Jackasses with Word Processors
One of the minor battlefronts in the culture war turns out to be Amazon.com. As I mentioned in a recent article about Expelled, you will see the massively deluded fighting with the rationalists over the ratings for a product. You end up with bimodal ratings distributions like this:
The product might be very scientific and trustworthy (in which case the crackpots hate it), or it’s total drivel (in which case the rationalists hate it). Any time you see that type of distribution, you should read some of the reviews. They’re usually quite hilarious.
I’ve recently discovered another battlefront at Amazon: The Tag.
Apparently anybody can tag any product at Amazon with descriptive text. I think tags are one of the criteria Amazon uses to determine what related products to display on the same page when you are looking at a product.
Tags are one of those things that could probably best be described as “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Let’s take a look at a few of the tags that have been attached to some books, shall we?
Since I mentioned crackpots, let’s see what happens when we search for “crackpottery”. Wow! 57 books! Twelve of these have been tagged “crackpottery” by more than one person. Of these 12, eight are Intelligent Design creationism books! William Dembski is the big winner in this contest; he has 4 of those 8.
Let’s click on one of those books, let’s say The Design Inference by Dembski, to see what other tags it has. Here are some of the creative phrases people have used to describe his book:
- Breathtaking inanity
- Junk science
- Discovery Institute pseudoscientific rubbish
- Keeping America stupid
- Abyss of reason
- Intellectual porn
- Josef Goebbels of intelligent design
Ironically, each of those phrases is better written than Dembski’s book.
If we click on “breathtaking inanity”, we find 130 books and DVDs. Of the first 35 alone, 34 are creationism! I’m spotting a trend here.
A lot of things are “keeping America stupid”. In the first few alone, in addition to creationism, we see homophobia, Scientology, anti-atheism, and Ann Coulter and her fellow retrogrades.
On one of these lists, I came across Bill O’Reilly’s Culture Warrior. Here are just some of the tags that people think describe it:
- Waste of a good tree
- Jackasses with word processors
- Dog vomit
- Gay for bush
- Compulsive liars
I like “jackasses with word processors”. Clicking on that takes us to 35 products. Of the first 8 alone, Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter each have 3. That’s quite an accomplishment. Let’s look at one of Coulter’s books. Oh my! 694 tags! That’s quite an accomplishment, too. Here are just a few:
- Adams apple
- An aborted fetus that lived
- Annie the tranny
- Books written by horses
- Chocolate tunnel diver
- Drag queen
- Dude looks like a lady
- Ichabod crane in drag
- Man Coulter
- Seek counseling now
- Tranny tirades
- Transexuals on crack
- Transgender fiction
Like I said. Tags probably seemed like a good idea at the time.