My book Unintelligent Design became available from Amazon in the middle of December 2003. On December 22 those curious observers who watch the sometimes funny exchange of opinions regarding books offered by Amazon, already could read a review of my book signed “A reader from Waco, Tx.” The opinion of that anonymous and very prompt reviewer was that my book was bad because it was published by a bad publisher - Prometheus Books. The anonymous reviewer recommended instead a forthcoming book by William Dembski titled The Design Revolution (which presumably must be good because of being published by a good publisher - InterVarsity Press). The reviewer from Waco promised that Dembski’s book would answer all my concerns. Of course, the fact that Dembski holds a non-teaching position at Baylor university which is located in Waco, Tx, was supposed to be a mere coincidence.
Some other reader responded to the reviewer from Waco referring to the latter’s review as that from “reader from Waco.” Suddenly, a few days later, the review from Waco reappeared on Amazon, word for word, but now signed “A reader from Riesel, Tx,” thus making a reference to “a reader from Waco” in another reviewer’s reply incomprehensible. Of course, the fact that Dembski happens to live in Riesel, Tx, was supposed to be just another of those coincidences whose probabilities Dembski is so fond of calculating. Indeed, Dembski would not, of course, advertise his own book anonymously, would he? It would be against his rigorous standards of decent behavior. Then something unthinkable happened. There was a glitch on the Canadian Amazon website wherein all real authors of anonymous reviews were revealed for a whole week. Who turned out to be the reader from Waco a.k.a. reader from Riesel? Surprise, surprise! It was our old acquaintance, mathematician, philosopher, theologian and the Isaac Newton of information theory, William Dembski. Hey, Bill, how come you acclaim your own book without taking good measures to keep your anonymity? Such lack of caution on the part of the sophisticated philosopher and prophet of the imminent Design Revolution? It turns out, though, that some colleagues of Bill Dembski have practiced similar maneuvers for some time and so far managed to get away with it, so Dembski had perhaps good reasons to believe he might get away with it too. Besides the review from Reader from Waco (or Riesel?) on the same Amazon site appeared one more negative review of my book signed by a “reader from San Jose, CA.” Then, a few days later the same review, word for word, reappeared being already signed “A reader from Sunnyvale, CA.” However, the more interesting thing about this review was that it was an exact replica, word for word, of a review, also signed by the same reader from San Jose (or Sunnyvale?) but of a different book - The Creationism’s Trojan Horse by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross. A boilerplate review applicable to any book, if one wishes to sabotage its sales - what a creative idea! How convenient - the reviewer only needs to fill out the lines for the book’s title and the author’s name in a prefabricated form and email it to Amazon as well as to any other place willing to post the review. This also saves time and money as the reviewer has no need to buy the book and to waste his valuable time on reading it. And, of course, this way all those vile scientists who dare disagree with ID are vanquished and the victory of the Design Revolution is assured. And what about arguments of substance? Who needs them when the brave defenders of faith stand up for the glory of God?