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UK To Give Peer-Reviewed Science Libel Protection

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the about-bloody-time dept.

United Kingdom 101

scibri writes "England is finally getting around to updating its notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws, which have been extensively criticized for stifling scientific debate in the past few years, such as in the case of Simon Singh. The government introduced a defamation bill last week that would extend explicit protection to statements in scientific or academic journals — providing the work was properly peer reviewed. The protection would also extend to reports of academic and scientific conferences. The proposed legislation is popular among the UK's researchers and journalists, but a similar law on whistleblower protection has had mixed reviews in the U.S."

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Hew! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000091)

A few months ago, I accepted what at first appeared to be a very simple job: remove a virus from someone's computer. Given the fact that I owned a PC repair shop (and I still do) and had over 15 years of experience, I was confident that I could complete the job in a timely manner without any complications along the way. Little did I know, however, that accepting this job would spiral my life into a nightmarish den of anguish and uncertainty.

First, I tried booting up the PC. When Windows finally loaded, it became apparent that this was no ordinary virus; it was a merciless monstrosity of a virus that would stop at nothing to ruin your entire life. However, despite this, I bravely pressed on and attempted to combat the virus. "I absolutely will not let a mere virus scare me off!" I thought.

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Re:Hew! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000209)

My name is Jamie, and I am not ashamed to say that I enjoy having sex with dogs (and I've been doing it since I was 14!), I am totally "normal" in almost all respects: I'm 28 and live in Los Angeles. I have a boyfriend who is pretty good in bed and I have a great job as a linux developer. But I've found that dogs can actually be better and more satisfying lovers than either men or women!

I know that sounds weird, and a lot of you will be shocked by this, but thousands of women and girls worldwide agree with me, and, by all indications, more women are discovering this secret every day. Women have been having sex with animals for centuries, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to any woman who wants to experience what is possibly the most intense and electrifying sexual experience there is.

If you have a dog, chances are he is practically your best friend already. He is more loyal than any man, and loves you completely, unlike many men. He doesn't talk back or argue, and he's always there for you. Why not take it a step further and let him become your sexual lover? Male dogs are naturally horny practically all the time, so helping him relieve some sexual frustration can just be a demonstration of your love for him, and a lot of fun for you! Unlike men, dogs are almost always ready to have sex when you want to, they won't tell all their friends about your experience together (and who cares if they do?), they can't expose you to AIDS or other sexual diseases, and, perhaps best of all, they can't get you pregnant!

Now, I'm not some weirdo who advocates sleeping only with dogs and not with men. Far from it: I have a good relationship with my boyfriend and we are sexually active. (I've also had one serious relationship with a woman.) However, I seem to be hornier than he is, particularly at certain times of the month. There are times when my guy isn't around, or doesn't feel like it, or I don't want the emotional complications involved with human sex. I can then turn to my doggie to get off, and its great.

I'm sure many of you are disgusted by this whole thing, and that's okay. Just quit reading now and go on with your boring "normal" sex life. But if you want to learn more, keep reading.

I first had sexual contact with a dog when I was 14, and it continued off and on until I went to college. But I always felt ashamed or weird or guilty, and that kind of ruined the experience. After I graduated and had my own place, I also got a dog. One night, I came home drunk and ended up messing around with Max again. Afterwards, I thought about it, and I decided that I didn't have to feel guilty about pleasing myself and my dog. I decided that if God didn't want us to do it, he wouldn't have made dogs so interested in sniffing and licking human females. It's my body, and my puppy, and I can do what I want as long as it doesn't hurt either one of us!

Okay, enough about me, let's discuss how YOU can enjoy dog sex. There are three areas that I will cover in this guide: Oral sex, Vaginal sex and Anal sex. My thanks to the original writer of this guide (it wasn't me, but I edited it and I agree with almost everything she wrote).

ORAL SEX

Oral sex is the way many women first get exposed to dog love. Dogs are naturally attracted to the scent of a woman's vagina, so many of you have already discovered that Rover likes to sniff your panties or even your crotch. Allowing him to take it a step further is an excellent way to experience some of the greatest oral sex you will ever have in your life! One of the nicest things about allowing a dog to lick your snatch is that most male dogs will spend much more time than a human male providing you with the most electrifying oral sex. A dogs tongue is also much longer and is able to get to many places that a man can't or won't. A dogs tongue is covered with thousands of tiny buds that when he licks your clitoris you will feel sensations that you did not know existed. And, how many of you have had a man give you analingus? Not many i'll bet. Well, I'm hear to tell you that having your ass licked is a great thing, and a dog has no problem doing it for you!. If you have never experienced a tongue working from the very top of your slit all the way around to the end of your crack you have truly missed something grand.

There are several very good positions for you to try if you want to try this. If you decide that your preference is clitoral/vaginal only I have found one position that works very well. I recommend that you sit on the edge of a bed so that the back of your calfs are flat against the edge of the bed. You then lay straight back picking your feet up and placing the on the edge of the bed. This will expose your clitoris, labia and vagina to his waiting tongue. For those of you who would like more but want to prevent him from trying to mount you then the ideal position is reclining on your side, on pillows or cushions, on the floor. All you have to do at that point is to raise your leg a little and he will have access to all of your pussy and ass. For those of you that want that ultimate experience you will have to give give him full and total access to you. This can only happen when you are down on all fours. Now I know that staying in that position for more than a few minutes is not comfortable at all but there is one way that I have found that will be both very comfortable and very enjoying. You kneel at the edge of your bed and then lie the upper part of you body face down onto the bed, keeping your knees on the floor. You then spread your knees apart as much as you dare giving him full access to you. One very important item to remember while you are considering what position you would like to use is that if you do not wish to have him mount you this is not the position to use.

Now that we gone over all the wonderful things that a dog can do for you with his tongue, lets talk about what you can do with yours. According to several doctors and veterinarians I have spoken with, a dogs cock is three times cleaner that a mans cock. A dog will spend considerable time every day cleaning it, how many men do you know that do that? So, why not try it? I find that when I am sucking off a dog, I have a tremendous amount of mental stimulation that gets me horny as hell! Just knowing that I am sucking on an animals dick will get me so horny, that it doesn't take much to get me off. I will usually use a free hand to masturbate while I am sucking him, and I have some of the greatest orgasms this way.

Most male dogs will gladly allow you to suck them and there are many positions to do it in. I find that two positions are very good and are easy to accomplish. For those of you that are just starting out and are nervous about doing it I recommend that you have him lie on his back with you next to him. This will give you full access to his cock and be able to control all the action. But, another great method I use is to lie on my back with the back of my head slightly raised by a pillow and have him stand over me with his cock within reach of my mouth. Then he humps me and does all the work, leaving my hands free to masturbate myself with. One important thing to remember when sucking a dog: While most men like to have their balls rubbed or fondled while having their cocks sucked, this is not so with all dogs. Before starting any sexual activity with him touch and feel his cock and balls to insure that he does like it. The next thing that we are going to do now that we have gotten into the position that we prefer is begin to get him aroused. I find that the best way is to first gently stroke his cock through his sheath until it begins to enlarge and slip out. Once you have at least an inch of him out of his sheath you should gently take him into your mouth. You should continue to gently stoke him with your hand while you begin to slowly move you mouth back and forth over his cock. As you do this his cock will continue to enlarge until he reaches full erection.

While you are moving your mouth over his cock you should try to place the tip of you tongue into the indentation on the head of his cock as this will cause his to reach his climax. As he gets closer to his climax you will notice that at the base of his cock there is a very large bulge known as his knot. This knot is used to hold his cock inside a female (dog or human) until he has finished ejaculating. If you are considering going further then you should make a mental note of the size of his cock and knot. The average large dog has a cock, when aroused, that is 5 to 7 inches long and 1 and half to 2 inches wide. The knot for a dog whose cock is 6 inches long and 1 and a half wide can be two inches long and 4 inches wide. A dog is different than most mammals as from the time they begin to become aroused until they begin to get soft they will have some form of ejaculate coming from their cocks. At first arousal there is a clear thin fluid that tastes like iron and has the consistency of water, this is his precum that is for lubrication so his knot will slip into the females vagina. At full arousal is when he actually will produce his sperm and you can tell when this happens as his cum will begin to have a slightly salty taste to it. You should be aware that his cum will never be as thick as a mans but he will produce about twice as much as a man. I personally think that dog cum tastes much better than man cum.

VAGINAL SEX.

Good old screwing thats what this is all about, well not quite. There are a number of things that differ from sex with a man other than the dog can't get you pregnant.

At this point I will assume that you have made the decision that you are going to have sexual intercourse with a large dog (75 pounds) and that you are there by yourself. I will be your companion and you may visualize me there. The first discussion is how are we going to do it. There are two prime positions to use, the old standard doggy style and the safer missionary style. If we choose the missionary position you can prevent him from getting his knot inside you and we can be in control the whole time. Ok you want to try the missionary position, you are siting on the edge of a chair, a towel under you to prevent his and your cum from staining the chair, your ass at the very edge legs spread wide apart. Here comes your lover he sees your warm and wet pussy and at once begins to sniff and lick it. You call him up to you so that he has his front paws on the chair his body between your legs. (I like to put some socks over his front paws so that he can't scratch me accidentally.)

Then you take his sheath in hand and begin to stroke it gently and as he begins to swell and extend you guide the end of his cock into you. As he feels the wetness and warmth of you he begins to hump, slowly at first then faster and faster until you feel his knot at the mouth of your vagina. As his cum slowly fills you up you too reach climax. If you allow him to put his knot inside you YOU WILL be together until he gets soft which usually take 15 to 20 minutes but can take up to 45 minutes. The major benefit of the missionary position is that if you do not want to have his knot inside you you can, in almost all cases, prevent it by holding it in your hand. I find that the most satisfying and arousing sensations I feel are caused by the knot being inside me. I try to have my dog put his knot in every time we make love, but whether or not you want to is up to you.

Doggy style is just that, you are down on all fours with him. This position will allow you to fully experience the pleasure of having a canine lover. He will at first sniff then lick you and after the tastes and smells begin to arouse him he will move to a position to mount you. A dog will usually come up directly behind you and mount you that way. Once he has mounted you he will begin to hump trying to get his cock into you, if this is something new to him then you should guide his cock to where it should go, he will do the rest. As the two of you continue he will move faster and faster with his strokes until you feel his knot begin to swell and rub at the lips. At this point we have decision time, If you want it inside you you should totally relax and allow him to slide it in. If you don't want it in you you should reach back with your hand and try to hold the knot with your hand. A simple note of warning, if you use this position and then decide that you don't want his knot in you you may not be able to prevent it from happening. If his knot is in you you WILL have to wait until he gets soft. I do not recommend you trying to remove it as unless your vagina is very large, it will hurt and may even injure you. So if you have any doubt's at all I would stick with the missionary position.

Well we are now mated and as his knot continues to swell inside you you begin to feel this warm feeling inside you. I have been told that a dogs body temperature is higher than a humans and that his cum is even warmer, and as he cum's deep inside you you can feel that warmth. His knot is now fully expanded, his cum is flowing into you, your juices begin to flow mixing with his and at this point you begin to feel his knot begin to throb. I found that while doing it doggy style as his knot pushs against the inside walls of my vagina it also pushes against the inside of my clitoris and that the sensations of that happening drive me wild. I have reached orgasm up to seven times in a row while this is happening.

ANAL SEX

There are some things that you should consider before you attempt allowing your lover to mount you for the purpose of anal sex. You should be experienced with anal sex, by this I mean you should have no difficulty taking your human lovers cock into you. You will not always be successful with achieving penetration and if you do you may wind up with his knot inside you. If you now still want to try it well lets go. In finding a good position for male canine/human female anal sex I have tried dozens of positions and found many that work and many that didn't.

I have found that the best position is one called a modified doggy position. To get into that position you should first find a open space, very private of course, inside your house or wherever and place a soft pad on the floor for you to kneel on. You then kneel on the pad and get into a normal doggy position. To achieve the correct position you now bring your knees forward and tuck them up into your stomach. Now that you have done that you rest the front of your body on your elbows. Great you have mastered getting into the proper position, now there are some other things you have to do before you call to your lover. We have this little problem with lubrication that has to be solved with something otherwise this will really hurt. I have found that natural oils such as olive or corn oils work best and will not hurt your lover. NEVER NEVER use vaseline or that like as they will make the dog sick or even worse.

Well now we know what lubrication we are going to use we must now apply it. It is not enough to just smear a little oil on the outside of your anus for this to work, you must lubricate both outside as well as inside. The easy part is the outside and I leave that until I am in position to do. To lubricate the inside I have found that if I lubricate as much of the inside of my anus as possible I have no discomfort at all. I use a large eyedropper, that will hold about an once or so of oil, to get the oil inside and when I have done that insert one finger to spread the oil over the muscle.

Congratulations you are now ready, you have done your inside lubrication and are in the proper position and here comes your lover. You should now take your oil and rub some on your anus and the area around it. After he has mounted you you will probably have to guide him into you. Once he is inside he will hump just like an vaginal sex. The same precautions concerning his knot should be used here as well. I do not recommend those just starting out to try having him insert his knot. As there is not as much stimulation with anal sex you may want to gently masturbate while he is in you. There is one way to increase the stimulation and that is place a dildo into your vagina. This will transmit his movement inside you to you clitoris and help you reach climax.

Just a few footnotes about the fun of canine human sex. You can do all of these things while a human lover, male or female is present and in some cases the experience is more enjoyable. I would have liked to have had illustrations for this but I have not found someone to pose for them and I am more than a little nervous about having my picture here. Ladies any volunteers?

GOOD LUCK

Re:Hew! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001211)

I love that someone modded this off-topic. I imagine the decision making process of Flaimbait? No, Troll? No. Off-topic? that's the one, that's what this is.

Peer review? (-1, Troll)

XanC (644172) | about 2 years ago | (#40000093)

So, the main institution responsible for scientific groupthink is going to be the arbiter of what's libel and what isn't? Brilliant!

So you'd prefer (-1, Flamebait)

publiclurker (952615) | about 2 years ago | (#40000163)

Corporations and the global warming deniers that they are bankrolling?

Re:So you'd prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000217)

Slashdot: home of the false dilemma.

Re:So you'd prefer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000439)

Slashdot: home of the false dilemma.

And the nigger joke. And the pasty obese white guys who mod them down as fast as they can to prove how cool and not-racist they are.

Even though niggers don't browse this site.

Re:So you'd prefer (2)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 2 years ago | (#40002123)

Slashdot: home of the false dilemma.

And the nigger joke. And the pasty obese white guys who mod them down as fast as they can to prove how cool and not-racist they are.

Even though niggers don't browse this site.

Of course they do. You're here.

LK

Re:So you'd prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000285)

Corporations and the global warming deniers that they are bankrolling?

No, much better would be the Green Party and the Alarmists they're bankrolling.

Re:So you'd prefer (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#40000287)

What about truth being imune?

You know, a paper that reports the results of a study, without jumping to conclusions, expressing unrelated opinions, or stating facts that aren't suported by the study being imune. While a paper that does those things being subject to libel acusations.

Re:So you'd prefer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000431)

Truth does not offer immunity to libel in the UK.

The new bill contains truth as a defence too (5, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 2 years ago | (#40000573)

The Slashdot article seems to single out a single part of the bill for some reason. The actual bill [parliament.uk] has a lot more, including a "truth" defence.

Re:The new bill contains truth as a defence too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000965)

Great point and thanks for the link...the proposed bill is far more than a defense of scientific publication...WAY more...

Re:So you'd prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000905)

I find that incredibly hard to believe, the truth is an automatic defense against libel..that's the whole point after all...truth is the automatic defense against libel...so maybe you meant 'truth does not offer immunity to being SUED for libel in the UK'. The articles clearly indicate that under current UK libel law all statements are presumed false (which is bad ), but that you can still defend yourself and 'prove' your assertion...so 'truth of an assertion' does provide 'immunity' to being found guilty of libel...even if it won't stop the lawsuit...but that's an entirely different question...presumably even in NA I could be sued for libel over a 'true' statement...but I would hope that I can quickly get such a suit dismissed simply by demonstrating the truth of the statement...I'd further hope that I could counter sue for 'court costs', but I'm not sure in NA you can...in which case in theory it's no different than current UK law...

Re:So you'd prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001265)

What is NA? Nambia? [countrycode.org] Or do you mean AN [countrycode.org] ? In the US you can sue for anything. My understanding is there is something more to UK law than what you describe.

Truth plus (1)

_xen (79742) | about 2 years ago | (#40001577)

The truth is an automatic defense against libel.

Not in all times and in all jurisdictions! Though I understand that current UK law 'justification' (truth) is already a complete defence without any additional requirement such as 'public interest;' and that s2 of the present Bill is merely reformulating (and renaming) rather than introducing a truth only defence. But them INAUKL, but an Australian one.

Until 2006 in a number of states in Australia, the older situation persisted, namely truth alone was not a defence to defamation. You had to show truth+X (where X is one of several criteria, usually 'public interest'), and since much of the news media published nationwide, this situation kept them somewhat in check. Then in 2006 all the states adopted a uniform code which created a Truth Only defence. A terrible mistake IMHO. But then I'm a judicial conservative, I realise most people disagree (as did I when I first learnt that truth was not an absolute defence).

Re:Truth plus (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002047)

I really am curious as to how preventing people from being sued for telling the truth is a terrible mistake?

Re:Truth plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002405)

I'm guessing "truth told in a misleading manner", "truth where it is in the public's interest that it remain private", and probably more. (I'm specifically thinking about "trial by media" type events. "We haven't charged him yet because we have no real evidence, but Joe is a suspect in the killing of 42 children with a chainsaw.") Even from that perspective, it's probably better to have "truth as a defense with some exceptions" instead of "truth as a defense only with other qualifications".

Re:Truth plus (1)

Alranor (472986) | about 2 years ago | (#40002981)

Keep truth as an absolute defence for libel trials.

Charge the media in your example with attempting to pervert the course of justice, not libel.

Re:Truth plus (1)

xelah (176252) | about 2 years ago | (#40003379)

The truth is an automatic defense against libel.

Not in all times and in all jurisdictions! Though I understand that current UK law 'justification' (truth) is already a complete defence without any additional requirement such as 'public interest;' and that s2 of the present Bill is merely reformulating (and renaming) rather than introducing a truth only defence. But them INAUKL, but an Australian one.

IAUI, there's at least one exception: the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So you'd prefer (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40001963)

The articles clearly indicate that under current UK libel law all statements are presumed false (which is bad )

I can see why a puppy-huffing kiddy-fiddler like you would think that.

Re:So you'd prefer (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40003497)

In Europe, truth is not an automatic defense. You can't talk about certain things, even if true.

In France some years back, back when "family values" were all the rage among politicians, two guys were running for the same office. One was cheating...with the other guy's wife. So the other guy brought it up as a campaign issue.

It was illegal to drag someone's dirty laundry out, even of a public politician, and even if true. So it went to court, and in this case, the court ruled it Ok because the cheater was running around claiming to be a family values guy, and his cheating was clearly valid evidence that he wasn't.

Remember that not every place has iron-clad constitutional protection for freedom of speech, so merely being "true", or even true, without the quotes, isn't good enough.

It should be, but isn't.

Re:So you'd prefer (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40001943)

One, you don't have immunity to, you have immunity from.

Two, the legal term would be "defence against".

Three, it actually is a defence against any form of defamation, since by definition a defamatory statement is untrue (though it's necessary to prove the truth of the statement).

Four, there's no such thing as "UK law"; Scotland has a different system to England and Wales.

Stop spreading this shit. You clearly don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Re:So you'd prefer (3, Insightful)

_xen (79742) | about 2 years ago | (#40002097)

Not to take issue with much of what you wrote, but ...

by definition a defamatory statement is untrue

No, by definition a defamatory statement is one which injures the reputation of a natural person. Justification is a defence.

Four, there's no such thing as "UK law"; Scotland has a different system to England and Wales.

Genuine question: Can you explain the difference between the various categories of primary legislation, such as UK Public General Acts, under which classification both the 1952 and 1966 Defamation Acts are found; UK Local Acts; Acts of the Scottish Parliament; Acts of the English Parliament; Acts of the Old Irish Parliament; &c.? Non-UK/English/Scottish/Welsh lawyers could be forgiven for some confusion.

Re:So you'd prefer (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40002249)

You're using the common definition, not the legal one.

"Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person." [google.com]

If it merely meant "saying bad things" it would also include mere insults and vulgar abuse, which are not legally defamatory.

As to why Scotland has a separate system, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe vested interests prevented them being merged along with the Parliaments back when Jimmy took over from Liz. Maybe they forgot.

But the point still stands that when someone makes that mistake it's a good indicator that they don't know what they're talking about, and are probably more than a little overweight.

Re:So you'd prefer (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#40002321)

I know f all about UK vs British vs Scottish law so I could be wrong, but according to the obligatory wikipedia reference [wikipedia.org] Scotland only got their Parliament in 1999. Surely both aforementioned acts would be part of the Scottish law, at least until Scotland decides to repeal them?

Re:So you'd prefer (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40003093)

No. Scotland has always had a separate legal system, largely due to being an independent country until 1603. Neither legal system was imposed on the other nation at the time, and they've mostly remained separate since.

Since the Scottish legal system is built on different principles to the English one, not all English Acts of Parliament apply to Scotland, although some do. Needless to say, it's complicated.

In terms of libel, England and Scotland are very different, to the extent that libel isn't even a specific offence in Scotland. Rather, it's counted (along with slander) as defamation, with no distinction made between written and spoken defamation.

Re:So you'd prefer (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 2 years ago | (#40003375)

It was still an independant country after 1603. Jamie Sext (James VI being his Sunday name, or James I if you're English) inherited the throne of both countries in 1603 (known as the Union of Crowns) but each still had a seperate government. It was the Act of Union in 1707 in which the Scottish government was disolved and the nation was offically incorporated into the United Kingdom.

Despite that, many systems, law being one, just trundled on the same as they always had been and remained different from the rest of the UK. It's probably all written into the Articles of Union, which is what the negotiation settlement is called.

Re:So you'd prefer (4, Informative)

_xen (79742) | about 2 years ago | (#40002419)

You're using the common definition, not the legal one.

Very funny, you tell a lawyer (albeit a non-practitioner) he is using the common defn and not the legal one and then you quote from an online dictionary. Now it may be the legal defn in the US, I would not want to venture an opinion.

How do you explain that at common law truth was an irrelevance in criminal libel? Moreover in my jurisdiction, NSW, until 2006, truth by itself was no defence to defamation. More to the point, the UK [sic] 1952 Act and the proposed Bill, are explicit about justification and truth respectively being defences.

The distinction between a tort (and also a crime) and a defence may seem like a fine one, but it relates to the mistake the "puppy-huffing kiddy-fiddler" made in observing that "all statements are presumed false."

My understanding is this: The onus of proof lies upon a plaintiff to make out that the elements of defamation, namely that the defendant published defamatory imputations. While the courts (and we here rely on British as well as Australian precedent) have come up with a number of tests, perhaps the most accepted is that the imputation would lower the estimation of plaintiff in the eyes of a reasonable member of the community, or some similar formulation.

It is open to the defendant to raise a defence. Because they are the party raising it the affirmanti principle applies, i.e. the onus of proof is on the defendant to establish the substantial truth of the statements. Hence it appears to the legally naive that statements are presumed false. As an analytical type you will perceive the difficulty inherent in the notion of a "defence of justification/truth" existing and the necessity of a plaintiff to establish untruth as an element of defamation, no?

The current Bill makes this situation clear:

2 Truth
(1) It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the imputation conveyed by the statement complained is substantially true.

My emphasis

If it merely meant "saying bad things" it would also include mere insults and vulgar abuse, which are not legally defamatory

I never said it meant "saying bad things". Simply put it means injuring the reputation of a natural person. Should you care for a real dictionary defn, (as opposed to my simplified legal one), the OED has "the action of defaming, or attacking any one's good name." If insults and vulgar abuse sufficiently damages an individual's reputation then they are defamatory of course.

As to why Scotland has a separate system, your guess is as good as mine.

That was not my question. My question was what distinguishes a UK General Public Act from either an Act of the Scottish Parliament or an Act of the English Parliament?

Re:Peer review? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000321)

If anything, it's the opponents of science that are guilty of groupthink. Have you ever read a peer-reviewed publication? The kinds of debate that you'll see around peer-reviewed articles makes political debates look like playground banter by comparison. Nothing gets reviewed with more scrutiny and no-holds barred snark than scientific studies.

Take the time to read a few journals, and to follow the debates between academics. Pick a subject, and follow it through the process. If you're honest with yourself, you'll have to come to the conclusion that it's scientists who put their ideas to the test, and it's people like yourself who use buzzwords like "groupthink" who cling to received ideas without a semblance of critical thought.

Re:Peer review? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40000669)

Now why would he want to do something like that, when its much better for his ego to buy into a big vast conspiracy theory.

Re:Peer review? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40001609)

Umm... how do you reconcile the fact that you say this:

when its much better for his ego to buy into a big vast conspiracy theory.

in order to defend this:

If anything, it's the opponents of science that are guilty of groupthink.

You do realize that it is those who think that scientific skepticism amounts to "opposing science" are the ones seeing conspiracy theories and not the other way around, do you not? Skepticism is part of the scientific method. This law would effectively forbid continued inquiry after any claim of consensus can be made.

Re:Peer review? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40001989)

You do realize that it is those who think that scientific skepticism amounts to "opposing science" are the ones seeing conspiracy theories and not the other way around, do you not?

Bit of a non sequitur there. A person can oppose science based entirely on their own beliefs. A conspiracy involves several people working together on a secret plan. The two things are completely unconnected.

Re:Peer review? (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40002537)

It's only a non sequitur in as much as only dichotomies are allowed to be present within this realm. If you allow a sliding scale with health suspicion on one end and conspiracy theory on the other end, then my statement holds more true than the ggp's.

Re:Peer review? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40000931)

"Groupthink" [wikipedia.org] isn't a buzzword. It's an actual term used in sociology, political sciences, and psychology. And /. is full of people who live and thrive on it. Look at a global warming thread, a thread on 'nix or MS, Sun or Oracle. Don't be ignorant of what groupthink really is, science in general is chalk full of it. Everyone has seen it, especially the guy who gets shafted because his 'views' aren't with the mainstream.

Re:Peer review? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002409)

"Groupthink" [wikipedia.org] isn't a buzzword. It's an actual term used in sociology, political sciences, and psychology. And /. is full of people who live and thrive on it. Look at a global warming thread, a thread on 'nix or MS, Sun or Oracle. Don't be ignorant of what groupthink really is, science in general is chalk full of it. Everyone has seen it, especially the guy who gets shafted because his 'views' aren't with the mainstream.

I agree!

Chock full, not chalk full (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#40002837)

Spelling checkers...don't you just love them?

However, your examples confute your last clause, " the guy who gets shafted because his 'views' aren't with the mainstream". Looking at Great Scientific Disasters, it is usually the non-mainstream guy who gets promoted by the media and then real science takes a long time to be recognised. There is no shortage of journalists trying to raise their profile (and income from right-wing newspaper owners) by AGW denial. In the UK, Lovelock, Wakefield and Laithwaite are all examples of non-mainstream view holders who have turned out simply to be wrong - though Lovelock has recently admitted this. It is quite hard to find someone whose views were non-mainstream and was subsequently found to be right - opposing the non-scientific mainstream doesn't count (e.g. Galileo was one of the foremost pre-scientists of his day and other pre-scientific workers were his enthusiastic supporters; the opposition of the foot-draggers in the Church doesn't count, they were simply the local equivalent of Limbaugh or Beck.)

Angels on the Head of A Pin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001417)

There used to be fierce debate about that too. Didn't make it Science.

Re:Peer review? (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40000673)

The point is that the law is going to recognise that making a reasonable statement based on proper scientific data is demonstrably true, and as such cannot be libel. The internationally recognised process of peer review will be considered the arbiter of "proper scientific data" (my phrase). It leaves the door open for cases involving poorly collected data, I'm imagining something like one cosmetics company suing another because they do they suggest their product is better than the plaintiff's based on a biased sample of 300.

Bloggers, journalists and the like will have some protection if they're quoting peer reviewed data/comments in context because if the original isn't libellous then they can't be guilty of repeating it.

Re:Peer review? (3, Informative)

_xen (79742) | about 2 years ago | (#40001991)

The point is that the law is going to recognise that making a reasonable statement based on proper scientific data is demonstrably true, and as such cannot be libel.

The better view is that it makes "scientific or academic journal[s]" (one presumes bona fide journals, though the Bill doesn't make it clear how that might be assessed.) a privileged forum, much as courts and parliament already are.

The internationally recognised process of peer review will be considered the arbiter of "proper scientific data" (my phrase). It leaves the door open for cases involving poorly collected data

By s7(5), a "fair and accurate copy of, extract from or summary" of the article is also privileged (again as is currently the case for court and parliamentary reporting).

The problem, which you point to is that it somewhat misconstrues the role of peer review to understand it as a guarantee of finality (ie. the truth of the publication). Rather peer review is a threshold, a seat at the table of the expert debate. We, the ordinary "(wo)men in the street," need to put some time between publication and acceptance of the conclusions in order to allow the expert community to render their judgement.

Re:Peer review? (2)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 2 years ago | (#40000681)

So, the main institution responsible for scientific groupthink is going to be the arbiter of what's libel and what isn't?

"Main institution"? There are more than one scientific and academic journal.

A journal certainly isn't the arbiter of what is libel, a court does that.

This bit of the law only adds a defence to libel for scientific and academic publication that meets certain standards.

Madness! (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | about 2 years ago | (#40004199)

So, the main institution responsible for scientific groupthink is going to be the arbiter of what's libel and what isn't? Brilliant!

So, you're saying that scientists will be responsible for determining what science is? Madness! Next, they'll have doctors telling us what medicine is! And mathematicians telling us what math is!

Yes! (0)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 2 years ago | (#40000117)

Now I can reveal Nickel for the evil backstabbing bastard element it is!!

Re:Yes! (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#40000283)

Yep, you couldn't have Nickelback without nickel, and that's all the proof I need.

Re:Yes! (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#40000553)

Yep, you couldn't have Nickelback without nickel, and that's all the proof I need.

I consider it a good day when I get to the end of it without hearing anything by or about Nickelback. So much for today.

Re:Yes! (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#40000635)

What do you have against an American Football defense strategy?

Re:Yes! (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#40001235)

What do you have against an American Football defense strategy?

I heard they did (?) the Superbowl halftime show (with Madonna?!?), but since I didn't watch it, I don't know what you're saying. Now, bringing all that back into mind makes me want to go wash out my mouth with soap, or my keyboard. Were there any wardrobe malfunctions to speak of this year, and have the Xtians recovered from that traumatic event yet?

You know, about the worst things that happen in baseball these days is Rosanne Barr butchering the national anthem for !@#$s and giggles. NFL just makes me think of wanna be marines hangers-on who managed to wash out of military basic training.

Ooooohh look! The cheerleaders have new, skimpier uniforms, and pink sequinned cowboy hats! Gasp and drool.

Re:Yes! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 2 years ago | (#40002175)

I am not a football fan really but there are a few things you may not want to know. I will tell you anyhow, it is for your own good.

hmm... my phone stopped doing caps in here... oh well, bear with me.

the players are among the greatest physically empowered people on the planet. they can sprint, jump, lift, and more on nearly the same level as olympiads.

most actually have degrees and actually had to not only pass those courses but had to do so while maintaining their physical training.

the game is actually pretty complicated if you take the time to understand the strategies involved. perhaps it is that it is too complicated for you to understand? I do not blame you - it is boring. it is, however, not simple. the players must know countless plays and some of them are quite specialized.

I don't know if your wife left you for a football player but letting that influence your views is kind of silly. additionally, lots of people (a greater percentage than any other branch if I recall correctly) are unable to complete basic training and earn the right to call themselves marines. I do admit a certain bias in those regards however. on the other hand, I am not a fan of any sports but still felt compelled to ensure you know that your rhetoric is just plain silly.

Re:Yes! (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#40002395)

Now that's a beautiful post. I'm honoured. I'm also mostly a fan of National League baseball and World Series baseball and Italian Serie A football fan.

I don't know if your wife left you for a football player ...

fsck, that was funny. :-)

No, really, I know North American football, watched NFL on TV every Sunday afternoon and Monday night and went to CFL games in town. I didn't intend to insult any players with what I wrote prior to this. I was talking about fans. I've a lot of respect for the players. They're no dummies.

However, "perhaps it is that it is too complicated for you to understand?" You insult me, sir.

And, "additionally, lots of people (a greater percentage than any other branch if I recall correctly) are unable to complete basic training and earn the right to call themselves marines." Including me! I tried to get into the US Air Force and go to Viet Nam, and I was too dumb to figure out the logistics of all that back then. Sad.

And, "I am not a fan of any sports ..." Now that is just sick! Female beach volleyball?!?

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40003515)

Now that is just sick! Female beach volleyball?!?

Have you ever watched a female team of curling? That's just awsome. Way better than those skinny beachvolleyball types.

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002819)

Because without a nickel the back would be broke and live in the mountains.

Great step forward! (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 2 years ago | (#40000127)

There will probably be some wrinkles that will need to be ironed out down the road, but at least it should prevent things like the silliness that enveloped the whole chiropractor incident from a few years ago. Hopefully.

Re:Great step forward! (1)

XanC (644172) | about 2 years ago | (#40000203)

Too bad Dr Bob, DC got found out. We could use him right now.

Re:Great step forward! (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#40000293)

Yeah, he was one of the best trolls / alts / whatever the fuck he was doing of all time. I saw that thread -- he had some sticky cookie, posted as his real UID, called it a good run, and that was it.

Re:Great step forward! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000789)

I'm unclear what started the 'silliness' you refer to but if it was related to the publishing of an article in a newspaper (The Guardian) with the term 'bogus' used to describe chiropractic treatments on children I don't see how this law would help...nor do I understand why the author of that article is having problems seeing what he did wrong...ultimately 'truth' is the definitive defense to a libel claim...so publishing something, even in a newspaper, such as '98% of 100 papers reviewed for this article demonstrated no benefit beyond that attributable to the placebo effect' would be demonstrably defensible regardless of where it appeared (if true of course)...saying 'this remedy is bogus' even if included with a statement such as 'no known double blind studies have indicated any benefit' provides an opening to be sued...at least when published in a newspaper...

Admittedly I read only a few of the links in the submission but I don't see how this law would have helped Simon Singh nor should it have...he posted an opinion in a newspaper, he may have very good grounds to hold that opinion, but the wording used to state the opinion matters to whether or not you are opening yourself to a lawsuit...he used terms such as 'not a jot of evidence'...o.k., he better be able to back that one up (and potentially could)...but he also wrote "and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments"...and that's going to be incredibly difficult to defend as he has no basis for claiming they 'happily' do something and the use of the term 'bogus' (as I'd understand it and the judge declared it) is a statement that the BCA was being 'deliberately dishonest'...but even if a person took the position that it means 'without evidence'...it's a statement of opinion and at the very least Singh should have used something along the lines of 'in my opinion the BCA is promoting treatments that lack any scientific basis.'...

There are all kinds of opinions (mostly factually based) about 'unscientific remedies' that I hold and will gladly call out as 'foolish'...but that's to friends and in conversation, not subject to libel...post it in a newspaper or if I had a blog I'd better make sure to word such criticism judiciously...

Frankly, the scourge of science here isn't 'libel laws', it's the ability of people to make any wild claims they like about their chosen 'cure' without any scientific basis...rather than post a newspaper article on the potential 'bogus' nature of chiropractic treatments for kids, Singh should have been able to initiate a lawsuit against the BCA for 'claims not substantiated by any evidence'....why could he not do that? Why are homeopaths not sued out of existence? Somehow they are skirting current laws on 'product labeling' (at least as I understand them in NA) so somehow those laws need to be addressed to stop this nonsense...changing libel laws won't do that.

Re:Great step forward! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40002101)

he also wrote "and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments"...and that's going to be incredibly difficult to defend as he has no basis for claiming they 'happily' do something

It doesn't mean they were smiling, rather that they were willing to do so. And the evidence was right there, on their website. Until they realized their claims in fact couldn't be justified and took them down.

and the use of the term 'bogus' (as I'd understand it and the judge declared it) is a statement that the BCA was being 'deliberately dishonest'...

That was indeed the original decision. However in common usage bogus just means false or a bit crap (i.e. the opposite of tubular).

What I don't get at all is why the claims were permitted in the first place. Advertising law is very strict about health-related claims; they must be proven. Hence slogans like "Guinness is good for you" and "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play" are only found in museums.

Finally, you do know that the BCA dropped the case, right?

so, until the paper is peer-reviewed... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000245)

So, until the paper is peer-reviewed, it's still vulnerable to libel.

Next, a libel watchdog looks for search terms and reports papers recently submitted that are still open to sue.

Sue early, sue often!

Re:so, until the paper is peer-reviewed... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#40001575)

So, until the paper is peer-reviewed, it's still vulnerable to libel.

Except that journals will not publish a paper until it is peer-reviewed and, until something is published, there is no libel. Of course this does mean that if you submit a version to a preprint server you might be in trouble. Fortunately I'm a particle physicist and I doubt Higgs bosons will sue us for "making it look fat" if we measure a mass that's on the high side.

Re:so, until the paper is peer-reviewed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002287)

Depends on the definition of "publish". It doesn't necessarily mean "to the whole world". So even sending it to the reviewers might count.

Re:so, until the paper is peer-reviewed... (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#40004195)

Publish:

1. (of an author or company) Prepare and issue (a book, journal, piece of music, or other work) for public sale.

2. Print (something) in a book or journal to make it generally known.

So yeah, it looks like sending it in is fine.

Good Plan, but.. (1)

Sir Realist (1391555) | about 2 years ago | (#40000263)

They're going to need to be very careful on the implementation. Define "properly" peer-reviewed. Is the journal liable for libel (now there's a terrible turn of phrase) if it turns out the peer review wasn't "proper"? Can someone challenge the propriety of the peer review in court?

Don't get me wrong; sounds like a step in the right direction. I'd just hate to see it abused to discourage scientific publishing in England.

Racism? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000275)

In the name of science, will it be confirmed that African Americans have a lower IQ due to their genetics? That, and they have on average the largest penis among all other ethnic groups?

Re:Racism? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000537)

The penis thing is a myth. The average black dick isn't any bigger than the average white dick. However, there's more deviation, so there are 12" black dicks and there are 2" black dicks. It's same with height -- If you looked at the NBA, you'd think all blacks are 7" tall. But for every Manute Bol, there's a 4" pygmy.

Re:Racism? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000719)

In the name of science, will it be confirmed that African Americans have a lower IQ due to their genetics?

There are some highly intelligent black people. I have met more than a few and I treated them with the respect they deserve. But as a group, yes they do have a lower IQ than whites or Asians as a group. This is not politically correct so excuses must be made so no one's precious feelings get hurt. The popular excuse is that cultural differences explain their poorer IQ test performance. I think that's both very funny and a little insulting considering that they have been born and raised in the US for hundreds of years, meanwhile first-generation Asians outperform them.

Now let's just think about that rationally for a moment. Who has a bigger cultural hurdle, the bilingual son of immigrants from mainland China with parents who barely speak English, or the black person whose family has been in this nation for the past 10 generations or more? But we hate science when it doesn't say what we want it to say. Obviously as a whole we're a bunch of pansies who cannot face reality and work to change the parts we don't like.

We could admit that blacks have a problem here and give them remedial education, teach them how to reason, and stamp out by whatever means necessary the thug worship that's destroying their families. But you see there is a probelm - that would mean being honest about this subject. Being honest about this is the fastest way to be called a "racist" and shouted down, modded down, hated, etc. Because as we all know people with the facts on their side always have to use social pressure and manipulation to be convincing. After all, a real racist who truly hates blacks and wants to keep them down truly wants them to be smarter and more educated, yeah that makes perfect sense, that's exactly what a real racist would do, uh huh, just keep telling yourself that.

I have met reasonable liberals but things like this are why most of them are hyper-emotional psychotic people who simply cannot bring themselves to acknowledge any facts they find inconvenient. They think truth is whatever they really want it to be, if they just wish hard enough, or something. They would tell you that 2+2=5 if they found the number 4 to be offensive. I think the ones who scream "RACIST!" the loudest have never met a real racist. You know what real racists are like? They want to lynch blacks. They don't want to identify problems blacks have and work to fix them. They hate blacks and don't think anything about them could ever be improved. Look even if blacks were totally inferior without question, that is no reason to mistreat them. But they are not. They can be quite equal, but to do that they have to love knowledge more than they hate Whitey. Ever met educated, successful blacks? They all have one thing in common - they think race-pimps like Jesse Jackson are idiotic clowns and they don't hate whites or anybody else - they're too busy looking after their families to have time for that.

Re:Racism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001395)

Who has a bigger cultural hurdle, the bilingual son of immigrants from mainland China with parents who barely speak English, or the black person whose family has been in this nation for the past 10 generations or more?

There are more factors. The Chinese immigrant came here intentionally. That means they garnered at least the will to come here. That will can go a long way towards bettering ones self. So from a genetic standpoint most races in the U.S. have had a selection process by the mere difficulty of getting here. Thus the genes passed on by most races include seeing the long term benefits versus short term. Only two groups didn't have this selection process and that is African-Americans and Native Americans (okay they did at one point but that gene became less important over many generations). These tend to be the groups at the bottom of U.S. economics. If we considered that how should we shape education?

Re:Racism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002581)

I could come up with hundreds of plausible sounding theories: Slaves were captured. They only bred with other slaves. Therefore their descendants have the same genetic makeup of people who were more likely to be captured. Another hypothesis: African-Americans are at the bottom of US economics. Therefore, they are much more likely to live in a bad neighborhood, and be a victim of a violent crime, which might lower their academic performance. But doing any type of research on a hypothesis like this is a great way to get labelled a racist and blackballed from the scientific community. They would both be pretty simple to check. (eg. How do natives and immigrants of the same race compare, after you correct for socioeconomic factors? What about second or third generation immigrants?) But merely bringing the hypothesis up is enough to set off all sorts of red flags for most people. Even the culture thing could be tested. Compare adopted twins based on their adoptive parents' race and socioeconomic status.

Incidentally, I don't believe either hypothesis, and I don't care how you feel about them. I just put them there to push your buttons, so I could point out how hard it is to do science or public policy on such an emotionally charged subject. I just want to follow the scientific process of "identify interesting anomaly, create hypothesis, test hypothesis, repeat", then apply public policy based on the resulting science.

Re:Racism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40003899)

Even the culture thing could be tested. Compare adopted twins based on their adoptive parents' race and socioeconomic status.

It's a shame, really, that no one can do the research. Does anyone think Barack Obama would be president if he was raised by a single black woman instead of a single white woman?

UK? (5, Interesting)

ciascu (1345429) | about 2 years ago | (#40000281)

Unless I'm misunderstanding the Nature article and Google links, the title of this post is misleading: this is about England & Wales (which share their legal system) rather than the rest of the UK - there's an article here about the different implications that such a law would have on the Scottish legal system (English libel reform raises new Scottish question [firmmagazine.com] ). I haven't seen any indication whether we'd adopt this in Northern Ireland.

Not a bad move... (1)

bky1701 (979071) | about 2 years ago | (#40000417)

...but still just a bandaid on some pretty serious issues with censorship. It is almost a slap in the face for anyone who cares about free speech to see them realize there is a problem and then decide to only plaster over a symptom.

Re:Not a bad move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001263)

Exactly. The mere fact that it's a law that gives protection only to specific classes of people is a huge red flag in itself. A privilege system is no way to run a democracy.

If it's OK for a peer-reviewed paper to libel people, then it should be OK no matter how or in what medium it's published.

Re:Not a bad move... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#40001629)

The mere fact that it's a law that gives protection only to specific classes of people...

What class of people would that be? There are no restrictions on who can submit a paper to a journal - it just has to be good enough to pass peer review.

Not just science: truth (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#40001601)

...but still just a bandaid on some pretty serious issues with censorship.

The scientific paper exclusion is just one aspect of the bill. It also introduces truth as a defence. So, as long as you are telling the truth, there will be no censorship from libel.

Re:Not just science: truth (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40002145)

It also introduces truth as a defence.

It's already there. The word used is "justification", but that's what it means.

Don't believe everything you read on slashdot, especially about legal matters. Very few of the people posting here are qualified in law, and of those a tiny fraction could even point to the country in question on a map.

Re:Not just science: truth (1)

bky1701 (979071) | about 2 years ago | (#40009431)

Yet the burden of proof is still on the wrong side, meaning you'll still be harassed and might even lose when speaking the truth.

the road to serfdom... (0)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 2 years ago | (#40000521)

Defamation is going to be reborn, "scientifically", in Britain by the rich and powerful interests against smaller fry. The problem will not just be "groupthink" but increased attackes by "respectable" peer reviewed British journals that are 95+% financed as captive or corporate whores already.

This is going further down the road to serfdom, "scientifically".

Two tiered system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40000671)

This is a bad law because it grants extra rights for a group of people for no good reason.

In particular, English law already allows truth as a defense. If a peer reviewed article can't establish the truth of its claims in court then either (A) peer review hasn't worked in that case or (B) the court's standards are wrong.

In either case, the right of any citizen to make a claim based on some evidence should be the same as that of a professional scientist.

The law is already unequal enough as it is, without granting special privileges to a certain class of people.

Re:Two tiered system (3, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 2 years ago | (#40001637)

This is a bad law because it grants extra rights for a group of people for no good reason. In particular, English law already allows truth as a defense. If a peer reviewed article can't establish the truth of its claims in court then either (A) peer review hasn't worked in that case or (B) the court's standards are wrong.

I think, in practice, science is far messier than that. Papers advance theories which, though supported by the evidence at hand, still require further analysis and may ultimately be wrong. I think it is reasonable to protect the product of honest enquiry if it is done in good faith, even if it turns out to be wrong.

Also a good part of the libel reform agenda has been motivated by the financial costs of defending against libel claims and the chilling effect that has on those who may well have a defencible but cannot afford it (or the risk) and therefore back down.

I think the "Peer-reviewed statement in scientific or academic journal etc" part of the law [parliament.uk] doesn't really give a class of people more rights, it merely lowers the burden for a subset of defendants.

The same principles are available to everyone, ie the "Truth", "Honest opinion" and "Responsible publication on matter of public interest" defences. This additional defence just makes it easier (and therefore cheaper) to show a work that has undergone peer review has been published in accordance with those principles.

Re:Two tiered system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002323)

I maintain that "Peer-reviewed statement in scientific or academic journal etc" does indeed create a class of people with more rights. Even the notion of "peer review" implies a special group of people who are qualified to review the material. Otherwise I could "publish" material that had been "reviewed" by my friends. Furthermore, it protects the wrong people since any group with enough resources could create a phony discipline with its own journals.

While you are correct in saying that scientists need to be able to discuss things before everything has been thoroughly proven, this should already be covered by "truth" and "honest opinion" and not require a separate category. E.g. if you say "no evidence so far has show conclusively that X is true", this statement can be true, and can be proven in court, even if X turns out to be true, i.e. you were wrong. And any person should be able to make this statement if it is true, not just someone publishing in a peer reviewed journal.

Indeed, peer-reviewed statements are not very useful if people can still be sued for discussing and interpreting them, as was the case for Simon Singh (AFAIK his statements were not published in peer reviewed journals)

So now what? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#40000757)

We have the same unfair and unjust libel laws as the US, where the plaintiff has no protection against a defendant with deep enough pockets?

Re:So now what? (2)

Dusty101 (765661) | about 2 years ago | (#40002015)

We have the same unfair and unjust libel laws as the US, where the plaintiff has no protection against a defendant with deep enough pockets?

No you don't. The UK libel laws are significantly worse in many ways. They're much more broad, and can be applied to people more or less anywhere in the world. Read up on some of the points raised during the Simon Singh case for more details.

Re:So now what? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40002317)

The UK libel laws are significantly worse in many ways.

Is that a peer-reviewed fact?

Read up on some of the points raised during the Simon Singh case for more details.

You don't think he should have won?

Re:So now what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002719)

Perhaps you mean "liable laws in England and Wales" because I've never heard of abuse of the Scottish defamation law which requires a demonstrable real loss.

Abolish defamation and slander (2)

barv (1382797) | about 2 years ago | (#40000843)

Defamation and slander laws choke the free flow of true information. Nowadays everyone can have a blog, and any libelous info can be quickly confirmed or denied by the checking out the website of the alleged miscreant.

Great (0)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40001399)

About time the new church got the same protections as the old church. Peer-reviewed doesn't mean factual. Reality is not running for a re-election.

Re:Great (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40002551)

So I get modded "troll" for saying "reality is not running for a re-election." I wonder if that means that someone on Slashdot thought that reality was, in fact, going a good-faith effort of running for an election.

so... (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40001491)

I guess that means that all scientific submissions made from labs in England have to be automatically rejected. This would make any questioning of consensus a slander. Which means that all scientific skepticism would be effectively prohibited. This would not just undermine, but effectively forbid the scientific method of inquiry. No journal should give any credence to research produced under such circumstances. It might finally dethrone Nature from being the most respectable scientific publication (because it's published in England).

Um, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40001611)

The point of this provision is that scientists would be able to publish things which have passed peer-review without fear of being sued for libel. That enables questioning of consensus, it doesn't diminish it at all.

Re:Um, no (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40001627)

How is that not tantamount to equating peer-reviewed with factual?

Re:Um, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40002009)

Peer review doesn't and never has guaranteed "truth". In fact, no part of the scientific method can. What peer review should say is that a certain conclusion is supported by the evidence (within the contraints of the study), is based on observation of a repeatable experiment (in theory, but good luck with repeating, say, an experiement in the LHC without using the LHC), and is judged to be an accurate and unbiased assesment thereof.

If you disagree that peer review has these qualities, that is a fault of the implementation rather than the concept.

The only thing that can be considered "fact" in a journal is maths, and even that is subject to axiomatic assumptions. If you are taking anything in a journal as an unassailable fact, you have missed the lynchpin of science, which is that the aim is to try to tear it all down with the most modern methods to prove it will still remain standing. Things that were facts are no longer (Newton's laws), and things that were once unthinkable are now possible (atomic-level manipulation). But rest assured, if you have a brilliant and revolutionary idea, there will be people crawling all over it looking for any crack they can find.

Re:Um, no (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40002161)

Because it's saying that from a *legal* POV the statements are exempt[1], not that from a *scientific* one they're true.

[1] like statements made by MPs within the House of Commons.

Re:Um, no (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 2 years ago | (#40002607)

Here's where the rat is: libel/slander is a civil tort rather than a criminal charge. So any legal fact finding mechanism does not owe the defendant a presumption of innocence -- only the plausibility of innocence. Therefore, a legal bar for innocence of a skeptic of scientific consensus can, on occasion, be raised as high as "your claims have not been supported by peer review, so they slander established scientific body." In a effect, by being ambivalent on the subject of validity of peer review, the law guarantees that peer review is not seen as a requirement for public pronouncements of scientific assertions.

Re:so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40003989)

I guess that means that all scientific submissions made from labs in England have to be automatically rejected.

Id rather have all /. articles that cant tell the difference between England and the UK to be automatically rejected.

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