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In Britain, Better Not Call It Bogus Science

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the oh-nothing-just-dowsing-for-magnetic-vitamins dept.

The Media 754

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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Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (0, Offtopic)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446591)

Guess I'm going to be sued now ... or at least modded down into oblivion! ;-)

Good thing I don't live in Britain... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446635)

or else I couldn't point out how Rob Malda's penis is tinier than a toddler's!

Re:Good thing I don't live in Britain... (1, Interesting)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446835)

Good thing they aren't queers, having it off with the son of the Marquess of Queensberry. Or aging pre-Raphaelite art critics, with a morbid phobia of female genitalia.

There is a Santayana quote that is lurking just below the surface of my consciousness...

Ahhh. The slings and arrows suffered by persons of insurmountable genius.

Re:Good thing I don't live in Britain... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447041)

Rob was born with Minimus Phallocitus, you insensitive clod!

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (1, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446637)

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!

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447185)

I think your trolling but...

If a mod disagrees with your opinion, you will be sent to karma hell.

this one is true.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446641)

You blew it! You could have been FP with Godwin's Law and called them (UK) a bunch of Nazis.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446647)

"...any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true."

Now that's good science, why can't everybody stand behind this simple phrase.

It would clear a whole lot of political mudslinging up and get a better discussion of so many areas going between different perspectives.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446753)

If every statement is false then you would be establishing the validity of a statement with a series of false statements.
Each statement used would need further verification and so.

This would essentially mean that nothing could be sufficiently proven unless a core set of axioms were adopted.

What are the axioms for life?

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446791)

It would also put many innocent people in jail, lead to massive numbers of lawsuits against people who didn't actually do anything illegal, begin more political mudslinging over how evil the concept is, and is generally a bad idea for anything non-scientific.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (4, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446889)

While it may be good science, it is probably a very bad for the journalism business, and really would make things terribly inconvenient. A large enough section of the population is not at all interested in reading articles that take the time to painstakingly prove each assertion made in an article, and for the most part this is for good reason. Good journalism is about taking complex ideas from many disciplines and distilling them into consumable, simpler ideas for the masses. There are many who would describe this as "dumbing things down" and hate the impurity of it. The fact of the matter is that we can't all be purists about everything. The point of journalism is not to make everyone experts about everything that gets reported on, but rather just to offer primers and spark interest. Holding journalists to such high expectations is idealistic, and ultimately unfeasible. Sometimes they have to deal in broad strokes. As for the situation with libel law in Great Britain, as long as it's true in my book it's not libel. If your business or reputation can't stand up to the facts, then you need to change business or remake your repuation.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446937)

How do you prove something true? Eventually you get to the point where you either have to assume something without proof, or spend your life searching for a basic truth. Lets take George Washington, everyone knows he exists but could he be a patriotic fabrication? You can only trace his linage back so far and even then public records were inaccurate many times. You hit a point where you can't prove anything. Some things should be assumed without full proof. Nothing can be fully proven.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447043)

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.

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (2, Insightful)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447001)

I'd rather people rally behind a mantra such as "Once we've proven something false, stop saying it's true."

Re:Obligatory Bogus First Post ... (-1, Offtopic)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446801)

How is it bogus if it's a real first post?

Now, this is bogus: FR0STY P1SS!!1!one(lim x->0 ((sin x)/x))

what the fuck is up with britain? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446597)

I fuck a lot of pussy. And I have yet to meet a british woman that didn't have an overgrown bush. Seriously, trim the fucking hedges (no pun intended!)

Re:what the fuck is up with britain? (-1, Offtopic)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446929)

And I have yet to meet a british woman that didn't have an overgrown bush.

Try looking under 40. I've lived there for almost a year and didn't meet one of them who didn't think it was natural to shave.

Did Singh really say anything bogus about the BCA? (4, Insightful)

RIAAShill (1599481) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446607)

Perhaps Singh should argue that in calling the treatments bogus, he could not have libeled the British Chiropractic Association because the BCA is not a treatment, it is an organization. Thus, Singh could only have libeled the BCA (i.e., the members of the BCA) if they did not, in fact, promote such treatements (bogus or otherwise). In other words, Singh can say that he attacked the message (the treatements), not the messenger (the BCA), and therefore cannot be found liable for libel against the BCA.

Would the British courts buy it? I have no idea (INABL). But it seems like a reasonable distinction, one that fits well into wide-spread notions of civility as well as the vigorous public discourse required for the advancement of science.

Re:Did Singh really say anything bogus about the B (5, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447097)

It wouldn't matter. IANAL, but I've looked into this sort of thing. Here in the US, the truth is an absolute defense against slander or libel. That is, if you can prove that you told the truth, you've won your case because that's the way the law reads. In Britain, the truth is an affirmative defense. That means that you're allowed to prove that you told the truth, but it might not be enough to save you. British law considers statements to be slander or libel if they are harmful and/or defamatory regardless of the truth of the statements.

It must be called SciBo (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446619)

It fits better with the new Britain's Got Talent naming conventions.

Well Then (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446621)

Well, since I'm not living in a country where kooks and liars are given the benefit of the doubt, let me say quite publicly that chiropractors are frauds, along with naturopaths, healing touch types and all the other absurd lying pieces of worthless trash out there who profit off of the superstition and naivety of those with more money than brains.

Re:Well Then (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446673)

Well, since I'm not living in a country where kooks and liars are given the benefit of the doubt, let me say quite publicly that chiropractors are frauds, along with naturopaths, healing touch types and all the other absurd lying pieces of worthless trash out there who profit off of the superstition and naivety of those with more money than brains.

same with the cult of Scientology's "Touch Assists"!

Re:Well Then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446743)

What country is that? Here in the US we have people like Glenn Beck, who profit off people with more money than brains who are pretty much (financially) broke...

Re:Well Then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446847)

It's funny that, for all the bitching and moaning alternative medicine practitioners do about how Evil Big Pharma is censoring them and all the ridiculously easy and cheap (but not free, natch) ways they have to cure cancer/AIDS/diabetes/arthritis/ect., they're the ones doing the suing. These quacks are hypocritical and pseudoscientific as they prey on the desperate and ignorant. I guess if you're going to be an asshole who values money more than human life you might as well go all the way.

Those interested in keeping libel laws out of science should check out this site [senseaboutscience.org.uk] . (Posting AC to canel out some dumbass's troll mod).

Re:Well Then (-1, Flamebait)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446881)

let me say quite publicly that chiropractors are frauds, along with naturopaths, healing touch types and all the other absurd lying pieces of worthless trash out there who profit off of the superstition and naivety of those with more money than brains.

Wow, what arrogance. Who the fuck are you to say that those people did not heal anyone? My dad lasted five years longer with his cancer than the doctor told him he would, after having two thirds of his liver and his right lung removed. When you are going to die in horrible pain, you stop giving a shit about "truth" and "science", and start looking for anything that works.

We still don't know which one of those "absurd lying pieces of worthless trash" delayed his death this much. For a couple of years it seemed like he healed completely. Maybe it was the placebo effect, who knows. But do you think we care? When you live with someone who should've been dead for 3 years already, you tend to look a bit differently at medical science.

Re:Well Then (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446957)

Ancedotal evidence does not prove a fucking thing, awesome your dad lasted longer but giving charlatans the benefit of the doubt because you have emotional stake in the whole thing is just absurd.

Re:Well Then (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446959)

I'll go easy on you because you clearly have some emotional attachment to the notion that those con artists can do what you describe they do. But the fact remains they can't. I'm very glad your father lived longer than expected, but it had nothing to do with these people. They are, at best, self-deluded, and at worst, scammers.

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

Re:Well Then (1, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447077)

I'll go easy on you because you clearly have some emotional attachment to the notion that those con artists can do what you describe they do.

I don't know if any of them helped. Maybe it was the act of not giving up that triggered the placebo effect. Fact is, I don't care. He proved the official story wrong. We should strive to understand how these things work when they do work, not write them off because we can prove they're lying.

Re:Well Then (3, Insightful)

millennial (830897) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446967)

Yeah, because you're TOTALLY JUSTIFIED to say that your dad WOULD NOT have lived those extra five years WITHOUT wasting money on bullshit. Which is more likely: 1. A treatment that, under rigorous testing, fails to produce any results better than placebo deserves 100% of the credit for the extra five years. 2. His doctor gave a bad prognosis.

Re:Well Then (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447003)

Wow, what arrogance. Who the fuck are you to say that those people did not heal anyone?

I can't speak for the parent, but maybe he's someone who is more interested in actual proven medical facts as opposed to anecdotes?

When you are going to die in horrible pain, you stop giving a shit about "truth" and "science", and start looking for anything that works.

That's very true. That's what the snakeoil salesmen are counting on. I don't blame people and their families who are dying for doing disproven ineffective treatments like, say, homeopathy or reiki or acupunture. But I do detest the people who profit off them.

We still don't know which one of those "absurd lying pieces of worthless trash" delayed his death this much.

According to every well controlled test on the vast majority of alternative medicines, none of them. Sorry if you believe, but that's all it is, a belief. Until you have actual proof, well controled and repeatable proof, that's all it will ever be.

When you live with someone who should've been dead for 3 years already, you tend to look a bit differently at medical science.

You're coming from an emotional point here. That's scientifically absurd. I saw in the news the other day about someone surving a 20 something story fall and surviving. Does that cast doubt on the entire field of physics?

Re:Well Then (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447015)

Or maybe the doctor's estimate was just that--an estimate. It's clear that no doctor is going to be able to forecast longevity that precisely. They can give you an approximate median timespan for people with the same illness at the same age and with the same pre-existing conditions, but everybody's mileage will vary.

Although I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be happy to take the credit for anybody living past the median expectancy (or, 50% of people).

I don't blame anybody for looking at alternative/'natural' medicine when they're terminally ill. I understand that anybody providing any hope at all looks attractive (this is why they're still in business). Just so long as the naturopaths don't do any damage and the patient is still being treated with scientifically demonstrated medicine by a doctor who's studied it for decades.

Re:Well Then (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447033)

No. You father survived 5 more years because of my magic coin.

I KNOW IT'S TRUE! There are other ways of knowing, that are not accessible to you.

PS: you now owe me $50000.

Re:Well Then (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447089)

> When you live with someone who should've been dead for 3 years already, you tend to look a bit differently at medical science.

Well, either that or you brush up on your statistics.

Re:Well Then (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447111)

Wow, what arrogance. Who the fuck are you to say that those people did not heal anyone?

And you're bringing your emotional study of size n=1, which had no control, into this for what reason exactly?

Everyone has family members who die. Doesn't alter reality. Bullshit quack "medicine" is still bullshit.

Re:Well Then (2, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447147)

We still don't know which one of those "absurd lying pieces of worthless trash" delayed his death this much

Delayed? Versus what? A "prognosis", which itself is based on a probability distribution, i.e. "82% of patients with this type of cancer do not live longer than x years"? Your dad could have simply been in that last few percent of cases. Or the doctor could have mis-estimated the size of the cancer or its state of advancement.

In other words you have absolutely no reference point to measure a "delay" of any kind. This, combined with all the other scientific evidence against the quacks mentioned leaves you in no position to call the GP "arrogant". In fact your attitude, i.e. your emotions shutting off your higher brain functions, is what makes these parasitic hucksters possible in the first place.

Desperate people with little or no means of evaluating scientific knowledge will do most idiotic things imaginable in order to try to save their loved ones. This is understandable, but it is no excuse for trying to pretend that anything these quacks offer is actually working or is in any way based on reality.

Re:Well Then (4, Informative)

radish (98371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446941)

20 years ago I was taking a lot of exams and kept getting really serious neck and head pains when I looked down at the desk. Doctor offered painkillers which worked a little but left me too drowsy to take the exams. He suggested a chiropractor, I went for a single 1 hour session and was cured. I don't have any clue what the guy did, and I'm sure it doesn't work for everyone, but it fixed me. YMMV etc.

Re:Well Then (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447007)

Why do people keep thinking anecdotal evidence has any particular value at all? Science long ago abandoned the idea that reliable and useful data could be gained by "After I did X, Y happened".

Re:Well Then (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447095)

Why do people keep thinking anecdotal evidence has any particular value at all? Science long ago abandoned the idea that reliable and useful data could be gained by "After I did X, Y happened".

People think it because it often does. Survival of this species has partially depended upon the ability to reocgnize patterns and make decisions with limited information.

Re:Well Then (3, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447175)

Science long ago abandoned the idea that reliable and useful data could be gained by "After I did X, Y happened"

Really? You mean like "after the development of the automobile, the global climate started getting warmer"? Like "after I crossed one pea having quality X with another pea having quality Y, a pea with both X and Y was produced"? Like "after I mixed solution A with solution B, a yellow precipitate formed"? Like "after I dropped a small marble and a large rock from the balcony of this tilting building, they both hit the ground at the same time"? Like "after I bombarded a lead target with a high-energy beam of electrons, a bunch of particles were produced"? Like "after I stood in front of the radar antenna, the bar of chocolate in my pocket was melted"?

Yeah, you're right. No data ever comes of "after I did X, Y happened". It's a good thing we simply ignore any data produced that way.

Re:Well Then (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447061)

> YMMV etc.

Statistically, practically everybody elses M will V.

Re:Well Then (2, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447109)

Chiropractice is just a massage. It can have beneficial effects if you have muscle pain or joint pain. Has nothing to do with subluxations, of course.

I had a horrible back pain once (strained a muscle). It was cured after two sessions of massage (with a professional massager).

Re:Well Then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447159)

I don't have any clue what the guy did...

It's called the placebo effect.

Re:Well Then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447039)

I made emergency visit to a chiropractor today because my back pain was killing me.
Guess what - it really helped me within minutes of chiropractor visit.
And I'm a doctor myself

Re:Well Then (0, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447145)

You must be one of the lying evil turds who modded my parent post down.

Re:Well Then (2, Funny)

nsteinme (909988) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Well Then (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447101)

People are often very polite about Pauling because in other areas he was quite brilliant, but unfortunately he became sort of a Louis Leakey figure in the later areas, and said some rather absurd things.

We should all visit prostitutes instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447189)

beats getting screwed by a chiropractor

Britain's legal system is busted (1, Flamebait)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446631)

Yeah, everyone in the world knows their legal system is busted. Why do they even have free speech, if they can silence people with lawsuits?

Re:Britain's legal system is busted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446875)

US legal system isn't overflowing health, either.

Presumption of innocence (3, Interesting)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446649)

In Britain, libel laws don't have any presumption of innocence

Isn't Britain otherwise pretty anal about the presumption of innocence, to the point that accusations sometimes can't be even talked about in the press? Why the huge difference for libel?

Re:Presumption of innocence (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446913)

any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true. Journalist are running scared.

The concept of journalists having to support their claims should frighten only journalists who can't support their claims. Limiting news organizations to printing only verifiable facts sounds like a good thing.

Ironic that the poster casts regulations against printing unverifiable journalistic claims to be regulations against debunking unverifiable scientific claims. The law as described here sounds very much on the side of good science.

Re:Presumption of innocence (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446943)

Civil law vs. criminal law. Huge difference.

Re:Presumption of innocence (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447037)

Yes. If you publish a statement that someone is a liar and a thief, that's presumed to be false unless the publisher can prove otherwise. The media is also required to presume innocence. Although that's not the major problem with the libel laws. The scope of "publishing" is. You can sue the writer, the editor, the actual publisher, the distributor or even the local shop that sells the publication. In the case of websites, you can also sue the ISP, and possibly any other ISP that provides access to the website (case law is not absolutely clear here but does point this way).

Re:Presumption of innocence (2, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447067)

Why the huge difference for libel?

There is not a "huge difference". IANAL but my understanding is that the plaintiff first has to prove that they have been damaged (otherwise there is no libel) but that a defence against this is that it is the truth. It is hard to argue that it is not a writer's responsibility to ensure that what they write is the truth if they are passing it off as fact. If they are not sure that they can prove it then they can always qualify statements with things like: "it is my opinion that this is bogus science". If it makes journalists more careful write accurately and differentiate between their opinions and fact then isn't that a good thing? Sure a few idiots may cause trouble like this but it is hard to imagine that they will win and I'd rather have that than give journalists free reign to write what they like and only get sued if you can prove they were lying.

Having said that I certainly think that Chiropractic treatments are bogus and I hope Singh wins - especially since we both got our PhDs from the same research group, though his was a few years before mine. However that is my opinion and not based on careful research.

We need someone to take them on (3, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446651)

McDonalds used to sue people who claimed that their food wasn't very healthy, until the McLibel two took them one, and won on most of the points. McDonalds won on a few minor points but decided not to enforce the judgement as that would just give them even worse publicity.

Proof of absence (1, Troll)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446681)

The statement "there is no scientific proof" is not provable; it is only disprovable by presenting the scientific proof. Proving absence is very difficult; e.g prove there is no god.

Re:Proof of absence (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446713)

e.g prove there is no god

Babel fish.

Re:Proof of absence (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446901)

Watch out for zebras

Re:Proof of absence (3, Interesting)

dbet (1607261) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446909)

That's not what the BCA is arguing. What they're saying is that "bogus" is defined as "intentionally deceitful", and are arguing that the author can't prove intent.

Basically everyone is calling everyone else a liar, and somehow a judge is going to make some very interesting decisions.

yeah (-1, Troll)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446683)

these kind of things are what make me not want to ever visit UK. I mean, how can you BE WORSE THAN USA with people's rights!!??!!

Ben Goldacre on Bad Science at RI today (3, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446685)

Coincidently, Ben Goldacre was presenting at the Royal Institution today on "Bad Science" - poor media reporting of science. You can view the stream from tomorrow afternoon at The Times Higher Education website: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/webcast.html [timeshighe...tion.co.uk] . Event details for the RI debate here: http://www.rigb.org/contentControl?action=displayEvent&id=948 [rigb.org]

Re:Ben Goldacre on Bad Science at RI today (1)

QX-Mat (460729) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446803)

I thoroughly recommend his book, Bad Science, availible for less £5 on some sites.

Re:Ben Goldacre on Bad Science at RI today (0, Offtopic)

elborro (1618181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446877)

poor media reporting of science

Sounds so /.

bah humbug! (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446699)

a Chiropractor is just a masseuse with a diploma and an ego

Re:bah humbug! (1)

bigjarom (950328) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446927)

A chiropractor is just someone who wanted to be a doctor, but who didn't get good enough grades/MCAT to get into medical school.

Re:bah humbug! (1)

radish (98371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446977)

So what? There's nothing wrong with massage - it's actually very useful for a number of complaints.

Re:bah humbug! (1, Interesting)

Alistar (900738) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446981)

I don't agree,

I had back problems and leg problems for about 12 years, so bad I could barely walk longer than 5 or so minutes at a time and standing longer than 1 or minutes was excruciating. Sometimes if I just forced it anyway, my bottom half would start going numb and I would collapse, not that I was paralyzed just in too much pain to stand or walk.
I went to 9 doctors, a couple specialists, 4 foot doctors (I forget the specific name of them off the top of my head) and 12 physiotherapists.
I had the physical therapy, various braces, stretches to do several times a day every day, a couple different insoles for my feet. Nothing helped.
None of them ever referred to a chiropractor.

So I finally just figured I'd try it myself, after over a decade of nothing.
Went twice a week for 2 weeks than once a week for 2, then once a month for a bit. I'm at twice a year at the moment.
I was really sore and suffering the first few weeks, almost stopped it. But I figured I would see it through for at least a month.
After about a month, I felt some improvement from the soreness and aching of the initial treatment, so I decided to stick with it. Within 3 months I could walk several kilometers. I helped build a fence one weekend after about 5 months, on my feet the whole time carrying stuff, had no problems. Today, I can jog 8-10 kilometers without back problems (can't really do that on hard surfaces yet, a treadmill or grass is great though). I play golf again, and got back into soccer. I can do crunches and yoga without issue. 12 years of pain and not being able to do really physical activity and a chiropractor changed all that.

I can only say about my experience, but they are more than a masseuse with a diploma and an ego. Mine was very courteous and listened to what I was willing and not willing let her work on and has helped me immensely. I wish you wouldn't stereotype.

Re:bah humbug! (0, Redundant)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447073)

How about you provide some rigorous double blind studies that actually demonstrate anything beyond heartwarming stories of how wonderful you feel now.

In other words, anecdotal claims are worthless.

Re:bah humbug! (1)

Alistar (900738) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447169)

I'm sure you could provide horror stories of quack chiros and what not.

And while my story may be anecdotal, but where is your proof that its a bogus science. I could show you my x-rays before and after and they certainly did something, and I don't think "how wonderful I feel" is just the power of positive thinking. The basic explanation was, my vertebrae were out of alignment (one had a noticable about 1/4 inch jut out on the x-ray - I don't know what the scale is), putting stress on the nerves, by putting them back into alignment, that is no longer there. The repeated sessions is to keep it that position so your muscles, body whatever can eventually do it themselves.
I think it would require good knowledge to know what not to do, just as much as what may need to be done.

so pass a new law! (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446703)

This seems to be far outdated. Why don't the journalists and media companies simply lobby the legislature to pass a law declaring that the burden of evidence in libel and slander cases falls on the accuser?

It's clearly the more just method, and it works surprisingly well in the US. It's not like there would be popular opposition to such a change. And anybody who complains is just a champagne-sipping bum, anyway!

Not a new problem nor is it just about journalists (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446717)

This isn't a problem that is new for Great Britain nor is it limited to journalists. Indeed, the problem has gotten to be so bad that it has given rise to so called "libel tourism" where people who want to sue for libel go out of their way to find some connection, no matter how tenuous to Great Britain, so that they can justify suing in British courts (especially English or Welsh courts. Scotland and N. Ireland are slightly more sane about these things). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel_tourism [wikipedia.org] . This is having serious chilling effects on what is even published in the United States and other places far away from Britain.

Re:Not a new problem nor is it just about journali (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447127)

S. 449: Free Speech Protection Act of 2009 [govtrack.us] seems like an interesting response.

(c) Remedies-
(1) ORDER TO BAR ENFORCEMENT AND OTHER INJUNCTIVE RELIEF- In a cause of action described in subsection (a), if the court determines that the applicable writing, utterance, or other speech at issue in the underlying foreign lawsuit does not constitute defamation under United States law, the court shall order that any foreign judgment in the foreign lawsuit in question may not be enforced in the United States, including by any Federal, State, or local court, and may order such other injunctive relief that the court considers appropriate to protect the right to free speech under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
(2) DAMAGES- In addition to the remedy under paragraph (1) and if the conditions for release under that paragraph are satisfied, damages shall be awarded to the United States person bringing the action under subsection (a), based on the following:
(A) The amount of any foreign judgment in the underlying foreign lawsuit.
(B) The costs, including reasonable legal fees, attributable to the underlying foreign lawsuit that have been borne by the United States person.
(C) The harm caused to the United States person due to decreased opportunities to publish, conduct research, or generate funding.

(d) Treble Damages- If, in an action brought under subsection (a), the court or, if applicable, the jury determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the person or entity bringing the foreign lawsuit which gave rise to the cause of action intentionally engaged in a scheme to suppress rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States by discouraging publishers or other media from publishing, or discouraging employers, contractors, donors, sponsors, or similar financial supporters from employing, retaining, or supporting, the research, writing, or other speech of a journalist, academic, commentator, expert, or other individual, the court may award treble damages.

One Of The Reasons For Emigration To U.S. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446719)

where there is freedom and democracy

Oh wait....

Pax,
Philboyd Studge

next up, sharia law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446731)

sharia law is up next. A hallmark of a society experiencing a breakdown in the rule of law is a flurry of stupid, ineffective, unequal, and inconsistent laws with no consideration made for precedent.

I wonder if this is why publications usually state (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446735)

I wonder if this (legal action from some party) is why publications usually state something along the lines of "However, X has not been shown to have any Y benefits in independent studies", rather than saying "X doesn't do Y".

I can understand why scientific publications don't; they're scientific, after all.. maybe the studies done had flaws, or were inconclusive, etc. But popular media does the same thing.

published speech in Britain = presumed guilty (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446739)

I watched a riveting documentary called McLibel a few weeks ago about activists who fought a McDonalds libel lawsuit to quell their inflammatory leaflet. Next to the harassment of photographers and the public security cameras it's yet another example of Britain's hostility toward those who exercise their individual rights.

Take the time to watch this important and humble film. [google.com] It shows how capitalism unabashedly exploits plaintiff-friendly British laws to its own ends.

Re:published speech in Britain = presumed guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446935)

"Take the time to watch this important and humble film. [google.com] It shows how capitalism unabashedly exploits plaintiff-friendly British laws to its own ends."

Um no, it shows how stupid laws which presume guilt before innocence are unjust and will be exploited by villains no matter what their economic ideology of allegiance.

Just another day... (0, Flamebait)

davmoo (63521) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446777)

...in The People's Republic of Britannia.

Bullshit (5, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446781)

Penn and Teller [wikipedia.org] solved this by calling people assholes (not liars or scammers) and talking about their bullshit (not lies and scams). "Bullshit" is sufficiently (at least in US) vague and opinionated. So: call it bullshit science, written by asshole scientists.

And of course there's the McCoy tactic (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446825)

"What the Klingon says is unimportant, and we do not hear his words."

Re:Bullshit (1)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446921)

The term 'bullshit' actually has a number of academic articles and books published on it. For those who think seriously about it, it's a rather precise word. The most famous book on the subject is Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit [amazon.com] . If Frankfurt is correct, 'bullshit' is should be defined as a lack of concern for the truth. Bullshit is not necessary false, though it can be. It may also turn out to be true. The point is, when one is bullshitting, one doesn't care if one is true or false. So, when you write bullshit for an exam answer as an undergrad, you don't care if you get it right or not, you care about your score on the exam. Likewise, if you're bullshitting someone about their favorite sports team, you don't really care if their team sucks or not, you're just trying to rile up the person.

That doesn't diminish Penn and Teller's point. Usually, a bullshit artist is not concerned with whether their vitamins cure AIDS. They're concerned with selling vitamins. I'm not sure if it does help you avoid libel claims though.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447059)

"Bullshit" is a slang term, of obvious derivation, and it can mean anything from "You're lying and we both know it" to "I know you're telling the truth but I don't want to admit it," or anything in between. Anyone who claims it has a precise meaning is, well, bullshitting.

Re:Bullshit (1)

mykdavies (1369) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447183)

The BCA's case rests on the fact that one possible interpretation of Simon Singh's use of the word 'bogus' is that he was implying that they say things that they know not to be true. Given that the first definition of 'bullshit' at dictionary.com is 'nonsense, lies, or exaggeration' [reference.com] , I think he would be in exactly as much trouble as he is in now.

Watch your Posts! (1)

rodarson2k (1122767) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446783)

From TFA: "English libel law can have a global reach: there have been several high-profile examples of foreign journalists being sued for libel in the English courts over statements published on foreign websites or by foreign publishers"

Be careful what you say, or the Bobbies could be coming for you.

Britain has no freedoms. (0, Troll)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446813)

This is why every colony tried unsuccessfully to be completely free of them.

News at 11.

UK vs US libel laws (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446821)

IANAL on either continent, but in the U.S. I'm pretty sure something that has been published has to be untrue in order to qualify for a libel suit. I've been following this case for a while because I loathe snake-oil in all its forms, and Singh seems to have not said anything that can be shown as positively false. We have certain expectations in peer-reviewed science and claims made by the BCA are not living up to that level of evidence.

No ones beliefs are false says Britain. (1)

pieisgood (841871) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446827)

This is disturbing, in that attacking beliefs is now a crime in Britain. Even when they're legitimate attacks on beliefs that can hurt people. This behavior by the state is retarded and should be fought at every turn. Skeptics must not waive their hand because of these unjust laws.

any statement made is assumed to be false unless.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446849)

"any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true"

Well, maybe I'm taking it out if context, but it seems pretty reasonable to me. If you say something that seems wrong to other people, it is you the one that has to prove it correct, not the other way around (them proving that what you say is false). Reminds me of Russell's teapot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

Re:any statement made is assumed to be false unles (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447083)

If it really is "any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true", then the easiest way to fight back against the chiropractors is to file a libel suit against them for claiming chiropractic works. Unless of course I am missing something inane?

What constitutes libel in England? (2, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446855)

If I were to write that Sean Connery kicks cats, that'd be libel. But if Sean Connery were to write a book about how kicking cats cures baldness, and I were to write that kicking cats *doesn't* cure baldness and anyone who says it does is a swindler, that can't be libel, can it? I can see how writing that Sean Connery is a swindler for making the claim, would be libel. But I wonder if it takes defaming a specific person to get a libel charge to stick, or if merely defaming an idea that a person is identified with is sufficient cause for a libel suit to be likely successful.

Re:What constitutes libel in England? (1)

ricree (969643) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447105)

As I understand it, an english court ruled that using the word "bogus" meant that he was claiming that they were knowingly engaging in fraud. So now since Sigh has no presumption of innocence, he must not only prove that the treatments are ineffective, but that they knew that and were fraudulently selling them anyways.

The proper way to deal with this (2, Interesting)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446873)

So only write about real science. Don't give the snake oil salesmen any time or print.

Re:The proper way to deal with this (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447063)

They did write about real science, and yet they still got sued. From the article:

Their book is an accessible and rigorous investigation of the scientific evidence for or against the claims made about various forms of âoealternative medicine,â from acupuncture to herbal remedies.

Then...

...heâ(TM)s being sued for libel ...for an article he published in The Guardian newspaper last year. In the article, Singh argued that there is no evidence for some of the claims that the BCA makes about the health benefits of visiting a chiropractor.

So he wrote an article that summarized an entire book's worth of research. I'm not sure how this could be libel: The only evidence that needs to be submitted to the court is his book. If the book is indeed "rigorous investigation of scientific evidence" then there is no way his statements could be libelous.

Once Upon a Time... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446955)

I used to think that Britain was a pretty neat place to live. No more!

Not just that (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#29446971)

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. Journalist are running scared.'

But it doesn't stop there. Britain's privacy laws also add a "need to know" basis for disseminating it to the public. Meaning that if you work for a politician who is having a secret affair and you reveal it to the media, you can get in trouble.

turn the tables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29446997)

"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."

If that is the case, then start suing back for their libelous claims. Replacing anti-retrovirals with supplements can fight AIDS? It doesn't take a doctor to know that claim is patently false and will have no proof to back it up. If the makers of bullshit medical cures are going to start suing people who call them on their bullshit, then start suing them for their bullshit claims.

Too often people, on both sides of the pond, forget that they can use the court system to protect themselves or protect their rights just the same way anyone can.

Summary incorrect, unsurprisingly. (5, Interesting)

Renevith (1556657) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447025)

"[...] 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."

That alone is not why Mr. Singh is being sued. The issue is specifically driven by his use of the word "bogus." The judge has taken it to mean "consciously dishonest." Not just peddling an ineffective treatment, but knowing that it's ineffective and still claiming otherwise. If Singh just claimed it was an ineffective treatment, he would not be criticizing the BCA directly, so it wouldn't be actionable... However, the judge and the BCA took him to be saying that the BCA are knowingly and intentionally dishonest in their promotion of the treatment.

I wouldn't think to interpret "bogus" in this way, but that seems to be the original meaning. I hope the judge realizes Singh was using it in a more modern sense, but if it's interpreted as the BCA claims, then it certainly explains how far this lawsuit has gone, and invalidates many of the comments here so far including the inflammatory summary. Singh can criticize the effectiveness of the treatments to his heart's content, as long as he doesn't accuse the BCA of fraud! You can read some more linguistic analysis of this lawsuit and the evolving meaning of "bogus" over at the Language Log [upenn.edu] .

Not new... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29447071)

It's like that here in the US if you question evolution.

any statement made is assumed to be false unless (1)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447123)

"any statement made is assumed to be false unless you prove it's true."
So why don't the chiropractic dudes have to prove the claim that their chiropraticic stuff works? Why isn't THEIR claim assumed to be false unless they prove it's true? ...

If this is the alternative, I'm against it (3, Insightful)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | more than 5 years ago | (#29447131)

Having RTFA, I can't help but consider it to be sadly biased.

e.g. One of the criticisms it makes is "in English libel cases, the burden of proof is effectively on the defendant. In other words, the defamatory statement is presumed to be false unless the defendant can prove it is true."

Maybe I missed something. Isn't this just a perfectly sensible extension of "innocent until proven guilty"? If I call you a thief and you sue me for libel, why should the burden of proof be on *you*, exactly?

What's more, it makes it sound like Singh has made the claim that chiropractors are completely bogus and can't help you with anything. When in fact, what they quote is that he argues there's no evidence to back up claims that getting your bones cracked can help with things like ear infections. Well, that's fair enough. I've been a chiropractor a few times for joint pain. They helped. Would I go to one for ear infections? Like hell would I.

In Britain, if you say "This person is a fake", you have to be able to prove it or you're liable for libel. If you say "I believe this person is a fake", that's a statement of opinion and not fact, and is held to a less rigorous standard. What, exactly, is wrong with this?

If this NY times article is an example of how good the journalism is outside of the UK, I'll stick to the current 'scared British journalists', thanks.

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