WEIT book price escalates even moar (plus answers to “Name the apologist” contest)

March 22, 2015 • 7:30 am

I’m very pleased to see that the price of the autographed and Houle-illuminated copy of WEIT has gone even higher: it’s over $4K, and there’s still a week to go:

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Meanwhile, over at Sean Carroll’s site, Preposterous Universe, various sourpusses (sourpodes?) predicted it wouldn’t sell for much: as one of them said, “I’m going to be straight honest as any respecting person in pursuit of scientific truth should be: the book signed by all these people is not worth $60 and never will be. Dawkins is a science populizer more than a scientist. Dennett is a Philosopher. Weinberg is the heavyweight on that list. But not going to ever be worth 2k.”

But book is worth precisely what it sells for, and, as reader Ben Goren asked another sourpuss, “What kind of sauce would you like with your crow?”

Another questioned whether Doctors without Borders was “efficent financially.” I of course vetted that long ago, and the organization is very highly rated (see the Charity Navigator evaluation here). 87% of its expenses go for programs and services. So get your rich friends to bid, for it’s identical to a big donation to DwB, and you get a nice book. I’m truly glad I don’t have Carroll’s trollish commenters on my site.

As for yesterday’s “Guess the Apologist” contest, I guess it wasn’t so hard after all.  The first quote was from Karen Armstrong, the second from Reza Aslan. The links at their names lead you to the places where I found the quotes. I thought the contest would be harder, but I guess the nature and style of these people’s thoughts are pretty distinctive.

85 thoughts on “WEIT book price escalates even moar (plus answers to “Name the apologist” contest)

  1. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Anyone who bids but does not have the highest bid can still donate all or part of their bid to Doctors without Borders (those who don’t bid also).

  2. What the naysayers are saying is actually somewhat accurate. A book sold at a charity auction will rarely be worth what the buyer pays, it is after all mostly a donation to the charity. If anyone is buying this for an investment, they’re doing it wrong. As far as the book being worth what it sells for, that is only true in a retail setting. It is worth what it sells for, minus the donation factor. If the book was auctioned off next year for another charity, it’s highly probable that it would bring in more money…depending on the charity. If it was to be placed on Ebay, with no charity involved, it would be highly unlikely to bring in this kind of dough.

    That being said, the one exception to item’s value is the illustrator. If her artwork increases in value, then the book could follow.

    Sorry to be one of the sourpodes.

    1. Sorry, but I meant by “what it’s worth” is “what it’s worth to the buyer”. I never intended this to become a collectible or to have resale value or anything like that. And I wouldn’t advise people to buy this as an investment.

      It was just an attempt to get people to buy something nice and let them know the money they pay would help people. In that sense, the book is “worth it” for both the person, who gets a nice book and a feeling of having done good, and for the charity, which gets money to help people. I’m not actually sure why you posted that comment, for I doubt the bidders are ignorant of what you say.

      1. I’m a collector of antiquary scientific books myself (an earlyish edition of “Origin” being one of my prized possessions)and in my opinion I feel the value of this WEIT offering should NOT be discounted at all. Uniqueness is everything to book collectors – and special situations and eminent signatories are key to creating such uniqueness. I’d say the winner of the auction will be doing a good deed and possibly also making a good investment – all at the same time.

    1. I actually snorted at the word “sourpodes” LOLOL

      It’s so funny–the ‘puss’ in sourpuss is your face, right? But the ‘pus’ in octopus is ‘feet’, but ‘cephalopod’ is head-foot meaning their feet and their puss are the same so sourpodes is correct! LOLOL

      also ‘puss’ is a cat so it’s a triple win for Jerry

              1. Inthinknthe is a good example of what I argue often: English words, because they use a lot of Ancient words and other words, is divorced from the speakers. The fact that we find faux Ancient Greek plurals extra funny when put into German is the same reason we think words like Krankenwagen are funny when we use ambulance. There is no reason for the word to be funny,new just aren’t used to really understanding what the words mean in English.

              2. And my iPad uses its own language. That first part was supposed to be, ” I think this is”.

              1. “Kein” ist richtig!
                Letters are neutra, so
                das “n”, ein “n”, kein “n”
                der Buchstabe, ein Buchstabe, kein Buchstabe
                die Katze, eine Katze, keine Katze

                Thus endeth the grammar lesson!

  3. Your contest reminded me of the old “Name that Tune” game show where people claim they can identify it in 5 notes or whatever.

    I bet anyone could identify Deepak in 3 words or maybe fewer.

    Or as soon as “ineffable” appears you know it’s a Sophisticated Theologian (TM).

    Or how’s about “Name the Apologist by the Word Cloud”? ewwwwww

    1. The Metropolitan Opera Saturday matinee broadcasts often have a quiz during one of the intermissions, where they get a few panelists who know insane amounts of stuff about opera and ask them lots of really obscure questions.

      Sometimes, they’ll do a “name that tune” game where a pianist plays a few notes of something and they have to identify it. The one I particularly remember…they started with five notes, then four, then three…all the way down to one.

      The scary thing?

      I not only instantly recognized the “one note” example, I knew what they were going to use before the pianist played the note.

      Those who know a modest bit about opera probably already know what it was, too….


              1. Well, now, I have to admit I’m not too certain, myself.

                I can’t think of an opera by this composer that’s famous for a single opening note. Tristan does start with a single note, but it’s the following chord that’s famous, and you already indicated it’s not Tristan.

                I have another guess, but again, it’s famous for having a single opening chord that goes on and on and on and on and on and on, rather than a single note.

              2. D’oh.

                There’s actually an interesting theoretical discussion to be had about that E-flat. Many musicians refer to it as a pedal point, but I side with Schenker in maintaining that a true pedal point must sound against harmonies that do not include it. The “point”, nyuk nyuk, is that it has to be distinguished as a discrete contrapuntal entity. So, for all it’s length, that E-flat is not a pedal, as only an E-flat major triad unfolds above it.

              3. “…check to see…”

                Reminds me of Victor Borge’s quip: “Let’s see what it sounds like…or maybe we could listen to what it looks like.”

  4. Meanwhile, over at Sean Carroll’s site, Preposterous Universe, various sourpusses (sourpodes?) predicted it wouldn’t sell for much…

    Great Cthulhu what downers. Cool book with original illustrations, signed by interesting people, and the proceeds go to an excellent cause. Definitely something to poo-poo.

    1. Also depressing is that those trollish derps couldn’t find out what is most easily discovered… and that is just how incredibly good Doctors W/O Borders (& Médecins Sans Frontières) are, both in terms of how well they accomplish their mission, overall — and how low their administrative overhead is. As far as HIV incidence in Africa goes, I don’t think it is a coincidence that the former French colonies have kept incidence much lower than the former British colonies. Places where Médecins Sans Frontières has been better established are the places that have kept nosocomial transmission to a trickle.

    2. Plus, who knows that the value of the book won’t grow with time.

      In the 1600’s they probably said the same negative things about a Newton-signed paper.

      1. I’m imagining people saying, “Ohhhh that Newton and his fancy Latin; nobody cares about fancy scientists writing in the or fancy dead language!”

      2. Nope, not growing and not negative. One Newton is the force needed to accelerate One kilogram of mass at the rate of One metre per second squared.

        1. Huh? “Newton” with a capital N is clearly referring to the scientist of that name. The SI unit of force is written with lower case n i.e. “newton”.

          Also, force is a vector quantity, so whether it is negative or not depends on which way it is pointing.

        2. You know…an interesting thought. The definitions of those values have changed over the years. Be interesting to see what the net effect is on the Newton….


  5. Over $5,000! And it’s just the second full day and a Sunday!

    If we can get any media attention, and especially if we can catch the eye of some wealthy science-appreciating regular MSF donors…dare I dream of double the current price?


    1. Let’s hope the high bidders aren’t some evolution denying moneybags who just want to let this fantastic specimen disappear in a poison safe. Or as satanic teachings in thar Creation Museum.

  6. Hooray! It’s a beautiful book, & a beautiful idea. A great cause, too (I donate to DwB every month via an automatic withdrawal). I hope the bids keep climbing — I’d love to see 5 digits…

  7. Congrats on the bid going up so high! It’s over my price range at this point so all I’ll offer is congratulations.

    And okay, I was definitely wrong on my ability to tell Armstrong’s “style.” I think I’ve been focusing too much on her high theology passages to remember that sometimes yes, she’ll include actual factual content.

    But I did guess Aslan: I just couldn’t decide which passage.

  8. Congratulations Jerry.

    To my shame I confess I haven’t read WEIT yet, but have ordered the paperback & will put it on my “next to read” list.

  9. Jesus, up over $5000 already! If only I had more than $50 for this thing.

    Maybe next time one of these authors comes to Australia, I should get them to sign my first edition hardcover WEIT instead of their own books.

  10. Wouldn’t it be cool, if all the WEIT readers bought it collectively and then donate it to some exhibition? It would be a shame if it disappeared in some private bookcase …

      1. The problem is – this needs preparation. Who, for example, would take a lead in the auction and keep the risk of paying it alone after all … Maybe it’s possible to do with Kickstarter, but I don’t have any experience with that …

      2. Re Kickstarter – I just checked, Kickstarter would be a possibility for that. It’s all or nothing, so the funds pledged by participants can only be called if the funding goal is reached. Obvious problem: how to keep the funding goal in line with a variable auction price. The only possibility I see: to aim high, VERY high (say 10,000) and agree that the full sum is then paid go the book, no matter if the auction price was actually lower.
        Someone in the US would have to do that, it needs to coordinated, s.t. backers who are willing to pay high sums would consider pledging that money also for that crowd funding project which means they wouldn’t own the book after the auction

        Just imagine, if the bidding action was in fact just by two people, the outcome for MSF could be nearly doubled.

        I guess there’s only one person who could initiate such a thing – Prof CC himself. It would have to be s.o. who has the trust of the community.

        Just my thoughts on this …

        1. I am inclined to agree on all points. (I’d step up, but I’m an impoverished grad student, & I don’t live in the USA). The short timeline complicates matters, unfortunately.

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