The science section at the Rideau Chapters

2008-12-23

in Books and literature, Ottawa, Rants, Science

Icicles on green wood

The science section at the Rideau Centre Chapters always depresses me. It is often the most disorganized section of the store – tucked, as it is, in the very back corner. Books have frequently been relocated by customers and not re-shelved by staff, and the organizational system is deeply flawed even when properly implemented. For one thing, it has too many confusing sub-sections. It hardly makes sense to have a single shelf set aside for ‘physics’ books, when it is almost impossible to guess whether a specific tome will be in ‘physics,’ ‘mathematics,’ or the catch-all ‘science’ category. To top it all off, the catch-all category has been alphabetized in a bewildering serpent pattern, twisted back against itself and interrupted with random intrusions.

My two final gripes are that the science section is mysteriously co-mingled with the section on pet care (our most sophisticated form of understanding about the universe, lumped in with poodle grooming) and that the science section contains so many books of very dubious scientific merit, such as paranoid and groundless exposes on how MMR vaccines supposedly cause autism (they don’t, though they have saved countless infant lives).

While commercial pressures may legitimately dictate that the pilates section be more accessible, better organized, and more well-trafficked than the physics or biology sections, it is nonetheless saddening.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Woodsy December 23, 2008 at 11:31 am

I think we crashed into each other last night. Were you crossing Rideau Street heading from the Rideau Centre towards The Bay? At around 6ish… Maybe it was just someone who looks like you – again…

If you ever want to go to Chapters and re-organize the Science section, I would be glad to tag along and help you!

Milan December 23, 2008 at 11:47 am

It’s entirely possible you saw me hurrying by. Rather than put on all my warm layers for the brief cold pause between one side of the street and the other, I just ran for it. Sorry to have missed you.

As for Chapters, I only really go there when I am buying gifts. When I am in need of books for myself, I pretty much always get them from Amazon.ca.

Woodsy December 23, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Running into you: You didn’t actually miss me. You crashed right into me, apologized and then kept running. I was too frozen to yell out to you…

Chapters: Yes, but Milan, I was thinking of a performance art piece. Imagine if we walked in, took all the books off the shelves, sorted through them, organized them and re-shelved them properly – wouldn’t that be entertaining? (Milan, I am teasing you… I am not really proposing that we do that… I am just being playful.)

Milan December 23, 2008 at 8:55 pm

My belated apologies for the collision.

As for re-organizing Chapters, it sounds like a worthwhile artistic project.

. February 12, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Court Rules Autism Not Caused by Childhood Vaccines

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2009; 12:02 PM

Thousands of parents who claimed that childhood vaccines had caused their children to develop autism are wrong and not entitled to federal compensation, a special court ruled today in three decisions with far-reaching implications for a bitterly fought medical controversy.

The long-awaited decision on three test cases is a severe blow to a grass-roots movement that has argued — predominantly through books, magazines and the Internet — that children’s shots have been responsible for the surge in autism diagnoses in the United States in recent decades. The vast majority of the scientific establishment, backed by federal health agencies, has strenuously argued there is no link between vaccines and autism, and warned that scaring parents away from vaccinating their youngsters places children at risk for a host of serious childhood diseases.

The decision by three independent special masters is especially telling because the special court’s rules did not require plaintiffs to prove their cases with scientific certainty — all the parents needed to show was that a preponderance of the evidence, or “50 percent and a hair,” supported their claims. The vaccine court effectively said today that the thousands of pending claims represented by the three test cases are on extremely shaky ground.

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