Gideon’s backlash (a.k.a. Darwin’s revenge)


Here’s a great idea:

I was staying in a hotel in New York earlier this year, and I noticed that as well as the usual Gideon’s bible, there was also a copy of the Quran. So that got me thinking – why limit the principle to religious books, why not get some science in there too?

So, I’ve decided that from now on, whenever I stay in a hotel room, I’m going to leave behind a copy of … The Origin of Species…

And now … I’d like to call on everyone who reads this to do the same thing – next time you stay in a hotel, leave behind a copy of this seminal work. After all – what’s the cost of one book compared to a night in a hotel room – and compared to the good work you’ll be doing in spreading the word of Darwin 🙂

Too bad there’s not a Gideon-like organization to take up the challenge. Still, every little bit helps.


  1. #1 rrt
    December 19, 2006

    Actually…I think there IS somebody trying to organize something along these lines. If I can find a link, I’ll post it here.

    I do have reservations about this. I’m all for making good science reading available to the public, but the context reinforces the “evolution is an atheist religion” meme.

  2. #2 jba
    December 19, 2006

    “the context reinforces the “evolution is an atheist religion” meme.”

    That is a risk… Maybe it could be countered with a little blurb on the inside cover? “This is a side of the discussion that has nothing to do with religion” or something to that effect. I would be interested in a link to an organzation trying to do this, I think its great myself.

  3. #3 BigHeathenMike
    December 19, 2006

    Yes sir, I believe that particular group is called The Abimelec Society. Granted, this particular organization is dedicated to the removal of bibles from hotels – personally I like the “options” method described here. Enjoy.

  4. #4 coturnix
    December 19, 2006

    I am wondering is something more recent would be better. How about “Darwin for Beginners”? Or the Ardea Skybreak book that PZ reviewed the other day?

  5. #5 coturnix
    December 19, 2006

    But, if hotel guests (and others) do not read the Bible, why should we expect them to read anything else they may find in the drawer? After all, there is p*rn on pay-per-view….

  6. #6 Alain
    December 19, 2006

    How about giving some to students at least? especially the student having mandatory ID courses in the curriculum.


  7. #7 Blake Stacey
    December 19, 2006

    We discussed this sort of thing a while back over at Memoirs of a Skepchick, and while there are a whole lot of pluses and minuses, everybody liked the idea (pun alert) of “skepchick tracts”. We’re on a limited budget here, after all, and it’s easier to give away little comic books which cost twenty-two cents apiece than it is to fill the hotels of America with The Demon-Haunted World, even in paperback.

  8. #8 AgnosticOracle
    December 19, 2006

    I haven’t read Origin of Species, so can someone say if it is approachable by the lay person? Given the time period it was written I would assume it would not be very readable to the modern lay person, but I would welcome a correction.

  9. #9 Flea
    December 19, 2006

    I have Origin on my bedside table and I’m still trying to slog through it. It’s not exactly light summer reading (unlike Voyage of the Beagle, which I DID read this summer). Gideon’s is at least an easier read. Can’t comment on the Quran.



  10. #10 Steve Watson
    December 19, 2006

    I’ve read OoS, and no it ain’t light reading (might be good for insomniacs, though ;-), it doesn’t represent the state of art in biology anyway, and no one treats it as an infallible book of comfort and wisdom. In short, it’s not the Bible’s “opposite”. I concur that some general work of skepticism would be better — like Sagan’s, or The God Delusion, or maybe Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation (which I haven’t read — but not The End Of Faith, which I have).

    Or maybe a Chick tract parody in which the godless win ;-).

  11. #11 Stuart Coleman
    December 19, 2006

    James Huber started doing this a while ago. Unfortunately, his web site has stopped updating, so I don’t know how well it has gone for him.

  12. #12 S. Rivlin
    December 19, 2006

    It would be more effective, less expenssive and probably more readable to summarize in a lay language the Origin of Species and place it in a fold-up, shiny “Denney’s”-like menu in hotels’ nightstand drawers.

  13. #13 Bahearn
    December 19, 2006

    How about Russell’s “Why I am not a Christian”? I ran across the speech version online a few years back. It is short and a printed copy would not cost much.

  14. #14 doctorgoo
    December 19, 2006

    We could always put disclaimer stickers (remember Cobbs County?) in all the Gideon’s Bibles we find in hotels:

  15. #15 rob
    December 19, 2006

    Leave Unweaving the Rainbow instead.

  16. #16 OccamsEdge
    December 19, 2006

    Came across a copy of volume 49 of the Britannica Great Books series in fair shape at a Goodwill store recently (that’s Darwin’s Origin & Decent in one volume) although some pages have been ‘defaced’ with bible quotes and other anti evolution quotes “if man descended from apes why are there still apes?” (because they were successful), so of course I had to buy it – at $2’s it was steal then an epiphany walloped me (and no, no divine being manifested his/her/its self before me) as I was contemplating the dates of Darwin and how is been a be more than 150 years since Origins – what would the fundies be saying about Evolution 100 years from now?

  17. #17 notmercury
    December 19, 2006

    Sounds like a good idea but I’d guess housekeeping would dispose of it after each stay.

  18. #18 sharon
    December 19, 2006

    How about bookcrossing them?

  19. #19 Nes
    December 19, 2006

    [It has been] more than 150 years since Origins – what would the fundies be saying about Evolution 100 years from now?

    My guess? The same damned things they’re saying now.

  20. #20 akibare
    December 19, 2006

    I quite enjoyed the book “The Blind Watchmaker” by Dawkins, as an easy to read book on why evolution DOES in fact make sense (and eyes aren’t just “random,” for starters).

    Although now that his name is all over the news maybe it’s not the best choice, but I will say I did very much like that book and recommend it. I bought it in a bookstore at O’Hare and used it as literal summer vacation reading.

  21. #21 JeanneE Hand-Boniakowski
    December 19, 2006

    Books to leave in hotel rooms?

    Some nice, classy erotica

    Gray’s Anatomy (newest is 39th Ed, it costs a fortune, but even a nice reprint of a 100++ year old Gray’s is way more accurate than the Bible) or the Human Anatomy Coloring Book

    Leaves of Grass

    Plays of Shakespeare (or an anthology of some great plays over centuries)

    The Avram Davidson Treasury (or any books of good stories)

    Poetry: some book of contemporary, accessible poems by, say, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver or Wyslawa Szymborska, or a good anthology (there are plenty out there)

    The Demon-Haunted World (Sagan)

    River Out of Eden (Dawkins), short, lovely description of evolution, with Lalla Ward’s illustrations.

  22. #22 Lucas McCarty
    December 19, 2006

    The Satanic Bible would be neato if you were just looking for a reaction.

    Satanists don’t worship the Devil, a Satanist I talked to was happy to hear that I knew that. A Devil-worshipper is called a Diabolist. They didn’t even know that but not they are out there somewhere doing a dark ritual in a coven of naked people, making casual conversation such as “Did you know real Devil-worshippers are called…”

  23. #23 Ms. S
    December 19, 2006

    The Beak of the Finch is a pretty approachable text, too… of course, “approachable” means something different to me than it does to the majority of Americans.
    Something like “Biology for Dummies” might be a success, though! 🙂
    (It’s surprisingly not too bad… I bought a few copies to keep in my classroom for kids who forget their “silent reading material” each week, and they like it.)

  24. #24 Coin
    December 19, 2006

    what would the fundies be saying about Evolution 100 years from now?

    That the eye is too complicated to have evolved.

  25. #25 William the Coroner
    December 20, 2006

    In undergrad, some folks were passing out Gideon bibles on the campus, and a couple of us rowdy biologists got out the old, unused copies of Origins from the stockroom and tried to witness to the Gideons.

    I think it’s a smashing idea, Orac.

  26. #26 IceSixxx
    December 20, 2006

    We also can put homemade stickers on the front cover mentioning: Parental Advisory Explicit Content !,1119038506,2.jpg
    After all, Bibles, Koran and almost all religion writing’s can be schocking regarding who you are (e.a. a child, a heart-disease patient, a mind fragile person or just if you don’t like some kind of violence)

    Otherwise, I like the Choice theory.

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