This is a reprint from a blog called Sense About Science in the U.K. It has more to do with the Simon Singh legal case in England where the libel laws prevent freedom of speech when it comes to science. Alternative Medicine, Religion and other woo like it because their arguments do not stand up to scientific examination.
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Sign up now to keep the libel laws out of science!
***UPDATE TUESDAY 11th AUGUST*** Simon Singh announces the next step in his libel case with the BCA. Read more here
***UPDATE WEDNESDAY 29th JULY*** Read Simon Singh's Guardian article Beware the Spinal Trap from April 2008 and see the list of over 50 places it has been reprinted here.
To be kept updated about the campaign you can now subscribe to our Twitter feed here.
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. 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.
On 4th June 2009 Simon Singh announced that he was applying to appeal the judge's recent pre-trial ruling in this case, in conjunction with the launch of this support campaign to defend the right of the public to read the views of scientists and writers.
Join the campaign! In a statement published on 4th June 2009, over 100 people from the worlds of science, journalism, publishing, comedy, literature and law have joined together to express support for Simon and call for an urgent review of English law of libel. Supporters include Stephen Fry, Lord Rees of Ludlow, Ricky Gervais, Martin Amis, James Randi, Professor Richard Dawkins, Penn & Teller and Professor Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government.
Please help us with this campaign, sign the statement and ask everyone you know to sign it. With every additional 1000 names we will be sending the statement again to Government until there is a commitment and a timetable from the parties for the necessary legislation.
Click here to read details of the launch of the campaign to Keep Libel Laws out of Science.
Simon Singh has provided some background to his own libel case which you can read here, along with a discussion of the problems with the English libel system. At the launch of the campaign, Simon encouraged supporters to sign the statement of support:
"It has been a stressful and frustrating twelve months since I published my article on chiropractors and their attempts to treat children with conditions such as asthma. The British Chiropractic Association's decision to sue me for libel has been an enormous drain on my time and energy. However, the support that I have received from family, friends, readers, bloggers, scientists, journalists and those who care about free speech has been incredible, and it has played a crucial role in my decision to continue defending my article and fighting the libel action.
More importantly, everyone agrees that there is something fundamentally wrong with the English libel laws, which have a chilling effect on journalists, whether they write about science or anything else, whether they live in Britain or anywhere else. Hence, I am delighted that so many individuals and organisations have come together to launch a campaign with Sense About Science to highlight how the English libel laws clash with the right to discuss science in a frank and fair way. The Keep Libel Laws out of Science Campaign will also raise issues related to my particular libel case, and it will encourage a debate on the reform of the English libel system.
The campaign launch revolves around the statement shown below, and I would urge anyone who cares about science or free speech to show support by signing up.
And I would also encourage you to make your friends and colleagues aware of the issues at stake and ask them to sign up. It is possible that the time is right for major libel reform in England, which will then allow scientists and journalists to write with less fear of being intimidated." Simon Singh