I mentioned last week that science writer Simon Singh had lost his preliminary hearing in a case against him. He was being sued by the British Chiropractic Association because he had written an article trashing the supposed legitimacy of chiropractics:
The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.
That last sentence is important because this has become a semantics game.
The judge in the case stated that Singh claimed the BCA was being knowingly deceptive when he used the word “bogus.” Therefore, Singh must prove that the practitioners were purposely lying.
Singh says that the word “bogus” is describing the treatments — not the people who promote it. He’s not saying chiropractors are automatically charlatans; they’re just deluded into thinking chiropractics works when in fact it does not.
In any case, Singh has an uphill climb ahead of him.
In his latest newsletter, he lays out his options:
The current ruling by Justice Eady means that I stand very, very little hope of a successful defence at trial, so going to trial is not a realistic option. My two reasonable options are to:
1. Settle now, which will cost in excess of £100,000 (the vast majority of these costs would be to cover the BCA’s legal bills, as opposed to damages).
2. Submit an appeal in relation to the meaning of my article, hoping for a more reasonable ruling on meaning and then fight the case on what the article really meant.
I have until May 28 to lodge an application to appeal. I am seriously thinking about this option and am discussing it with my lawyers. It would increase my legal costs and eat up more time, but on the other hand I think I deserve the chance to fight my case on a reasonable interpretation of my article.
The “bogus” wording is open to interpretation, but it seems obvious to me Singh was going after the practice, not the practitioners. His body of work testifies to his focus on the process of science. If he wanted to make personal attacks, he could’ve been far more blunt.
There is a Facebook group supporting Singh if you’d like to join it.
(via Cubik’s Rube)