Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


Libel Reform update: 3 years on


A couple of years back I attended a Skeptics in the Pub meeting in Holborn at which Dave Gorman and Prof Brian Cox came to support Simon Singh. He had been served a libel threat by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for criticising claims from chiropractors about curing colic in babies and so on. A dangerous claim to make, and, as Simon put it, a “bogus” one.

Fortunately, Simon won his case. Others haven’t been so lucky, and more threats are being issued.

There are many problems with the UK libel laws – lots of background information can be found here at libelreform.org and I’ve written some posts over the years (really rather a lot of posts actually), if you’re interested in past events.

Essentially libel laws are often used to silence fair, necessary and important criticism. People without the money to fight these hideously expensive cases tend to just give up. Individuals are bullied by large corporations, medical debates are stifled, unethical behaviour is hidden.

The libel reform campaign has been set up and run by the three charities, Sense About Science, English Pen and Index on Censorship. Two years ago there was the Big Libel Gig, to fundraise for victims of libel threats.

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Complementary Responsibilities

I’ve just stumbled upon this article via the Twitters. It’s a blogpost by the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation about some complementary therapy workshops (by @drshaunholt) in New Zealand.

I just want to take some bits from their post and add my own comments as it’s raised an issue in my mind that maybe isn’t condsidered too often in the various ‘communities’ of relevance; medical, skeptical, patient-centred and so on.

Who has responsibility for complementary therapy education?

That’s the question I’ve been pondering, admittedly since about 10 minutes ago so apologies if this isn’t very well-formed.

The therapists?

An obvious candidate would be the provider of said ‘therapy’. However, since we have the unknown quantity of deliberately misleading, fraudulent individuals who are simply out to make money, it would be unwise to rely on this group.

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Libel Reform is ongoing

Hello all. It’s been a horrible week for free speech in the UK; look into Paul Chambers’ #twitterjoketrial (and #iamspartacus!) for the main example.

Sorry I do not have time to do a more personal take on this at the moment, but do read and pass this on because it’s important and I’d love you more if you did 🙂

The Mass Libel Reform Blog

Fight for Free Speech!

This  week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.

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A crash course in skeptical activism

Simon Perry, convenor of Leicester Skeptics, gave his talk at Westminster Skeptics on 12/7/10.

After a rousing introduction from another super Simon, Mr Singh, we were given a run-through of the results of Mr Perry’s desire to complain about things that deserve to be complained about; amongst them, the great Quacklash – read more about it over at Zeno’s Blog!

Skeptical Activism & The Quacklash


I’m more of a troublemaker than an authority.

Lots of us see things that we find objectionable and annoying. However, especially if we’re English, actually bothering to do something about it is quite rare. The world would much likely be a better place if more people took a bit of time to point out when something is amiss, so I respect Simon’s efforts – even if he mainly does it for fun!

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Simon Singh WIN!

They think it’s all over… it is now! Plus other selected victory clichés. Edit: Simon blogs!

(Stolen from Crispian Jago)

BCA admits defeat – Ely Place news, INDEX on Censorship (including a timeline), the BHA, BBC News, Nature (lots of groan-worthy back/crack/spine puns on Twitter right now! Follow #SinghBCA) also le Canard Noir blogs (highly recommended).

Implications of this by Jack of Kent.

Important statements from Simon, Robert (his lawyer) and Sense About Science here. Bit of audio in this out-law piece.

Key points:

One in four chiropractors in the UK is now being investigated for making allegedly misleading claims

None of this would have happened if I had backed down and the BCA has successfully silenced my article

The case is not quite over, because we still have to argue over costs. Having backed down and dropped the case, I expect the British Chiropractic Association to pay my legal bill of 200,000 pounds

I will never get back the two years that I have wasted on this case

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Simon Singh Rally

Last night was the Westminster Skeptics gathering in aid of Simon Singh support… so sympathetic are the skeptics to his situation (sued by snake-oil sellers) that we sojourned in the saloon, sipping spirits and swigging cider (hmm), saluting Simon’s superhuman strength. But enough of the alliterative nonsense.

Get the full audio from the main speakers from the Pod Delusion here. Continue reading


We’re Singhing, ‘cos we’re winning!

Fantastic news from the Royal Courts this morning, live-tweeted and blogged and podcasted and all sorts – Simon’s case has taken a huge step forward after judges ruled in his favour. His comment (in the Guardian comment section) that the BCA ‘happily promotes bogus treatments’ has indeed been recognised as fair comment – opinion justifiably expressed based on the evidence available.

Evidence? What evidence?

I’ll try to do a round-up of the many things that have been published today and recently.

Simon sums up the significance of passing this stage on BBC news. (Robert Dougans to the right and Evan Harris to the left of Simon! As we look at the picture, just realised that was ambiguous)

Moving on to Channel 4 news, here’s a blast from the past (well, last year) – background on the case for anyone who still isn’t up to speed – and today’s coverage where we can just about see Psythor (of PodDelusion) hovering over Simon’s shoulder there…

Dawkins at the Lib Dem conference on Libel Reform and why it’s a good idea!

For a background sum-up with good comments, NeuroLogica blogged on the case too.

There’s also a statement released by the BCA, which is quite hilarious. Continue reading