Self-Published Genius #38: Soil Chemistry Prof

This is a new addition to our series about Self-Published Geniuses, where we bring you news of authors with a vanity press book in which the author claims to have made paradigm-shattering discoveries, and announces his work by hiring a press release service.

This author’s press release is titled New Book, “Scripture Versus Science,” Shows Religion & Science Don’t Have to Be Adversarial. Wow — this looks interesting! The press release is issued by PRWeb, which “gets your news straight to the search engines that everyone uses, like Google, Yahoo and Bing.”

We always need to confirm that the book qualifies for our collection. Was it published by a vanity press? No problem. Jumping ahead to the middle of the press release, we’re told:

This book is not only a fascinating read, but it provides clarity to some of the most important questions about our origins. We are pleased to announce its release,” said Robert Fletcher, CEO of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency.

This is the publisher’s website: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency. It’s a bit ambiguous, but we spotted this from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America: ALERTS FOR WRITERS, which says:

Since SBPRA [Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency] began operating as a fee-charging literary agency in 2001 (under a different name), Writer Beware has received hundreds of complaints and advisories of fees for literary agency services, fees for publishing, and paid critique and editing referrals. Other questionable practices include selling marketing services to authors, charging authors to attend book fairs, and referring clients to other branches of the business without revealing the connection. We’re not aware that the literary agency branch of the business has a significant track record of commercial book or script sales under any of its names…and it has had a lot of names.

They provide a lot more information, but that’s enough. It looks like we’ve got a vanity press book and we’ve got the author’s press release. Let’s dig in and see what it says, with some bold font added by us for emphasis. The lead paragraph of the press release (presumably written by the author) will definitely get your attention:

Is the Earth thousands of years old or millions? Using a scientist’s analytical approach, Dr. Robert D. Harter evaluated and compared the biblical, anthropological, and geological records to find out.

Exciting, huh? Let’s read on:

His eye-opening book “Scripture Versus Science: Reconciling God’s Ancient Wisdom with a Modern World View” approaches the subject of Earth’s origins and human development from the position of a lifelong Christian who is also a scientist.

Here’s the Amazon listing for Dr. Harter’s book: Scripture Versus Science : Reconciling God’s Ancient Wisdom with a Modern World View. Their “About the author” section says:

At age 30 was awarded a PhD degree by Purdue University. Following short term post-doctoral positions, Dr. Harter joined the staff at the University of New Hampshire, where he spent 30 years as Professor of Soil Chemistry.

Harter is certainly qualified to write this book. The press release continues:

Both positions [science and scripture] cannot be correct, though he believes that neither is completely wrong.

Huh? How is that possible? Here’s more:

While unlikely to provide a clear and definitive answer to the question of evolutionary science, the book does begin to clear the “fog” that has developed around the controversy.

That’s it for the press release, but the Amazon listing also tells us:

[Harter] states, “There has been a lot of fog associated with whether God created the universe and everything in it, or whether it just happened by chance. In writing this book, I attempt to show that the ideas supporting the two views are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In other words, I hope I have allowed a bit of sun to shine through the fog.”

This may be just what you’ve been looking for, dear reader. The rest is up to you. All we can do is lead you to the source of wisdom.

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

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14 responses to “Self-Published Genius #38: Soil Chemistry Prof

  1. Ah, the Bible, the source of scientific inspiration. Can anyone imagine the amount of research effort that has gone into finding (or in most cases not finding) evidence for the activities in the Bible? The Hebrews non-stay in Egypt or the non-40 years in the wilderness, or the non-wars with the Canaanites? Medieval monks were forbidden to practice medicine and were told to push the power of prayer and holy relics, thus delaying centuries of medical progress. Researches have spent no little effort looking for Noah’s Ark, trying to rediscover the language we all shared before the Tower of Babel, and myriad other wild goose chases.

    Now that science is so fabulously successful, all of the theists want a part of its track record to apply to them. Unfortunately for them, a great, great many Biblical claims about physical reality have been overthrown by Science but not one, not a single solitary scientific finding has been overturned in favor of Biblical scripture.

    This claim is just another form of gravy training. Science has this great reputation for finding the truth about reality, so churchy people want to tell everyone there is no conflict between their Scripture and science, even though there is nothing but conflict. There is no agreement whatsoever. This is appalling.

  2. Medieval monks were forbidden to practice medicine and were told to push the power of prayer and holy relics, thus delaying centuries of medical progress.

    Yes, very true, and in the process they were handsomely rewarded with donations to their institutions, which somehow always benefited them personally as well.

  3. I noticed that one can read some of this masterpiece at Google Books.
    Christian apologetics all the way down….

  4. Thanks to the Google Books link kindly provided by michaelfugate, I can share this wonderful gem from page 7 of Harter’s magnum opus:

    We often hear that the Bible is nothing but a bunch of myths upon which the Judeo-Christian traditions are based. Proponents of this view include such luminary voices as Bill O’Reilly, whose commentary is very popular on Fox News.

    Well, as readers of this blog will recall from one of our Curmudgeon’s recent posts that the DI’s redoubtable Klinghoffer thinks “atheists deserve better” spokesmen than the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson. But who appointed Bill O’Reilly???

  5. “….or whether it just happened by chance.”
    Who ever said it was by chance??
    Just because your yard filled up with water and there is no rain, does not mean it is by chance, it could be the dam way up river which you do not know about broke! In the same fashion the big expansion could be any number of causes you know NOTHING about!
    The choices are not just gawd or dumb luck! Actual you and everyone else knows the true answer…..”I don’t know!”

  6. @L.Long:
    Actually, the ancient atomists said that it happened by chance. The atomists, in the form of Epicureanism, represented the major challenge to theism, to the extent that “Epicurean” came to mean “atheist”.
    The creationists, known for not having the ability to come up with ideas since the 18th century, have been arguing against the Epicureans.

  7. Doctor Stochastic

    So should we dig up the dirt on this guy? I did work with a soil chemist when I was teaching, but it wasn’t this guy.

  8. DocStoc asks,
    “So should we dig up the dirt on this guy?”

    I donno. I just don’t feel the chemistry.

    (One good pun deserves a bad one.)

  9. The Google Books link was enlightening. The 1st paragraph of the introduction talks about humans and rationality. The 2nd paragraph opens with a Bible verse. I stopped right there!

  10. So a molecule said.”I think I lost an electron”
    A neutron said “Are you positive”….
    And a double does of oggity boogity origins blather.

  11. Derek Freyberg

    From the blurb:

    The author grew up in a rural Ohio Christian family and understands those who believe the Earth and everything in it was created a few thousand years ago. He is also a university professor who understands why the planet is claimed to be millions of years old.
    Both positions cannot be correct, though he believes that neither is completely wrong.

    “Both positions cannot be correct” – if the author means that they may not simultaneously be correct, surely that is so, since they are contrary to one another; if he means that neither can be correct, nah, I don’t think so: all the evidence is on the side of millions of years ago.

  12. Derek Freyberg

    “Neither is completely wrong” – well, one of them sure is, and I think we all know which one; and it’s not the one held by the author’s rural Ohio Christian family.

  13. For more information on the life and works of Robert Fletcher, I urge readers to head on over to the Writer Beware blog.

    Being, in a modest way, a pro writer myself, I have been aware of Fletcher’s various enterprises for about a decade. He runs considerably worse than a “vanity press”. A vanity press is one which you pay to produce your book. There is nothing unethical or unprofessional about that transaction. They provide a service and a product for which they receive payment, and are entitled to make a profit.

    What Mr Fletcher is engaged in is a somewhat different operation. He represents himself as a “traditional publisher” who will publish the work and pay royalties, and he invites submissions. All submissions, it turns out, are accepted, and a contract is promptly sent, which is, alas, often signed in a warm glow of accomplishment. It’s only when and if the fine print on this contract is read that the author realises that he or she is committed to buying anything up to several hundred copies of the work. These will be in effect the only copies that are produced, and the price will be whatever Mr Fletcher thinks is a fair thing. Fair for him, that is – two or three times the going commercial price.

    The books will be unedited, without design, poorly bound and shoddily produced on coarse paper. They will be said to be “available through brick-and-mortar bookstores across the country”. That is correct, in the sense that a bookstore will place an order, in return for cash payment in full in advance. That’s if the bookstore clerk can find Mr Fletcher’s website. Certainly the book will not otherwise be found in the store.

    Mr Fletcher will also publicize the book, for a further fee. For this purpose he calls in experts with whom he is in intimate professional contact. So much so that they turn out to be at the very same IP address.

    In all truth, the hapless Dr Harter is more sinned against than sinning. Comfort yourselves, oh curmudgeonites, for he has been taken down right royally already, and further to deride him would be supererogatory.

  14. @Dave Luckett
    It sounds to me like Robert Fletcher read Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco and took the lessons of Manutius Press to heart!