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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Saturday, February 26, 2005

the defaming game

Roger L. Simon: Litterbugs of Amazon

Popular fiction writer and recovering liberal, Roger L. Simon, has some indignant words to say about an increasingly annoying phenomenon at, particularly from so-called progressive, leftist and freethinking "reviewers" who leave derisory and insulting "reviews" attacking, besmirching and attempting to censor those works or authors not considered by them to politically correct. What Simon finds particularly galling is that frequently they haven't even read the book in question!

Simon writes:
Several people have called to my attention that some "progressive thinkers" have been going to the Amazon URLs where my books are sold and giving those books one-star (out of five) reviews and leaving derisory comments. These people (or person, who knows?) were undoubtedly motivated by their dislike of the content on this blog. In several cases, they admit they didn't even read the books.

This juvenile behavior is, of course, a problem with the Amazon system. I am not sure if it is actually costing me money (turning people off buying the books), but I can promise you it doesn't make me feel good. It's sort of like waking up in the morning and finding graffiti all over the front wall of your house - and not very artistic graffiti at that - more like idiotic scrawls...

Roger Simon touches on an issue that I myself have seen occurring with greater frequency at One only has to read many of the so-called reviews that target books written by Christians or intelligent design advocates or books advocating conservative social, moral and religious positions to be thunderstruck by the polemical nature of the the attacks levelled by many of these "reviewers".

The system is being abused by ignoramuses with an axe to grind. Serious critical reviews are always to be welcomed but adolescent rants, raves and insults from partisan hacks, disguised as legitimate reviews, are an abuse of the system. They are also a sad testament to the illiberal world in which many "liberals" dwell.

This problem will need to be adressed by amazon, and some suggestions are given by commentators at Simon's site. However many of these "idiotic scrawls" are actually counterproductive and certainly encourage thoughtful browsers to consider that perhaps the targetted authors and books have something important to say. It is obvious that a nerve is being hit. It is not without chilling historical precedent for ideas that challenge ruling orthodoxies and paradigms to send those who would crush dissent into paroxyms of outrage and outpourings of diatribe.

Here's a couple of examples of the genre:
from Stephen J. Snyder who goes by the moniker of the Socratic Gadfly "reviewing" Agents Under Fire, Materialism and the Rationality of Science by Angus Menuge:

I'd give it a zero if I could, and every other book of his...That's after reading his obscurantist lies about ID in "Debating Design."

The accusation of "lies" by "a liar" is standard rhetorical fare from these "reviewers"... at least he claims to have read the book...

These guys haven't even bothered to read the book they eviscerate:
Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design by Thomas Woodward
[scroll through the reviews comparing the thoughtful and reflective comments to the kneejerk hate responses]

And this non-review from Internet axe-grinder S. Carr supposedly analysing From Darwin to Hitler : Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany by Richard Weikart succeeds only encapsualting the ignorant "foaming at the mouth" response of the committed polemicist.

NB The flip side of this phenomenon, though somewhat less distasteful and certainly not as offensive, is the presence of effusive cheering "reviews" from fans, regardless of the actual merit of the work.

12:02:00 am