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Forum:Should public libraries contain anti-scientific books?

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In my local library on the medical shelves are books such as Mum's Not Having Chemo by Laura Bond which promotes so-called alternative therapies for cancer rather than treatments with an evidential basis. I'm deeply suspicious of anyone who wants to ban books from a library, but volumes such as this are misleading to the point of lethality. Is there a case for requesting their removal on public health grounds?— Unsigned, by: 1980-f / talk / contribs

If you tried to remove quack books from libraries it'd validate their claims that they're being censored, so no. Christopher (talk) 18:09, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
It's probably easier to regulate books via warning label, but there is still a moral dilemma here; the moral thing would be to not let anyone read the book since this stuff can literally kill people, but the thing is, it might open gates to other actions that laypeople might find unacceptable and leads to the question of free speech. Maybe we can find a way to hold the people behind the books accountable instead rather than banning the book. (talk) 18:40, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
How would it work? What books do you decide are pseudoscience? You can't fact check every book ever written. Christopher (talk) 19:08, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
Just stick all the pseudoscience-y books in a section wayyyy in the back and label it 'pseudoscience'. That way you aren't censoring, but you aren't advertising it either. Oh, and apply general categories to the books. Obviously you can't fact check them all, but you can look at titles and general content to determine where it should be placed in the library. Vive Liberté! 03:07, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
Cranks would still cry "censorship", that I can guarantee. If you're going to base it on titles plus a quick skim a lot of cranky books are going to slip through (with the illusion of being fact checked by the authorities making people less skeptical) and a lot of perfectly legitimate books are going to be labelled pseudoscience. Christopher (talk) 16:12, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

I still won't forget the day I saw Deepak Chopra in the science section of my local library.'Legionwhat do you want from me 17:57, 24 May 2017 (UTC)

Christopher: That's the problem, and quacks will find a problem with their books labeled as pseudoscience and they think it's a way to out them. But I'm thinking, if we have a quack Miranda warning on alt med treatments, why not on the books that promote them, if not already? And yeah, the slopey concern you have I understand and I think it's legit; it might open the gates to clamoring of labeling books as pseudoscience and it might eventually lead to suppressing new thoughts. Sometimes, a new, crazy idea comes up and it gets rejected, but it might have standing later. There are also books that have a combination of science and pseudoscience (like Michael Pollan has some valid points but mixes with nature stuff) and how would you label those? (talk) 18:49, 24 May 2017 (UTC)
The ideal course of action - encourage people to take ongoing/intermittent study of 'science in all its forms (at 'popular science' level)' so they can understand what they are encountering.

And some scientific fields are 'a tad borderline'/contain much woo/are the cutting edge to what turns out to be nowhere. (Add personal taste examples of 'science that failed') (talk) 18:36, 24 May 2017 (UTC)

It's an attractive suggestion though it's unrealistic to be an expert in all fields and considering the amount of information from various fields that bombard our minds every day, you can't be expected to know immediately which is woo and which isn't unless you have some critical thinking skills (which isn't infallible as long as we're human). (talk) 18:49, 24 May 2017 (UTC)
I don't want them there, and yet exclusion from collections would be against my own principles. Anti- & Pseudo-science definitely shouldn't be in the Dewey science categories (300-699). There are a number of probably-more-applicable sections of the the 100s (Philosophy) and 200s (Religion), as well as a number of no longer used ranges therein should new classifications be needed.
As Christopher points out, this is both logistically-involved and probably can't escape politicisation. However the (the nonprofit who owns and maintains the Dewey Decimal Classification since 1988) wouldn't have to go through every book ever published, 'just' an a subset of those in the DCC range 300-599 or 699 - and then not alone (eg the USA Library of Congress).
I am assuming Dewey, obviously.
List of Dewey Decimal classesWikipedia
OCLC Dewey Updates
Wow, turned busy in the last 30 minutes or so.
Daev (talk) 19:19, 24 May 2017 (UTC)
And as for the OP & particular book mentioned up top, its DCC is 362.whatever, so it shouldn't be in the medicine section at all. You should only need to notify the librarians (ISBN 9780749958961) for them to check their database and get it on the 'correct' shelf; that is 'Social problems of & services to groups of people.' Which in my mind doesn't fit the content at all - I'd place it in the no longer used 619 'Experimental Medicine' or the 920's (Biography). As for getting actual classifications changed, the would be the people to contact there (using this form, I think). Daev (talk) 19:46, 24 May 2017 (UTC)
Distinction should be made between 'pseudo-science proper', 'real-world-based science fantasy', 'doom-and-gloom merchants', 'let us stop pursuing these activities which are likely to cause problems or are already doing so', 'speculative semi-fiction (of positive or negative intent) based on science', 'anti-science', 'anti-this particular aspect of science' and 'religious, philosophical and similar explorations' etc (there being some overlap between these categories) - which range from the totally bonkers to the reasonably scientific. (talk) 09:57, 26 May 2017 (UTC)

the very idea that we should ban books we dislike is abhorrent. AMassiveGay (talk) 12:46, 26 May 2017 (UTC)

Maybe it's possible to get it into 827? (talk) 14:43, 26 May 2017 (UTC)

Frankly, I don't think we should. It would be kind of dangerous to get the state to decide all of what is right. And then, what do we consider as science ? Do economics, socioogy or such things count as science ? Then, if libertarians are in charge, all non-libertarian economic books are banned ? And what if a creationnist government gets elected, do all non-creationnist books get banned from public libraries ? I don't see how this could be a good idea. Diacelium (talk) 23:00, 26 May 2017 (UTC)

I don't see it a good idea at all. Not only cranks and the like would cry about censorship but also pushing them to, say, Internet, would bring benefitial Streisand effect -plus it's always a good idea to know your enemy-. But that's one thing and other far more different is to mix both types (say, a book about astrology in the astronomy section, or one about Tarot (in occult sense, not a card game) among quantum physics ones). The best is to have all and each section well separated from each other. --Panzerfaust (talk) 13:45, 8 June 2017 (UTC)
My interest in woo flows from my bibliophilia. Eccentric screeds and occult literatures interest me. The library is one place to go to learn about new ones. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 19:32, 8 June 2017 (UTC)
I admit I like to peek at Tarot decks but just because some of them are quite neat works of art and it looks nice in a fantasy setting where magic exists. Of course things stop there. --Panzerfaust (talk) 23:26, 8 June 2017 (UTC)