Monday, April 19, 2010

The need for a Public Interest Defense for Scientists and Writers

My eyes were opened to the very sad situation involving the UK libel laws and how they can be used to persecute Scientists trying to engaged in open discussion aimed at moving science forward. I attended a Westminister skeptics in a Pub meeting in January which had various libel law survivors talk about their experience. It was quite scary, though a few beers helped the evening along, but made next mornings run a challenge.

This state of UK libel laws is a drag on scientific progress, in the area of medicine in particular. The result, people die and suffer needlessly.

Some may wish to question if the 1983 mental health act could be appropriate people like this, no matter what awards they hold. Is it wrong to ask if this type of "treatment" is just taking advantage of the vulnerable for profit. Suggest an answer to this question in public and UK libel laws might be brought to bear against you.

Some good new in this area, which is documented in many places, with regards to the Guardian Science Journalist, Simon Singh and the case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association for libel. The BCA has now dropped the case. If this is news, I suggest you might want to read a bit more here, here, here and here.

In my view UK libel law reform is an important election issue. Scientific progress is at stake. So if you have a visit from one of the happy candidates before May 6th, please consider asking them what there position is on a Public Interest Defense for scientists and writers.

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