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Monday, July 30, 2007

Edge of Evolution “misshelved” by Darwin zealot customer

At a blog called “biologists helping bookstores,” a Pasadena-based woman whose handle is Shandon explains how she deliberately misshelved Mike Behe’s Edge of Evolution, and a number of other books - distributing them around the store according to her private tastes.

Now, you might think that Shandon (hereafter Misshelver) is restricting the right of others to read. But whoever she is and whatever her connection to biology, she does not see it that way at all. Anyway, she describes her modus operandi:
I think I might have picked a bad week to start this quest. Behe's new book must have been just released: Four copies of The Edge of Evolution were discovered once more in the science section.

I flip a copy and read the back. Here's the beginning of the first quote from the back cover: "Until the past decade and the genomics revolution, Darwin's theory rested on indirect evidence and reasonable speculation..." (Dr. Philip Skell, Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at Pennsylvania State University, and member of the National Academy of Sciences). That's not true! I am emboldened by this bare-faced lie from this well-respected elderly chemist, pick up all four copies, and stroll upstairs.

Now, some blog reader fans think Misshelver is way cool, but a bookstore employee wrote in to complain,
... At my bookstore, we attempt to shelve books where we think customers who don't want to ask for help in finding things will spot them.

Moving books to another section of the store is not "helping" or "making a statement"; it is making a mess. It makes finding a book much harder for the employee who has looked it up in the computer because it's not where it's supposed to be. It means the possibility of a lost sale because the book cannot be found, at least for the moment. It means more work for already underpaid sales clerks to have to move the books back to where they originally were -- because, rest assured, that's what will probably happen.

and other bookstore savvy dissenters chimed in.

Then, Misshelver herself held forth again, professing,
I am aiming to write a light-hearted blog that addresses the serious issue of the lack of science awareness in society: Science has been abused by extremist religion, business, and right-wing politics. So much so that the public cannot discern what science is and is not anymore. I mean, lots of people actually believe that evolution does not happen!

I understand the criticisms posted recently. However, if a few books get moved to another part of a store and a few people get an inkling of what science actually is from reading this blog, then it is worth it.

Well, I didn’t get any inkling of “what science is” from reading Misshelver’s blog, but I did get an inkling of the sort of people who are threatened by Edge of Evolution’s grim figures for the observed success of Darwinian evolution. A similar type of individual (a librarian) tried a similar stunt at a public library a while back.

I am beginning to recognize the type. Yes, they are dim, warped, and petty, but they are deadly serious. Now, if you think that you are a better judge of what you should read than they are, and have not already bought Edge of Evolution, this is definitely a good time. Go to your local bookstore and ask a clerk to help you find a copy. If copies listed in inventory are not apparently in stock, institute a search, citing this example. Whoever wins the intelligent design controversy, people like this must lose for the sake of society.

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