Libel laws and science

free debate

As I discussed a while back, there has been a disturbing trend among quacks and scam artists of launching libel suits against scientists who expose them. Even though the scientists are correct, defending against even a frivolous libel suit is extremely costly and time-consuming, so often this tactic has the result of suppressing the truth. To make matters worse, libel laws in the UK are essentially “guilty until proven innocent”, and lawsuits can be launched in the UK regardless of where the scientist lives or works (internet blogs in particular can be sued in basically any jurisdiction). Today, several science bloggers have been posting messages calling for libel reform, I believe to celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of “Free Speech is Not for Sale”.

A few examples:

Neurologica

DC’s Improbable Science

Pharyngula

I would encourage everyone to go to the Libel Reform Campaign website and sign their petition.

 

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