Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt, Debuts Tomorrow

As the Discoveroids have been telling us in numerous posts at their creationist blog, the greatest, most anticipated, most cutting-edge creationist publication of all time is going to be released tomorrow. In their most recent reminder, today, David Klinghoffer tells us:

Ah, now the fun begins. We’ve arrived at the publication week for Stephen Meyer’s new book, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. We’ve been calling it “forthcoming” but as of tomorrow, June 18, it will be here.

Golly. Jeepers. Tomorrow’s the big day! Here’s a link to the book’s listing at Amazon. We haven’t read it and we don’t plan to, so we’re not going to review it. However, we have learned a thing or two about the book, and we’ll share that information with you.

First, we found a press release that was probably written by the publisher: In New Book, Author Stephen Meyer Examines the Scientific Phenomenon that Darwin Could Not Explain. Whenever a creationist’s book is trumpeted in a press release, we immediately consider it to be a candidate for our series on Self-Published Geniuses. That’s where we write about creationists and others who pay for press releases to promote vanity-published books about their imaginary discoveries and pseudo-science ravings.

But Meyer’s book doesn’t qualify for that list. It certainly would have if it had been published by the Discoveroids’ in-house publisher, the Discovery Institute Press, but Meyer has found an independent publisher. The imprint is HarperOne; owned by HarperCollins, a large and legitimate publisher — albeit not known as a publisher of science books. Their own website describes their HarperOne imprint like this:

For 30 years we [HarperOne] have published the books that have changed people’s lives, influenced culture, built bridges between faiths, and withstood the test of time. … The most important books across the full spectrum of religion, spirituality, and personal growth, adding to the wealth of the world’s wisdom by stirring the waters of reflection on the primary questions of life while respecting all traditions.

If the publisher regards Meyer’s book as appropriate for their religion and spirituality imprint, we will accept their judgment. But what’s the book all about? Let’s see what the press release says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Building upon the provocative argument about the origin of life presented in his previous book SIGNATURE IN THE CELL, Meyer now tackles what is arguably one of the most controversial aspects of the theory of evolution: the “Cambrian Explosion,” or the rapid appearance of animal life 530 million years ago.

The “Cambrian Explosion”? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’re previously written about that — see The Mystery of the Cambrian “Explosion”. Unless Meyer has found evidence in some Cambrian stratum of the designer’s footprints or his genetic engineering tools, we see no reason to revisit the issue. But let’s keep an open mind. The press release for Meyer’s spirituality blockbuster also says:

In DARWIN’S DOUBT, Meyer takes readers through the history of life itself, revealing what scientists have learned since Darwin’s time. He also explains how the Cambrian period is remarkable not only for the appearance of new biological forms, but for the appearance of new biological information.

Ooooooooh — information! Let’s read on:

And he poses an important question: could the information necessary to build the Cambrian animal forms have arisen from an intelligent cause, rather than an undirected natural process?

Indeed, that’s an “important question.” Was it nature, or was it Oogity Boogity? Inquiring minds want to know. And it’s certainly worth a book-length discussion. Here’s the rest of the press release:

This highly debated issue is at the heart of some of the most controversial conversations today. And as the debate rages over the validity of Creationism vs. Darwinism, Meyer argues that an alternate theory — Intelligent Design (ID), which holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection — is ultimately the best explanation for the origin of the Cambrian animals, along with the libraries of information needed to produce them.

Okay, dear reader. We’ve given you the most authoritative information we can find about this soon-to-be-released book. It sounds to us as if it’s nothing more than a very long post at the Discoveroids’ blog — but we haven’t read it, so we can’t say for sure. We suspect, however, that if Meyer had something new, in the form of solid, verifiable evidence, we’d have already heard about it. Absent that, it’s the same old song.

But your Curmudgeon is always humble, and we admit that we could be wrong. Go ahead and buy the book if you’re curious. And if you find something new that we haven’t seen repeated a thousand times before at the Discoveroids’ blog, please let us know.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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26 responses to “Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt, Debuts Tomorrow

  1. docbill1351

    My prediction: DD will be a rehash of Meyer’s Hopeless Monster from 2004 which was a rehash of an essay he wrote in 2002 which was a rehash of an article he wrote in 1997 or 1998. More reheated hash.

    I will not contribute to the coffers of these mendacious intellectual pornographers but I will look forward to the snarky reviews that are sure to come pouring out of the Intertubes tomorrow. Already on the Amazon site there are some discussion threads pre-trashing Meyer’s Newest Hopeless Monster and there’s a lot of curiosity as to whether he’ll reprint the same errors all over again. It should be noted that the Look Inside feature on Amazon has been disabled (like comments on the DI website). No peeking!

    I did contribute to the coffers of actual scientists and purchased two books on the Cambrian Explosion (Valentine, and Hou) and they are both extensive and well-documented with Valentine concentrating a lot on the Burgess Shale and Hou on the Chengjiang Formation. It will be interesting to see if Meyer even mentions the recent discoveries in China or any modern work on the subject. Again, no Peking.

  2. In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal.

    Simply the “God of the gaps” argument.

  3. I can’t wait not to read this book.
    But I am thinking about following in docbill’s footsteps: find it in various bookstores and reshelve it under “religious fiction.”

  4. HarperOne also published “Signature in the Cell”, which is probably why Meyer is using them again.

    Interestingly, the wiki article on Meyer – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_C._Meyer – indicates that his PhD thesis at Cambridge was “Of clues and causes: A methodological interpretation of origin of life studies.” After graduation he taught at a couple of Christian Colleges then joined the DI. He was never a working scientist as far as I can tell, and certainly has no training in biology, paleontology, genetics, or much of anything else related to the Cambrian explosion.

  5. anevilmeme

    Ohh a new book by an underrated science fiction author.

  6. It’s seems a sad irony that a reputable publisher would lend their name in promotion of a lobby who’s goal it is to steal business from legitimate publishers.

    As the deception of the book is laid bare, who else but the publisher will Meyer blame?

  7. docbill1351

    I love how Meyer inflates his credentials by calling himself a “former geophysicist and college professor” that makes it sound like he was a Real Geophysicist and a Real College Professor. Meyer got his BS in physics and earth science (talk about a general degree, earth science, not even a geology major) and got hired by ARCO in ’81 when the oil industry was hiring anyone. I know, I was there! Today, you’d need at least a MS in Geophysics for an entry level position. He taught philosophy at a Christian college for a few years before leaving for the DI.

    So, a few years as, I’m guessing, a mud logger and a few years teaching Christian philosophy as an assistant prof, and that’s it. Not at all impressive in reality as it looks on paper but we knew that.

    Also, I think it’s cute how creationists always make a big deal out of saying their articles were published in “peer-reviewed” journals. No real scientist does that! “Hey, we got an article published!” “Good for you.” Of course real scientists publish in real journals. Where else, Reader’s Digest?

    But, you know, ripping Meyer won’t make a jot of difference. He got his ass handed to him for Ciggie in the Cell and he never acknowledged nor addressed the critiques, just like Behe and Dembski and Wells and the entire pack of mendacious intellectual pornographers. (Hat tip to John Kwok for that phrase.)

  8. I think he got a BA in physics & worked as a computer programmer or something like that for an oil company for a year or two.

  9. docbill1351 says:

    Also, I think it’s cute how creationists always make a big deal out of saying their articles were published in “peer-reviewed” journals.

    This blog gets more peer-review than Discoveroid publications.

  10. They are WAY behind in their “Wedge Strategy” goals, haven’t produced a theory, haven’t published in legitimate journals, and haven’t done any legitimate research. I think I’ll wait for Meyer’s second hand pseudo-stuff to show up at my favorite second hand store, where most of the copies will likely end up anyway.

  11. Bill Nye, the science guy, says:
    In it, he flatly tells adult viewers that “if you want to deny evolution and live in your world — in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe — that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.”
    http://bigthink.com/think-tank/bill-nye-isnt-dead-hes-viral

    I think it’s an appropriate statement bebutting Meyer’s, et. al, books on creationism.

  12. You say Darwin’s Doubt isn’t an example of “creationists and others who pay for press releases to promote vanity-published books about their imaginary discoveries and pseudo-science ravings.” WRONG.

    This from the publicity material that the Discos have been sending out to their supporters:

    Tell your friends and family about the book and encourage them to pre-order a copy.
    Donate to support the many ways we will be bringing attention to the book:
    $35 will send the book to an opinion maker.
    $100 will purchase an online advertising spot.
    $150 will pay to set-up one radio interview for Stephen Meyer.
    $400 will pay for the production of a podcast.
    $2,000 will pay for the production of a promotional video short.
    Thanks to a generous donor, every $2 we raise through this campaign will be matched by another $1. And, because of the donations already made and several offline donations, we now only need to raise about $27,500 to make our goal by the end of this month.
    Please consider helping to pave the way for the release of Darwin’s Doubt by DONATING NOW. With your help, this book will change the course of the origins debate for generations to come.

  13. Does the book contain a description of (1) what happened and when, or (2) the connection between the characteristics of the intelligent designer(s) and features of the world of life, or (3) an example of something which did not, could not, or would not result from intelligent design?
    Does the book offer an explanation which does not involve common descent with modification for the nested hierarchy of biological taxonomy?
    (How or why did it turn out that humans are most like chimps and other apes, or that humans have eyes like other vertebrates (rather than like insects or octopuses)?)

  14. The DI says it’s the number one best seller at Barnes & Noble. In the science section and in the religion section. Is B&N fudging their data as the book is just coming out?

  15. If you check the sales rank on Amazon it shows sales up 15,466%, so it looks like they’ve sold about 155 books today, that probably includes preorders from the disco tute and Meyer’s mom. Hmm, what will the ranking be tomorrow. Also, the book is listed under religion first, so it seems the other categories are simply carried over.

  16. Paul S says: “it looks like they’ve sold about 155 books today”

    All that pent-up demand has been released! This thing is going to rocket right to the top.

  17. Amazon (I just checked) rates it #9 best seller overall. So let’s not kid ourselves – this thing is selling a lot more than 155 copies.

  18. Paul Braterman says: “Amazon (I just checked) rates it #9 best seller overall. So let’s not kid ourselves – this thing is selling a lot more than 155 copies.”

    That’s not surprising, considering all the hype. The test will be whether it retains a high rank for weeks to come. The top-selling books at Amazon have mostly been up there for a long time.

  19. The question is, what criteria are being used to gauge a “best seller.” Is it total sales, % sales increase, favorable reviews, media/author hype, etc? I noted B&N ranked it #1, and the DI is touting that ranking, but how did it get to be #1 (in both religion AND science) before it was released? Presales? It’s not going to sell a lot of copies, but perhaps the dishonesty institute is buying up thousands of copies only to resell them to their rubes, not necessarily at a discount, but they might be willing to eat some loses to get that ranking.

  20. docbill1351

    I wonder how many copies the DI bought? They don’t use their money for anything else and 15 grand would buy 1000 books.

    I passed through my B&N this afternoon and couldn’t find a copy. I checked with a staffer I know and they didn’t get a shipment, but noting the publisher, Harper One, she said it will probably be on the New Religious Books table if it comes in at all.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahhahaha! Flying off the shelves? Not in Houston it ain’t.

  21. Looks like Amazon uses sales rank not total sales, so all books have a high ranking when they debut, assuming that they sell at least one. If you check now, the sales rank has gone from 9 to 11, but the “movers and shakers” percentage dropped from 15,466% to 6,681% in one hour. I’ll stand by my guess of 155 actual sales, although I didn’t check the numbers early this morning. My guess is that it will be off the list by tomorrow.

  22. waldteufel

    The reviews at Amazon are a treat, from the fawning of the Discoveroid twit Robert Crowther to the knuckle-dragging creationists. Worth a giggle or two to read.

  23. They’ve been gathering online orders for quite a while, so maybe they all get placed all at once on day 1 of the publication date. And, Christian bookstores etc. place orders at some point, who knows how the numbers work out.

    I’ve got the book, it’s pretty poor stuff. Meyer hasn’t learned much since 2004.

  24. Mark Joseph

    At Jerry Coyne’s website (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/still-moar-on-hedingate-one-of-hedins-students-exposes-his-christian-proselytizing-and-im-called-a-bully/) someone asked a question about the Cambrian explosion, and Dr. Coyne answered:

    “There’s a review of the various explanations of the Cambrian “explosion” (which, by the way, lasted 10-20 million years) by Charles Marshall in the 2006 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, which you can find here (http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.earth.33.031504.103001), but it’s behind a paywall.”

    He then dramatically understated: “But I’m pretty sure that some big names in early-life paleobiology are going to review Meyers’ book. Stay tuned.”

    I’m guessing that Meyer gets the same shellacking his previous non-so-magnum opus Signature in the Cell got; see, for example, Jeffrey Shallit’s review at http://recursed.blogspot.com/2009/10/stephen-meyers-bogus-information-theory.html which includes the choice lines: “Two things struck me as I read it: first, its essential dishonesty, and second, Meyer’s significant misunderstandings of information theory.”

  25. The DI must be shocked that Meyer’s book isn’t flying off the shelves. In related news, his book has surpassed by another scientific masterpiece on Amazon’s top 100 list, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss.

  26. There is a review of the book by Nick Matzke at Panda’s Thumb. Mr. Matzke is a real scientist and quite a busy one, but he wanted to give us an early brief review. Needless to say, Meyer’s work is the usual stuff of Creationist talking points, mis-information, non-information, and dishonesty. The review is quite technical and requires a special background which Matzke tries to summarize for the layman.

    I’m not sure who Meyers’ intended audience is. It appears that anyone involved in actual evolutionary biological research will pan this book. Perhaps Meyer needed to ‘get something out there’ in order to justify his salary. In any event, Darwin’s Doubt will likely end up where all the other Creationist books have gone: to the shelves on Religion.