Pseudo-science in UK libraries

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Discussion by: mccuepaul1

My wife is a Librarian and we are currently arguing over who has the duty of care (if one exists) over keeping books on Homeopathy or Dianetics in our public or school libraries. My view is that libraries should be maintaning stock which at the very least, are in line with the prevailing scientific consensus. She sees a problem in regard to censorship.

Any thoughts?

94 COMMENTS

  1. As much as I despise homeopathy and the crooks that sell it, I cannot agree to any form of censorship, therefore would have to allow the books a place in the library. However, they should also be in a section clearly marked to show they were nothing to do with science. Probably a pseudo-science section would be as good as anything although I rather like codswallop, which was my grandfather’s word for anything ridiculous or absolute rubbish.

    • In reply to #1 by Stephen Mynett:

      …I cannot agree to any form of censorship, therefore would have to allow the books a place in the library…

      You are forgetting that libraries already “censor”. No library in the world could stock every book published in any given month, never mind in a year or longer. As a result of this reality, there is someone, somewhere who is making a value judgement about which books to purchase.As a taxpayer and supporter of public libraries I’ve got an expectation that those judgments about allocation of scarce resources (cash & shelf space) be reserved for items that have genuine merit.

      As for freedom of speech, there is nowhere in the civilized world where the right of freedom of speech includes the right to engage in fraud, misleading and deceptive conduct or false advertising. Why should we allow the publishers of books on quackery to have the legitimacy of being placed in a public library under any section but fiction?

      • In reply to #39 by Grimace:

        You are forgetting that libraries already “censor”. No library in the world could stock every book published in any given month, never mind in a year or…

        Not at all, that is just being over-pedantic. I would assume everyone would take it as a given that there are far more books published than a library can find space for. I simply would not throw out all books on any one subject on the grounds it was pseudo-science or some other woo. As pathetic as post modernism, cultural relativism etc are that does not mean people should be denied access to books about them. The fact is libraries must be as representative of all sides as possible with the space they have available.

        You can state it is a form of censorship but not stocking a book because of a lack of shelf-space is totally different to not stocking it because it is considered not appropriate.

        • In reply to #41 by Stephen Mynett:

          In reply to #39 by Grimace:

          Not at all, that is just being over-pedantic. I would assume everyone would take it as a given that there are far…

          If you think I’m being over pedantic then you need to read the News Limited papers here. Every time an issue or point of view that they think is important (such as their ongoing anti science stance) is not given the prominence they feel is appropriate, they scream CENSORSHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The truth is that not all opinions are equally valid, you are not entitled to your own facts and giving legitimacy (in the form of false equivalence) to crap opens the door to all sorts of harm to society.

          • In reply to #44 by Grimace:

            If you think I’m being over pedantic then you need to read the News Limited papers here. Every time an issue or point of view that they think is important (such as their ongoing anti science stance) is not given the prominence they feel is appropriate, they scream CENSORSHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The truth is that not all opinions are equally valid, you are not entitled to your own facts and giving legitimacy (in the form of false equivalence) to crap opens the door to all sorts of harm to society.

            They tried banning YouTube in Pakistan because of some inflammatory video about Islam and Muhammad. The same logic behind the banning: that the video was going to harm the society. So they banned YouTube in Pakistan I think a couple of years ago. The next thing you know, software popping up all over on the Internet and even on Google Play to bypass the ban, and people still watching YouTube in Pakistan despite the ban.

            Bans like this don’t work anymore. Not in this day and age. If you ban books in public libraries, people can still access pseudoscience through the Internet.

            Same with illegal drugs. A lot of people would say, getting hold of illegal drugs like LSD, MDMA and cocaine is sometimes a lot easier than buying prescription drugs like benzos, or even behind the counter drugs like codeine. But we still hear the governments boasting, we are winning the war on drugs…!

          • In reply to #45 by rizvoid:

            In reply to #44 by Grimace:

            They tried banning YouTube in Pakistan because of some inflammatory video about Islam and Muhammad. The same logic behind the banning: that the video was going to harm the society. So they banned YouTube in Pakistan I think a couple of years ago. The next thing you know, software popping up all over on the Internet and even on Google Play to bypass the ban, and people still watching YouTube in Pakistan despite the ban.

            Bans like this don’t work anymore. Not in this day and age. If you ban books in public libraries, people can still access pseudoscience through the Internet.

            Same with illegal drugs. A lot of people would say, getting hold of illegal drugs like LSD, MDMA and cocaine is sometimes a lot easier than buying prescription drugs like benzos, or even behind the counter drugs like codeine. But we still hear the governments boasting, we are winning the war on drugs…!

            Great job on the strawman there Rizvoid. I’m not proposing we ban anything (in fact I agree it’s futile). People are still free to go to the local bookshop or online to buy whatever they wish WITH THEIR OWN MONEY.

            You Tube et al. are privately funded dissemination services who provide a platform for people publish their content, which was produced at their own cost. Nowhere have I argued that a privately funded dissemination service be banned or restricted in any way. Further, digital dissemination services have, for all practical purposes, unlimited storage capacity – they are in no meaningful sense restricted in how much content they can host.

            I’m glad you brought up the War on Drugs, its a great example of when public policy is created on the basis of bullshit and wishful thinking rather than evidence based policy.

          • In reply to #48 by Grimace:

            In reply to #45 by rizvoid:

            In reply to #44 by Grimace:

            Great job on the strawman there Rizvoid. I’m not proposing we ban anything (in fact I agree it’s futile). People are still free to go to the local bookshop or online to buy whatever they wish WITH THEIR OWN MONEY.

            Yeah, but we also have those taxpayers who would like to read books on what is called pseudoscience here. What about them? Why should they buy books with their own money, while others can enjoy the privilege of reading free books in public libraries on topics they like?

          • In reply to #49 by rizvoid:

            Yeah, but we also have those taxpayers who would like to read books on what is called pseudoscience here. What about them? Why should they buy books with their own money, while others can enjoy the privilege of reading free books in public libraries on topics they like?

            The non fiction section of a public library, like a University, is a place for enlightenment, not a place to have your personal preferences indulged. Efforts to include all manner of unscientific nonsense in the non fiction section of a library only act to debauch the very idea of such a place.

          • In reply to #50 by Grimace:

            Efforts to include all manner of unscientific nonsense in the non fiction section of a library only act to debauch the very idea of such a place.

            Rizvoid does not appear to be suggesting which section the books should appear in. His statement is more or less “Who are we to censor the views of others”. As a devout atheist I take the same viewpoint, while it is arguable that some elements of homoeopathy and dianetics are clearly the result of the placebo effect at best who are we to argue that only proven fact should be in the library? Let me put it another way, how many aspects of the big bang theory are simply conjecture that fit the observation? Should we also exclude those books?

            There is a danger that some atheists take their scientific view point as the only valid viewpoint and that other points of view should be excluded. That sounds horribly like the religious fundamentalists to me.

          • *In reply to #51 by naskew:

            As a devout atheist I take the same viewpoint, while it is arguable that some elements of homoeopathy and dianetics are clearly the result of the placebo effect at best who are we to argue that only proven fact should be in the library? Let me put it another way, how many aspects of the big bang theory are simply conjecture that fit the observation? Should we also exclude those books?

            There is a danger that some atheists take their scientific view point as the only valid viewpoint and that other points of view should be excluded. That sounds horribly like the religious fundamentalists to me.

            The non inclusion of a published book IS NOT censorship. The overwhelming majority of non fiction books published in any given year are not held in any given library collection.

            You’ve got some false equivalence in there. The science is in, and has been for a very long time on homeopathy and dianetics – they are nonsense. The science is not in on some parts of the big bang theory and legitimate discussion is critical to the scientific method and development of knowledge.

            The proponents of unscientific points of view have a long history of using their platform of legitimacy to unjustly enrich themselves and/or to deny rights to women and minority groups. The sooner we deny them that legitimacy the sooner we will become a more just society.

          • In reply to #54 by Grimace:

            The non inclusion of a published book IS NOT censorship.

            While you may be right that the vast majority of published books are not available in the library I’d seriously doubt if their non inclusion was because “Grimace” and his/her ilk consider the book nonsense. Someone commented earlier that “50 shades of grey” is not in certain libraries, the reason is simply, those libraries do not house what they consider pornography. They are open and upfront and simply state that they would not include that type of book.

            Homoeopathy is clearly non-sense, I once dropped an aspirin over the side of a ferry by accident, by now the entire planet should be able to relieve their headache simply by sipping a glass of water. The problem is that there are people who, despite the evidence, gain benefit from the treatments. More than likely this is just the placebo effect, but for them it works. Why does “Grimace” have any right to deny those people access to the books and more than my religious biology teacher felt he had the right to deny me lessons on the subject of evolution?

        • In reply to #41 by Stephen Mynett:

          In reply to #39 by Grimace:

          You are forgetting that libraries already “censor”. No library in the world could stock every book published in any given month, never mind in a year or…

          Not at all, that is just being over-pedantic. I would assume everyone would take it as a given that there are far…

          “The fact is libraries must be as representative of all sides as possible with the space they have available.”

          Why should they have to be as representative of all sides as possible? You mean, they should not in any way or form try to select the best literature they possibly can? Many here seem to justify the existence of “bullshit” in libraries by putting them on shelves with the appropriate labels. But, who’s responsible for the labels? I’m pretty sure most librarians don’t have a science education and even if they do they aren’t familiar with all fields and probably have no time to extensively review books. So the question is, who are they to label books as pseudo-science or real science? Why should they even be burdened with such a difficult task in first place? In practice pseudo-scientific books will end up along with real science books. We just can’t leave it to individual libraries to decide what is real science and what is not, just as we can’t leave it up to individual schools to decide what is real science or not. There has to be some form of guidelines. But, of course that can be seen as a form of censorship. I’m pretty sure the people who’s books will end up on the pseudo-science shelves think that’s a form of censorship.

          I really don’t understand this idea that public libraries somehow have a duty to represent any kind of bullshit available on the market. By, that logic they would have to have an equal amount of books on every topic. Five books on evolution, five flat earth books, five on the stork theory, etc etc… The fact that there are many more pseudo-scientific hypotheses on any given subject than real science books would mean the libraries would be flooded with nonsense, all in the name of equal representation. What about public education? Isn’t that what libraries are all about? To be a source of entertainment and education. Just like schools or universities. Why should libraries have the duty to be an open and uncritical forum to any snake-oil salesmen out there? We, already have such a forum. The internet. I see no point in having libraries if they are just an open forum for whatever nonsense crackpots like to promote.

  2. Concur with Stephen Mynett. It’s important that books on Dianetics and homeopathy be available freely to anyone who wants to read them. The moment you start censoring stuff, even stupid stuff like this, you are doing Big Brother’s work. I also concur that they need to be in a section on their own with a title like, “Claims Without Scientific Evidence”. You could catalogue JFK conspiracies there. UFO claims. Global warming deniers and even Economists. And don’t forget the bible.

    The aim of society through education should be, that a skeptical reader would be able to determine by themselves, that what they were reading was bunkum. And that task, is harder than getting a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

  3. I agree with the other posters, censorship is not the way forward. It is difficult to know where to place them. Naturally I’d suggest under fiction if I were being facetious but the suggestion of Claims Without Scientific Evidence would also apply to the big bang theory, string theory, and even possibly the God Delusion. Perhaps (and who knows, this might exist) if there were a kind of board of approval within the scientific community, they could at least vouch for the scientific rigour with which a book is written and so give a stamp of approval so allowing the book to enter the science section rather than any other lesser section.

    • In reply to #3 by naskew:

      I agree with the other posters, censorship is not the way forward. It is difficult to know where to place them. Naturally I’d suggest under fiction if I were being facetious but the suggestion of Claims Without Scientific Evidence would also apply to the big bang theory, string theory, and even poss…

      I would point out here that the Big Bang Theory does have scientific evidence; eg. Hubble Constant in patterns of redshift from distant galaxies and the Cosmic Microwave Background.

    • In reply to #4 by The Truth, the light:

      Simply catalogue them under fiction. Job done.
      If it were so easy. Especially with kids. They are too malleable, many never learns completely distinguish fiction from reality. Then there are Science teachers- good if the kid likes them, but if not? Allthough, of course, getting books will be no problem anyway, one should discuss these “therapies” wiht the stress on DISCUSS (and not listen to what teacher says).

  4. Totally agree with others against excluding books solely because they do not meet the ‘prevailing scientific consensus’. Nowadays unwanted books can be donated to charity shops or pulped. But in pre-Amazon, pre-recycling times they may well have been burnt. Which should evoke very uncomfortable historical parallels.

    A key word in theOP is ‘prevailing’. I admit that it is hard to see how there ever was or ever will be good evidence for Homeopathy. But if librarians in the past had a applied the ‘prevailing’ test’, then it would have been entirely right for libraries to not hold books by Kepler or Galileo as their views on a heliocentric universe was totally at odds with the ‘prevailing’ view of their age.

    Within their resources, and short of violent or clearly abusive material, libraries should surely aim to reflect the full range of views and tastes of the communities they serve.

  5. While I agree with what everyone has said above, it presents a problem.

    The authors and/or publishers of these pseudo-science books (depending on who has the stake in the book) will probably take offence to having their “scientific” book placed under fiction. I can foresee lawsuits over this sort of ‘re-categorising’, especially in the US.

    The only way to get around this is to have stringent conditions on having books placed under the ‘science’ sections. They would have to prove their scientific value in a similar way as a scientific journals, which of course could be viewed as a form of censorship in itself, especially by those who clearly don’t meet the mark, and will be very difficult to enforce as people will be able to move the books around.

    School libraries however are already subject to censorship, at least here in the UK, (you won’t find 50 shades of grey in there) so I don’t think banning them altogether would be an issue there, which is where it really matters.

  6. Librarians — which is to say, in the U.S., people who hold M.L.S. or M.L.I.S. degrees from schools accredited by the A.L.A., not just “anyone who works at a library” — are expected, as part of what constitutes professional and ethical behavior, to weed out medical books which become too old, on the basis that library patrons who use those books for reference might do themselves harm by following advice which had been proved incorrect. On that basis, there would certainly be an argument in favor of weeding books on potentially-dangerous non-remedies like homeopathy and acupuncture.

    The proper thing to do, if you really insist on keeping trash like that, is to either refile the “bad” books as historical (many libraries have collections of explicitly outdated material for researchers) or otherwise catalog it in a section which makes it clear that this is not real medicine. (Using Dewey instead of Library of Congress helps dramatically for this… But that’s to be expected, since LC categorization is really just warehouse inventory management, rather than an aid to intellect, browsing, or research.)

    In any case: this is something which is a recognized issue in professional ethics for librarians, and there’s already a lot of theory written up about it. In short: this sort of thing is why you have librarians and vetted sources instead of just telling everyone to look things up on Wikipedia.

  7. you can’t censor, by doing so you undermine the value of evidence based science by suggesting it needs protection from alternative views and gives credence to the “scientists don’t want you to know….” meme

    you could just have an “alternative” section though.

  8. One of my local libraries has a section on astrology that is almost as large as the section on maths.
    Kids seeing a two shelves dedicated to a topic may actually think there is something in it.
    I would prefer the library spent less money on these sorts of books and gave them less profile.

    I agree with previous posters, display well from science under mystic, alternative or novelty.

  9. Great replies, thank you all. She is a chartered Librarian so this is a real ethical question for her professionally. I agree on the censorship points people have raised and I think the middle way of just categorising them as historical or alternative might be the way forward. My good lady has posted the same question on the professional librarian organisation forum CiLiP, so it will be interesting to compare the responses. I will update here if anything left field or interesting comes from it. Again, thanks to all of you,

    Paul

  10. I was recently watching a news feed and there was a library (forgive me I do not remember where) in the US that had a bank of computers that were “out of view” of the casual library goer. Anyway, they were completely wide open. Porn could stream etc…. This woman wandered past the row of computers in the secluded area that is clearly marked as a no child zone.

    She, of course, had her child (8 year old girl) with her (because why would rules apply to HER?). The kid saw some act that the woman deemed repugnant and the news, newspapers (whatever they are), etc descended on the library and it’s policy.

    The policy is FREEDOM. In the US, authors have the right to write (haha). And libraries, the obligation to uphold the freedoms. No censorship. Not the way to do business.

  11. Many people are talking about censorship, but I don’t think that is what it’s about in this regard. Public libraries use public funds to buy books. Since they don’t have unlimited resources they have to choose what books to buy. Why would they buy books on homeopathy in first place? I think the purpose with libraries is to educate the public, not to provide them with pseudo-science and other bullshit. It’s not like we are preventing crackpot’s from publishing their books, we just don’t have to use public means to give these crackpots a forum.

    • In reply to #17 by Nunbeliever:

      Many people are talking about censorship, but I don’t think that is what it’s about in this regard. Public libraries use public funds to buy books. Since they don’t have unlimited resources they have to choose what books to buy. Why would they buy books on homeopathy in first place?

      They get lots of books donated and I’m sure many of those are homeopathy books. And it is a question of censorship because the way the question was asked wasn’t “should we buy more homeopathy books?” but should we ” be maintaning stock ” of existing homeopathy books. Frankly I’m amazed that people who believe in critical thinking and reason would seriously debate the question. I’ve known a few librarians — some right wing Christian types and some secular atheist types — and the one thing they all have in common is a passion for free speech and for representing unpopular viewpoints.

      • In reply to #18 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #17 by Nunbeliever:

        Many people are talking about censorship, but I don’t think that is what it’s about in this regard. Public libraries use public funds to buy books. Since they don’t have unlimited resources they have to choose what books to buy. Why would they buy books on homeopathy…

        Well, yes you are right. And I’m pretty sure they get a lot of strange donations. If they would get some books by neo-nazis or flat earthers that were filled with hatred and bizarre statements would it be censorship to not put these books on the shelves of public libraries? What if some white power organization would start donating their monthly journal to libraries around the country? Would it be an act of censorship to just throw them away and refuse to give these organizations a public forum? Because that is basically what you are doing when public libraries have books on their shelves. I’m not comparing homeopathy books with hateful propaganda literature. My point is that I think the main purpose with public libraries is to educate the public. Yes, I definitely think books of historical importance like “Mein Kempf” should be available in good libraries even though the message of this book is disgusting and hateful. But, I don’t think it’s by default censorship to refuse to put have books available in public libraries.

        As said, I think with every book that is available in libraries there should be some kind of motivation behind the decision. It might because some books are good literature or famous/popular novels. It might because of their historical importance. It might be because of their educational value. Since many people are interested in homeopathy I guess one could make a reasonable case why public libraries should have books on this subject. But, as many others have pointed out then the libraries should be clear about that it’s not science.

    • One would hope that buying new books wouldn’t be an issue, but a library professional inheriting a stock of titles in a new position or taking over an existing library is faced with making decisions on what stays and what goes to make room for new stock. You rightly point out that budgets are tight and even a cursory browse of some of the previous buying decisions have made me laugh more than angry.

      In reply to #17 by Nunbeliever:

      Many people are talking about censorship, but I don’t think that is what it’s about in this regard. Public libraries use public funds to buy books. Since they don’t have unlimited resources they have to choose what books to buy. Why would they buy books on homeopathy in first place? I think the purp…

      • In reply to #19 by mccuepaul1:

        One would hope that buying new books wouldn’t be an issue, but a library professional inheriting a stock of titles in a new position or taking over an existing library is faced with making decisions on what stays and what goes to make room for new stock. You rightly point out that budgets are tight…

        Yes, I see your point. I guess, we need some form of guidelines of what qualifications a book needs to have in order to be available in libraries. Perhaps a book council?

    • Libraries/librarians are often quite limited to funds thus meaning they have to make informed decisions on what books would be most popular with the majority of the library. These books on homeopathy and other such like might be popular in a specific area, no two libraries are the same. Do you not think it is better to get young ones reading something, just to improve their English skills if nothing else, than not read at all? I don’t see most teenagers heading straight for the maths or history sections nowadays they all love these books. I would just be grateful for a young person setting foot in a library and picking up a book. #17 by Nunbeliever:_

      Many people are talking about censorship, but I don’t think that is what it’s about in this regard. Public libraries use public funds to buy books. Since they don’t have unlimited resources they have to choose what books to buy. Why would they buy books on homeopathy in first place? I think the purp…

  12. Surely most libraries have a section for “alternative medicine” with books on traditional Chinese medicines, acupuncture etc where Homeopathy could be stored away from sensible people. Surely the same would go for Dianetics which should be in the spiritual/religious section along with books on buddhism and the like.

  13. And you do all realise that many American librarians would probably rather see “Mein Kempf” on their shelves than “God is Not Great”, “The God Delusion” or “The End of Faith”

  14. Libraries will buy in books which are requested by the public and maintain stocks according to demand from readers.

    I suggest we use them and ask for titles we would like to see on the shelves. – ” The Magic of reality” , “The God Delusion” etc ??

  15. My wife is a Librarian and we are currently arguing over who has the duty of care (if one exists) over keeping books on Homeopathy or Dianetics in our public or school libraries. My view is that libraries should be maintaning stock which at the very least, are in line with the prevailing scientific consensus. She sees a problem in regard to censorship.

    Without reading books on pseudoscience, how can the followers of true science refute pseudoscience, and spread the light? The followers of pseudoscience can easily put forth this argument: you know nothing about what you are talking about. And they will be right.

    So, in my view, we need books on pseudoscience as much as we need books on science in every public library.

    • You do not have to read every book on a topic to reach a sound conclusion on said topic, especially when you have a firm grounding in logic and the scientific method. I know homeopathy is bullshit because I understand serial dilution, math, and how medicines SHOULD be tested.

      The followers of pseudoscience can easily put forth this argument: you know nothing about what you are talking about. And they will be right.

      Bullshit. They are not right at all. I can demonstrate that astrology is horse shit without reading every book about it. Those that follow it
      cannot proffer a reasonable argument about astrology because there IS no coherent argument for it.

      Do you have to watch every episode of a television show to know if it is vapid? So, unless I watch every single episode of “buffy the vampire slayer”, I cannot comment on it sucking???

      In reply to #25 by rizvoid:

      My wife is a Librarian and we are currently arguing over who has the duty of care (if one exists) over keeping books on Homeopathy or Dianetics in our public or school libraries. My view is that libraries should be maintaning stock which at the very least, are in line with the prevailing scientific…

      • In reply to #26 by crookedshoes:

        You do not have to read every book on a topic to reach a sound conclusion on said topic, especially when you have a firm grounding in logic and the scientific method. I know homeopathy is bullshit because I understand serial dilution, math, and how medicines SHOULD be tested.

        Not every book, but I think you still need to have basic knowledge about that field in order to refute that field? Maybe a small collection of pseudoscience stuff in every public library, so that people can obtain basic knowledge about the field?

        You know, some people would say, knowledge is knowledge, whether it is about science or pseudoscience, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to increase one’s knowledge. In fact, I think it only helps increase one’s discernment about what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, pick out the facts from the fiction…?

        So, if science has enough confidence in its achievements, then it will make pseudoscience quiver with fear before its majesty and glory. No need for censorship. Truth will prevail, no matter what.

        But that’s my opinion anyway. I don’t mind reading any book, as long as it is readable. I have read books written by both Richard Dawkins and Deepak Chopra. I am glad public libraries here are almost perfectly balanced in regards to what books they have. There is always a large collection of science (as in real science) books, then there is a relatively small collection of religious books, then an even smaller collection of books written by famous atheists, and by people like Chopra, and Wayne Dyer, who offer what is called alternative healing methods.

        • Now we are talking te same language!!! i agree reading is important and a wide variety of authors and topics are essential. i also think that is healthy to read things that make you uncomfortable; to go outside your “box” so to speak. It is important to (as Tim Minchin puts it) “examine your opinions and take them out on the veranda and beat them with a cricket bat”. Very very important.

          BUT, it works both ways. I am willing to do these things and that is why i am confident in the conclusions that I have reached about many many items. As a matter of fact, i will almost always tell others just how confident i am in a given conclusion and there is wide variance. I am upwards of 99.99% confident that evolution occurs, has occurred, is occurring etc…. I am 99.99% confident that homeopathy is bullshit.

          These confidences are often due to the intellectual rigor and testing of the hypothesis. The hallmark of pseudoscience is a total lack of these two ingredients. So, at the risk of being wrong (because as they say, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut), i am likely to dismiss “scientific” claims that have no scientific evidence, background, testing, etc….

          So, if science has enough confidence in its achievements, then it will make pseudoscience quiver with fear before its majesty and glory. No need for censorship. Truth will prevail, no matter what.

          That is exactly what is going on until someone comes along and makes the claim that:

          The followers of pseudoscience can easily put forth this argument: you know nothing about what you are talking about. And they will be right.

          There’s where the bullshit lies. So choose one side or the other, but playing the middle is disingenuous. I know my science well enough to easily dispute tarot cards, fortune telling, tea leaves, talking to the dead, levitating, souls, spirits, gods, homeopathy, astrology, telekinesis, reading minds… etc… Without having to suffer through some asshole’s lengthy explanation of chi, energy flow, halos, contacting the dead, etc… The problem isn’t proving the bullshit wrong. The problem is empowering those that believe in it that I somehow am the bullshit artist and they are correct. And that is EXACTLY what you are doing.

          In reply to #27 by rizvoid:

          In reply to #26 by crookedshoes:

          You do not have to read every book on a topic to reach a sound conclusion on said topic, especially when you have a firm grounding in logic and the scientific method. I know homeopathy is bullshit because I understand serial dilution, math, and how medicines SHOULD…

          • Good points, well made. Thanks for the input buddy.

            In reply to #30 by crookedshoes:

            Now we are talking te same language!!! i agree reading is important and a wide variety of authors and topics are essential. i also think that is healthy to read things that make you uncomfortable; to go outside your “box” so to speak. It is important to (as Tim Minchin puts it) “examine your opin…

          • Thank you for spurring very interesting conversation! I think most folks would read a discussion title about libraries and think that it would be a dud. This is far far from a dud topic, as a matter of fact, it encompasses tons of cool facts, laws, and opinions. Bring us more!

            In reply to #31 by mccuepaul1:

            Good points, well made. Thanks for the input buddy.

            In reply to #30 by crookedshoes:

            Now we are talking te same language!!! i agree reading is important and a wide variety of authors and topics are essential. i also think that is healthy to read things that make you uncomfortable; to go outside…

          • In reply to #32 by crookedshoes:

            Thank you for spurring very interesting conversation! I think most folks would read a discussion title about libraries and think that it would be a dud. This is far far from a dud topic, as a matter of fact, it encompasses tons of cool facts, laws, and opinions. Bring us more!

            Totally agree, there have been some fairly pointless topics posted in the last couple of months, some seemingly from fly-by trolls, but this has been a great brain-stimulator.

            Book censorshp has been a hot topic throughout history and is likely to continue, therefore it can only do us good to appraise or re-appraise our views on the subject. Also on how we deal with material that is, obviously to some of us, down right dishonest.

            Perhaps, space and time permitting, Librarians could consider setting up a debate/argument section with a shelf of books from one side and one from the other. If we started with medicine and homeopathy it would not be too difficult to find titles and a brief explanation of the methods of each and why it was thought neccessary to stimulate the debate in the middle. I think in this case, for most people reading a brief resume of medicine’s double-blind trials and homeopathy’s continuous dilution would be enough but I am sure there are enough topics to make an argument/counter-argument section of a library interesting.

            Ultimately, in my view, we need to get people to think as it is when they do not think that the charlatans get an easy ride.

          • Very well stated and full of great ideas! Bravo!
            In reply to #33 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #32 by crookedshoes:

            Thank you for spurring very interesting conversation! I think most folks would read a discussion title about libraries and think that it would be a dud. This is far far from a dud topic, as a matter of fact, it encompasses tons of cool facts, laws, and opinions….

          • I made a small comparison between science and pseudoscience, because I think science being in such a grand position, and with so much support behind it, has nothing to fear from pseudoscience. And I think this is why public libraries should, in the spirit of freedom of speech, should stock these books. Imposing censorship won’t do any good, because doing so would put science in a defensive position. And what has science got to defend, especially when it is confronting something so trivial like pseudoscience?

            Having said this, I think I am still trying to grasp what is your position on the question whether or not public libraries should stock what is called pseudoscience books? Should public libraries have these books, or should they not?

            In reply to #30 by crookedshoes:

            Now we are talking te same language!!! i agree reading is important and a wide variety of authors and topics are essential. i also think that is healthy to read things that make you uncomfortable; to go outside your “box” so to speak. It is important to (as Tim Minchin puts it) “examine your opin…

          • Sorry for being obtuse. Yes, I think that libraries should be bastions of freedom!!! I think (IMO) that libraries should offer everything (legal) that is out there for consumption. They (the libraries) should be wide open and should occupy a more prominent place in people’s routines.

            You are right about science having nothing to fear from pseudoscience….. except, the least common denominator, the general public. It is easier to bite on bullshit and have false hope and waste money than it is to research and think.

            So, we agree on almost everything. We are more alike than different (I like to try to always point that out). And, I’ll go a step farther than you (I think)…. It is up to the science teachers and rational thinkers to spread the education so that answers that do not hold up are dumped by the masses. It is up to us!

            Anyway, I know I hopped on that one sentence of yours a bit and you said so so many awesome things, but, that’s why we are here!
            Peace, nice talking to you.
            crooks

            In reply to #36 by rizvoid:

            I made a small comparison between science and pseudoscience, because I think science being in such a grand position, and with so much support behind it, has nothing to fear from pseudoscience. And I think this is why public libraries should, in the spirit of freedom of speech, should stock these boo…

          • Nice to hear that our views match. Thanks for your supportive comments. Always a pleasure to have a rigorous and robust argument with someone. Have fun until (and if) we collide again…:)

            In reply to #37 by crookedshoes:

            Sorry for being obtuse. Yes, I think that libraries should be bastions of freedom!!! I think (IMO) that libraries should offer everything (legal) that is out there for consumption. They (the libraries) should be wide open and should occupy a more prominent place in people’s routines.

            You are rig…

  16. I’m going to chime in as far as Dianetics/scientology material is concerned.

    I agree that libraries should not censor books on their shelves. However, scientology has an established aggressive program of getting their members to “sponsor” LRH book donations to libraries. In some cases, this amounts to donation flooding that librarians wisely and justifiably know better than to participate in the church’s propaganda by putting these books on their shelves. A recent example is a recent issue of the LRH 16 volume encyclopedia in which he is credited with almost every human intellectual advancement except the invention of the wheel but in actuality embarrassingly and demonstrably failed on every single claim.

    Librarians manage their shelf-space, and they do it wisely.

  17. Just as an update, I have lodged a freedom of information request to find out if the books about/by L Ron Hubbard have been bought in by the library or were donated by the church of Scientology(CoS). Even if these books and others making questionable claims are relegated to their own woo section whether it be called ‘Alternative’ or ‘Bat Shit Crazy’, the whole issue comes down to two differing viewpoints. Either libraries are merely mirrors of the widest possible readership or they are repositories of knowledge, striving to provide a snapshot of human achievement at any given moment in time, be that in fiction or non-fiction.
    My wife has lots of great ideas on the future debates she will have with colleagues, bosses and library users. So again, thank you all, its been very stimulating.

    • In reply to #42 by mccuepaul1:

      Either libraries are merely mirrors of the widest possible readership or they are repositories of knowledge, striving to provide a snapshot of human achievement at any given moment in time, be that in fiction or non-fiction

      I don’t agree with the way you frame the argument. Here is the way I would say it:

      Either libraries seek to provide the complete spectrum of opinion and theory available with no regard to a particular point of view, whether that viewpoint be political, scientific (or not), ethnic, etc. Or libraries should strive to present only what is true as defined by some group.

      The first definition is what I support and it’s the position I think is most in line with the best minds of American democracy (e.g., people like Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Paine) and also it’s the position every person I’ve known who was in library sciences adhered to. The second position is what I think you are really advocating. And the fact that you and I mostly agree on what is true is irrelevant. I think it’s wrong to try and impose ideological or scientific filters on what should be in libraries.

      I think the second point of view is unfortunately embraced by a lot of people in the US both on the left and the right. On the left they want to screen out things that aren’t PC and might insult the over sensitive feelings of Muslims or others. On the right they create their own alternative news sources and even whole libraries devoted to only approved points of view.

      People who really support reason and critical thinking need to support true open sharing of all ideas even the woo ones — the better to point out their flaws and to mock them.

  18. In reply to #1 by Stephen Mynett:

    As much as I despise homeopathy and the crooks that sell it, I cannot agree to any form of censorship, therefore would have to allow the books a place in the library. However, they should also be in a section clearly marked to show they were nothing to do with science. Probably a pseudo-science sect…

    I agree that censorship is out of the question. History provides ample evidence for the disasters that follow censorship. I also agree that “pseudoscience” books should not be shelved in the science section of the library. But who should make the decision as to what is true science and what is not? In some cases the answer may not be clear. It would take massive research to decide this issue on all the topics that may arise. Of course, scientific organizations such as AAAS, NSF, NIH could make recommendations — but who should make the final decisions for the library?

    Placing questionable books in a different category is a reasonable decision. But I generally object to the use of the term,”alternative.” For example, the meaning of “alternative medicine” is very ambiguous. This term can imply that the medicine is somehow different or rests on different principles, but is nonetheless effective. I’m convinced that many people interpret the word this way, and may even believe that “alternative” means the medicine is more effective than “standard” medicine. The term “natural” can have the same effect. Language is a powerful tool that is often used to mislead. Let’s use nomenclature wisely in labeling categories of books and everything else of importance.

  19. Dianetics a philosophy created by L Ron Hubbard , a tit ,who like Mohound and other mountebanks ,created a movement of shear crap.
    It’s very backward,that derision of such idiocy is confined to the internet.

  20. Just as we study civilizations of the past, in the future, historians will be studying us. In order for those historians to properly understand how people today think (even delusional ones, possibly especially the delusional ones) we must leave behind the information and artefacts which went into forming our opinions. Just because we know these books are damaging to people’s health and mental well being, and are at best a comforting fantasy, the books you describe are those artefacts and must be preserved for that reason.

  21. In reading the posts here and voicing my own opinion, I have become convinced that the way around all this is education. We have to do a better job of educating folks. The standard has to be raised. I am saying that a mediocre education and “just getting by” in school is the huge enemy here.

    This whole conversation would be rendered moot if the general public was better educated.

  22. As access to published data becomes readily easier and the costs of ownership or temporary ownership will continue to fall I think the role of libraries and librarians will need to adapt. I have long struggled with how this could be done. I have considered that libraries need to become a hub of remote and self employed workers, hot desking amongst a plethora of typical business services and a repository, actual and virtual, of information necessary for businesses of every sort, standards, tax, duties, regulations, local, national and international, published research work and then everything else. A mixed community of workers amongst a support community of information experts and the general public.

    Investing in librarians as these information experts who can find the pertinent and accurate data you need may be one of the greatest operational gear changes librarians could argue for. I think as a first requirement of this new librarian role, should be the identification of the highest quality information as currently agreed by the experts in the field. Funded by the business it attracts, the principle and service could then extend through to the general public, remote education- hot desking in the library, local education- remote virtual services to schools and textbook publishing, and entertainment.

    Librarians by being the wranglers of the metadata about data (particularly its attested quality) could make for themselves a pivotal role in society, one that doesn’t tread on the toes of experts who earn a living providing opinions on such information, but one that does aid a surer route to higher quality information.

    Rubbish data/books should come with clear quality metadata whether you want it or not. But no censorship.

    • In reply to #58 by phil rimmer:

      As access to published data becomes readily easier and the costs of ownership or temporary ownership will continue to fall I think the role of libraries and librarians will need to adapt. I have long struggled with how this could be done. I have considered that libraries need to become a hub of remo…

      I agree. It’s interesting actually how technology has changed the way I use the library. I used to love walking through the stacks, finding a book, looking at what is near by, etc. But I can’t remember the last time I did that. I can search so much more efficiently online and I can search the whole library system not one physical location and the book I want is delivered to my local library.

      And some of the time (I would estimate about 20% so far a lot of good books still aren’t available electronically) I don’t even have to go to the library at all. I just check out the eBook and read it on my Kindle, the library is just a virtual place on some servers at that point. It’s unfortunate but I think libraries really will be an anachronism in a few decades, at least the way we think of them as you point out there are still other ways for a librarian to be helpful in navigating, organizing, content.

      • In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

        As access to published data becomes readily easier and the costs of ownership or temporary ownership will continue to fall I think the role of libraries and librarians will need to adapt.

        Hi Red Dog. I love to read books – several times – but the web has greatly changed my habits. I don’t have a laptop, pad or e-reader, but being retired I’m often in front of my big-screened pc in a big, comfy swivel n rock bamboo seat, seeking knowledge.

        I don’t go to the library much, but enjoy scanning the shelves & computer stock at my nearby Indigo book store while I buy a car magazine. I see a lot of misplacing in the Science, Philosophy, Medical, Religion & Mythical areas of book stores.

        I find some free downloads of books & excerpts which are good reading, plus I buy books & dvd’s at RDF & Amazon – where I enjoy the Previews & Reviews & keep a lengthy Wish List for when I get an itch going.

        It would be nice to have an ingredients label on the back of all books like for food & medicine, indicating the contents rationally & consistently. It would be good to see religious books with 16+, No Science, Historical Fiction, Addiction, Financial & Mental Health Warnings…. Mac.

      • In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

        It’s unfortunate but I think libraries really will be an anachronism in a few decades

        I hope you’re wrong for two reasons. Firstly I hope that at the very least schools will provide children’s books so they can enjoy choosing and reading traditional books. Somehow sitting little Johnny down with an eBook does not have the same feel or intimacy as sitting next to Johnny and reading a real book together. That said my daughter has learned a lot through using a tablet so I may still be wrong but it does appear to be a very solo experience.

        Secondly, while I understand the appeal of an eBook I really don’t like the selfish nature of the book. It used to be that we (my wife and I) would jointly read a book. There would be two bookmarks (hers usually way ahead of mine) or at the very least when she was done I would take over (that’s how I came to read most of the Terry Pratchett books). An eBook is all about Amazon making a sale to that one person and as much as my wife might want to share, she cannot. Another advantage of the paper book was highlighted during a recent flight, she was asked to turn off her book during take off and landing, no such problem for my paper book. :-)

  23. Hold the homeopathy books under the cold tap , the “knowledge ” contained within will be past into the water table , the more it gets diluted the more the knowledge will permeate peoples conscious , giving them instant cures for nearly everything

  24. A school library is different from a public library, and different rules apply. A school library is supposed to be part of a child”s education and so should make available those books which will further it. They are already subject to censorship from school boards, so it’s a bit late in the game to call up that demon. My sense is that school libraries with limited resources (i.e. just about all of them) should concentrate on useful books: scientific books, books generally recognized as literature, and whatever YA novels further the well-being of the young reader.

    Public libraries usually have and should have, a wider selection, and books of woo should be available. However, these libraries, too, have limited resources. I would think that librarians would be under pressure to stock at least those books that are already widely read (Hubbard’s crapfest, for example) but I would not encourage them to expand that part of their inventory. On the other hand, they should be required to carry the works of Dawkins, Hawking, Hitchens, Harris, Laurence, Sagan, Feynman, Tyson, Cox….have I forgotten anyone?

  25. Set aside the censorship issue for a moment. If I want to learn more about or to discredit the stupidity of things like dianetics or homeopathy or astrology I’m thrilled to go to a library and read them for FREE. Would people prefer that I buy a Scientology book and fund that organization as a result.

    Think it through, folks. I’d rather tell everyone in my town that the book is free and paid for than have even a single additional person PAY for the book and enrich the author.

    • In reply to #64 by Lucretius:

      Set aside the censorship issue for a moment. If I want to learn more about or to discredit the stupidity of things like dianetics or homeopathy or astrology I’m thrilled to go to a library and read them for FREE. Would people prefer that I buy a Scientology book and fund that organization as a res…

      Brilliant point.

      Public libraries serve an important purpose and should be able to provide that service to anyone regardless of their intentions. I would much rather read Dianetics for free, and also, anyone who really wants to look into Dianetics or any pseudoscience and cannot find it at their library will undoubtedly look it up on the internet, which is subject to far more misinformation anyway.

  26. Just commenting: Some years ago a sixteen-year-old boy who worked for me part time after school said he wanted to learn palmistry. He went to the local library (U.S.) and had no difficulty finding a couple of books on the subject. I was surprised that he did. He went through them quickly, and told me “This is a pile of crap,” and returned them. But he was a sensible intelligent kid. Another kid might have swallowed it and believed it. However, I do concur that there must not be censorship.

  27. Hmm… this is a difficult topic, I believe.

    On one hand we have the very human urge to protect others from doing harm to them selfs and others. (Taking homeopathy against cancer)
    On the other hand we can not guaranty that in a not so distant future the statements of currently mainstream science wont be considered “alternative” as a wise many once said “Mankind’s stupidity is infinite”. So playing it safe would be to always argue for all books to be displayed sufficiently equally no Mather the content. And that should even apply to junk like “Mein Kampf”.

    What I think would be a reasonable compromise here would be a proper categorization like “Medicine” vs. “Unicorn Medicine” and “Science” vs. “UFO-logy” etc…
    Such that if someone seeks scientific or classical Medical informations he will not end up with a book about “Orgon energy” or “Globilies” but aside of hat we shouldn’t care.

    We probably should ban superlative fords from usage though liek calling a new category “Super ***” or “Better ***” or so should not be allowed. But ambiguous therms like “alternative” or “Natural” or “psionic” or whatever…

  28. As a defender of the right to free speech, I have no choice but to say that such books should be allowed a place in libraries. However, they need to be catalogued accurately and fairly. Books on “Homeopathy” and “Dianetics” should be placed in the section labeled “Pseudoscience” in the same way that the “Holy Bible” and other religious texts should be placed in the “Mythologies” or “Folklore” sections, right next to books about Hercules and Paul Bunyan.

  29. In reply to #23 by Jordan55:

    And you do all realise that many American librarians would probably rather see “Mein Kempf” on their shelves than “God is Not Great”, “The God Delusion” or “The End of Faith”

    it´s ´Mein Kampf´ with an a, not an e… just for the record..

  30. In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #58 by phil rimmer:

    As access to published data becomes readily easier and the costs of ownership or temporary ownership will continue to fall I think the role of libraries and librarians will need to adapt. I have long struggled with how this could be done. I have considered that libra…

    interesting point.. I also look up most info and books on the internet. all the more reason that libraries should use their funds (which are being reduced as we speak) to shelve good educational books and not the bullshit ones.. If you want to read about dianetics or what have you… look it up on the internet.. libraries should be an educational place when it comes to science (related) topics and besides that have books writen by King and the brothers Grimm..

  31. My opinion is same as yours, as you may know Dianetics and Syntology are well based subjects in the community.
    A high number of peope pay great money in order to study those subjects deeply and get “vacumed” in them really fast.
    For me it does the same harm sr Religion.
    The oppurtunaty to investigate those subjects must be given, unfortunatly – because of the consorship issue, as your wife said.
    We cannot educate all people and some with lower intelligence or low interest in understanding the world will not be intrested in science and all that comes with it.
    You cannot take out all irrational pseudo-science books and learning canters.
    I agree that i too will be happy to do that – but now days i don’t it is very possible.

  32. Your wife is correct.

    You are about as wrong as its possible to be.

    CENSORSHIP LIBRARY CENSORSHIP LIBRARY

    [Last line removed by moderator to bring in line with our Conditions of Use, which require civility towards other users.]

  33. I quote RD: Education, Education and more Education.
    I am totally, candidly and categorically against ‘any’ censorship for Adults. The problem arises: What sort of Education?
    My view is that all children should be taught: Reasoning Techniques, Evidence and Evaluation of Evidence. It is not that difficult. Once grounded, let them loose to discover for themselves. Let the whole libraries be stocked with plethora of Nonsense, they shall find the Right books.

  34. Well, I have grown up in the Soviet Union, so I do know what is censorship, and, unfortunately, censorship is why many in my country suffer from reflex – everything associated with the Soviet Union, starting, of course, with Science, leads to complete shutdown of their thinking processes. For them, since the Soviet Union was bad, Science must be bad too. Of course this requires some dramatic shifts in life like mainstream doctors failed to treat somebody you loved from som nasty disease….
    What to do with kids? First literature on homeopathy and other crap is not the first choice to read, however, if they have a … parent, who, for example, has read about pH diets (or similar junk) and went nuts, throwing respective book out of the library will not help. So people involved in education can only use the first years (fewer for girls than for boys) to theach thinking. For example that it is not name written on the package that cures, bat active ingredient, so there must always be some, or that only interaction lead to changes, etc… Not an easy task, but…

    • In reply to #82 by ieva:

      Well, I have grown up in the Soviet Union, so I do know what is censorship, and, unfortunately, censorship is why many in my country suffer from reflex – everything associated with the Soviet Union, starting, of course, with Science, leads to complete shutdown of their thinking processes. For them,…

      Thinking of examples like the Soviet Union is one of the things that makes me so opposed to any kind of censorship, even when it’s to encourage ideas I think are true. Censorship is a symptom of a weak mind, someone who needs to cut off rather than encourage debate.

      Regarding science in the Soviet Union, from what I know I would say that the Soviets said that they were scientific but in many cases they let ideology come before science. Marxism itself for example is often presented as scientific, at least it used to be, but it’s clearly not. Or Lysenko would be another example. A biologist whose theories about inheritance were more in line with Stalinism (I never really understood why) and so were promoted against the evidence in the USSR for decades with terrible consequences both for scientific research and for the real world application of genetics to industries such as agriculture.

  35. I’m more bothered about the fact that the science section in the central library of a UK city has six books with titles like “descent over Darwin” and other creationist nonsense in the evolution section. No doubt they think they are providing balance but every time I go in I am forced to carry these books across to the religious section and I’ve being doing this for four years. Worryingly they are multiplying like cockroaches. There were only three when I started.

    I don’t agree with censorship but I passionately believe each factual book has to justify its category. There should be a bullshit category for these books so that people who want to read bullshit are at least warned that is what they are reading.

  36. It is my opinion that any and all books should be made available for everybody to read and I have no objections to these books being stocked in public libraries. I agree with your wife that it would be censorship to removed these books from the shelves of public or school libraries.

    I am an atheist and I oppose pseudoscience, religion and cults strongly and I would much prefer that people would have confidence in real science and avoid becoming religious but I do not have the right to impose that on anybody (although I rather like to try to dissuade people all the same. I think that it is rather important the people diversify what they read so they can have a well rounded understanding of a particular topic.

    The important thing is to catalogue the books correctly. Dianetics is easily classed as religion. I am not sure where one would place books that contain pseudoscience but they should not be placed with real science books. Perhaps if their is no other section of the library where the book should be placed a new one should be created called pseudoscience. I think that would be honest and to the point :D

    • In reply to #86 by Joanne Niinimaki:

      Perhaps if their is no other section of the library where the book should be placed a new one should be created called pseudoscience.

      There is no justification for spending money or children’s valuable learning time on any pseudoscience. It is garbage designed to mislead the uneducated and the not yet educated.

      Teachers should be exercising judgement on presenting competently validated information – especially as reference material or non-fiction.

      Dishonest creationist rubbish and conspiracy theorist rubbish should not be used to confuse children. Computer systems have firewalls to keep crap away from children. Children’s libraries should have a similar provision. – especially those catering for younger children who have not yet developed their critical reasoning skills.

      Excluding thoroughly debunked and refuted nonsense, which has been identified as pseudo-science, has nothing to with having an “open mind”, or critically examining speculative matters which are not yet resolved. It is about presenting honest information.

      At a time when libraries are being closed because of a lack of funding, wasting money buying dishonest rubbish is the last thing that is needed.

  37. You can’t decide for readers what they want to read, or why.

    Even though I am an atheist, i have a copy of the bible on my ereader. Funnily enough it really bothers the god squad when you start quoting verses that support slavery. If I wanted to find out more about homeopaathy or whatever I would prrefer to see what’s in the library rather than spending good money on something I would probably want to throw away with great force later on.

  38. Recently I was told by a Christian Catholic that no one should be allowed to read the Bible unless they agreed with its content (whatever that might mean). As hilarious (and tragic) as it seems, this man was completely oblivious of the irony that one cannot possibly agree or disagree with a text that one doesn’t know.
    Submitting the public library books to the vetting of a scientific commission or such would be impractical, controversial and akin to censorship. In fact, who decides what is the prevailing consensus? And why only the prevailing consensus should be represented? Just think of how many theories might have been deemed crazy at first just to show themselves to be visionary later on. This said, I think those books that you mention in particular should be moved to a more appropriate section. For what concerns school libraries, I haven’t studied in Britain and have no idea how the system works. There must be guidelines, but I don’t know anything about them so cannot express an opinion.

  39. I know an elderly gentleman who was born in a poor and uneducated family. When he was young though he watched several mythological trashy b-movies in the local cinema and read tons of pulp sci-fi books and pseudo-science books. He told me that that’s how he became interested in history, ancient cultures and became an avid reader. He went on to become a well respected literature, Latin and ancient Greek professor, the first one in his family to go to University for generations. The curiosity he developed as a child also brought him to learn several musical instruments, paint, restore antique objects (he’s a bit of a character), among other interests. His students love him as he knows that teaching is a performance art and has the ability to engage and inspire them, knowing how to tell a story and having the material to space between subjects. Many of them went on to pursue classical studies. I suppose this is a good example of how censorship is always wrong. I would just move the books to a different cathegory.

    • In reply to #91 by brainbrain75:
      >

      His students love him as he knows that teaching is a performance art and has the ability to engage and inspire them, knowing how to tell a story and having the material to space between subjects. Many of them went on to pursue classical studies.

      So presumably he exercises judgement in presenting quality fiction, rather than deceptive low-grade irrational Hammy trash which poses as fact!

      I suppose this is a good example of how censorship is always wrong. I would just move the books to a different cathegory.

      Presenting selected high quality checked material as a course curriculum or reference archive, is not “censorship”!
      No reputable education establishment is going to recommend dishonest random garbage, giving it its endorsement for quality and accuracy!

      Arty fiction, is a different issue, to dishonest pseudo-facts.

      • In reply to #92 by Alan4discussion:

        So presumably he exercises judgement in presenting quality fiction, rather than deceptive low-grade irrational Hammy trash which poses as fact!

        Yes, of course, no worries there! As I said he a well respected professor. My point was just that as a child he got interested in history and developed a curiosity for the world through unusual ways.

        Presenting selected high quality checked material as a course curriculum or reference archive, is not “censorship”!
        No reputable education establishment is going to recommend dishonest random garbage, giving it its endorsement for quality and accuracy!
        Arty fiction, is a different issue, to dishonest pseudo-facts

        I totally agree. I’m not at all suggesting that those books should be included in a course curriculum nor recommended. But I would not exclude the form a library as I think people need to see for themselves that it is indeed garbage. They have to make up their own mind, not just being told. But of course they should be in appropriate sections, certainly not under the “science” section.

  40. The trick is to also maintain a section that debunks the books they have.

    Removing those books is the same as what the church did with the Bible when it standardised the Codex. It took 1,500 years before they ‘re-discovered’ some lost books of the Bible in caves.

    Removing them also borders on what Hitler did with art during the war … burning artwork that did not conform to the Arian ideal or his ‘taste’.

    Seriously, few people believe in the Norse or Greek Gods any more but would we consider removing them from the library?

    These books are also literature of a sort.

    A more serious discussion is about making sure our libraries do not disappear.

  41. In the public libraries I certainly would have a problem with censorship. A good public library should maintain a reasonably broad sampling of whatever books are being published and read. I am less sure as to school libraries, but even here I would lean in the direction of inclusiveness. Education is not indoctrination, but the inculcation of certain skills, one of the most important of which is to be able to evaluate the merit of competing ideas.

    Ultimately, if we would ban books on dianetics, how would we answer those who would ban books on atheism?

  42. Put it in “Comic Fiction”. Seriously, I used to go round libraries moving all the pseudo-science books into fiction. Do it enough times and someone might start to think about it.
    Bill Dixon

    • In reply to #97 by BillDixon:

      Put it in “Comic Fiction”. Seriously, I used to go round libraries moving all the pseudo-science books into fiction. Do it enough times and someone might start to think about it.
      Bill Dixon

      The only people who you will get to think about it are the already over worked librarians who will have to move the books back.

  43. In reply to #1 by Stephen Mynett:

    As much as I despise homeopathy and the crooks that sell it, I cannot agree to any form of censorship, therefore would have to allow the books a place in the library. However, they should also be in a section clearly marked to show they were nothing to do with science. Probably a pseudo-science sect…

    Easier to just put them in the Fiction section. Now there is a thought….

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