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An edited version of Simon Singh’s article on chiropractic

In solidarity with a number of other blogs in support of Sense about Science’s Keep Libel Laws Out of Science campaign, I am reposting Simon Singh’s article, with a number of edits made to the sections that are the subject of the current court proceedings (i.e. the ones that the BCA have objected to), so as to avoid being in contempt. The tone and the overall meaning of the article is still unchanged – it is still highly critical of chiropractic and asks probing questions of its evidence base.

Please read the article, and then click the button below to find out more about the campaign and add your name to the list of signatories in support of the campaign statement.

Keep Libel Laws Out of Science

Keep Libel Laws Out of Science

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Speaking of lawsuits…

…there’s been a recent update in another lawsuit, the Thomson Reuters vs Zotero case. Zotero, an open-source reference manager that works directly inside Firefox (whose praises I sung before) are currently being sued by Thomson Reuters (maintainers of Endnote, a proprietary reference manager software package), claiming that Zotero (or rather, George Mason University, where the Zotero developers are based) reverse-engineered their Endnote software in breach of the Endnote license agreement. The background is described in more detail on these blogs: DLTJ (part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4) and Martin Feldstein (part 1 and part 2).

Particularly notable is Martin Feldstein’s initial opinion (that Thomson Reuters’ case may have merit) changing as he learned more and more facts about the case. It is extremely good academic practice to seek to back up hypotheses with evidence and to let go of the ones that are not supported, and as such, extremely laudible. Others, take note.

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Bogus. Totally.

Mr. Justice Eady’s ruling in the preliminary hearing in the Simon Singh vs. British Chiropractic Association case (concerning an allegedly libellous article published in the Guardian, since removed from the Guardian website) has already received widespread blog coverage. Martin at LayScience covered the background as the hearing was about to begin. A while ago, when the British Chiropractic Association announced their intention to sue, HolfordWatch provided further background to the case. Gimpy has reposted the original offending article, annotated with evidence for Singh’s comments. Ben Goldacre has been making noises about throwing his hat into the ring (most likely not in the Guardian though). The Economist and New Scientist both provide coverage in the mainstream media.

The most complete and compelling coverage comes from JackofKent, who has been following proceedings from a very well-written legal perspective. In fact, his blog, for the time being at least, is completely dominated by this one case. It makes for fascinating (but highly disturbing) reading. In fact, before you read any more of this post, visit http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/ and familiarise yourself with the case. Hats off to the chap. In fact, this post is taking far longer to write than it should because I’m getting sucked into reading and re-reading his articles.

I’m bringing this up after noting something interesting about the Times article by David Aaronovitch I commented on in my previous post. Something completely unrelated to my previous post, but relevant to the context of the Singh case.

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Firefox without plugins? You’re doing it wrong (updated 26 May 2009)

A particular passion of mine, that I have rather neglected since my first post, is the advocacy of open source software where possible, particularly for non-specialist work-related tasks, such as web browsing and word processing. For my PhD, I write all my documents using OpenOffice (and occasionally LaTeX), and save them using open formats. Of course, I don’t stubbornly neglect proprietary formats completely, mainly due to necessity. For example, to give a slide presentation, I may need to export my slideshow to a Microsoft Powerpoint or Adobe PDF, unless I’m fortunate enough to be able to plug my own laptop into the projector system (which can be a rather cumbersome process) or the host’s computer has OpenOffice installed on it.

EDIT – This article has been updated (26 May 2009).

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More on the MMR “debate”

For a few days, despite my total disbelief and dismay at the content and tone of her radio rant show and the heavy-handed legal response that followed, I at least had to give credit to Jeni Barnett for allowing the debate surrounding the MMR vaccine scare to continue via the comments on her own blog.

Too good to be true, unfortunately. Yesterday afternoon I sent a comment in to the site where there were over 150 comments already posted. All of them have disappeared. In fact, the post itself, and a second one written in response to the initial stages of the debate that started on the first, together with the comments from that page, now doesn’t appear on the homepage of Jeni’s website. I don’t know the reasons why (they may be perfectly legit from a legal point of view), but for now at least, the debate that Jeni so badly wanted has been stopped – by Jeni herself.

Fortunately, by the power of web-cache, the first 121 comments from the first post, together with the first 81 comments from the second, have been retrieved and posted unabridged on the Quackometer website. It’s a shame the debate was curtailed, but it makes for interesting reading.

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Many Many Rants… and not much evidence

[Edit: I’ve just spotted that I wrote “pro-” where in fact I meant “anti-“. Whoops. The substantive argument is still the same.]

My article on World Without Cancer will have to wait. There’s a far more pressing issue.

A few days ago Ben Goldacre posted the audio from a rather biased pro-MMR anti-MMR-vaccine radio phone-in “debate” hosted by Jeni Barnett on LBC Radio. In it, Jeni stated that she’d not had her children vaccinated, and invited people to phone in, presumably for an informed, balanced debate. The debate she chaired, however, was anything but.

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