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The Media Censorship United Kingdom Science

In Britain, Better Not Call It Bogus Science 754

Posted by timothy
from the oh-nothing-just-dowsing-for-magnetic-vitamins dept.
Geoffrey.landis writes 'In Britain, libel laws are censoring the ability of journalists to write stories about bogus science. Simon Singh, a Ph.D. physicist and author of several best-selling popular-science books, is currently being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for saying that there is no evidence for claims that visiting a chiropractor has health benefits. A year earlier, writer Ben Goldacre faced a libel suit for an article critical of Matthias Rath, who claimed that vitamin supplements can treat HIV and AIDS in place of conventional drugs like anti-retrovirals. In Britain, libel laws don't have any presumption of innocence — any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true. Journalists are running scared.'
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In Britain, Better Not Call It Bogus Science

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  • by XPeter (1429763) * on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:31PM (#29446637) Homepage

    Oh hi, you must be new here. Let me give you some tips and rules to abide by:

    Timothy and kdawson post the most insightful stories on Slashdot.
    Always use the word "lunix" in place of "linux" when posting.
    You can steal mod points by copying someone else's insightful comment and pasting it as a reply to an earlier one.
    Mac users are a bunch of fucking queers.
    When there's something you need to do that can't be done with Windows but can be done with Lunix, keep in mind that you can do an even better job with Mac OS X. Some argue that *BSD can do it better but no one makes software for BSD since no one gives a flying fuck.
    If a mod disagrees with your opinion, you will be sent to karma hell.

    Good luck friend!

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:36PM (#29446713)

    e.g prove there is no god

    Babel fish.

  • by nsteinme (909988) <nsteinme@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:02PM (#29447049)
    Actually, naturopathic medicine is not only legitimate, it is superior to and will eventually replace allopathic medicine (mainstream, drug-and-surgery medicine), assuming the Singularity does not occur first. For proof, read a book or two by Linus Pauling.

    As for chiropractics, I am not sufficiently informed to make a judgment.
  • The minister for science and innovation, Lord Paul Drayson, has praised the high standards of science journalism [today.com] at the sixth World Conference of Science Journalists in London yesterday. About 900 delegates attended the conference to congratulate each other on the remarkable quality of their press release transcription skills.

    "The public relies on dependable science journalism to understand the forces shaping the modern world," said Lord Drayson. "Your work covering the things that really matter, such as pseudo-evolutionary explanations of current fashion trends, what will give us cancer this week, scaring the crap out of people over the MMR vaccine so their kids die of birth defects from measles instead and why fellatio is required for female health helps people make important choices about their lives and builds a vital gap between scientists and the public. I mean bridge."

    He dismissed claims that typical science reporting primarily results in sensationalist and misleading headlines. "I wish more journalists would follow your example. The ones covering MPs' expenses certainly should have been working the way you do."

    The speech was delivered to a backdrop of A-level students in lab coats. And bikinis.

    Professor Gene Hunt of the University of Metro calculated that Lord Drayson's speech could power all of Britain for six months purely from harnessing the steam coming out of Ben Goldacreâ(TM)s ears.

  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:29PM (#29447433)

    You know someone has reached the end of epistemological line when they have to start invoking nihilism to justify an absurd belief. If all knowledge is suspect, as you seem to indicate, then the whole exercise is pointless. Hell, maybe you don't exist.

    A good avenue to pursue. I'm sure there's a Nobel prize waiting for whoever can convince the litigious quacks doing this that THEY don't exist, as long as it makes them vanish in a puff of logic.

    Although, frankly, you could probably boil that sucker down to "make all the quacks vanish" and someone would still give you a medal without asking too many questions about how you did it.

  • by westlake (615356) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:30PM (#29447435)

    And surely you must realize the worst kind of evidence short of fabricated evidence is anecdotal evidence.

    You realize of course that you have struck a blow to the heart of Slashdot.

  • by Rik Rohl (1399705) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:33PM (#29447493)

    Well, since I'm not living in a country where kooks and liars are given the benefit of the doubt,

    Yeah, here they just get elected.

  • by c6gunner (950153) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:51PM (#29447729)

    Actually, naturopathic medicine is not only legitimate, it is superior to and will eventually replace allopathic medicine (mainstream, drug-and-surgery medicine), assuming the Singularity does not occur first.

    Actually, hemlock tea mixed with battery acid is far superior to both, and will eventually replace them, assuming that pink unicorns don't start farting pixie dust first.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:12PM (#29448539) Homepage Journal

    It looks like some cultural illiterates are modding you flamebait and offtopic. I guess they never heard of Oscar Wilde, John Ruskin or James Abbott McNeil Whistler. My suggestion? Don't try to appear as "too smart" with this crowd. They will mod down anything they don't understand. It threatens their claim to intelligence and that claim is often their only comfort. It leads me to wonder how Monty Python became popular among the nerd crowd. The humor often requires a frame of reference for understanding a joke that revolves around the absurdity of mentioning a Wittgenstein or a Proust, in the context of downhill motor racing.

  • by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:20PM (#29449119)

    I've checked further since posting that. In England, the truth is considered an allowable defense, and it is, in fact, an affirmative defense because the statements are presumed false until proven true. Even then, you can still lose your case because in England, libel and slander are about defamation, and if you've defamed somebody be telling the truth, it's still defamation.

    So, if I go around Britain saying that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are murdering, blood-drinking, child molesters, I could be found liable for libel? Funny that.

  • by Techman83 (949264) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:02AM (#29450867)

    The reason you should care about the science is that there may be a legitimate, scientific solution that's cheaper and/or healthier.

    The problem being that not even science can explain exactly how the human body works. Yes we do have a good understanding, and what research has taken place gives us a plethora of information we can make judgements on, but who is to say whether that interpretation is right or wrong. I have armed myself with quite a great deal of knowledge and made a choice from that. From what I gather, Scientists haven't done enough research to support or deny Chiropractics, so who's to say it's actually bogus. Your right, my guy isn't crazy, I have had assessments from a few over the years, including one that said I was going to have to see him 3 times a week (each visit costing more than the guy I currently see) for at least 12 months rather then the once every other month, sooner if required (which when I spend a weekend working on my car tends to bring that requirement well forward!)

  • by kailSD (1271360) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:53AM (#29451501)

    So, if I go around Britain saying that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are murdering, blood-drinking, child molesters, I could be found liable for libel? ..

    No, not quite. But, everybody would think you're from the TUC.

  • by Loquis (56476) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @11:26AM (#29453875)

    Such as the freedom to be drawn and quartered; a charming little entertainment which Britain didn't abolish until the 19th century.

    Thats HUNG, drawn and quartered, at least get the punishment your bitching about right.

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