Readers, what do you call a guy who reviews/trashes a book without reading it?
|May 26, 2011||Posted by News under Darwinism|
(This contest is now closed for judging.)
Here, Evolution News & Views struggles with what to call the practice of trashing an ID-friendly book without actually reading it. That happened recently when Forbes.com’s Farrell started to trash Jonathan Wells’s The Myth of Junk DNA and allowed as how he might read it some time. (PZ Myers has threatened to read it, however.) Discovery came up with “Ayala-ing” after the Templeton winner:
To “Ayala” a book is to attack it in review without having bothered to read or even read much about it, simply on the basis of what you think it probably says given your uninformed preconceptions about the author. The term comes from the wonderful instance where distinguished biologist Francisco Ayala pompously “reviewed” Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell for the Biologos Foundation website while giving clear evidence of not having cracked the book open or even looked at the table of contents.
Why can’t these Discovery people see that the whole point is not to read the book. Once you read it, you commit yourself to fact, and Darwinism is about fiction – publicly funded, court-ordered fiction. And we need to help them come up with a better term than Ayala-ing. Suggestions?
Thus we have several posts from University of Toronto biochemist Larry Moran, criticizing Myth while being totally open about not having read it first. Moran wrote no fewer than four posts on the book in this fashion, claiming as an excuse that Myth would not be published in Canada until May 31. (In fact, the book was available for purchase from Amazon since early May.) And now, as Casey already noted, we have Forbes science writer John Farrell, citing Moran as his source — a “double Ayala,” so to speak, where you attack a book without reading it citing as justification a review by someone else who also hasn’t read it.
But doesn’t that just prove how loyal he is? In Nineteen Eighty-Four’s Quackspeak, he is doubleplusgood.
Farrell thinks the myth of junk DNA is itself a myth — that “scientists never dismissed junk DNA in the literature.” In other words, Wells has set up a straw man. Of course, not having looked at the book, Farrell can’t have consulted Dr. Wells’s fifty pages of notes documenting his argument. The notes may be downloaded for free here. (Also available in Canada.)
Note: Moran’s problem is completely understadable if you keep in mind that the first printing press ever in Canada arrived only last week, and has not been unpacked yet; also, only a handful of Canadians know how to use the Internet to order from Amazon.com, and none can figure out how to operate the system using quill pens.