Supporting science speech

When someone hears about claims that seem ridiculous, they should be able to speak freely about what they think about the claims, especially when their thoughts are backed up by strong research. Unfortunately, it is all too common for those who are only backed up by wishful thinking to attack their naysayers with lawsuits, which is bad enough.

It is even worse when a judge rules against a naysayer for completely ridiculous reasons, as Simon Singh learned when a judge ruled against him in favor of the British Chiropractic Association. Supposedly Simon was unjustified in calling some treatments promoted by the BCA as bogus treatments in an opinion piece for the Guardian, ostensibly because "bogus" implies the BCA was being intentionally deceptive. This does not seem to be a reasonable judgement at all: not only is "deception" not the first thing to come to mind when hearing "bogus treatments", it's made very clear that "bogus" refers to "not working" in the very next paragraph after the words appear. And unfortunately, nothing I've read since then suggests anything that would make sense of the judgement.

At least Simon Singh has decided to appeal the ruling despite the high cost to himself and how libel law is stacked against the defendant in Britain. If you are a supporter of science, especially if you do not like seeing wishful thinking suppress real science, he deserves our support. Sense About Science is an organization which is gathering signatures in support of Simon Singh. You could also include their button in your blog or website to show your support for their efforts to keep broken libel laws out of science debates. And of course, you can speak out whenever pseudoscience threatens to suppress real science.

2 Replies to “Supporting science speech”

  1. Closer to home is the recent ruling that a science teacher's admittedly less than tactful remarks about creationism landed him in hot water for allegedly violating the establishment clause of First Amendment (Farnan vs Corbett). Since the federal courts have essentially labeled creationism religious pseudoscience, should the truth ever be in violation of the First Amendment?

  2. I feel so lucky that we don't have to deal with any type of pseudoscience in Florida. </sarcasm>
    I wonder if anything would have happened to that teacher if he had said ...
    "Palm reading is fantasy"?

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