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Censorship The Courts United Kingdom

Simon Singh To Appeal In UK Court Today 213

Posted by kdawson
from the words-you-never-heard-in-the-bible dept.
TACD writes "Simon Singh, author, television presenter and known critic of pseudoscience, is in court today appealing the decision made against him last May over his use of the term 'bogus' to describe the methods used by the British Chiropractic Association. Today's decision could have far-reaching implications for the movement to reform Britain's horrifically outdated libel laws (that even America is making moves to protect its citizens against), and to begin taking steps to elevate Britain above the likes of China when it comes to open debate and freedom of speech."
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Simon Singh To Appeal In UK Court Today

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  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:36PM (#31249858)

    Seriously, anyone who can claim with a straight face that Britain has less freedom of speech than China (and hence is only beginning to take steps to elevate above it) is living in a fantasy world.

  • What a joke.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:46PM (#31250024)

    "I crack backs; I cure cancer!"
    "I crack backs; I cure deafness!"

    Chiropractic is pseudo-0scientific bullshit. Along the lines of Homoeopathy, Acupuncture and "bad humours"

    Posted AC cuz I'm in the UK oddly enough.
  • by wjousts (1529427) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:50PM (#31250092)
    Agreed. Less free speech than China is clearly hyperbole. Libel laws are a complete mess and need reform but comparing freedom of speech in Britain to (lack of) freedom of speech in China adds nothing to the debate.
  • by artg (24127) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:52PM (#31250110)
    1. The libel stuff is fairly new - probably only the last 5 years or so. We always used to consider the USA the place for that, but it seems to have moved here recently. 2. The establishment understands the Streisand effect and ignores the popular press. But now the lawyers rather than the clients are creating the market. They don't care whether they actually suppress the 'libel, they just want to get paid. So they lead stupid people to try. Doubtless they'll get over it eventually.
  • Re:Humbug! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:59PM (#31250232)

    No, you'd see the bog standard "what would a reasonable person understand the statement to mean" being applied. And nowhere near the limits...

  • by riddic (1751720) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:01PM (#31250264)

    Is "Two And A Half Men" broadcast in the UK? One of the main characters is a chiropractor and most of the other characters say libelous things about his profession. Where are the lawsuits over this?

    It is broadcast in the U.K., very regularly (it is on syndication on Paramount Comedy or some channel). No, it is not an issue. The reason you've had to ask this question is because you've been subjected to kdawson's ridiculous idiocy where he compares freedom of speech in the U.K. to China.

  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jockeys (753885) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:09PM (#31250386) Journal
    it depends on the claims being made. for instance, the chiropractor I go to makes no claims beyond being able to help you if you throw your back out, and I have found these claims to be justified. anecdotal I know, but not every single chiropractor out there is as you describe.
  • Re:Chiroprators (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:25PM (#31250616) Homepage

    The human back is a tricky thing to deal with. If you want find horror stories, then you don't need to restrict yourself to chiropractors.

  • Re:Humbug! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ndogg (158021) <the.rhorn@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:26PM (#31250638) Homepage Journal

    And in this case, Penn calls these guys "baby twisting motherfuckers."

    I don't think I could have come up with a better phrase than that.

  • by got2liv4him (966133) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:36PM (#31250830) Homepage
    I thought it was obvious from the "even America" remark that the author of the summary has a certain leaning or agenda...
  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:43PM (#31250952)

    Just curious,
    Does your girlfriend have an actual MRI showing a nerve being compressed ("pinched").
    In my case, my "pinched nerve" was not. I actually had muscles that were overly tight,
    almost stuck in a tensed state. Once these muscles were eased, the "pinched nerve"
    went away.

    I ditched the chiro after a few visits, it just seems that it is half bullshit, also noted
    that he was very pleased with my insurance coverage, and wanted me to come weekly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:43PM (#31250962)

    Actually, it seems pretty accurate. He (stupidly) asked a cop if he knew he was riding a gay horse, and the cop cited him for violations of the public order act. There's actually a lot of action around this law in Britain right now, as you can basically run afoul of the law by offending any sensibilities at all. Reason Magazine had a couple of articles on it late last year.

    You are correct that the actual offense was "mouthing off to a police officer", rather than the actual "gay horse" content, but still.

  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:49PM (#31251078)
    All true - and also helped by the fact that chronic pain is one area where the placebo effect is particularly powerful. Powerful enough to be effective in over 50% of cases. That will get you a lot of testimonials.
  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:50PM (#31251100)

    acupunctute [...] has been tested and found effective. I think Randi's $1M prize is open to acupuncture. Also doing a quick check of PubMed, I don't see any studies showing benefit. Granted this was a quick search.

    Benefit relative to placebo. Placebos are very effective in treating pain. So both statements could in fact be true.

  • by CherniyVolk (513591) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:51PM (#31251114)

    Truth is far stranger than fiction.

    Perhaps it's you who is living in a fantasy world? A world where you believe you have a freedom of speech? Never mind other freedoms. Have you ever tried to exercise this freedom of speech?

    Let me do that for you, "THE US PRESIDENT IS AN ASSHOLE! ISRAEL IS KILLING PALESTINIAN BABIES!"

    There, does that make you feel proud? Happy? Secure? Free? Is that an example of free speech, a posting on /. a couple of simple sentences? Boy, if that's all it takes to make you happy and believing you have a legally protected Right... then you, my dear friend is much the fool.

    Let's take it up a step further. I walk down town, find a hill, raising 6 feet high, pull out a bull horn and announce controversial views to be heard around for blocks. The views must be controversial, because otherwise the concept of free speech is masked by conformance of what those in power want you to believe; this is called effective free speech, something you apparently know nothing of. Along with effective free speech comes the prospect of actually having people listen to you, and see your ways... you have to effect people, this is the part of free speech people do not understand, like you. If you can't get someone else to see your ways, free speech or not... you're just mumbling to yourself, effectively. And guess what? Rebels and resistance has always mumbled to themselves, regardless of whatever freedoms they are claimed to have.

    So there I am, speaking of controversial views (any view that makes people see things differently is controversial, or will soon become controversial; this I hope you do understand).

    No one stops by, maybe a few that wish to yell back, nothing more than displaying their obedience to their cruel overlords. Police see that my speech has no effect, so they elect to adhere to laws that best suits the situation (my controversial views aren't causing a ruckus), so by laws handed down, noise ordinance laws allows me to be as loud as I want till 10pm. So then, I'm just wasting breath.

    People start forming up around me, listening. A few shy away, a few in the front start showing signs of comprehension and acceptance. Now, the police again has elect the best course of action for the situation. In this case, I'm enlightening the people, so the noise ordinance laws are ignored because I'm actually effecting people. Now comes laws from the other side of the spectrum, assembly laws. Do I have a permit to rally? Do I have a permit for public announcement? Noise ordinance laws are for private individuals with private interests, if I'm making a speech, then they do not apply to me in the same way. Speech being justified by the congregation before me that has been formed. Police aren't there to protect me, but those in power. So they step in, grab the bull horn, and ask for permits. If everyone disperses quietly and no lasting effect has been made on the sheep, then I get off with a warning. But if there's any resistance, showing maybe I opened some eyes, then I go to jail, and maybe some of them too for disrupting the peace; among other laws such as not having a hundred different permits to legally be allowed to do such a thing.

    Depending on the speech, if I anger the wrong people. Then you have libel suits brought against me. Maybe I garner the wrath in all the many forms from those that I anger. The more effective my speech, the worse the wrath will be.

    So, you see, you don't have freedom of speech. Just because you can whisper what you want amongst the crowd of yelling fanatics, doesn't mean your thoughts are going to have any effect therefore pose any real threat to those in power. You think you can change the world with your words, but you can't, and you won't even attempt to prove me wrong because you know I'm right. Do everything you can to justify this believe you so long for.

    In China, you think they don't have freedom of speech. In China perhaps it's illegal to say the president is an

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:11PM (#31251472) Homepage Journal

    Liar: "It is my opinion that you have lied." Motherfucker: "It is my opinion that you have committed incest." What key difference am I failing to see?

    Liar only has one meaning. Motherfucker has many, with incest being just one of them (and in fact, usually it doesn't mean that). It's generic and vague, just the sort of thing to call some litigious motherfucking asshole.

  • Re:Chiroprators (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:19PM (#31251590)

    I doubt that the certification process for chiropractors is as rigourous or lengthy as physiotherapy.

    The process to become a chiropractor is quite lengthy.

    After all, you don't want to go see a quack, you want a certified quack with a nice framed piece of paper on their wall.

  • Re:Chiroprators (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe Tie. (567096) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:46PM (#31252002)
    i think most professional athletes would take issue with Physiotherapy being much of a muchnes

    Bully for them. Unless they've demonstrated experience with experimental methodology and have researched the subject with peer reviewed medical journals I really don't care. Anecdotal evidence is next to worthless for a good reason.

    A large amount of professional athletes will also be happy to explain how their charms and talismans give them magic powers, and that Jesus shoots magic rays down at them to allow them victory.
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:50PM (#31252042)

    America is irrelevant, the comparison is the UK and China, neither of which is America.

    When was the last time thousands of Americans (or to stay more on topic Brits) were run over with tanks by their government for speaking?

    And I disagree that "freedom of speech" means I can blast my rants over a megaphone.

    It does however let me rant and rave about how the 9/11 attacks on the US were justified by US actions, or how they were Gods judgement on our evil sinful society. And people did. And those people were not punished by the government.

    Try making claims about how Tibet should be free of Chinese oppression in China and let us know how that goes.

  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @07:50PM (#31252802)

    Your example is one where chiropractors make sense - have a back pain, go see a back doctor. The problem is that many practitioners then extend that to totally unrelated body systems.

    In the classic /. car analogy, your girlfriend's case is like getting new tires because your car has poor traction. Many chiros will, however, claim that changing the tires will make the headlights brighter.

  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chad Birch (1222564) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @07:50PM (#31252806)
    The problem is that people believe it's real medicine, and so they think it'll actually work. And when it doesn't, they don't necessarily go look for the stuff that actually will: Homeopathy Kills a Child [scienceblogs.com]
  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by madprof (4723) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @08:18PM (#31253142)

    Er no you're misunderstanding. Singh is entirely happy to back his claims up. That's why he made them. He is going through this hell because Justice Eady decided that Singh had said that the BCA were knowingly dishonest. That is not at all clear from what he wrote and you have performed some not-so-clever misdirection in your argument by comparing the word "bogus" as applied to chriopractic treatments and as applied to people who are deemed "bogus" *in themselves*. Anyone would think you're a) a chiropractor or b) Justice Eady. Or a bit dim.

    It is entirely fair to say your argument is bogus. That isn't to say you deliberately misprepresented British libel law and intended to confuse things. Maybe you're just thick. But do you see the difference? Your argument is rubbish but you might just be innocently peddling it anyway.

  • by wytcld (179112) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @08:29PM (#31253286) Homepage

    I haven't seen a chiropractor in years. Not because it doesn't work, but because it does. Seeing how big an effect it made for me, I learned to adjust my own spine. That wasn't easy. I can get it wrong. It's a very specific adjustment required, not just some random act for a presumed placebo effect.

    And that makes sense. We're physical beings. The alignment, balance, symmetry of ourselves as physical bodies - of course that makes a difference, sometimes a big one, in our health. The anti-chiropractic camp would ask us to believe, what?, that we're pure spiritual essence, to which the body is so secondary even in regards to the body's own health that only our mental attitude - as adjusted of course by whatever drugs an orthodox physician might decide to prescribe - makes an "objective" difference in healing? But mental attitude is the essence of "subjective," not objective. Objectively, that body is what we are, and various bodywork therapies, including chiropractic, approach the body with the respect it's due.

  • Re:What a joke.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @04:56AM (#31256926)

    I think your above post admits that the placebo affect is a real documented effect.

    Of course.

    That the placebo effect can in fact remove pain completely.

    No, the placebo effect doesn't remove anything. The placebo effect is just an observation about the ability of the human body to affect itself.

    As for the "remove pain completely" bit, that's also completely wrong. I'm fairly certain that if you were to give burn victims a placebo instead of morphine, they'd notice a pretty big difference.

    If such is true, is allowing scam artists to invoke the placebo effect in people and directly improve their lives a bad thing?

    Yes. You may as well ask me why it's wrong to sell cocaine to addicts when it clearly makes them feel so good.

  • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:56AM (#31257518)
    There's no such charge as "jaywalking" in Britain. We can cross the road wherever we like, unlike the fascist american dictatorship that forces its downtrodden subjects to cross only at government sanctioned cross walks.

    See how annoying that is?

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

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