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Darwinist Negative-Review Spam Campaign Backfires at Amazon


Last week, The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological Systems was in the 17,000-20,000 range at Amazon.com. Since the Darwinist-sponsored negative-review spam campaign (with “reviews” written mostly by people who obviously had not read the book), and as of this writing, the book is sitting at about 3,000, and is:

#1 in Books > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
#1 in Books > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology

Gil, I fear you missed my point. As of THIS writing DoL is back down to a ranking of #3,735. Once you are below a rank of 1,000, Amazon sales are essentially trivial and sales of a handful of copies can swing a ranking by a 1,000 places for a few hours. My point was not that the popularity of the titles I mentioned was so great; it was that NONE of these numbers are meaningful. greyman
Does anybody know what the source of this "Darwinian spam attack" was? Nonetheless, I think we should not lose sight of the fact that Amazon rankings aren't necessarily a gauge of the quality of a book's arguments. If the arguments put forth by Wells and Dembski are strong, they will eventually be supported by the evidence and systematic research. If they are not, then ID may win over the masses, but it will still lack empirical evidence. xcdesignproponentsists
Larry: A bit of a follow-up on Mr Kwok's claim:
"the Discovery Institute’s Intelligent Design advocates . . . ample, rather disingenuous, pretensions to asserting the scientific validity of an idea that was soundly rejected once before, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and deserves its widespread current repudiation by modern scientists.”
In short, Mr Kwok's core reason for rejecting the design inference on OOL and body-plan level biodiversity -- and, one presumes, probably on the best explanation of the fine-tuned, organised complexity of the physics of a life-facilitating cosmos [cf my always linked for details] -- is his advocacy of so-called methodological naturalism, compounded by his acceptance of Hume et al over Paley et al. The basic problem with this is, of course, that it in effect baldly asserts or implicitly assumes that no scientific explanation may properly infer outside or beyond the entities permitted by evolutionary materialist views of the origin of the cosmos [considered to be THE TRUTH] and what we see in it, up to and including the wholly endogenous emergence of intelligent agents such as ourselves. This is of course the same view taken by "Copycat" Jones in his notorious Dover Ruling, duly and slavishly following the ACLU's post trial script [errors, misrepresentations and all], the NCSE's advocacy, and the NAS' declamations, etc. [Cf my always linked, Appendix 2.] But in fact, this boils down to a basic error in logic: the basic question is closed-mindedly begged at the outset, and is disguised under the alleged authority of today's "consensus" of scientists and associated philosophers and historians of science. Why do I say that? 1] Historically, in fact science has been open to the supernatural, as one may directly read in the greatest work of modern Science, by the greatest modern scientist, i.e in Newton's General Scholium to his Principia. This, is excerpted in appendix 4 in my always linked. Now of course, some of that led to the notorious challenge of the God of The Gaps, as I discussed in section E in the always linked. (As I will point out below, inference to design is NOT a God of the gaps argument.) 2] But Kwok plainly knows these things, as he explicitly sites the "shift" as C18 - 19. [Cf Peterson's telling discussion on this, here, and also Meyer's stinging analysis of why the attempts to demark ID as non-science plainly fail on grounds of the methodological equivalence of design and descent, here.] What he is quietly gliding over is the implication that if science can change its assumptions once, it can do so again, if evidence warrants. For, scientific knowledge -- to be truly scientific, anchored to empirical data and open to new discoveries and to logical critique -- is provisional. 3] And, there is indeed, such relevant data which has emerged over the past 50-odd years as we have come to see that information is a deeply embedded element of reality as we experience it, cf my always linked, Section A and appendix 1. In brief [and excerpting and adjusting slightly from my comments 29 - 30 on ID Critic's "review" in the same Amazon book site]:
–> We see an object which is functional, and evidently information-bearing. –> We ask, 1: is it contingent or the product of law-like natural regularity tracing to mechanical necessity of nature? If not contingent, then obviously necessity explains it and the object is not designed. –> On the alternative that the object manifests contingency [multiple possible outcome states for a given event], we ask 2: Is the object complex, i.e does the configuration space taken up by the set of possible outcomes require at least 500 - 1,000 bits to store? If so, it is complex in the sense relevant to the ID inference. –> We ask, 3: is the outcome specified, especially in a message-oriented or information-processing, functional sense. If so, the object exhibits functionally specified, complex information [FSCI, a relevant subset of CSI, and the subset IDC addresses, cf. here Appendix 3 to the always linked onthe roots of these concepts in OOL studies circa 1980, and also especially Orgel's proposal of 1973.] beyond the reasonable reach of chance acting alone on the gamut of the observed cosmos. –> We conclude, provisionally (as is true of all scientific reasoning) but confidently (and IMHCO, reliably): SINCE: [p] in all cases of directly observed origin of such FSCI the cause is intelligent agency, AND [q] on excellent grounds tracing to the principles of statistical thermodynamics [cf my always linked, app 1 section 6], this is likely due to the impotence of random-walk searches [including those functionally filtered before moving on to the next stage] on the gamut of the cosmos to find such islands or archipelagos of functionally specified complexity, THEN [r] We are well-warranted, on solid empirical and logical bases, to INFER [s] that such FSCI is the result of intelligent agent action, even in cases where we do not see the causal process in action directly.
I would say that this line of reasoning in light of the above premised points P and Q: (P AND Q) lead, on inference to best explanation, to S, is hardly properly to be termed, "disingenuous" or incompetent, as say an Antony Flew, formerly the world's leading anglophone philosophical atheist, agrees. (But then, I guess I would be dismissed as ignorant, stupid, insane and/or wicked by the likes of a Mr Kwok. I leave it to the astute reader to decide, save that I freely confess to being a recovering, morally struggling sinner, being a fallen and formerly willfully rebellious creature under reformation through penitent encounter with God in the face of Christ. And,t hat I find it helps me in my science to realise that I can be self-deceived or improperly doubtful, and subtly willful about it. I once had an encounter with a high-amperage voltage regulator that showed me that at that time I didn't REALLY believe in the reliable reality of the calculated value of impedance when my neck was on the line . . . I had to consciously force myself to think about he physics of energy storage in magnetic fields reflected in the relationship V = I*Z, where Z = R + jX, and X is the sum of inductive and capacitive reactances.) 4] Now, too, this is all in fact instantly familiar. For, as I also remarked on IDC in comment 30:
In fact, the design inference is a positive hypothesis,and provides a step by step process for inferring to agent action that is familiar to anyone who has ever had to do even a first course in statistical inference testing. Such as, say, those having at least a first degree in biology. So, the ever so prevalent willful obtuseness on this topic is inexcusable.
[It is instructive to look at Mr Kwok's profile at Amazon, here.] But also, in fact so soon as we infer to signal in the presence of the abstract possibility of noise causing corruption or transmutation into something else, even luckily creating a coherent message de novo [is this me, JK, or is this just lucky noise?], we are inferring to design using a process that is very much as just outlined. Cf my discussion in the always linked, section A. 5] Thus, it is fair comment for me to conclude that indeed many contemporary scientists and philosophers -- as well as, of course, many of our intellectualised classes -- do reject the possibility of inference to design based on empirical traces thereof, but they hardly do so "soundly." Instead, IMHCO, what we are seeing is selective hyperskepticism backed by worldview-level question-begging, flying under the false colours of "Science." Such would do well to consider hew question as to whether in professing themselves to be enlightened, they are in fact only en-darkened, willing prisoners in today's version of Plato's Cave of artful shadow shows. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Bragging on 4 digit Amazon sales rankings is kind of a mug’s game. As of this writing DoL is now ranked 5,046 and is being outsold by Dawkins’ God Delusion...
For some perspective, and as of this writing: Dawkins' The God Delusion Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1,308 in Books Flew's There Is A God Amazon.com Sales Rank: #353 in Books Dembski and Wells' The Design of Life Amazon.com Sales Rank: #2,377 in Books DoL is not in the same category as Dawkins' and Flew's books. It is in the same category as Carroll's, which sells at Amazon for one-third the price. Sean B. Carroll's Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo Amazon.com Sales Rank: #24,886 in Books #4 in Books > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology #6 in Books > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology DoL is still: #1 in Books > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology #1 in Books > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology GilDodgen
Hi Larry: I checked. Mr Kwok's "review" has been there for some days now. Here is my -- slightly cleaned up and with a link to my always linked discussion on the Judge's decision -- remark on it when I looked at the then four negative reviews, Dec 20 inst (and I had not realised that this was a particularly controversial "review"):
3] John Kwok, NY — a sadly familiar name. He starts by favourably citing the infamous decision by Judge “Copycat” Jones, apparently not realising that this thinly disguised ACLU screed based on Forrest’s slanders, out right falsehoods and errors, as well as misrepresentations, is its own indictment. After piling up quotes from this dubious source, he calls for action: “decision which was, without question, a staggering blow to both the Discovery Institute’s Intelligent Design advocates, and to many others, who, regrettably, still harbor ample, rather disingenuous, pretensions to asserting the scientific validity of an idea that was soundly rejected once before, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and deserves its widespread current repudiation by modern scientists.” He then proceeds to give his side of personal exchanges with WD etc, and tries to imply that Dr Dembski doesn’t understand statistics. [As in: what are the confidence limits on the EF? Mr Kwok, I would think that the UPB has long since shown the edge of chance for cases of functionally specified complex information. Why not try out my always linked, App 1 section 6 for a discussion on what it means based on basic statistical thermodynamics principles?]
In short, this is a case of unjustified personal attack, propagation of what Mr Kwok should know is blatant and slanderous misrepresentation and associated tyrannical miscarriage of justice carried out in the teeth of easily accessible facts to the contrary, AND it is coming from a Judge who under the US Constitution as properly understood, simply has not got jurisdiction on what he claims to be ruling on. It is certainly NOT a well-structured, fair minded book review. (Had someone dared to hand to me such a disrespectful travesty under the false colours of "a book review" as a General Studies assignment in the days when I taught GP to sixth formers, I would have sent it back for reworking from scratch, I would not even have graded it! But then, under Brit style libel law jurisdictions, Mr Kwok would probably long since have been on the way to mortgage his house and land to pay off fines and expenses incurred . . .) IMHCO, the "review" should not be hosted at Amazon. Those who are so uncivil that they can't see why, are telling us a lot about themselves. Not to mention, also about why it would be dangerous to give such evo mat- driven secularists further power over the public square and key science, education and governmental institutions. What was that about "long train[s] of abuses and usurpations," again . . . ? GEM of TKI kairosfocus
John Kwok's controversial customer review of "The Design of Life" has been restored to Amazon.com and is now dated December 4 (I don't know what the original date was). His review begins by quoting six paragraphs from Judge Jones' Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion. The ID-as-science section of the opinion was virtually entirely ghostwritten by the ACLU and Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against the defendants by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause on a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. I would not be impressed if the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that ID is not science, because IMO the question is non-justiciable. Larry Fafarman
How come Amazon doesn't have an "Evolutionary" Biology category. Isn't that a real science? EndoplasmicMessenger
interested, Gil did make that causal link when stated that the reviews "backfired." Hedge
Bragging on 4 digit Amazon sales rankings is kind of a mug's game. As of this writing DoL is now ranked 5,046 and is being outsold by Dawkins' God Delusion (PB and HC editions), the Selfish Gene and the 11 year old Blind Watchmaker as well as Victor Stenger's God: the Failed Hypothesis, Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu's Evolution. greyman
Here’s another thought: If The Design of Life becomes the companion book to the Expelled movie, as a result of the militant Darwinist Amazon spam attack, this will represent their most foolish tactical error.
As the final cut may not have been made in the movie, this little event may get featured in the movie. Wouldn't that be fun. bFast
to be fair hedge, Gil is not guilty of the fallacy you are claiming. his original words never make a causal link. you merely inferred one. while it would be fallacious to make such a claim, Gil merely pointed out the timing and the facts and leaves the reader to determine whether or not a causal link is likely. personally, i am inclined to believe that there is something happening there, but i can't be sure. interested
There was a huge surge in sales precisely coincident with and the day following the spam attack on December 20. It could be a coincidence, but it's an interesting one. The attack (which was so obviously orchestrated by people who had not read the book) began on the morning of December 20. As of 4:53 A.M. EST on the 21st, The Design of Life was at 1826 in books, despite the nearly instantaneous and radical reduction in Amazon star rating, created by the Darwinian spam attack, to an average of 2.5. If the DoL sales surge were the result of seasonal purchasing, one would expect that the sales of competing books would have surged commensurately, but they didn't, which is why DoL rose to #1 in its category. Here's another thought: If The Design of Life becomes the companion book to the Expelled movie, as a result of the militant Darwinist Amazon spam attack, this will represent their most foolish tactical error. Suppression of dissent through intimidation and character assassination always backfires. GilDodgen
Russ said: "Maybe. But I guess we can’t really know, can we?" Well, that's the whole point. Without any evidence showing a causal link between event "A" and event "B", it's fallacious to say that one caused the other. Of course, Gil could be right that the negative reviews provoked a flurry of purchases, but it's not logically sound for him to make this causal claim when all he's shown thus far is a potential correlation. Hedge
Hmmm... You don't suppose it has anything to do with the coming anniversary of our Savior's birth? I think we shouldn't give too much credit to the Darwinoids, myself. Nochange
Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
Maybe. But I guess we can't really know, can we? I am not a sports fan, so forgive me if I get this wrong. But I remember reading that Kirk Kerkorian made a lot of money off the L.A. Clippers, despite spending very little money on players. It seems that everyone bought tickets to see the OPPOSING teams. Maybe that's akin to what's happening here. russ
Awesome... When will the audiobook version be released?? Gods iPod
And Amazon even knows what department to put the book in. Cool. bFast
Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Hedge
Isn't it dishonest to call it a "Darwinist Negative-Review" campaign as O'Leary was the first to call for people to inflate the ratings in the first place? mathstudent

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