THE neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) have a blog entry crowing Intelligent Design Book Cracks Bestseller List at Amazon.com. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
Today Amazon.com announced their bestselling books of 2009 and Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne) by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer made the top ten in the science category. According to Amazon.com, books on its 2009 list of best sellers are “[r]anked according to customer orders through October. Only books published for the first time in 2009 are eligible.” The book’s publisher, HarperOne, reports that the book is entering its fifth printing in as many months, and continues to sell strongly both online and in stores.
Before we follow that link to Amazon’s “top ten” list, let’s consider some background information. First, Who is Stephen Meyer? He’s a vice president of the Discovery Institute and a “senior fellow” over there. He’s also the guy who was mixed up in the infamous peer review controversy.
And what of Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell? We wrote about a creationist group’s review, which is typical of the glowing reception such groups are giving the book. But let’s ignore the predictably fawning reviews by Discoveroids and other creationists. Instead, let’s see what a biologist has to say. According to PZ Myers (no relation to Stephen Meyer):
I knew ahead of time exactly what it was going to be: complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, complexity, therefore, DESIGN. It doesn’t follow. The logic is nonexistent. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect a competent person with a Ph.D. in philosophy to recognize, but no, it’s the same ol’ thing, trotted out every time they get up to speak.
COMPLEXITY DOES NOT IMPLY DESIGN. You can build up an awesome mess of complexity by accident, so you need to demonstrate something other than complexity to demonstrate intent.
Okay, now you know something of the author and his work. Let’s visit Amazon’s “top ten” list and see what’s there. The first thing we notice is that this is their list in the “science” category, not for sales overall. On the “Science” list, Richard Dawkins’ book, The Greatest Show on Earth, is number two in that category. It’s also listed as #130 in Books overall. That’s impressive! It’s also #1 in the additional categories of “Evolution” and “Biology,” as we would expect.
Okay, how about Signature in the Cell? It’s number 10 in the “Science” category. Nothing wrong with that showing — except that we don’t think an ID book belongs in the “Science” category. Aside from that it’s an accomplishment to score so high. It’s overall rank in “Books” is #653, which is also a good showing, but not close to Dawkins’ book.
Strangely, for a book allegedly about evolution, Signature is also ranked #1 in these additional categories: “Cosmology,” “Astronomy,” and “Science & Religion.” Dawkins’ book doesn’t appear in those categories, nor can we think of any reason why it should. For Meyer’s book, on the other hand, no rank is given for the categories of “Evolution” and “Biology,” where Dawkins’ book is listed at the top.
Amazon’s listing for Signature also has a feature called “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.” Let’s see … there’s a book by William A. Dembski, another gem titled The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin, and a few other dubious items. This isn’t decisive data, but it’s interesting.
So what do we learn from this? First, Signature in the Cell is having a good sales run. That’s very nice for the author. The book has had a lot of hype, and there are legions of creationists out there, so this isn’t all that surprising. Perhaps we’ll revisit the Amazon rankings after a few months have passed to see how things are going.
What else does the Discoveroid blog tell us — perhaps a hint of the scientific content of their hero’s book? Let’s see:
In Signature in the Cell Dr. Meyer shows that the digital code imbedded in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence and helps unravel a mystery that Darwin did not address: how did the very first life begin? He weaves together a journey of discovery with an argument for intelligent design and explains how intelligent design can be formulated as a rigorous scientific argument using the very same method of reasoning that Darwin used.
Ah, the “digital code” in DNA “points powerfully” to a “designing intelligence,” therefore Oogity Boogity! Yes, it’s all so clear now.
As for “using the very same method of reasoning that Darwin used,” we’ll be candid with you — we have some serious doubts about that.
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