Keep libel laws out of science
Some of you may be interested to support this campaign:   
   
Simon Singh is an author who wrote an article in a UK newspaper about the    
likely risks of chiropractic treatment and whether or not there is any    
evidence that it is effective for various childhood conditions, including    
asthma and colic.   
   
The British Chiropractic Association has sued Simon Singh for libel. The    
scientific community would have preferred that it had defended its position    
about chiropractic through an open discussion in the medical literature or    
mainstream media.     
   
The use of the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical    
practice and scientific evidence discourages debate, denies the public    
access to the full picture and encourages use of the courts to silence    
critics.    
   
From my point of view it seems bizarre that the pedlars of various quackery    
not only have no need to provide reliable evidence for their ideas, they can    
sue those who point this out.   
   
This may seem a bit distant from the world of contaminated land    
management or river basin management etc, but it is very close to us in terms of professional risks.  I am    
sure many of you could imagine a scenario or two.  What about 'Black    
Box Remediation Co' sues for reputational damage because 'Not Much    
Cash District Authority' contaminated land officer writes a case study    
review in a trade journal describing a project where no convincing evidence    
that the process works was presented.     
   
There is a petition to 'keep libel laws out of science' at:   
http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/in ...   
   
   
Paul Bardos   
   
PS     
More to be found on:   
http://www.badscience.net/  (good book too!) 
Posted: 25/07/2009 By: Professor Paul Bardos



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