“Darwin’s Doubt” Is Setting New Records

There’s not too much we need to say about this one at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog. Their title pretty much says it all: Darwin’s Doubt Passes 700 Review Mark on Amazon.

You’ve heard of Darwin’s Doubt, the book by Stephen Meyer that claims the Cambrian explosion is proof of intelligent design. It’s getting attention in all the right places. We previously wrote WorldNetDaily Promotes Stephen Meyer’s Book.

As far as we can tell, the scientific world is, shall we say, unimpressed. Nevertheless, the Discoveroids have what they imagine is a great deal to brag about. Only a few excerpts should be enough. They say, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design has reached 700 customer reviews on Amazon.com. It’s the most-reviewed book in the categories of Organic Evolution and Paleontology. It’s the 7th most-reviewed non-fiction book in Evolution, a category that includes over 50,000 titles. It’s even in the top 200 of most-reviewed books in Science & Math, a top-level category that includes over 1.3 million offerings. Meyer’s book now joins Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box as the two most-reviewed books on Amazon on the topic of biological origins.

Verily, it’s beyond glorious. We’re told:

Although Amazon reviews are by no means the most critical measure of a book’s success, it does reveal one thing of note. Our effort to communicate the arguments for intelligent design through alternative channels, beyond what often seems like the echo chamber of mainstream science media, is paying off.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s almost up there with the Time Cube. Let’s read on:

Not everyone is happy with Darwin’s Doubt, and a browse through the Amazon reviews reveals a passionate minority who are critical of Meyer’s work (15 percent are one- or two-star reviews). All the usual tired arguments against intelligent design are rehearsed, but a recent detractor broke new ground with a lament for the trees that were used to create the book: “Utter trash. Complete nonsense. I feel sorry for the trees that have lost their life to print these words on the paper made from their sacrifice. Please do not allow your children to read this.”

That was good! But the Discoveroids have a clever response:

It’s interesting that this individual would warn against children being exposed to alternative viewpoints on important scientific topics. That is more revealing than the reviewer probably realizes.

We’ve skipped more than half of their post, but here’s how it ends:

And while the debate over the evidence goes on, Darwin’s Doubt continues to have its important impact, making steady, incremental progress just like that of science itself.

We don’t need to say anything, but you might want to.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to ““Darwin’s Doubt” Is Setting New Records

  1. michaelfugate

    How many of those comments are from the DI staff?

  2. I had a few of those people visit my blog after I started my chapter-by-chapter review of the book.

    My favorite moment was one of those characters wrote a huge rant about how no paleontologist dared tackle the issues that Meyer brought up in his book. The next day (delicious irony) Don Prothero published his scathing review of the paleontology aspects of the book. That pro-ID guys response was a classic.

    He ranted for pages about how Prothero never talked about embryology or junk DNA. Of course, ignoring the paleontology aspect when he got his wish.

    That same guy told me, twice, that the evidence for ID was in a certain chapter. In both cases, all I found in those chapters was quotemines.

  3. Maybe someday Meyer will sell as many books as Erich von Daniken. Or, if that goal is out of reach, perhaps he can get a blurb for the book jacket. After all, they have the same readership.

  4. It ranked #4 in the amazon creationist book category. It was 56 in books in the evolution category 2 before “Humans are not from Earth.”
    In sales it ranked #16769, but I couldn’t find how many copies sold. And yes, I’m sure Casey, et. al, added many reviews of their own.

  5. The positive reviews seemed to come in waves following a Meyer church basement tour. Overwhelmingly, the 5-star reviews are not really reviews but the bare minimum Amazon requires, such as “Great read.” I’m quite certain that among Meyer’s devotees the number of people who actually plowed through Meyer’s ponderous dreck is negligible.

  6. D’rrhoids: “It’s the most-reviewed book in the categories of Organic Evolution and Paleontology.”

    And since 15% are one- and two-star reviews, you can bet that 85% of the reviews are coming from 2% of the reviewers.

    This book seems to be in the wrong categories. Shouldn’t it be in Religion and Pseudoscience?

  7. @OgreMkV:
    You mentioned the lack of evidence for ID.
    When I went through the book (I borrowed it from my local library), I was intent on finding a description of ID. All that I could find was claims about things that would (if they were true) cast doubt on standard evolutionary descriptions.
    Nothing about some other scenario about what happens, when or where, why or how that might be consistent with the supposed problems.
    What if, I kept in mind, something really odd happened hundreds of millions of years ago that demanded that there be a better explanation than just ordinary, everyday evolution – what might a better explanation be like? Might there be some additional mechanism? And I didn’t find any suggestion.
    It’s been a while, so my memory may be mistaken, but also I don’t remember anything which touched on anything about evolutionary explanations for the the tetrapods over the last 300+ million years. Are they giving up on that? Birds from dinosaurs, “reptile-like mammals” from “mammal-like reptiles”, humans from other mammals?

  8. Does the book come with crayons or are they sold separately?

  9. That’s 700 people who bothered to review that book. I haven’t, and won’t; I have better ways to waste my time than actually reading it, which I would need to do in order to have the right to post a review.

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    In search of solace I retrieved my copy of Martin Gardner’s “Fads & Fallacies in the name of science“. Published in 1952, Gardner has nice little chapters on the “[s]trange, amusing and alarming cults that surround them”. Found among those listed on the cover are the then current “flying saucers”, ancient Atlantis, and (OMG) L. Ron Hubbard.

    It is a pity that Martin missed the chance to do his work on Stephen Meyer’s book. But 50 years from now, if Meyer is recalled at all in any book, it would still be under the heading of strange, amusing, and alarming cults.

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    Darwin’s Doubt continues to have its important impact, making steady, incremental progress just like that of science itself.

    Because books that appeal to the general public is how science is done. Doh!

  12. TomS

    That’s true. There’s a section on what ID is and Meyer starts it by saying “Perhaps the best way to explain the theory of intelligent design is to contrast it with the specific aspect of the theory of Darwinian evolution that it directly challenges.” (This is Chapter 17, BTW)

    Which is about the stupidest way to define something ever. Of course, it neatly defeats the claim that ID is OK with evolution, at least the scientific version of evolution. Apparently ID is OK with their version of evolution.

  13. TomS: “Nothing about some other scenario about what happens, when or where, why or how that might be consistent with the supposed problems.”

    Certainly nothing that would please their target audience, such as evidence of a recent (e.g. 1000s vs billions of years ago) origin of life, or at least of independent origin of “kinds” periodically over billions of years. But they know no such evidence exists, even with very “creative” cherry-picking. Yet such evidence, or even hypotheses of those origins accounts in its absence, would be perfectly legal to teach in public school science class. With no need to mention a creator or designer, which most students would infer anyway. Which tells me that they knew they were perpetrating a scam even before Edwards v. Aguillard forced them to switch from creator to designer.

    But you know my other complaint, how even critics who know better still take the bait, and dwell on the lack of evidence “for design” rather than ignoring that and demanding details – even testable hypotheses – on “what happened when.” They can only say “that’s not ID’s task” so many times before the great majority can see that they’re running a scam.

  14. Over 700 reviews? Amazon shows 657 reviews for Chariots of the Gods.. Apparently there is always a market for books with themes of Oogity-boogity. A book’s popularity may have little to do with how scientifically sound it is. The Discoveroids overlook this inconvenient truth.

  15. Maybe I missed something. Has the Encyclopedia of American Loons been published in book form? Perhaps the ‘tute ought to give a review of that too.

  16. @FrankJ:
    I feel your pain.
    The worst result of people asking for the evidence for creation and/or design is the response: the world is our evidence. Or some specious remark about their interpretation of the evidence just being different.
    Please, let’s make it clear that the ID advocates, and they are worse about this than “classical creationists”, have nothing to offer.
    As far as I know, no “revolution” in science or other human endeavor – with the exception of politics – has gone forth with pure negativism. Copernicus didn’t just say that there was something wrong with heliocentrism, Columbus didn’t say only that there had to be a better way of reaching the East, Godel didn’t rest with the observation that nobody had proved the completeness of arithmetic. They all presented an alternative, however flawed the alternative.
    But ID is described as there is a better explanation than naturalist evolution, never this is a better explanation about what happens, when, where, how and why, that life has its variety.
    Please, don’t let them get away without having to address that.

  17. Poor Discoveroids — stuck in a rut. Nothing new or compelling. Just keep re-hyping the same ole book. Like that is the be-all and end-all.

  18. michaelfugate

    What is interesting is that on one hand they tell us that they don’t need to know who the intelligent agent is to “detect design” and yet on the other they tell us they know who the agent is and even make “predictions” about how it acts – such as their fixation on “junk” DNA or the Cambrian diversification. Do they really know the mind of God?

  19. Read Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”

  20. Christine Janis

    There’ve been half a dozen new reviews in the past couple of days, which means that Meyer has been on a religious speaking tour encouraging people to write reviews.

    I strongly recommend the most popular negative review, by marine biologist Aaron Baldwin, which lays out in some detail various pieces of nefarious quote-distortion by Meyer

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3E06SO1WP1QBA/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0062071483#R3E06SO1WP1QBA

    I also recommend glancing at the most popular positive review, especially for the comments which end up featuring heavily one Andrew McDiarmid, who was later outed as Meyer’s assistant (and, if you pay attention, you can see the posts where the master takes over).

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R59UJIX9304AJ/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0062071483#R59UJIX9304AJ

  21. Frank J:
    “They can only say “that’s not ID’s task” so many times before the great majority can see that they’re running a scam.

    Oh, I wish that were so. I fear, however, that there are so many droolers hanging on every word echoing around in Talk Radio that given the creationist pandering for ratings by the likes of Rush Limbaugh et al. it won’t happen.

    The ratio of Talk Radio listeners to readers of ID criticism must be something like 100,000 to 1.

  22. michaelfugate

    Christine,
    I love the Les guy in the comments – “mistakes are made in any book, why pick on the mistakes?”
    I ran across another guy with this supposed ID prediction – no doubt from Meyer’s book:
    ID predicts the observed pattern of the fossil record whereby morphological disparity precedes diversity.
    Why ID predicts this is unclear unless you 1) somehow think it precludes evolution, and/or 2) know who the intelligence is and know that it always does things such.

  23. Meyer is basically preaching to the choir. People read what they want to hear. If they wanted real science then they would have stayed awake in their high school biology class.

  24. retiredsciguy: “The ratio of Talk Radio listeners to readers of ID criticism must be something like 100,000 to 1.”

    Yes, with some like me in both camps. I listen to right-wing talk radio – not Rush, but the more “adult” ones like Medved (a Discoveroid!) and Prager – and because I agree on most issues. They rarely discuss evolution, and when they do, are careful to avoid people like Ken Miller and Francis Collins, who would complicate their goal of portraying evolution as something only accepted by liberals and atheists.

    But there’s a more important ratio. That of (1) those who have at least some problems with evolution to (2) those who uncritically buy most sound bites from the paranoid authoritarians on the far right. That ratio is at least 2:1. Unfortunately, what critics of ID/creationism have been doing is not working (check the polls, and not just that idiotic Gallup one that everyone cites). So there’s at least nothing to lose by adding something to the repertoire. Or more correctly, increasing the frequency of a tactic that has been already tried, and tends to work, at least per anecdotal evidence of when it’s applied consistently.

    Certainly it won’t change the minds of the ~30% that is committed to evolution denial. But there’s another ~30%, all over the political and religious spectrum, whose aversion to evolution is reinforced by our side always answering the questions (usually with technical answers that are way above the head of the average nonscientist), but almost never exposing the evasive games that the anti-evolution activists play. And much too often assuming that those activists honestly personally deny evolution, when said activists have a very good reason to fake said apparent denial.

    Also, it’s long overdue to heed Eugenie Scott’s advice to “defuse the religion issue.” Nearly everyone agrees that ID/creationism is a religious idea, including nearly all committed and tentative fans, as well as critics. Only the activists, a tiny fraction of “dissenters,” insists that it’s science and not religion. So it makes no sense to dwell on that, as it too, gives the activists more opportunity to play their word games.

  25. michaelfugate

    Frank J if that is true about Eugenie Scott, then why does the NCSE have a staff theologian and have articles like “How to Read the Bible”?

    It is bad science we know that, but many seem to think it is bad theology too – as in it claims to know God’s mind in trying to constrain how or why God would act.