I realize that with a second post on the topic of the bookstore mischief saga, I risk typecasting myself as "the bookstore guy." Still, there were a lot of responses to the whole thing on Tall Penguin's blog, and an unbelievable number on PZ's.
There's one subset of those that I'd like to address.
When DK and I moved those bibles, it was done less as a political statement or some opening salvo in a campaign of petty bookstore terrorism, but more for sheer shits and giggles. We'd just come out of Harold and Kumar 2, and were in an insolent sort of mood.
There are some, however, who feel that there's another subtopic which is more systematically misplaced in bookstores. Many comments on Pharyngula suggested that Science shelves should be bereft of such gems as Michael Behe's intelligent-design manifestos, or any any book on new-age pseudoscience.
It's with this that I must take issue. When, in my email to Dr Myers, I referred to the democratic marketplace of ideas, I was not paying lip service. It is a fundamental tenet of western democratic society that as long as nobody is literally hurt, every opinion has a right to be heard. I'm not saying that every opinion is worth the paper it's written on, just that anyone has every right to make their case. This is especially the case in the rigours of the scientific process, where any theory - new or old - is continually vetted by a process of peer review and critique.
In the case of Behe's ID idiocy and New-Age acupressure guides, they belong squarely in the science section. The questions that they address (Who are we? How did we get here? How can the flow of Chi affect my basement grow-op?) are fundamentally scientific ones. Just because a particular author's answer to a real scientific question is completely insipid does not mean that it does not belong on the Science shelf.
Call me Naïve, but I truly want to believe that in the great marketplace of ideas, theories will ultimately rise and fall on their own merits.
If you want to rid your local science section of wastes of wood-pulp like Behe's books on Intelligent Design, here's how to do it.
Let his opinion be heard.
There is only one appropriate response to a ridiculous proposition, and that response is thorough ridicule. Give Behe and his ilk a seat at the table. Engage him. Expose his ideas for the unscrupulous shams that they are. I'm not advocating that anyone treat fools with kid gloves - far from it. All I'm saying is, give these people just enough intellectual rope to hang themselves with, then help them build their gallows.