs”, New Astronomy 7 (2002): 211-226

Posted by: Joe G at October 23, 2006 07:22 PM


secondclass:
I was talking about your ridiculous claim that nobody has accepted your challenge. A 30-second perusal of pandasthumb.org reveals that Pim van Meurs and Andrea Bottaro have been-there-done-that. Are they lying?

Having read some of what those two post it would be a safe bet that they are either lying or misrepresenting reality- either willfully or through ignorance.

However I haven't read anything either have posted regarding either video. I have just posted a small part of the science behind "The Privileged Planet", and Gonzalez is on record flat out stating that "ID does NOT require a belief in God" in an AP interview.

So it would be interesting to see what they have to say. If for nothing else just the sheer entertainment...


And don't talk to me about integrity- especially after your strawman and provoking post is very telling indeed.

I will stand by what I said- it is very typical for people to reject ID without even taking a look. Those videos offer the easiest way to do so.

Posted by: Joe G at October 23, 2006 07:33 PM


secondclass:
I was talking about your ridiculous claim that nobody has accepted your challenge. A 30-second perusal of pandasthumb.org reveals that Pim van Meurs and Andrea Bottaro have been-there-done-that. Are they lying?

Having read some of what those two post it would be a safe bet that they are either lying or misrepresenting reality- either willfully or through ignorance.

However I haven't read anything either have posted regarding either video. I have just posted a small part of the science behind "The Privileged Planet", and Gonzalez is on record flat out stating that "ID does NOT require a belief in God" in an AP interview.

So it would be interesting to see what they have to say. If for nothing else just the sheer entertainment...


And don't talk to me about integrity- especially after your strawman and provoking post is very telling indeed.

I will stand by what I said- it is very typical for people to reject ID without even taking a look. Those videos offer the easiest way to do so.

Posted by: Joe G at October 23, 2006 07:34 PM


Joe G: "However I haven't read anything either have posted regarding either video."

So on what basis did you claim that nobody has accepted your challenge?

Joe G: "Having read some of what those two post it would be a safe bet that they are either lying or misrepresenting reality- either willfully or through ignorance."

Thanks for demonstrating my point. You could back up your insult by pointing out their lies to us, but that would probably be asking too much of you.

Joe G: "And don't talk to me about integrity- especially after your strawman and provoking post is very telling indeed."

What strawman?

Let's review:

- I challenged your claim that nobody had accepted your challenge. In response, you changed the subject.

- I asked you to support the accusation that I don't even attempt to understand what ID really is, or to retract it. You did neither.

- Now I'm asking you to point out the strawman in my posts.

You're racking up quite an evidentiary debt. Show a little integrity by backing up your claims or retracting them.

Posted by: secondclass at October 23, 2006 10:02 PM


OK I have read what PvM and Andrea Bottaro stated. All they do is just say that ID is religious or based on religious doctrine without ever supporting what they say. Andrea goes so far as to claim ID and Creation are the same thing. Only losers make such a claim.

IOW although it may "appear" my challenge was accepted just by looking at the responses demonstrates they were not as there isn't anything in either of those responses that is supported by reality.

The bottom line is either those two are lying (which fits the evidence) or all IDists are lying. IOW the people most familiar with ID know less than those who appear to know very little, if anything, about it.

So perhaps we can say that my challenge has been accepted but so far no one has been able to demonstrate that ID is based on religious doctrine(s)and faith and not observation and scientific research.

To secondclass- the following is your strawman:

"And by that, Joe means that everyone who claims to have accepted his challenge is, ipso facto, lying."

And again you have no right to talk to anyone about intefrity.

Posted by: Joe G at October 24, 2006 02:55 PM


Joe, if that sentence is a strawman, then it must be a false statement of your position. But the sentence follows logically from your claim that nobody has accepted your challenge. (If nobody has accepted your challenge, then those who claim to must be lying. That's pretty simple logic.) So by calling it a strawman, you're saying that your claim is false.

PvM and Bottaro have both commented extensively on ID and provided quite a bit of support for their contention that ID isn't science.

Joe: "The bottom line is either those two are lying (which fits the evidence) or all IDists are lying."

How do you arrive at that dichotomy?

Joe: "And again you have no right to talk to anyone about intefrity."

Why not?

Posted by: secondclass at October 24, 2006 04:46 PM


This discussion is interesting to me because it shows how contentious the struggle over categories is. For me, this isn't a science versus religion struggle exactly, though that's there obviously. The issue here is control over what counts as knowledge. For me, as a science studies person, ID doesn't reach the threshold of reliable knowledge. But that doesn't change several important points about what this log entry is really about.

First, librarians are not supposed to be in the business of evaluating competing knowledge claims. That is what the readers of books should be doing, and hopefully they learn to to it better when they are allowed access to different claims about how the world works. If librarians start evaluating claims for some books, they will quickly need to continue doing so for a wealth of other materials which enshrine and reify the dominant paradigm in the stacks. All kinds of seemingly innocuous materials are deeply ideological, including our beloved science materials. Let's not for a minute forget that science has handed us the horrors of the atomic bomb, Tuskegee experiments, and countless others. Yet it is still a robust method for generating knowledge with strong predictive powers. But being too facilely anti-ID risks not seeing the ways in which science too is ideological. (One way we often succumb to this is by thinking we'll invent our way out of one environmental or ethical issue after another, like global warming or low sperm counts.) The ideology of library science is neutrality, and so hopping into the fray to evaluate the veracity of this book is problematic. If the book is about Darwin, then there certainly is a place for it in the 500s.

That said, what the librarian in this story picked up on is what gives the lie to library science's grand narratives of neutrality and free market place of ideas, etc. Library science categories--of any style, be they DDC, LC, UDC, or others--create propinquities and hierarchies of exactly this sort. In other words, categories are not merely neutral boxes for different discrete objects of knowledge, but are themselves ideologically bounded and constructed--as this discussion shows.

Hence a discussion of the hegemony of these categories through the Library of Congress. Petition all you want, but these folks make a glacier seem to move fast. Sanford Berman is one famous librarian who dedicated his life's work to exactly this sort of activity. LC is very conservative, and this too gives the lie to the famous liberalism of librarians. Libertarianism might be a better phrase, but many librarians use those lofty ideals of neutrality and freedom of ideas exactly to refuse to collect the kinds of material that does not come from the ranks of the mainstream conception of the breadth of knowledge. But before you worry about this one little book, there are scores of problematic subject headings and classifications in play that relate to dozens or scores of items. For example, LC only recently changed the subject headings to call the internment of the Japanese Americans in the US during WWII to reflect that. The prior subject heading was "Japanese Americans--evacuation and relocation." Sounds pretty swell, huh? Look up Sanford Berman for a litany of others.

But LC is hardly the beginning or end of the issue. Individual libraries are certainly free to reclassify materials, and it is good policy to adapt the classifications in use to the needs of the users. (For example, I once reclassified a book on women in Roman history from the social science section on women's history, where it was isolated, to the section where all the "regular" books on Roman history were, um, in the history section. This meant students in my library would find the book when they were doing history reports and would remember that Romans, like us, used sexual reproduction.) Of course, the robustness of library systems is that they are labor saving devices: every library doesn't have to redo work that another library has aleady done. But that also means that whoever controls this project has some serious hegemony in library catalogs, and so the entity that is more of concern here is OCLC.

OCLC is the world's largest consortia (it claims). Thousands of libraries belong to it all over the world, and they share cataloging data through OCLC subscriptions. I've only scratched the surface of what OCLC does, but basically, they too have their rules and standards, and libraries that want credit for their cataloging and want to download the cataloging of others have to step in line. Mass alteration of call numbers and subject headings could have nasty financial repercussions for libraries.

And of course, there's the work issue. Librarians are paid poorly, like most feminized professions. Many libraries have extensive cataloging backlogs. So asking catalogers to look at every call number and verify that it works contributes to an already large workload. So librarians are not in the best place to be able to be critical of this. (Not to mention that library science education is profoundly lacking in any attempt at a critical examination of library practices.)

So back to beginning. I think the book belongs where it was first placed. If it is a critique of Darwin, it belongs next to Darwin. Although placing the book there may cause some to mistake it for science, that's a necessary risk. After all, part of what makes science robust is falsifiability. Everything that doesn't disprove the theory gives it credence. So stop being so worried this, approve the next library and school bond measure that comes through, and watch what your school board does.

Posted by: scout at October 30, 2006 03:36 PM


ps. I guess that the bottom line with the OCLC thing is that if we get some librarians who are thinking critically about categories doing original cataloging, there is a strong possibility that their work could be distributed to OCLC member libraries and basically set the catalog contents. Of course, we're talking about how many hundreds of thousands of titles published each year?

Posted by: scout at October 30, 2006 03:41 PM


If it looks like a chicken and clucks like a chicken it may be an evolutionist.

See: http://www.csulb.edu/~jmastrop/prize.html

Posted by: Karl Priest at October 31, 2006 12:28 AM


My, how persuasive -- and it makes about as much sense as can be expected.

Posted by: Ron at October 31, 2006 11:04 PM