Ray Comfort Tricks Amazon October 20, 2009

Ray Comfort Tricks Amazon

This post is by Jesse Galef


Ray Comfort, shown here attempting
to prove God’s existence

You won’t hear me say this often, but Ray Comfort seems to have been smarter than I thought – in a devious way.  About a month ago, we found out that Ray Comfort was polluting the waters of scientific integrity by releasing a copy of “The Origins of Species” with his own 50-page forward criticizing evolution.  He decided to give these tainted copies away to college students.  That’s not the reason I’m considering revising my opinion of the man; I  already knew about that particulars stunt.

As it turns out, he’s gaming the Amazon.com system is such a dastardly way that I must stand and applaud.  It was brought to my attention (ok, found this youtube video in Blair Scott’s facebook) that because Ray Comfort’s version of the book has the same name as the other versions, all reviews are lumped together.  It’s obvious to us because we’re looking for it, but many people wont’ pay close attention and won’t know what’s going on.  There’s a huge disparity in reviewers’ ratings – here are the ratings as I type this up:

41 Reviews

5 star: (17)
4 star: (3)
3 star: (4)
2 star: (3)
1 star: (14)

If you click on a review that gave the book 5 stars, you find out that the reviewer was responding to a normal version of “The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition (Paperback)”.

The 1-star reviews mention the fact that 50 pages of the book are creationist nonsense.  If you click on them, you find out that they were responding to the Ray Comfort version of “The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition (Paperback)”.

But both sets of ratings and reviews are apparent in both books!  Ray’s drivel is being boosted by the positive reviews of The Origin of Species.  That’s wrong and offensive.  But it’s just as bad that the (rightly) negative reviews of creationist propaganda are lowering the overall rating of other versions.

For the record, I don’t really think that Ray Comfort is intelligent enough to have designed this sc heme – it was probably just a beneficial accident.

[UPDATE] Amazon.com fixed the problem!  The Ray Comfort version is now called “Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition [ABRIDGED] (Paperback)”.  I’m concerned that this trick will work in the future if the text isn’t adbridged.  Anyone want to add a forward to the Bible?


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  • Reginald Selkirk

    I am still waiting for a reliable report on the extent to which the main text is abridged or not.

  • I called Amazon today to report this confusion. Right wrong or otherwise both book, “abridged” and unabridged, the distinction should be made to the customer.

    In order to communicate the confusion to the operator I said it would be like a horror movie having the same name as a children’s movie — and both being conflated in the results.

  • Wrote to Amazon requesting they differentiate the Ray Comfort ratings.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  • Richard

    Is it possible to get a copy of Ray Comforts book? Ideally, it would be without sending him any money.

    It seems like a nice trophy from the culture wars.

  • Twewi

    I also wrote to them. For others interested, you can contact them here.

  • Freak

    @Harrison: There’s such a collision with the name _Jack Frost_, and Amazon seems to distinguish them okay.

  • Mackenzie

    I like how PZ put it: “Ray Comfort is a parasite”.

    In any case, this was a very deceitful and tricky thing to do, if it was done on purpose.

  • CarolAnn :)

    Any decent database design would include a unique key aside from the book title – standard db design process is to never use a text field for keys since just this sort of thing can happen.

    In Amazon’s case they should be separated by the ISBN number. I wonder how they are linking their comments.

    The really amazing thing to me is that it’s out of stock.

  • sailor

    Completely accidental, Amazon’s system of ratings, reviews and editions is completely chaotic. Sometimes you look for a book and all that comes up is the out-of-date old editions out of stock. To get from there to the new in date in stock edition is not always easy. Sometimes rating and review get carried through editions, sometimes they don’t. You cannot game this system, there are no rules. It is blind luck.

  • Amazon fixed it.

  • Luther

    Hum. Lets write a book called the “Bible”. Then again how could it get worse honest reviews than the ones already in print?

  • Andrea

    I wrote to both Amazon and the Penguin group that publishes the other edition. Both companies wrote back to me. Amazon said yesterday that the problem would be corrected within 3 to 7 days. Penguin said this morning that Amazon had fixed it but that it would take about 2 days to see the change.

    Go team Reason!

  • Siamang

    I am still waiting for a reliable report on the extent to which the main text is abridged or not.

    Reliably, it’s abridged.

    I have a copy in my possession.

    I wrote this in an earlier thread:

    So that’s four chapters and an introduction it’s missing, which makes five lies for Ray.

    On page 255 Ray says that the missing chapters can be downloaded at originextra dot com.

    Why not download the whole book at literature dot org??!

    The chapters he’s missing are:

    Chapter 10 – On The Geological Succession of Organic Beings
    Chapter 11 – Geographical Distribution
    Chapter 12 – Geographical Distribution continued
    Chapter 13 – Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Organs

    And also the introduction, and the glossary.

    Anyway, it’s isbn 9780882709192, 276 pages. Copyright 2009.

    Since then, it’s come to my attention that Ray lifted his version from the original version. Later versions (and the versions you read today) include more information and a new chapter where Darwin addresses the objections of his critics.

    Funny, Ray left that part out too!!!

    So it’s missing five chapters plus Darwin’s introduction, Huxley’s forward and the Glossary.

    And that’s without actually A/B-ing the text itself to see if Comfort excised anything else.

  • Jason R

    Amazon should name it: “Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition [FUBAR] (Paperback)”

  • Jim

    I agree with Jason R… FUBAR