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Censorship The Courts United Kingdom

Simon Singh To Appeal In UK Court Today 213

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 Today's decision could have far-reaching implications for the movement to reform Britain's horrifically outdated libel laws (that even America is making moves to protect its citizens against), and to begin taking steps to elevate Britain above the likes of China when it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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  • Humbug! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by calibre-not-output ( 1736770 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:38PM (#31249904) Homepage
    This reminds me of the first episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! when Penn explains why they call people "motherfuckers" and "assholes" instead of liars, frauds, quacks, etc.

    Quoted from Wikipedia:
    Since their act is not normally associated with a frequent use of profanity, Jillette explains their choice of using the term bullshit in the opening episode: if they referred to people as frauds or liars, they could be sued for slander, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of chicanery, but as "vulgar abuse" is not legally considered slanderous, referring to them as assholes or motherfuckers ostensibly expresses an opinion rather than a statement of fact and is legally safer for them.
  • Re:Chiroprators (Score:3, Interesting)

    by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:55PM (#31250154)

    I've tried both chiropractice and physiotherapy, and they seem like much of a muchness, although I suppose I have a little more confidence in conventional medicine -- I doubt that the certification process for chiropractors is as rigourous or lengthy as physiotherapy. I've recently heard enough horror stories about people being maimed or killed outright by dodgy chiropractice to ever consider returning to a chiropractor.

  • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:56PM (#31250176) Homepage

    Everyone knows what bogus treatments are. They are not merely treatments which have proved less effective than they were at first thought to be, or which have been shown by the subsequent acquisition of more detailed scientific knowledge to be ineffective. Bogus treatments equate to quack remedies; that is to say they are dishonestly presented to a trusting and, in some respects perhaps, vulnerable public as having proven efficacy in the treatment of certain conditions or illnesses, when it is known that there is nothing to support such claims.

    Please, get this story right, people. It's not about whether these remedies work or not. It's the implication that they offer them, knowing full well that they don't work.
    Here's the OED definition of bogus:

    pretending to be real or genuine

  • Re:Chiroprators (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:15PM (#31250468)

    i think most professional athletes would take issue with Physiotherapy being much of a muchness. As would I. As would pretty much every hospital in my County.

    Physiotherapy quite literally got me out of bed and walking without being in agonizing pain within 3 days after spending weeks with Chiropractors. In fact I visit a Physiotherapist a couple of times a year who has helped me no end manage shoulder damage I have had doing sports over the years.

    I am not sure what Physiotherapists you have used, but assuming you are from the USA (I am from the UK) I am led to believe that 'Physical Therapists' and Physiotherapists are two different things and that the former (from anecdotal evidence) is not much better than a glorified masseuse.

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

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:16PM (#31250478) Homepage Journal

    Hoemopathy has been scientifically disproven, but not accupuncture. In fact, many mainstream physicians use it these days; it has been tested and found effective. Chiropracy clearly won't do anything for any ailment not related to bones or nerves, such as cholic or cancer, but if you have an aching back it can do wonders. I know several people who had surgeons tell them surgery was their only recourse, only to have a chiropractor fix them good as new. At least one (my dad) was extremely skeptical of chiropracty but gave it a shot anyway, and the results spoke for themselves.

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

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:17PM (#31250486) Homepage Journal

    Well, so some degree, ear infections can be caused by muscle tension around the eustachian tubes not allowing the ear to drain properly, so to the extent that this is the case, chiropractic medicine can help (as can a good massage therapist without cracking your spine). This is probably not by any stretch of the imagination the majority of ear infections, of course.

    I suspect that a lot of the things that many people suspect are quackery do, in fact, actually prove beneficial *in some cases*, depending on the underlying root cause. The problem comes when somebody overgeneralizes and distorts this to say that he/she can, as you put it, cure ear infections by twisting your spine. Occasionally, yes, but usually not.

  • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:21PM (#31250554) Homepage

    If the British Chiropractic Association claim the use of chiropractic works for certain children’s ailments such as asthma, colic, and frequent ear infections, but refuse to provide any evidence that they do then one can only presume that they knew full well that that they don't work and are hence bogus.

    However this is immaterial to the case. In England and Wales (could be different in Scotland as we have a different legal system) the mere fact that Simon Singh's claim whether right or wrong was made and has damaged the claimant aka liabled him to the general public is all that is required in theory for the BCA to win. Truth is no defence against liable in England and Wales.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:39PM (#31250886)

    I have to agree with the court. The court's ruling is based on the finding that Singh implied that chiropractors were deliberately misleading people. Singh denies this, but I can't really believe his claim. He totally meant it in the manner the court took it. So it's down to libel law, which is pretty simple here. Singh made a damning accusation, which is believable to reasonable people (probably because it's so likely true). The BCA replied with a libel suit. The burden of proof lies on Singh, because even though the BCA brought the suit, it was Singh who made the original accusation. Singh cannot provide proof - in fact his original statement was based on the fact that there is no scientific proof that chiropractors provide health benefits. There's also no proof that they don't (there's evidence, but not proof). While this is a good reason to argue that libel law needs to be reexamined; as the law stands now, I cannot see Singh winning this case.

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

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:54PM (#31251154) Journal

    I've actually often wondered that myself, since it apparently helps with her headaches when I give her massages (though that could just be her using my kindness to get massages) and I am by no means a licensed Chiropracticioner. Though my massages only aid during the length of the massage, and a headache can return quite quickly, whereas she says the Chiropractor makes it disappear for days.

    However - its apparently free while you are a student at the University. So I don't press on it too much. Come Graduation time - if she starts spending money on that kind of stuff, I'll tell her to get it checked properly.

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

    by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:14PM (#31251500)

    Hoemopathy has been scientifically disproven, but not accupuncture. In fact, many mainstream physicians use it these days; it has been tested and found effective.

    They also found that a chimpanzee in a white coat poking you with toothpicks was every bit as effective as a trained doctor using needles on meridian points and all that nonsense.

    Acupuncture works as a placebo. It's been well documented that the more invasive a placebo is, the more "effective" it is. Me hitting you in the head with a rubber mallet is more likely to "cure" your headache than if you just took a sugar pill, but neither one actually has any real effect.

    I know several people who had surgeons tell them surgery was their only recourse, only to have a chiropractor fix them good as new.

    I know several people who swear that some plastic gizmo in their air-intake doubles their gas mileage. If you're going to base your understanding of reality on the testimony of idiots, you're going to make a lot of frauds and scam-artists very happy.

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

    by Falconhell ( 1289630 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:28PM (#31251732) Journal

    I know it is anecdotal evidence but personally I am convinced of the value of Chiro in some circumstances.

    I suffer from FSH muscular dystrophy, and get extreme headaches due to it. The ONLY thing that reduces the frequency of these headaches is a regular visit to the chiro.

      I literally can feel an improvement immediately after a visit. That said there are some chiro's who I have tried who got no useful result, leading me to believe that this is not a placebo type effect.

  • by sir_eccles ( 1235902 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @07:39PM (#31252646)

    Is it a waste of my time to point out that the UK has had a Bill of Rights since 1689 thus predating the American version by some 100 years.

    Not to mention the more recent European Convention on Human Rights which was written in the 1950s by a Brit.

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

    by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @08:29PM (#31253296)

    I believe the alternative-medicine stuff is BS, but I believe spinal adjustment can be helpful. I had pinched nerves in my shoulders and wrists. Tingling in my fingers eventually turned into a complete numbness of my hands - it was hard to move my fingers unless I was looking at them so I knew where they were.

    After spine snapping, my posture is better, the tingling has been gone for over a year, and X-rays show that my spine no longer looks like a hang-man's gallows.

    I think whatever other remedies get peddled about "toxins" are greedy snake-oil value-adds/upsells.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:39AM (#31256550)

    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?

    If you are going to reference such an historically important event, at least try to be more accurate.

    No, people weren't runover by tanks for just speaking. They were run over by tanks for having thousands of somewhat organized protesters camping on a major monument in the middle of the country's capital for months and refusing to leave even when facing the army which came to clear them out.

    You may admire their courage, or you may ridicule their naiviety, but they did not died just for "speaking".

    I leave it as an exercise for the readers to imagine what would happen if thousands of organized protesters tried to camp in the middle of Washington, or London, and then refuse to leave for 3 months. Could they even last 3 months without being dispersed forcefully by local police? And if they successfully resisted the local police's effort, would the army come next?

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @04:41AM (#31256846)

    Much smaller, but Western democracies can usually live with such things, as evidenced by [] . Note that the police did force-ably remove people more than once...

    And I guess your an anonymous coward, but did you really not notice I was trying to do the exact thing I was making fun of originally. You don't think maybe that might have been the point?

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian